File this one under “Things you may or may not have already known but probably didn’t because nobody really ever talked about it.” The Simpsons obviously has a very sad but admirable tradition of retiring certain characters after the deaths of the actors who voice them, with notable examples being the retirements of characters like Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz after Phil Hartman’s death and, more recently, Edna Krabappel after the passing of Marcia Wallace. But did you know that Lunchlady Doris also received a similar retirement after the passing of Doris Grau in 1995?
You may not have noticed it because Doris seemingly didn’t leave the show, at least not permanently, as she returned to the series in 2006, voiced by Tress MacNeille, who has given us the majority of minor female Simpsons characters from Cookie Kwan to the Crazy Cat Lady. Except that wasn’t Doris. It turns out that she received a new name: Lunchlady Dora. Simpsons writer Michael Price was more than happy to fill the AV Club’s Sean O’Neal in on the who’s, why’s and how’s.
While Grau passed away in 1995, her final appearance as Lunchlady Doris didn’t come until 1997, as she had recorded one line for Season 9’s third episode, “Lisa’s Sax.” That line?
Skinner: Now I’d like to introduce you to Lunch Lady Doris, who’ll serve you healthy, nutritious meals.
Doris: Yeah, right.
Obviously, Doris will always be remembered for much more significant scenes, including:
But from here on out, when you’re watching The Simpsons with friends, family members and especially strangers, and Lunchlady Dora makes an appearance, you’ll have something to tell them so you can pretend to be more intelligent than them.