Sam Simon, one of the original brains behind the Simpsons, passed away on Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 59. Simon was involved in the first four seasons, which many would argue were the best and few could deny shaped the characters on the show. When you compare them to the Simpsons current output, it's as if you're watching two different cartoons.
I read an interview where Simon said he wanted to write something that would make his friends laugh. They must have been an intelligent, well-read group, because much of Simon's work involved deft literary references and subtle gags that probably wouldn't please the smash-and-grab laughs favoured by today's Family Guy driven market. For instance, Simon introduced Smithers' sexuality to the script, which was one of the most delicately handled jokes on television.
Simon proved that you could garner success through quality, well-paced writing, even if it sacrificed more instantaneous satisfaction. The most notable example of this is The Raven skit from the first Treehouse of Horror. Matt Groening was apparently worried it was too smug, but Simon's adaptation created one of the most memorable moments on the show. Better than a LEGO episode, that's for sure.
Simon has reportedly left all of his fortune to charity.