If one thing holds true about the world of television, it’s that things are always changing. Pilot season comes each year and introduces a host of new shows, many of which won’t stick. Other shows end each year, and some even undergo drastic casting changes. One show that fans have gotten used to having in their lives, however, may be about to face some serious upheaval.
When it debuted back in 2005, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia was just a crazy collaboration between friends shot in low-res. Now, 12 seasons later, the FX show has become a fixture in late-night comedy as fans tune in to see what The Gang, a group of five close-knit, morally decrepit sociopaths, will do each week. As the gang cooks up more elaborate scams and schemes, none of them undergo any sort of personal growth – at least, they didn’t, until tonight’s season 12 finale. But it looks like that development could be undone, as the show is poised to lose one of its key players.
In an interview with Uproxx earlier today, It’s Always Sunny co-creator and star Glenn Howerton (Dennis) revealed that he may not return for the show’s 13th season. According to Howerton, the show’s fate remains up in the air as a result:
“So… it’s a little complicated. I may seem a little bit evasive here, and I don’t mean to. It’s not entirely certain whether I am [returning] or am not. I might be. I might be, but I might not be. That really is the truth. Just to be clear, to dispel any potential weirdness, it has nothing to do with my relationship to anyone on the show or Rob or Charlie or anyone like that. It’s partially a creative and personal decision. We may be taking an extended hiatus between season 12 and season 13. So I’m certainly staying open to the possibility of doing more, but there is a possibility that I will not.”
This comes on the heels of news that Howerton will star in a pilot for NBC alongside Patton Oswalt. According to Variety, the untitled project features Howerton as Jack, a wronged former Ivy League professor who becomes a high school biology teacher and proceeds to enforce his dark worldview upon his teenaged students.
Howerton is not the first It’s Always Sunny star to face scheduling conflicts, as Kaitlin Olson (Dee) premiered her own series, The Mick, on Fox this year. It’s notable, however, that Olson’s main gigs are on related channels FX and Fox, whereas Howerton will potentially be straddling roles at Fox and NBC. Howerton also has a big role on It’s Always Sunny, doing triple-duty as writer/producer/star, which would be a huge time commitment to maintain while also starring in an entirely different series. Howerton co-created It’s Always Sunny with his friend Rob McElhenney (who plays Mac), and the duo shot its pilot on a digital camcorder with pal Charlie Day (Charlie).
Howerton’s originating role in the series would make his departure a real gut-punch for fans, and the loss of Dennis would mean a huge gap in the gang dynamic. Dennis is Mac’s best friend, Dee’s brother, and Frank’s son. He was also perhaps the most morally bankrupt character on the show (an admittedly high bar), before tonight’s episode saw him face a resonant life lesson. It would be a real shame to see Dennis disappear after that evolution – plus, it would mean he’ll never get to ride off into the sunset with Mac. Though an extended hiatus before season 13 would be tough, most fans will probably agree that some delay is preferable to a Dennis-less show.
The TV business is what it is, but this change would be a hard one for It’s Always Sunny‘s many fans to let go. Here’s hoping that Howerton can pull-double duty – we don’t want to have to Separate Entirely from him or Dennis.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia season 13 is expected to premiere on FXX in 2018.