Not every study group member at the center of Community remained for the duration of the show’s six seasons – here’s who left before season 6.
Community experienced the departure of several major actors during the show’s six-season run. The comedy, created by Dan Harmon, debuted in September 2009 on NBC. The sitcom found a loyal fan following, but it never had the same support compared to other network sitcoms like The Office and Parks and Recreation. The viewership decline coincided with the exits of main characters, something Community never truly recovered from. That’s not too surprising, as losing major cast members has a long history of damaging popular TV shows.
Like most sitcoms, Community focused on an ensemble cast comprising of drastically different characters that become the unlikeliest of friends. In Community‘s case, the plot centered on a study group from Greendale Community College. Joel McHale, Alison Brie, Yvette Nicole Brown, Chevy Chase, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, and Gillian Jacobs rounded out the primary cast as the core study group. Ken Jeong and Jim Rash also had stints as prominent figures based on their respective characters’ connection to Greendale, and saw their roles grow as the years went on, especially when members of the study group left.
While some supporting characters like Jonathan Banks’ Buzz Hickey and John Oliver’s Dr. Ian Duncan came and went, the study group consisting of Jeff Winger, Annie Edison, Shirley Bennett, Pierce Hawthorne, Troy Barnes, Abed Nadir, and Britta Perry remained the focus of the comedy. However, not all of the original figures remained with Community throughout the six seasons, including Harmon. To be fair, it did take the study group an abnormally long six years to graduate from community college.
Why Chevy Chase Left Community
Chevy Chase portrayed the role of Pierce Hawthorne, the eldest member of the study group since the show debuted in 2009. The character was known for his antiquated views and offensive remarks, and that’s putting it nicely. Ironically, Chase’s own insensitive comments led to his departure ahead of season 5. While filming Community season 4, episode 6, “Advanced Documentary Filmmaking,” Chase became angry with the story direction before using a racial slur. Based on the cast and crew response, Chase and NBC mutually agreed it would be best for the actor to leave Community. This follows past instances in which colleagues have accused Chase of being hard to work with. Before leaving, he finished a few scenes that appeared in the rest of season 4 and the season 5 premiere.
Why Donald Glover Left Community
Donald Glover was the second major Community actor to exit after playing Troy Barnes since the beginning. Unlike Chase, Glover’s departure was solely a personal decision. Though some assumed Glover left to grow his music career as Childish Gambino, which certainly did shoot into the stratosphere afterward, the actor revealed the reasoning stemmed from a few personal issues. Troy appeared in five episodes of season 5 before the character set out on a sailing trip to obtain Pierce’s inheritance. Community hinted at Troy’s fate while subsequently creating a thrilling idea for a sequel movie.
Why Yvette Nicole Brown Left Community
Shirley Bennett was the third and final member of the study group to leave the series before its official end. Played by Yvette Nicole Brown since the pilot, the character was a pillar in the series through five seasons, often being defined by her devout religious views. Ahead of the sixth and final season, Brown announced she would be exiting the series to care for her sick father. Despite departing the show, Brown reprised her role for the season premiere to tie up loose ends before a cameo appearance in the series finale episode.
Why Dan Harmon Left Community
Dan Harmon wasn’t an actor on Community, but as the series creator, he’s certainly worth mentioning. After developing the comedy and serving as the showrunner for three seasons, Dan Harmon was fired by NBC. Sony Pictures Television and the network blamed Harmon’s erratic set behavior for the decision. Upon his departure, Community season 4 didn’t live up to the standards set by previous installments, eventually taking on the nickname of the “gas leak year.” Series star Joel McHale pushed for Harmon’s rehiring for season 5, and the network gave into the request. Thank goodness they did, as most fans would agree that season 4 just didn’t feel right without him, with many opting to ignore it entirely.
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