Prior to Community’s panel at Comic-Con this weekend, creator/showrunner Dan Harmon, who recently returned to the series, spoke with TV Line about his plans for the upcoming fifth season. He discussed Donald Glover’s reduced role in the show. Glover will only be appearing in five of the new season’s 13 episodes, and Harmon reveals that they’ll be doing Glover’s episodes all in one chunk at the top of the season and makes it seem as if he’s exiting the show for good by referring to these five episodes as “his departure.” Here’s Harmon on the matter:
“It’s devastating, the idea. It’s heart-wrenching. He has my absolute full support doing whatever he wants to do. He’s one of the most intimidatingly talented people I’ve ever had the pleasure of writing words for. [Losing] Troy is like the left arm being removed from your body … You have to acknowledge it and handle it … We’re gonna charge in, we’re gonna make eye contact with the tragedy that is his departure, and we’re gonna turn it into a story and we’re gonna feel the feels and laugh the laughs and deal with it.”
When asked if he’s replacing Chevy Chase with another cast member, Harmon responded:
“I’m still working on that aspect of it. We’re having very organic conversations about how to fill… the more important thing is that there’s a certain kind of vacuum being left behind by Chevy, and now if Donald is gonna be fading out of there. Whether or not you replace people is different from saying, ‘Has the dynamic in the cast completely changed? … Does something need to be done to off-set that?’ The answer is absolutely yes. New characters will emerge and old ones will come in. I don’t have super specific solutions quite yet. I want it to be more organic to the stories that we’re telling.”
At Comic-Con, Harmon said of the new season, “Nobody wants to not fail more than me at this point, because it’s kind of a weird story. I really really have to make these 13 [episodes] count. I don’t consider them the last 13. I’m going to do everything I can to get us the sixth season.” He also revealed that he’s planning an animated episode and another Dungeons & Dragons episode this season.
Here’s video of the Harmon/TV Line interview: