As "The Simpsons" has become more and more iconic with each passing year, it's quite surprising that there are celebrities out there who still refuse to lend their voices to the long-running series. After all, the show has featured the voice talents of such legends as Johnny Carson, Michael Jackson, and even three of the four Beatles. We're not sure what could possess someone to consider themselves too good for America's favorite cartoon family, but the following ten examples will put faces to such an absurd notion.
Given his long-standing status as a huge asshole, it's not surprising that William Shatner was dubbed the first celebrity to turn down "The Simpsons" on the DVD commentary for the first season. He was supposedly asked to voice himself in one of the show's earlier seasons, quite possibly for the spoof film "Star Trek XII: So Very Tired" in Season 4's "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie," but said no. Ironically, Shatner did voice himself in an episode of the show's brother series from another century, "Futurama."
Season 2, Episode 11; Season 3, Episode 13; Season 10, Episode 5
While Shatner may have been the first to turn down "The Simpsons," Bruce Springsteen is among the most frequent to refuse America's favorite cartoon family. The Boss has been pursued by the series for years, most notably putting the kibosh on a role in Season 3's "Radio Bart," which eventually went to rock legend, Sting, instead. Springsteen has turned the show down so many times, it's become somewhat of a joke to the series, as evidenced in Season 24's "Love is a Many-Splintered Thing," where he is replaced in Bart's daydream by drummer, Max Weinberg.
Season 4, Episode 14 and Season 10, Episode 5
Turns out that Springsteen wasn't the only celebrity to turn down Season 10's "When You Dish Upon a Star." In fact, before Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger filled the roles of the episode's titular stars, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were approached to play the part, but refused. This was actually the second time that Mr. Cruise had turned down a guest role in the series. He was actually written to play the part of Bart's mentor in the Big Brother program in Season 4, but declined. They even named the character "Tom" for crying out loud!
Season 5, Episode 13
Sometimes a celebrity's refusal to voice himself in an episode of "The Simpsons" drastically alters the episode itself. And while the gist of "Homer and Apu" would have remained the same, it's now difficult to imagine anyone but James Woods as the celebrity apprentice to Apu in this now classic episode. But alas, before Woods was even a thought in the writer's heads, the role was initially offered to none other than veteran actor Michael Caine, who declined.
Season 7, Episode 24 and Season 8, Episode 9
For the most part, when you say no to "The Simpsons" they don't wait around; they simply replace you with a celebrity who'd be grateful to play the part. In the case of Bob Dylan, however, they actually did offer him a second chance. After initially turning down a role as himself in "Homerpalooza" that eventually went to Peter Frampton, he was offered another role as Homer's spirit guide in an episode the following season. Unfortunately for him, Johnny Cash accepted first, and he was left with, well...this (video below):
Season 8, Episode 13
As a man who writes perhaps some of the best dialogue in the business, it makes a bit more sense that Quentin Tarantino turned down a small role as himself in Season 8 due to unsatisfactory dialogue. However, when reading that actors such as Albert Brooks were allowed to change and even improv their lines during guest appearances, one has to wonder if this is the entire truth of the matter. His voice was replaced by the man behind Homer himself, Dan Castellaneta.
Season 11, Episode 20
When you think of sweet little Shirley Temple, I'm sure the last thing you would expect to come out of her mouth would be "F*ck off." Sadly, that was her response to "The Simpsons" producers after being offered the role of Vicki Valentine, a character loosely based on her own life as a child star all grown up. Apparently she didn't like how the character was portrayed, prompting the nasty response. The show went on without Temple, with Tress MacNeille voicing the role instead. Pretty harsh words, but as Milhouse would say, "Nothing that a handful of gummy bears can't fix."
Season 12, Episode 21
If you've ever seen the Season 12 finale "Simpsons Tall Tales," you may have wondered why the singing hobo wasn't voiced by a celebrity. After all, he was written with some pretty great one-liners, and genuinely seemed like the type of character the show would find a funny celebrity to voice. Turns out, the role was offered to funnyman Jim Carrey, but it became apparent that his work schedule was too busy so Hank Azaria took over. Perhaps we'll still see a great appearance from him somewhere down the line. At least something better than his role in "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone."
Season 6, Episode 6
As mentioned before, if you turn down "The Simpsons," there's no guaranteeing you'll get another chance, even if you want one. Al Gore might be the best example of this. The former vice president had his opportunity to not only appear on the series, but host its arguably best Halloween special to date and turned it down. Years later, he actually approached the show to see if there was a role he could play, and was turned down. He has appeared on Matt Groening's "Futurama" on several occasions, but that's not really the same thing.