Community experienced the departure of several major actors during its six-season run. The comedy, created by Dan Harmon, debuted in September 2009 on NBC and 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 actors that left Community, something the show never truly recovered from. That’s not too surprising, as losing major cast members has a long history of damaging popular TV shows. Gradually, Community leave for a variety of reasons, some in more dramatic ways than others.
The plot centered on a study group from Greendale Community College. Jeff (Joel McHale), Annie (Alison Brie), Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), Pierce (Chevy Chase), Troy (Donald Glover), Abed (Danny Pudi), and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) made up the core study group. Ken Jeong and Jim Rash also had stints nd saw their roles grow as the years went on, especially after actors that left Community left big shoes to fill. Not all the original cast remained with the show through Community season 6, and those who left Community included creator Dan Harmon. To be fair, it did take the study group an abnormally long six years to graduate from community college.
When it comes to departures from the show, the story of why Chevy Chase left Community is the biggest scandal. 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 Community season 4 and the season 5 premiere.
Given the success and multiple talents he has explored since, the answer to why did Donald Glover leave Community is pretty clear. Glover was the second major departure after playing Troy Barnes since the beginning. Unlike Chase, Glover’s departure was 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 some 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.
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.
Dan Harmon wasn’t an actor on Community, but as the series creator, he’s 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 being called the “gas leak year.” Series star Joel McHale pushed for Harmon’s rehiring for season 5, and the network gave in to the request. Most fans agree that season 4 just didn’t feel right without him, with many opting to ignore it entirely.
Who Is Returning For …And A Movie On Peacock?
A running claim throughout Community is the tagline “six seasons and a movie,” which is both a meta-joke made by members of the cast (particularly Abed) and an actual intention on the part of Community’s creative team. Well, after a whole lot of speculation and teases from various cast members, it’s finally been announced that a Community movie is on the horizon. In September 2022, Peacock confirmed that they would be releasing a feature film on their streaming service. While there’s no confirmed release date as yet, it’s unlikely that the movie will come out as late as 2024, so it’s probable that the film will hit streaming in 2023.
In terms of the Community movie cast, many are curious about who will be returning from the show. Joel McHale (Jeff Winger) has been the most vocal about the project from its inception, and will definitely be returning. Alison Brie (Annie) has also talked about the Community movie publicly, meaning she will likely be signed onto the project as well. Some of the main cast has expressed excitement over the possibility of returning to Greendale Community College, with Abed actor Danny Pudi posting the announcement to his Instagram. Jim Rash’s Dean Pelton will be in the film, as will Ken Jeong’s Ben Chang.
As for the other Community cast members, some of their returns for …And A Movie remain uncertain. Gillian Jacobs (Britta) and Yvette Nicole-Brown (Shirley) have yet to confirm or deny their involvement, and the same goes for Donald Glover (Troy) — with the latter being perhaps the most in-demand. It’s also probably safe to say that Chevy Chase won’t be in the upcoming Community film, given how and why he left the show in the first place.
While some left before the show concluded and others stuck around the entire time, just about all of the Community cast found great roles after the end of the series. In fact, many of them went on to star in television series that, while perhaps not as popular as Community, each found decent success. Gillian Jacobs and Alison Brie went to Netflix to star in Love and GLOW, respectively. Ken Jeong headlined his own sitcom Dr. Ken for two seasons while Yvette Nicole-Brown starred in The Odd Couple for three seasons. Currently, fans can see Danny Pudi in Mythic Quest and Joel McHale in Animal Control.
The biggest success story to come out of Community has been Donald Glover. Though he stole many scenes as Troy Barnes, few people could have predicted his multitalented career. Along with his music as Childish Gambino, Glover also created and starred in Atlanta which recently ended its four-season run. He has starred in movies ranging from Solo: A Star Wars Story to The Lion King to the MCU’s Spider-Man: Homecoming as Aaron Davis. Interestingly, several Community cast members have appeared in the MCU with Danny Pudi, Jim Rash, Yvette Nicole-Brown, and Ken Jeong all making cameos.