Fall TV Mystery: Has Community's Pierce Left the Group for Good? (Do We Want Him Back?)

“No thanks. I’m done with you guys. I like this school, but I’m done with whatever you call this.”

With those words at the close of last month’s season finale, Community curmudgeon Pierce Hawthorne rebuffed Jeff’s invitation to rejoin the study group and walked away, seemingly having had his fill of being cast the villain -– a perception he had just minutes earlier upturned by riding to Greendale’s rescue in the paintball battle with City College.

Will Pierce ever reclaim his chair beside Troy? Can he be convinced to forgive those who hated on him? Series creator Dan Harmon, for one, didn’t set out to leave viewers with any cliffhangers this go-round.

Watch Pierce’s goodbye scene here, then read on for more:

” I didn’t want to hold people emotionally hostage in terms of, ‘You have to tune in to find out what happens next!'” Harmon tells TVLine. “But at the same time, I wanted to give some energy to the first six or so episodes [of Season 3].”

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Besides, as many will agree, a bit of a “reset” is warranted with Chevy Chase’s sitcom alter ego. Originally sketched as just an old kook, Pierce this season grew bitter, and at times was even mean to Jeff, Britta, et al. As he deluged a husky D&D geek with hard truths and refashioned Annie’s PSA play as pro-drug propaganda, the founder of Hawthorne moist towelettes found himself in ever murky water.

Addressing his critics (of an otherwise stellar sophomore run), Harmon says, “I didn’t think it was an inappropriate reaction at all, but I also don’t think it was an inappropriate thing to do with the character.”

With a big-screen comedy icon playing Pierce, “It was a waste to make him befuddled, picking up a banana and thinking it’s a phone,” Harmon says. So, knowing that Chase holds the role of sardonic Fletch dearest to him, Harmon embarked on a “sort of darkening” of his Community character.

“Chevy Chase is a more dynamic, more formidable presence when he walks into a room that Pierce Hawthorne is — he’s got a backbone and tooth to him that the [Clark] Griswoldian aspect of his career doesn’t service as well,” Harmon notes, “so it felt dishonest to not let the character cast a shadow.”

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But has that shadow overshadowed the funny aspects of the character? Harmon is confident in his plan to plot Pierce’s eventual return, continuing his “redemption” without smoothing out too many of the characters newly roughed edges.

“Maybe we made him a little too dark, too quickly,” the writer/producer admits. “But the truth of the matter is his role in the group needs to be looked at and addressed by the characters. And I look forward to ironing that out in Season 3 — his role as a dark father figure to Jeff.”

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28 Comments
  1. Amber says:

    I didn’t think it was too dark. I thought he was hilarious as the villain. But I also liked how he rescued them in A Few Paintballs More, so I guess I’m happy either way. Thanks for the scoop on this, Matt. I was really bothered by the season 2 cliffhanger on this subject. I’m not cool with cliffhangers that take an entire summer break to resolve.

  2. LOL says:

    I thought it was a balls way to end the season. Just another reason why I like Community so much.

  3. joecup says:

    I actually like him as a villain, he is funnier when he’s mean & he MADE that D&D episode which was hilarious.

    • Kate says:

      I agree! I thought he was hysterical in the D&D episode. I love the crazy element he brings to the group, not to mention his darker stuff helps make his softer moments that much more meaningful.

    • RP says:

      Agree. Harmon is always spot-on. A darker Pierce not only fits the story arc they laid out for him (dad was hard on him but he realized being wealthy meant he could be hard on other people), but also creates an interesting group dynamic. You’re either the benevolent boring grandpa or the kind of dude who refuses to BE the benevolent, boring grandpa. I like “bad” Pierce, but I like Teddy Pierce too, so I trust they won’t “redeem” him too much.

  4. Jon says:

    Yes, please. Get rid of Chevy Chase now!

    • Veruca Salt says:

      +1

      • KevyB says:

        Chevy Chase has always seemed like such a repellant person in real life and I STILL remember him on Politically Incorrect belittling television and acting like his crappy movie career was leagues above anything anyone’s ever done on tv. So it makes it difficult, week after week, to see him as some lovable curmudgeon, when really I just want the other characters to kick him in the face. Beyond that, Pierce is like Chang: a little goes a long way.

  5. Mark says:

    You missed one important Pierce issue from this season: he was given less and less to do every week. He was either in that wheelchair, or he had a mask on (so it didn’t have to be Chevy on screen), or he was only shown sitting at the table. I wondered numerous times over the season if Chevy was physically up for the role. I wasn’t surprised at all to see Pierce say goodbye to the group at the end; I’d been expecting it most of the season.

    • ajk says:

      I noticed these things as well, but I wondered if it was done more that way because Chevy doesn’t work well with others. He does have a certain reputation.

