The Simpsons Casts Kerry Washington As Bart's New Teacher, Replacing Mrs. Krabappel

Bart Simpson may never actually age throughout the entire 30-plus season run of "The Simpsons" (and counting!), but that doesn't mean he or the show overall are immune to change. In one of the more significant additions to the incredibly long-running animated comedy series, the creators have finally found a permanent replacement for the beloved supporting character, Mrs. Krabappel. Sadly, the voice actor behind the domineering schoolteacher and bane of Bart's existence, Marcia Wallace, passed away in 2013 and the creative team decided to retire the character outright (after a fond farewell during season 25).

Now, today brings the news (via Entertainment Weekly) that the search for her successor is now over after a run of various guest stars over the past few seasons. Actor Kerry Washington ("Scandal," "Django Unchained," "Little Fires Everywhere") has been officially brought on board to voice a new character on "The Simpsons" named Rayshelle Peyton, described as "Bart's very thoughtful, highly capable, and rather unfiltered fourth-grade teacher." EW includes a brief clip introducing the new teacher to her students, with Bart making a somewhat less-than-impressive first impression. It's immediately clear that Ms. Peyton will bring a whole new dynamic to this new character, providing fresh storytelling potential that should help liven up Bart's school life. 

In an interesting wrinkle, Bart apparently has a faint glimmer of recognition for this new teacher, which results in "complicated feelings," according to co-executive producer Carolyn Omine. As Washington further describes to EW:

"She's a great teacher. 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."

Kerry Washington joins The Simpsons

After quietly retiring the character of Edna Krabappel and honoring Marcia Wallace through various poignant touches (after marrying Ned Flanders, of all characters, in season 23, Flanders wore a black armband to signify her loss), "The Simpsons" moved forward with a revolving door of guest actors to portray various substitute teacher, ranging from Willem Dafoe to Sofia Vergara. Remarking on the sad situation and their reluctance to officially forge ahead with another character to fill Mrs. Krabappel's shoes, Omine told EW:

"I don't know why we've been putting it off. 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."

Reportedly, Kerry Washington landed on the show's radar for some sort of voice acting role upon hosting "Saturday Night Live" back in 2013. The actor subsequently helped out her own cause years later, tweeting out that she was available to "animators looking for Black voices" in the aftermath of the Apu debacle, in which actor Hank Azaria finally decided to step away from voicing characters of color. According to Omine, "That just got it into my head. I began thinking, 'Maybe she could be the new teacher. We've had this spot.' I talked with [executive producer] Matt Selman, and we decided to write it with her in mind."

The writers are already planning on subsequent appearances for Washington in future seasons, but viewers can catch her debut on Fox the night of Sunday, April 24, 2022.