Mr Burns and Smithers

With The Simpsons now in its 27th season, Waylon Smithers will at long last come out as gay to his evil employer and owner of Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, Mr Burns, the show's producers have announced. After decades of comical – and often awkward – moments, the devoted employee's proclamation will be made over two episodes to his tyrannical and none the wiser boss.

"In Springfield now, most people know he's gay, but obviously Burns doesn't," executive producer Al Jean told TVLine. "We deal with that in two episodes," Jean said. "We actually do a lot with Smithers this year. He gets fed up with Burns not appreciating him and considers his options."

Over the years, Smithers has been infatuated by his skeletal billionaire boss and in turn, Mr Burns has provided viewers with priceless hysteria by his failure to read the situation, even when his dedicated personal assistant professed his love to him, albeit in a roundabout way. In a 2007 reference to Smithers' sexual orientation, the much-loved cartoon's director, David Silverman, said that "the cat's almost out of the bag" and the character was referred to as "Burns-sexual" among the show's writers.

Having hinted at Smithers' sexuality for years (he frequents Springfield's gay village and holidays at a male-only resort), the character will finally be given the chance to announce his identity to the world when the episodes air in March 2016.