Season 6 will be a milestone season for Parks and Recreation as the series approaches its 100th episode. It also appears to be the final season for stars Rob Lowe and Rashida Jones, who are reportedly set to exit the series on or at some point after the thirteenth episode of the season. Rashida Jones has been with the show since the very beginning, while Lowe boarded the NBC comedy during Season 2, so their exits will most certainly be a huge event for the series.
BuzzFeed posted the initial story, stating that Lowe and Jones will depart Parks and Rec during the season's 13th episode, which will likely land during February sweeps. While NBC has not offered any official comment, THR confirmed the news, but their wording is a bit different. The site reports that the two actors are expected to leave the show following Episode 13, which either means Episode 13 is their last episode, or they're leaving after that episode at some point. I'm inclined to assume the former. Regardless, they're leaving partway through the upcoming season, and it may not be a stretch to guess that their departure is a package deal, given that Jones' Ann Perkins and Lowe's Chris Traeger were trying to have a baby during Season 5. We can optimistically hope that news of the actors' exits means their stories have run their course - possibly straight into each others' - and they're set to embark upon their happily ever after, not unlike Michael and Holly did during Season 7 of The Office.
While THR points out Lowe and Jones' commitments outside their roles on Parks and Rec - Killing Kennedy for Lowe, a Warner Bros. Television deal for Jones - there's no mention of what prompted this exit. Was it the actors' choices to move on? Or are they being intentionally written out? It's entirely possible that it's a combination of both. Perhaps Lowe and Jones ready to move on and the writers found a way to accommodate that partway through the upcoming season. Regardless, their exits will most definitely be felt. In fact, I'm curious to see if additional characters will be written into the comedy in an attempt to fill the sizable gap that's left when Ann and Chris leave.
As THR points out, Parks and Recreation isn't the only NBC comedy with major character adjustments in store. Chevy Chase exited Community at the end of last season, and then came word that Donald Glover's role would be diminished in the series upcoming fifth season. What's Abed without his Troy? What's Leslie without her Ann? These are questions that will apparently be answered for better or worse when both series return next season. For Parks and Recreation, that's an hour-long episode set for Thursday, September 26.
UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter posted the following statement from Parks and Rec showrunner Michael Schur regarding Lowe and Jones' exits:
“The news about Rob and Rashida is true -- they will be leaving the show after the 13th episode of the upcoming season six. We've been working on their storyline (on and off) for four seasons now, and heading into this year, with the two of them contemplating parenthood, it felt like a natural time to move them into the next phase.