  6. Mandy says:

    He is best when he isn’t aware of the ridiculous things he is saying, like Troy’s tweeter feed of ‘Stuff the old white guy says’ or whatever it was called. I didn’t like the purposeful mean Pierce. I would like to see him return to his old racist, behind the times, crumudegny self.

  7. John Berggren says:

    I had no illusions that Chevy would be missing in the fall. I think the development is great though, and as with everything Community, I love when they make an effort to get beyond sitcom tropes (or trample on them)

  8. Lisa says:

    I ADORE Chevy Chase in this role — and I love the dark turn as well. I thought it brought a lot of depth to the season, and the curmudgeon role was going to get not funny fast without the switch they came up with. Big thumbs up from me!!

    • Delon says:

      100% with you. J’adore Chevy as Pierce. I still laugh at how he miaowed when he was tripping after exchanging drugs with Starburnz in Season 1.

  9. MLErose says:

    I love Pierce as kind of a moron, actually. I appreciated the depth he got this season, but I’d be happier if he went back to getting FroYo on the back of Chang’s scooter. I do wish they’d do more with the Annie/Pierce relationship, though. He kind of tossed out the “you’re my favorite” and she dismissed it… But I’d like to see them more. Maybe not closer, just… More visible. We don’t see a lot of them.

  10. T says:

    I love All of the characters on Community and they play so well off of each other. While Pierce is not my favorite I still think he’s a necessary foil for the rest of them. One if my favorite scenes this season was when he paid Troy and Abed for their secret handshake…..him telling Troy “take your money whore” was one of THE best lines of the season. The only thing funnier was Troy’s reaction.

  11. Ruby says:

    I absolutely love this show and thought season 2 was every bit as good as the first. I honestly don’t see what anyone was complaining about. The Pulp Fiction episode in particular was phenomenal. As for Pierce, after hearing about Chevy Chase’s “personality” IRL, I can take him or leave him. And this is coming from someone who grew up on his movies and adored him from a young age. Sad when you learn someone you love is a total jerk IRL.

  12. Maria says:

    of course I want Pierce back!! He is hilarious!

  13. Cloudy Knight says:

    If I were one of the other characters and Pierce behaved the way he did this season, I would have ostracized him without hesitation, and much earlier than they did. His behavior was beyond the pale, and I really disliked the character, although without him that D&D episode would have been lame, so there’s that. They’d better dial it back somewhat if they want the audience not to hate Pierce.

  14. CKDexterHaven says:

    Chase may be an ass in real life, but Pierce has brought some good laughs to the study table. I’m a fan of the laser lotus stuff.

  15. heather_kaye says:

    Not a fan of the direction his character has taken. To be frank, I didn’t care much for Pierce last season, either, but he has been unreasonably horrible to his “friends” this year. For the group to be as brutal as they are to so many others, it simply doesn’t make sense for the group to be holding out an olive branch to this guy who continually manipulates, offends, and treats them with, at best, disregard. Not a fan. (And for the record, I get that they took a vote, yadayadayada – still does not compute.)

  16. Sarah says:

    I was interested to see where they took his character. I felt like it was Pierce driven to act this way by Jeff and Brita who were always so mean to him. He was simply showing that he wasn’t the push over that they made him out to be.
    For the person who said that Chevy Chase with the argument with Steven Bochco. Chevy Chase is right for the most part. There hasn’t been very many funny shows on TV in recent years. Everyone knows that Saturday Night Live was going down hill for years. Only recently has the show been somewhat funny again. Chevy Chase was the person who started the Weekend update, which is usually the funniest part of the show.
    Was his TV show funny. No. Was he drug addled. Most probably. Is he arrogant? Most certainly. Many of those guys were. We can talk about a number of comedians from Saturday night live that were famous and funny that went on to die of drug addictions and were known to be over the top in every way and hard to get along with. He adds to Community and it wouldn’t be the same without him. He is the counter to Jeff and Brita. I wouldn’t watch the show without him.

  17. Bob says:

    So, we’re going to have “Darth Pierce” (a dark father figure) next year?

  18. Jeff says:

    I love pierce and wouldn’t watch the show without him probably. Just like any family there is always the black sheep they must deal with and watching pierce push they’re boundary’s makes the show that much better

  19. Luke says:

    I always feel a little uncomfortable with the idea of of declaring how I would like a character to behave. I really love this show and I trust in the creative vision of Harmon, Chase and the entire team that put so much work into making this show so special and such a treat for fans of film and television. I liked the darkening of pierce, I liked the old pierce, I even liked the cliffhanger since it didn’t cut the story in half, it just gave you something to think about in the off season. Pierce’s return was a work of genius and I’m excited to see where they go with the character. But I think it’s important that the fans of the show not put too much pressure to manipulate the flow of events, lest they corrupt it. What would the Mona Lisa be if everyone was saying, “I’d like it better if she was really pissed off”, might still be good but it wouldn’t be the Mona Lisa. I only have one stipulation, keep me engaged, so long as that is done, our contract is complete. End of diatribe.

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