Community Shake-Up: Dan Harmon Replaced as Showrunner - To 'Broaden' the Show's Appeal?

The Greendale Gang is getting brand-new leadership.

David Guarascio and Moses Port (Just Shoot Me, Aliens in America) are joining NBC’s Community as exec producers/showrunners, TVLine has confirmed. The duo will replace series creator Dan Harmon, who will now serve as a consulting producer — which, Harmon suggests, is little more than a vanity title.

“You may have read that I am technically ‘signed on,’ by default, to be an executive consulting something or other,” Harmon shared Saturday via his Tumblr page. “However, if I actually chose to go to the office, I wouldn’t have any power. … I would be ‘offering’ thoughts on other people’s scripts, not allowed to rewrite them… not allowed to say whether a single joke was funny or go near the edit bay etc.

“I’m not saying you can’t make a good version of Community without me,” he continued, “but I am definitely saying that you can’t make my version of it unless I have the option of saying, ‘It has to be like this or I quit’ roughly eight times a day.”

The replacement of Harmon comes on the heels of co-showrunners Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan moving to the Fox comedy Ben & Kate, and Chris McKenna vacating his role as co-exec producer.

RELATED | Former Community Executive Producers Join Fox Comedy

Harmon claims that Sony Pictures TV, the studio that makes Community, pulled the trigger on this transition without attempting to extend his most recent, one-year deal. “[T]heir reasons for replacing me are clearly none of my business,” he writes, “and I kind of don’t want to hear what their complaints are because I’m sure it would hurt my feelings even more now that I’d be listening for free.”

What might those complaints have been? The buzz is that as creatively brilliant and inventive as he may be, Harmon proved to much for SPTV, and those who worked under him, to handle. As one insider told New York Magazine‘s Vulture column, “Dan is a brilliant at ideas, but he’s terrible at [management].”

NBC last week renewed Community for a 13-episode fourth season, but the network banished the comedy to Fridays at 8:30/7:30 after Whitney. That said, the change in showrunners, as TV Guide Magazine reports, is likely designed to “broaden” the distinctively quirky comedy’s appeal and thus hopefully reach a wider audience.

RELATED | NBC Boss Talks Community‘s New Time Slot, Dan Harmon’s Possible Exit

Community leading man Joel McHale had been dreading the possibility of Harmon exiting, telling TVLine. “Dan’s the creator of the show, so to lose his voice would be pretty crazy…. He gave me the role of a lifetime, so it would be a very weird scenario [to continue] without him.

“I pray that it works out well,” McHale added. “That sounds weird and vague, but I really do. I literally am praying.”

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153 Comments
  1. sara says:

    this truly is the darkest timeline. :(

    • Benny says:

      I’m not convinced this is going to be a bad thing. I love the show, I watch it religiously. But Dan Harmon leaving the show really isn’t the end of the world. It’s not the darkest timeline… it just may be a different one. One where, instead of 13 final episodes under Harmon, we might get 22 fourth season episodes, or better: #SixSeasonsAndAMovie. Don’t go falling on your swords until we see what’s really produced in the fall.

      • filmex says:

        I dunno, the more distinctive the voice of the creator, the more the absence will be felt.

        “Gilmore Girls” was a fun show with a very verbal, distinctive style. When the CW thought they no longer needed creator/writer Amy Sherman-Palladino and she left, the changeover was jarring. That ended up being, justifiably under the circumstances, the series’ final year.

        The joy of “Community” is that every other week you enter a foreign reality. That joy is also going to limit the audience. That the series has survived as long as it has, has been no small miracle in itself.

        What someone who comes from the universe of “Just Shoot Me” brings to the Imaginarium is anyone’s guess. This can’t be Harmon’s choice. Whether it’s Steve Jobs at Apple or Dan Harmon here–always hate to see someone lose their baby. The pain of losing control of something you’ve given birth to is a unique form of sadness..

        • KevyB says:

          Very well said. I watched Just Shoot Me, but it wasn’t a tenth as clever as Community. This had better not be NBC siding with Chevy Chase, because I have barely been able to stand his horrible line readings since this show started.

