The Simpsons' Hank Azaria steps down from voicing Apu Nahasapeemapetilon

Voice actor Hank Azaria won't be voicing The Simpsons character Apu anymore.

According to Slashfilm, Azaria - who has voiced the Indian-born Kwik-E-Mart owner for more than 30 years - announced the decision at a recent panel.

"All we know there is I won't be doing the voice anymore, unless there's some way to transition it or something," he said.

Apu Nahasapeemapetilon's thick comedic accent and other aspects of his character - such as owning a shop, having an arranged marriage and many children - have been criticised in recent years.

Indian-American comic Hari Kondabolu's 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu brought criticism into the mainstream. 

Azaria said in 2018 after watching the documentary he'd be "willing to step aside".

"I've given this a lot of thought and, as I say, my eyes have been opened," he told The Late Show.

"I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it. I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room - including how [Apu] is voiced or not voiced.

"I'm perfectly willing and happy to step aside, or help transition it into something new. It not only makes sense, it just feels like the right thing to do to me."

A few iconic Simpsons characters have been written out of the show after their voice actors died, including Troy McClure and Edna Krapabbel. It's not clear if Apu will be written out or get a new actor.

"What they're going to do with the character is their call," Azaria said. "It's up to them and they haven't sorted it out yet. All we've agreed on is I won’t do the voice anymore."

Azaria said there was no resistance from his bosses. He won't be out of work, however, also voicing Moe, Chief Wiggum, Carl Carlson, Comic Book Guy, Snake, Nick Riviera, Disco Stu, Supt Chalmers, Cletus and Prof Frink.