Chevy Chase and Community are ending their often contentious four-plus year relationship with the Pierce Hawthorne actor leaving the show effective immediately.
According to Deadline, Chase and the producers of the show have reached an agreement on his departure. The show is deep into production on its fourth season, meaning that Chase would only be absent in one or two episodes that have not yet been shot.
In many ways, this news is unsurprising. Chevy Chase has largely confirmed his reputation as difficult to work with throughout his time with the show. Chase and previous showrunner Dan Harmon often clashed, most famously when Harmon played a voicemail from an irate Chase during a public appearance.
Chase was also very public with his distaste for the show, telling the Huffington Post U.K. in September that accepting the role was “a big mistake.”
It’s possible that NBC higher-ups thought Chase might be more agreeable with Harmon ousted and replaced by new showrunners Moses Port and David Guarascio, but those dreams were dashed when Chase used the “n-word” on set while protesting his character’s casual racism.
It’s a little surprising how long Chase’s departure actually took. Leaving with only one or two episodes to go is a little bizarre and it remains to be seen how the show would explain his departure. It’s possible this season could be Community’s last hurrah, but should it reach a season 5, it would be the first and only Pierce-less season…which would be a fascinating watch.
The tragedy here is that for as much as Chase has apparently been a villain behind the scenes, Pierce has been as equally an enjoyable villain on the show. Many friend groups always have “that person” who hangs around and is such a critical part of the group despite the fact that they’re not even a particularly enjoyable person. Whether Chase was cognizant of it or not, he had the Pierce role nailed.