Why did Donald Glover leave Community?

2000s cult-classic comedy Community, met its end after Donald Glover left the series during season five, as he looked to produce and own his own content.


In 2005, Community premiered on NBC. The awkward sitcom proved to be a cult-classic, as it created a loyal and active fan base. However, it is argued that for NBC, it was not as popular, as it competed with the likes of 30 Rock.

However, due to its cult-following and the onscreen magic of the show, it managed to run for six successful seasons.

Although, season five marked the departure of Donald Glover, which is argued to be the reason the show concluded with the sixth season. A season which was picked up by Sony Television, but could not capture the essence of the past five seasons.

What was Community about?

Created by Dan Harmon, Community first premiered on NBC in 2005. The premise of the sitcom was of “A suspended lawyer is forced to enroll in a community college with an eccentric staff and student body.”

The awkward sitcom filled with eccentric characters, is believed to have been the springboard for the careers of now household names including John McHale, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ken Jeong and Donald Glover as the lovable but naive Troy Barnes.

Glover’s decision to leave the show during the season four to five hiatus is regarded as the catalyst for the sitcom’s subsequent demise in 2015.

Why did Donald Glover leave Community?

Donald Glover’s departure from Community was announced during the hiatus between season four and five of the sitcom. The announcement was made in August 2013, following the airing of season four.

Initially, Glover would not return to shoot his exit from the show, in light of the dismissal of show creator, Dan Harmon, in May 2012.

More so as Chevy Chase was also fired due to his alleged racist comments and increasingly aggressive behaviour.

But when Harmon was rehired, he managed to convince Glover to return for five-episodes of season five.

By that time one of the reasons for Glover’s departure had been revealed, the multifaceted artist was set to create and premier his own 30-minute-long sitcom on FX titled Atlanta.

The move asserted Glover’s stance of looking to work on his own projects, similar to the release of his 2013 album as Childish Gambino titled Because of the Internet.

While the aforementioned reasoning became the standard answer as to why Donald Glover left Community mid-season, the Atlanta creator and star revealed that he was going through a quarter-life crisis.

In an open letter he shared in October 2013, in part, Glover stated, “I got really lost last year. But I can’t be lonely tho [sic]. Cause we’re all here. We’re all stuck here. I wanted to make something that says, no matter how bad you f**k up, or mistakes you’ve made during the year, your life, your eternity, you’re always allowed to be better. You’re always allowed to grow up. If you want.”

Donald Glover recants previous sentiments on Community departure

For two years, the running narrative on Glover’s decision to leave Community straddled between the diplomatic response, and that which suggested that he was going through some quarter-life crisis at the time.

However, in 2016, in light of the success he had in those years including winning two Emmys from five nominations and five Grammy wins from seven nominations, Glover repositioned his reasoning.

In response to a yet another question about his departure from Community, this time he stated, “I just like endings. I think everything should have death clauses in them like humans have death clauses.”

He continued, “It’s important that things end, it forces events to progress… It wasn’t like I wanted to run away from it.”

Why did NBC cancel Community?

Community ran for five seasons on NBC until it was cancelled, which was presumably due to the drama behind-the-scenes and the relatively low ratings of the sitcom compared to other comedies on the roster.

However, just when fans were reeling from the loss, it was picked up by Sony Television for a sixth season, which failed to capture the magic of the original cast without Glover.

Therefore, it is believed that it was Glover leaving the sitcom that marked its imminent end.

A person that would go on to attribute Glover’s departure as the beginning of the end was Dan Harmon, who , “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.”

Final thoughts

Since its demise in 2015, Community is one of the sitcom’s which in the years has continued to have a growing cult following. This is despite the fact that during its run, the show was not a ratings puller. Nevertheless, it was sustained by its cult following.

However, the end of the sitcom is believed to have stemmed from Donald Glover’s decision to leave the show to explore more independent and self-created content.

Shortly after Glover’s decision to leave mid-season five, the series also met its end, airing its last season on NBC in 2015.