Shearer, who has voiced more than a hundred characters including Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders and Principal Skinner since the animated series first aired in 1989, announced he would not be returning to the show after failing to reach an agreement with network bosses.

He wrote on Twitter.com that it "wasn't about money" and he wanted freedom to work on other projects.

Since the news emerged, fans on social media have been speculating what it will mean for the characters and the series, which has been renewed for two more seasons.

Jean responded to the news by writing on the microblogging site, "The show will go on, made by people who love it and see in it the most wonderful vehicle for satire ever."

He then replied to individual questions, telling one fan he would "never say never" about Shearer coming back and insisting his characters would not be killed off, adding that producers will "recast" them "if Harry does not return".

When a user asked Jean to give Harry "what he wants", the producer responds, "I'm my view we did and he still passed. Was offered the same deal as (the) other 5 (cast members)."

Jean admitted he did not understand Shearer's tweets, posting, "His statements implied he rejected final offer to do other projects, which we always let him do. It's confusing."