Faulting a dying DVD market, Simpsons showrunner Al Jean announced yesterday that the show's DVD and Blu-ray sets will be discontinued:
@theRealiHeart Simpsons fans are great (which is why we will do commentaries anything else we can). DVD market is dying. Did best we could.— Al Jean (@AlJean) April 8, 2015
Since late 2001, complete seasons of The Simpsons had been released on DVD box sets (and, beginning in 2010, Blu-ray) on a somewhat-annual basis with commentaries, deleted scenes, and other bonus features. The most recent release was Season 17 (2005-2006), which came out last December. There was also a bare-bones release of Season 20 made to coincide with 20th anniversary hoopla, which was considered so shitty that a major fansite urged potential buyers to pirate it instead. At present, this leaves eight seasons unavailable in physical form, as well as most of the original Simpsons shorts from The Tracey Ullman Show.
The show will still continue to be released in digital form for purchase on places like iTunes, Amazon, Hulu, and Google Play, and "free" (assuming you have a participating cable provider) on FXX's much-hyped Simpsons World streaming service, although the quality may not be the best. And of course The Simpsons will continue to be televised in syndicated reruns until the end of time.
But don't despair, fans of audio commentaries and extras. Jean says the producers will still continue to do "commentariez" for Simpsons World and "all downloads," and at least try their best to provide deleted scenes:
If for some reason that doesn't work out, they could always resort to podcasts, like they did in 2012 to promote "Treehouse of Horror XXIII."
In his introduction to the first season DVD set (which was briefly the world's top-selling DVD until Chappelle's Show came along), creator Matt Groening joked that the series might outlive the format:
Welcome to the first of many deluxe overpriced DVD sets of The Simpsons. With 280-odd shows in the can and no end in sight, you might be able to complete your Simpsons DVD collection just before the next format comes along. Thanks for buying!
Well, looks like nobody will be able to complete their collection now. Haw, haw!
But really, who cares about Season 18 onward?