Almost from the moment Chevy Chase joined the cast of "Community," he has talked about wanting off of the NBC sitcom. Well, today, his wish was granted, as the veteran actor was allowed to leave the series before filming of the fourth season ends.
As first reported by Deadline, and confirmed for me by Sony, there are 1 or 2 episodes left to film of the show's 13-episode order (because the show won't be premiering until February 7, there won't be room on the schedule for additional episodes to be ordered, even in the incredibly unlikely event of a ratings uptick).
Chase has never been the most popular person on the "Community" set, and at public appearances featuring the whole cast, there was always a palpable tension between him and his co-stars. "Community" creator Dan Harmon (before he was fired by Sony for non-Chevy-related reasons) made his own feud with Chase public when, at one of his Harmontown shows, he played a profane voicemail message the actor had left for him in the wake of Harmon insulting him at a "Community" party.
Last spring, Chase told Huffington Post's Maggie Furlong that, "I think, if you know me and my humor over the years, you know that this is certainly not my kind of thing. I probably won't be around that much longer, frankly."
He made it almost to the end of this season, but not quite.
UPDATE: So, since his actual exit isn't surprising (though the timing is), it's time to start brainstorming ways the show can deal with his absence for the remaining episode(s) to be filmed without him:
1)Pierce dies off-camera in a gruesome and/or mortifying way. This is how "Two and a Half Men" got rid of Charlie Harper, but at the start of a new season.
2)They stunt-cast a replacement or replacements for Pierce without any of the characters (save Abed, of course) acknowledging the change. Even if it's only for one episode, you have a different Pierce in every scene.
3)A large cardboard cut-out of Chevy appears in every study group scene, possibly with word balloons conveying offensive punchlines at the appropriate moments.
4)Someone from the larger Greendale universe — Leonard, Magnitude, Fat Neil, etc. — gets a promotion, possibly reciting the exact dialogue written for Pierce.
5)Something else fabulous to be suggested below. Go.
UPDATE 2: I'm told the finale was filmed in advance, which means Chevy will be in that but not 1 or 2 episodes preceding it, which limits our options somewhat on how to deal with his absence. Factor that in accordingly.