Roughly seven years after her character's unexplained death, Edna Krabappel, more endearingly known as "Mrs. K," was finally given the full tribute she deserved by The Simpsons creators.
The longtime Springfield Elementary School teacher was voiced by Marcia Wallace, who died in 2013 due to causes related to pneumonia. Although her character has been seen sporadically in episodes since her untimely passing, the story of Mrs. K's death within the context of The Simpsons was never really fully explained.
So, what exactly happened to Mrs. K on The Simpsons? Furthermore, why did the show opt to wait until 2021 to fully tribute her character in a dedicated episode? Here's what we know about the decisions made on the longstanding animated show.
What happened to Mrs. K on 'The Simpsons'? Her first goodbye was in 2014.
Despite passing away in October 2013, Marcia's final appearance as Mrs. K on The Simpsons didn't come until March 9, 2014, where her character was given a true send-off by the show, albeit leaving some questions for fans.
That episode (Season 25, Episode 13) was the culmination of years of Marcia's work as the crass, yet often misunderstood school teacher, and she was sent off in the most endearing way possible. In that episode, and the storyline at that time, she and Ned Flanders are romantically involved with one another, but things take a rather bleak turn quickly.
While dancing the tango with her, Ned realized that he was indeed dreaming. When he wakes up, fans caught a glimpse of him wearing a black band, an indicator that he was mourning. When the camera panned over to his bedside table, two framed images of Mrs. K and his first wife, Maude, who died some years back, were clearly visible, sealing the deal that the character of Mrs. K was officially gone.
'The Simpsons' never officially explained Mrs. K's cause of death.
Even with roughly seven years removed from Marcia's passing, The Simpsons still haven't ever fully explained her character's death. Despite showcasing her tombstone in two episodes since, "Looking for Mr. Goodbart" and "Dogtown," as well as a tribute in episode credits, an actual cause of death for the tumultuous educator hasn't been shared. On Feb. 21, 2021, the show aired an episode that finally attempted to fully pay tribute Marcia's character, but still refrained from sharing her cause of death.
In that episode, Bart Simpson discovers Mrs. K's diary and ensues a series of flashbacks to past events with the teacher, including voiceover work from the late Marcia herself. Executive Producer Al Jean explained to Variety that the reasoning behind the tribute taking so long was because the actress's passing was so sudden that they didn't know how to properly honor her at the time. Years later, they've figured a small, but noteworthy way to commemorate her efforts on the show.
"Sadly, it was very surprising passing," Al told the publication. "I didn’t know she was that ill until very close to when it happened. So we never got the chance to give sort of a proper goodbye to her in the show, and this is a small attempt to do that. And, you know, she was so beloved by everybody that worked on The Simpsons, that we just sort of wanted to give her one last moment on the show in her memory. It’s just that, it’s nothing more, but, we thought she was the best."