Who shot Mr Burns? It's the best kept secret in television and the creator
of The Simpsons, Matt Groening, and his team have gone to great
lengths to keep it that way.
In this week's season finale on Channel 10 at 7:30pm on Wednesday, Springfield's wealthy tyrant, Mr Burns, succeeds in angering virtually every resident in town, and by the end of the episode he will be shot.
But by whom? Thats Groening's secret. Only a handful of people know who pulled the trigger.
"In fact, some people who think they know, really don't," said Groening.
There has been intense secrecy surrounding the show's ending. The creators went to the trouble of creating multiple endings, removing script pages, and taping the ending at a secret session. It's hailed as the biggest mystery since Dallas' famous Who Shot JR? episode.
Some people have tried all sorts of trickery to pre-empt the episode. One TV critic even tried bribing Groening's six-year-old son, Will - with a hot dog!
"I don't tell my kids, because I know they will fall for it," said Groening. "My wife doesn't know. Only six or seven people know, and we've already leaked misleading information."
According to Groening, the episode is laced with clues, although some lead to the wrong suspect.
"Simpsons watchers know there's always more going on than meets the eye," he said. "The puzzle is solvable - you just have to pay attention."
Executive producer David Merkin is also tight-lipped about the culprit, but said Homer Simpson may hold the key.
"I'm not saying he did or didn't do it, but keep an eye on Homer. Thats a big piece of information."
There is no shortage of suspects. Just about everyone, including Marge, Bart, and Lisa, as well as a host of peripheral characters, have their reasons for wanting to get even with Mr Burns.
In the past, his leaky reactors have resulted in environmental disasters and he has never allowed a few safety regulations, or human lives, stand between him and a quick million dollar profit.
Fans will have to wait to have the mystery solved. The culprit will be revealled in the opening episode of the new series, scheduled for screening in February.