The Simpsons had to replace George Takei with Leonard Nimoy in “Marge vs. The Monorail.”
Star Trek fans would cite George Takei and Leonard Nimoy as icons of the franchise, yet another iconic franchise, The Simpsons, had to replace one with other. The Simpsons have had a rough go of it in recent years but early on, especially in the fourth season, the show was turning out iconic episodes after iconic episodes. One of the better ones was “Marge vs. The Monorail”.
The episode sees Mr. Burns get fined $3 million for his illegal dumping of nuclear waste and Marge Simpsons suggests using the money to fix Mainstreet, but Lyle Lanley (the late-great Phil Hartman) weasels his way into town and suggests a monorail instead.
The idea obviously goes awry and despite having a Star Trek cameo from Leonard Nimoy, the entire deal ends up falling apart, with Mage being vindicated.
Yet, Nimoy wasn’t supposed to be the original cameo.
Leonard Nimoy replaced George Takei
In the episode, Nimoy appeared as a spokesperson for the company building the monorail, but originally, the role was supposed to go to George Takei. Takei was originally picked because the Simpsons didn’t think they could get Nimoy in the first place, after a similar conversation to get William Shatner to cameo fell threw earlier in the series. Since they couldn’t land Shatner before, the crew thought they couldn’t get Nimoy either.
So enter Takei. Only thing is, according to the DVD commentary for the episode, (and by episode writer Conan O’Brien), Takei turned down the role. Why? Because he was on the San Francisco Board of Transportation and thought making fun of something like monorails would be bad for his position at the time.
Needless to say, that’s one of the silliest reasons I’ve ever heard to turn down a role. A role in a cartoon, where you’d be playing a parody of yourself. Not only that but it’s over something so innocuous.
Even if he did do the role, it’s not like San Francisco is known for its monorails. Who would be mad about that?
Nimoy delivered in the role, as he usually does, and the episode has gone on to be one of the best episodes in Simpsons history.