In the darkest days, when it seemed as if all hope had been lost for fans of Community, the phrase/hashtag “Six Seasons and a Movie” united bewildered Communies and kept the spark lit.

Things are slightly better for the often ambitious and unorthodox show now despite stubbornly low ratings and the departures of both Chevy Chase and Donald Glover over the last year, but while the future on NBC is still not a certainty, apparently people behind the scenes are going to work hard to make the “Six Seasons and a Movie” prophecy into a reality.

While a renewal for what they classify as a “final” season of Community is still a possibility, due in part to NBC’s inability to successfully launch a replacement, Sony (who co-produces the series) would “likely aggressively shop the final season elsewhere, to outlets such as Hulu”.

The NBC co-owned Hulu has invested in original programming before, but the streamer would make a profound “Netflix adding Arrested Development” sized statement if they were able to add original episodes from a high-profile show like Community to their stable. Right now, though, it seems like Hulu is little more than a theoretical safety net and not a firm plan, but it’s nice to hear that Sony is committed to making the first half of the “Six Seasons and a Movie” rallying cry into a reality.

Regarding the “movie” portion of that cry, Dan Harmon himself weighed in during an interview with HitFix, saying that his involvement is preordained by fate.

“The movie part is the movie part. I mean, if they do a sixth season, I have to participate. And having done that, if the movie has to be made out of clay and duct tape in my basement, then that’s how the movie will be made, because there has to be closure. The title of the book about the show is not “’Community,’ An Interesting Journey into a Show No One Ever Watched.” The title of the book is obviously going to be, “Six Seasons and a Movie.” So it’s already over. Sometimes our hands are just tied up in fate.”

At PaleyFest last night, Harmon let on that he felt that a movie would have to have an “action or horror or sci-fi” tie in to attract audiences and justify its existence, expressing an interest in carrying the paintball theme onto the big screen before talking about introducing new fans to Community through a film.

“Our TV show’s not that popular […] If we make a movie, we really have to reinvent the wheel in terms of why someone would watch a movie. My ultimate goal would be for people to watch the movie and to say, ‘I’m one of the 249 billion Americans that have never heard of this show, but holy crap, this movie is crazy and really funny and awesome.’”

If a movie does happen, TV Guide also reports that original paintball episode helmer and four-time Fast and Furious director Justin Lin has been considered for the director’s chair, but it’s also worth wondering if Harmon, himself, might want to fully shepherd that voyage.

It’s also worth wondering if a movie will happen without Troy Barnes (aka Donald Glover), who has been absent since the fifth episode of this season, when the character departed to sail around the world. Harmon is emphatic about his desire to have Glover return and the impact of his loss, though he also has conditions, which is a bit interesting considering Harmon’s own antics and outspoken nature.

“We knew something was going to happen that we didn’t want to happen and on the other hand we knew that there was going to be energy from it that we could get stories from. You will never be able to replace Donald. I think it’s just the start of our search for Spock in the ‘Community’ movie. […] I’m just going to go home, kill a chicken, drink its blood, make a ‘Blair Witch’ thing out of its bones, pray to every deity that I have to that if we do get a sixth season that Donald will have tired of his Donald-ness.”

Glover’s “Donald-ness” is a double-edged sword, though. Yes, it’s frustrating that he left the show and that he recently teased his return to the show, but Harmon also recently called him “one of the most incredible performers” that he has “ever had the intimidating honor of writing for”.

In Glover’s absence, the show has changed, but it might be a stretch to say that it has suffered. Yes, Harmon can no longer rely on Troy and Abed’s antics, but that absence has forced him to explore new facets of Danny Pudi’s Abed character and other avenues on the show while still doing large-scale theme episodes like the second Dungeons and Dragons episode and an upcoming episode that plays on the GI Joe cartoon from the 80s – a preview from which Harmon debuted at PaleyFest (above).

Is Community as funny without Glover? Maybe not. Is it a deeper show? Possibly, but that might also be the reason why his possible return might be the best thing for the show, because if there is a way to see Abed’s newly evolved character deal with the return of Troy (who will have surely matured following his time at sea), that might make for a really interesting story. Besides that, it just seems unnatural to even consider a Community movie without Glover’s involvement.

Community airs Thursdays on NBC @8PM

Source: TV Guide, The Wrap, Variety, HitFix