What Really Killed Community, According To Dan Harmon

community cast upset season 4

It doesn't seem possible for a TV show to reach cult classic status while it is still airing, yet that was a feat met and conquered by Dan Harmon's Community during its six-season run. But as beloved as the show may be, few would consider the latter seasons' comedy to be on par with the earlier years, and even Harmon himself can pinpoint what brought the rapid-fire series to its paintball-splattered knees: Donald Glover's self-imposed exit. According to the creator:

I needed to convince myself that Donald leaving wasn't the death of the show, but now that it's all over, I think we can agree that it was.

From many TV show creators, Dan Harmon's direct and honest comment to THR might be an inflammatory thing to behold, but he's never been one to offer up by-the-books bullshit about anything, least of all the projects he holds nearest and dearest. I mean, this is someone who knowingly, if somewhat indirectly, upset fans of Rick and Morty by pushing Season 3's premiere back, specifically so the episodes would be the best that they could possibly be. And it's easy to think that his return to Community for Seasons 5 and beyond, which included having to write out Donald Glover's Troy, was weighing in his mind during the Rick and Morty creative process.

It's also easy to understand where Dan Harmon is coming from there, since Donald Glover was such an intrinsic (and perhaps necessary) part of the show's deft character dynamics. Simply losing "Troy and Abed in the Morning!" segments was a huge loss, to say little about everything else that Glover brought to the show. Interestingly, Harmon said that the former sketch writer and performer's improvised riffs during filming were later relied upon by the writers, as evidenced by occasional script directions.

Writers sit in a room for hours --- and there are 10 of them and they all went to Harvard --- and they argue endlessly about what jokes to end a scene on, but a good portion of the ending lines to scenes in Community would be ones that Donald would just riff on the spot. I remember there was a transitional point where we literally started writing in the script, 'And then Donald says something funny.'

Donald Glover could have always popped back in and out of Community during its final season if he wanted to, but while he loved his time on the show, he was too interested in finding out everywhere else his career could take him. That career has already come a long, long way since Troy got on the Childish Tycoon with LeVar Burton and set out to sail the world, so he's probably not regretting anything these days.

Though a Community movie will almost definitely never happen, leaving the series' prophecy unfulfilled, you can still catch Donald Glover all over the place, such as in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and then later in the still-untitled Han Solo film and the live-action Lion King feature. He'll also be seen and heard, respectively, in the still-distant Season 2 of FX's excellent Atlanta and in the upcoming animated TV take on Deadpool for FXX.

While waiting for most of that amazingness to get here, though, you can head to our summer premiere guide and our fall TV schedule to see everything else heading to the small screen soon.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.