After Nearly 10 Years, The Simpsons Has Found a Replacement For Edna Krabappel
It’s been a long time since a teacher took control of the fourth grade at Springfield Elementary. Bart’s class has had a rotating roster of teachers since the death of Marcia Wallace, who played Edna Krabappel through Season 25 of The Simpsons. That’s changing with the upcoming April 24th episode of The Simpsons, with the fourth grade being taken over by Ms. Rayshelle Peyton.
Starting with the episode “My Octopus and a Teacher,” Ms. Peyton will be the new teacher for Bart Simpson. The character will be voiced by Scandal and Little Fires Everywhere actress Kerry Washington. Washington will be a recurring role in the animated comedy, and unlike Ms. Krabappel it seems she’s trying to be a positive influence in her students’ lives.
Bart has never had a teacher like her.
— The Simpsons (@TheSimpsons) April 21, 2022
“She’s a great teacher,” Washington told Entertainment Weekly. “But like all the best teachers, she knows that her students have just as much to teach her as she has to teach them. And teaching Bart is a job filled with growth opportunities.”
“We’re not going to feel like, ‘Oh, this is a new Krabappel,” added series co-executive producer Carolyn Omine. “Most of our teachers are kind of burnouts, and it’s just a function of comedy. But we thought, ‘Let’s just make this different, let’s make her a good teacher.’ Sometimes it’s hard to find comedy in people that are good, but then you think about people like Leslie Knope. They’re just a bit too much, but they’re good at their job. We wanted to have that kind of teacher.”
In the episode, Bart will have “complicated feelings” when he feels like he knows his new teacher from somewhere. Ms. Peyton wants to help her student, but Bart has to open up first.
“She’s really good at figuring out what the kids need, but she can’t really figure out what his problem is until he finally comes clean,” Omine explained.
Springfield Elementary’s fourth grade hasn’t had a permanent teacher since 2013. Edna Krabappel voice actress Marcia Wallace died at the age of 70 earlier that year, following a long career as an actress on The Merv Griffin Show, The Brady Bunch, and The Bob Newhart show. Her first appearance on The Simpsons was in the second episode, all the way back in 1990.
The show officially retired the character of Mrs. Krabappel after a brief tribute, but would eventually bring her back for a 2021 episode that executive producer Al Jean described as a chance to say a “proper goodbye.”
Since Edna’s death, the fourth-grade class has been taught by the antagonistic Jack Lassen, played by Willem Dafoe. Lassen was fired for his rivalry with Bart in the same episode, becoming a prison warden afterward. Other substitutes include Carol Berrera, an Army soldier who quickly left to serve in Afghanistan, played by Sofia Vergara, and even Ned Flanders.
The team at The Simpsons felt it was time for the role to be filled on a more permanent basis.
“I don’t know why we’ve been putting it off,” said Omine. “I do miss our dear Marcia, and I think there was a little sadness and reluctance to do it, but it’s been nine years. We would have a conversation at least once a year, maybe every other year. We couldn’t really decide, and we couldn’t really agree. There just wasn’t the inspired thought — until we came upon this.”
Washington’s addition follows in the wake of long-time Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria stating that he would no longer play the voice of Kwik-E-Mart owner Apu, with the Simpsons also recasting Carl Carlson with Alex Désert. Washington tweeted, “Dear animators looking for black voices… I’m avail.” Through that simple tweet, a connection was made.
Washington will only appear in a single episode this current season, but the writers of The Simpsons have plans for her in the upcoming season. The upcoming episode will air on April 24 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.
Mike Williams is a freelance writer at IGN.