Community Creator Dan Harmon Isn't Sure Why He Was Fired (And Doesn't Want To Know)

For a brilliant and wildly entertaining series, "Community" went through a lot of ups and downs. The show had season premiere delays and times when it was taken off the schedule, leading fans to extreme campaigns, such as flash mobs singing "O' Christmas Troy" and a whole lot of #sixseasonsandamovie hashtags sent to NBC executives and social media accounts. The sixth season wasn't even on NBC but ended up on a new streaming platform Yahoo! was trying to get off the ground (and which subsequently crashed).

Chevy Chase, who played the curmudgeonly Pierce Hawthorne and creator Dan Harmon, also spent a lot of time feuding, and Chase left the series early in season 5. Donald Glover who played Troy Barnes left in the fifth season as well. The biggest change, however, was when Dan Harmon was fired before season 4, then hired back for season 5. 

There were a lot of reasons that have been cited for the creator's ousting from the series, from Harmon's admittedly heavy drinking to his harassment of a writer for the series (something he later admitted to and apologized for), to his feud with Chase. In a 2014 interview with That Shelf, Harmon said that he didn't actually know why he was fired.

'I don't want to ask'

That Shelf's interviewer mentioned that Chevy Chase leaving the show was "oddly cathartic" for fans because we understood why it was happening, having read all about the issues behind the scenes. Dan Harmon said that could be it, but explained he honestly had no idea:

"I don't know why I got fired. I don't know if it had to do with the Chevy thing or not. I really don't know. I don't want to ask. Because the people that fire you aren't the kind of people you want to ask why they fired you. 

"You don't want to ask someone a few years later why they fired you because you'll never get the truth. They might take advantage of that moment to tell you a bunch of f****d up s*** that's not the truth. It might actually affect you in an untoward way. I never give them that opportunity. I never ask. And since I never ask, if they even start telling me, I'll cut them off. "WOAH, WOAH, WOAH! I didn't ASK you for this s***!" (laughs) That's the only power you have: don't ask people what you don't want to know, and if they start telling you, tell them f*** you. (laughs)"

One might argue that, generally speaking, knowing why you were fired might allow you to correct mistakes in the future or learn a better way to resolve conflict. It's interesting to note that Harmon wasn't the only one who didn't continue on for the fourth season. Joe and Anthony Russo left to direct "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," while Dino Stamatopoulos, who served as a writer and played Starburns, several executive producers, and other writers also left. (Some of them returned after the fourth season.)

'Why'd Sony want me gone?'

Dan Harmon may say he doesn't know, but he did tell The Independent in 2020 that he thought one reason might be a conversation he had with the producers about the execs not wanting the introduction of Jeff Winger's (Joel McHale) father to be "too dark." He told the outlet: 

"I said, 'Well, I just won't do it, and if you guys ever decide to fire me, you can do the version of a father story without me.' I'm not going to break a story about Jeff Winger meeting his estranged, possibly alcoholic, con artist father with the mandate that it puts a pep in your step for people who don't watch the show. I think more than anything, that's the conversation that got me fired."

Harmon wrote a blog shortly after his firing by Sony Pictures Television, saying he didn't know why and that all the reports about him staying on as an executive producer were taken out of context. He wrote: 

"Why'd Sony want me gone? I can't answer that because I've been in as much contact with them as you have. They literally haven't called me since the season four pickup, so their reasons for replacing me are clearly none of my business. 'Community' is their property, I only own ten percent of it, and I kind of don't want to hear what their complaints are because I'm sure it would hurt my feelings even more now that I'd be listening for free."

Whatever the real reasons, it's generally accepted that the Harmon-less season 4 wasn't the best. It's referred to as the "gas leak year" by the characters and fans. Still, even at its worst, "Community" is still worth a rewatch.

"Community" is streaming on Hulu and Netflix. A movie is also in development.