It’s starting to feel more and more like this is the darkest timeline with the news that Donald Glover, the actor behind Troy Barnes on Community, will apparently only be appearing in five episodes of the upcoming fifth season of the NBC show. According to “sources familiar with the matter,” Vulture is reporting that Glover will be appearing in a smaller number of episodes in order to pursue his career as rapper Childish Gambino, while Sony will save money in the agreement, which could possibly go into future episodes of Community.
Community has been losing its original cast and crew for some time now. Show runner Dan Harmon was fired for the fourth season, but is returning to work on the show’s shortened fifth season, while Chevy Chase ended his role as Pierce Hawthorne at the end of last season. With all of the changes, a shortened fifth season, and now Glover’s decision to distance himself from the show, the “six seasons and a movie” that fans have dreamed of is looking less and less likely.
The real question regarding Glover’s decision to limit his involvement is not where he will appear in the show, but when. After all, much like Chase, who wasn’t involved in four episodes of the previous season but appeared in the finale, Glover could spread his appearances out over the course of the 13-episode season. Given that we will see Troy in five episodes in a shortened season, we could still see the character in about every other episode if Harmon and the writers decide to organize the story in that manner. However, it is also important to note that Glover’s character has been taken on a route that has distanced him from his best friend, Abed, and even threatened to enroll him in the mysterious Greendale air conditioning school in the past couple of seasons. The writers could easily widen the gap between Troy and his friends and give us a larger chunk of episodes devoid of Glover’s considerable comedic talents.
With Jeff Winger out of Greendale Community College, Pierce Hawthorne gone for good, and Glover’s Troy in a smaller number of episodes, the core seven who keep Community together seem to be falling apart. On the other hand, Glover isn’t gone, he’s just limiting his time on the show. With Harmon back in control, perhaps the show will pick up again after a suspect fourth season, and at least we can hope for some great moments among those we still have with Troy.