The Mindy Project has gone through some major ups and downs over the years. The series first premiered on Fox in 2012, then moved to Hulu for Season 4 in 2015 after getting the axe from Fox. The transition from network to streaming involved some changes, but the romcom dynamic of Mindy and Danny was enough of a constant that The Mindy Project still felt like the same show, though it began to look very different when Danny spent less and less time on screen before his breakup with Mindy. Now, The Mindy Project will feature even less of Danny in Season 5 as actor Chris Messina has been downgraded from a regular to a recurring guest star.
The switch from regular to recurring is pretty huge for an actor who started out the series second-billed to the lead. Chris Messina will appear sporadically throughout Season 5 to maintain a relationship of sorts with Mindy, according to TVLine. Given that the beginning of Season 4 featured the birth of Mindy and Danny’s son Leo, the fact that Danny will still pop in from time to time at least means that his character won’t be destroyed by Messina’s absence. There’s no way short of Danny dying that he would actually abandon Leo, and Mindy fortunately really isn’t the sort of show that would go so far as to kill off the guy who had been the male lead for four years.
Of course, Danny has gone through some changes in Season 4 that have rendered him much less of a romantic hero than he was in earlier seasons. Although he was overjoyed with the birth of his son and so committed to Mindy that he moved past his marriage insecurities to propose to her, he wasn’t such a great guy after little Leo came home. He didn’t react well when Mindy refused to give up her career to become a stay-at-home mom, and the relationship that had become the cornerstone of the show became somewhat toxic. Personally, I loved Danny and Mindy together as much as anybody in the earlier days, but I wasn’t exactly heartbroken when they broke up in Season 4.
Danny’s reduced presence in Season 4 has been a result of Chris Messina landing a role in Ben Affleck’s big screen venture Live By Night, which affected his availability for Mindy. If Live By Night goes well for him, Messina will likely have plenty to do in the future without playing Danny Castellano.
Chris Messina being downgraded to recurring for Season 5 doesn’t mean that he’ll never be back in a more regular capacity in the future. Mindy and Danny may still have the shot at a romcom happily-ever-after. As long as Danny doesn’t die during the run of the show, we can always hope that his character will be handled in a way that is funny rather than frustrating.
You can catch the rest of Season 4 of The Mindy Project when episodes are released on Tuesdays at 3:01 a.m. EST. For a look at what shows you’ll be able to watch on primetime, check out our summer TV premiere schedule.