Community creator Dan Harmon thinks that Donald Glover's departure was the "death of the show." Despite never being a big ratings winner, Community managed to cultivate a loyal audience, one that rejoiced when NBC opted to renew the show for each new season. Unfortunately, after season 5, NBC finally dropped the cancellation ax on Greendale's favorite study group. Thankfully, fledgling platform Yahoo Screen then swooped in to rescue Community, renewing the cult hit for season 6.
Yahoo's venture into original programming proved largely unsuccessful though, leaving Community without a home once again after season 6 ended. While the six seasons part of Community's well-known fan battle cry did indeed happen, the "and a movie" part seems stuck in limbo for the foreseeable future. As with many long-running sitcoms, Community underwent some major cast changes in its last few seasons, with Pierce (Chevy Chase) departing prior to season 5, Troy (Donald Glover) leaving partway through season 5, and Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) not returning as a regular for season 6.
Related: Community Series Finale Review
While opinions vary as to what exactly caused Community's ultimate downfall, Harmon tells THR that in his opinion, what really killed Community - at least from a quality standpoint - was the departure of Glover's Troy from the Greendale mix. Here's his full quote on the matter:
"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. Writers sit in a room for hours --- and there are 10 of them and they all went to Harvard --- and they argue endlessly about what jokes to end a scene on, but a good portion of the ending lines to scenes in Community would be ones that Donald would just riff on the spot. I remember there was a transitional point where we literally started writing in the script, 'And then Donald says something funny.'"
As fans will remember, Glover chose to leave Community in order to explore other career opportunities, despite having nothing bad to say about his time on the series. It's hard to argue that Glover didn't make the right decision, as his profile in Hollywood has seen a huge upswing post-Community. His FX series Atlanta hit big with both critics and audiences, he entered the MCU with Spider-Man: Homecoming, he's set to play young Lando in the Han Solo movie, and will also voice Simba in Disney's live-action Lion King. In short, Glover is going places.
Whether or not one agrees with Harmon that losing Glover specifically was the death knell for Community, it's clear that chipping away at the original core cast definitely didn't help things creatively. While there are still probably a lot of people who would tune in for a Community season 7, perhaps Greendale is best left in the past, with fans' memories of the earlier seasons.