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The Behind-The-Scenes Drama On The Simpsons That Had Maude Flanders Written Off The Show

Since hitting the airwaves in 1989, "The Simpsons" has defined (and often "predicted") popular culture in a way arguably unmatched by any other animated series. Its perennial presence on the small screen feels almost like a fact of life at this point, and it won't be ending anytime soon. Earlier this year, the show was renewed for its 33rd and 34th seasons (via Fox).

Despite running for more than three decades, "The Simpsons," like many other cartoons, is famous for the fact its characters almost never age. It also maintains continuity by rarely killing off characters. Most of the ones that were written out were recurring characters like Bleeding Gums Murphy and Fat Tony – the latter of whom was replaced by his slimmer lookalike cousin, who became the "new" Fat Tony after gaining weight due to the stress of being a mob boss.

One particularly surprising death, however, came in Episode 14 of Season 11 ("Alone Again, Natura-Diddly"), when Maude Flanders, the similarly devout wife of the Simpsons' religious neighbor Ned Flanders, died in an accident at the Springfield Speedway. While Maude admittedly wasn't a major character, she still endeared herself to audiences as one of the Simpson family's most familiar neighbors. However, it turns out there was a behind-the-scenes issue that necessitated Maude's onscreen death.

A dispute over pay led her voice actor to leave

For years, Maude Flanders was voiced by Maggie Roswell, who had been a part of the "Simpsons" voice cast since its inaugural season. In addition to bringing Ned's loyal spouse to life, she also voiced Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and Luann Van Houten. However, when Roswell moved from Los Angeles to Denver with her family in the mid-'90s, she was forced to travel twice a week to L.A. to record her lines.

Over time, the commute proved expensive for Roswell, who asked Fox for a pay raise in 1999. When they refused, she quit the show. "I was part of the backbone of 'The Simpsons,' and I didn't think [the requested raise] was exorbitant," Roswell said after her departure (via the Los Angeles Times). "I wasn't asking for what the other cast members make. I was just trying to recoup all the costs I had in travel. If they'd flown me in, I'd still be working."

Despite the acrimony, Roswell would end up returning to the show in 2002 (via Pop Culture). Rather than revive Maude, Roswell instead put more time into the character of Helen Lovejoy. She has voiced Maude in flashback and ghost appearances, though, including once for the former for the show's milestone 700th episode in March of this year, as she herself confirmed on Twitter.