        • John Berggren says:

          Agreed. Community will not be the same without Harmon on the day to day? Just shoot me, indeed.

        • jenna says:

          agreed completely. I feel that the show’s creator always has a plan for how the story will play out and writes toward a bigger picture. With a new showrunner coming in, whatever dan harmon had planned can virtually be tossed out the window. Great reference to gilmore girls, you could definitely tell the change when Amy Sherman-Palladino left

        • Brendan says:

          THIS. Community’s concept episodes are what make it truly great. No other show on tv could do a chicken finger mafia, a paintball war (or two), an exploration of parallel timelines, a documentary-style pillow fort vs blanket fort war, or an 8 bit video game episode (just to name a few). “Broader appeal” likely means we will see less of this daring and creative style that we the fans so dearly love.

        • Lisa says:

          Agreed. I am STILL in mourning over Gilmore Girls. And now, this. TPTB at NBC are a dastardly, fiendish lot. I loathe them.

      • e. says:

        Sorry, they are replacing creative and innovative with JUST SHOOT ME – did you watch that show? Today, I am a sad panda.

    • Josh says:

      I agree, but hasn’t “NBC” and “Comcast” been evil all along?

      • filmex says:

        A once impressive legacy has definitely been tarnished.
        This move is akin to firing Mozart and keeping Salieri (Chevy Chase, who hasn’t been amusing since his age eliminated him from the physical comedy category).
        Just last week NBC ended the fine “Harry’s Law”, which had more viewers than any other drama on NBC, because it “skewed older”.
        That business model may have been apt at one point, thinking a young demo had more disposable income, but as usual network metrics seriously lag reality.
        Last I checked, half of this despised older demo that watches “Harry’s Law” (college educated grown-ups) have now taken their children back into the nest, or are supporting them in major other ways. Seriously, who has more “disposable income” at this point?
        “Girls” on HBO nails this dynamic–how elusive the American dream has become for young people, and how many now NEED some sort of assistance from their parents.
        NBC truly doesn’t know which side their bread is buttered on, neither financially or creatively.
        Chevy Chase won. Egads, what a nightmare.

    • Dave says:

      Goodbye community, it’s been nice knowing you. Because of the huge influence Dan had on the show old supporters are going to stop watching it, and because of the fact it’s already established as something of a niche comedy, it’s unlikely that new people will start watching it just because it’s changed showrunners. So my money down prediction is that this will be the last season… Shame on bad decision making… :(

    • Coming soon:

      “Community is filmed before a live audience.”
      “Did someone say… CHANG?” (pause as audience hoots and hollers)
      “WOOOOOOoooooooOOOOOOO!” (anytime 2 people kiss)

      Yeah, really lookin’ forward to this.

    • BrittaIsTheBest says:

      It freaking is the darkest timeline! Community may still be good, but, I have my doubts, it’ll be as witty, funny and clever as it’s been. Dan Harmon is the heart and soul of the show!

  2. emily says:

    this is disheartening. just very, very sad.

  3. Bernd says:

    Ahm, it’s ‘Aliens in America’, not “Angels in America”.

  4. JoannePistonFan says:

    The darkest timeline has prevailed. :(

  5. Jack Parry says:

    I’d rather cancellation… :(

    • Sg.Grant says:

      This is a terrible viewpoint to have. The show is still going to be good. Dan will still be there and will still be writing, he just won’t be managing the day to day stuff.

      • Vicente says:

        Read the Vulture article. Sony didn’t even try to negotiate with him. They just signed the new guys and will ask Harmon if he wants to help. F that

        • rowan77 says:

          A consulting producer position is solely a writer position. It’s what you give writers who are high up the totem pole and it’s one step below co-executive producer. If he was off completely, he would get creative consultant as a title and end up only getting to go to table reads and people ignore his notes.

          • juliebestry says:

            Ack. Sorry, that should have been an “indeed” to Vincente’s post, not rowan77’s.

          • mst3k says:

            Harmon says he wont be involved in the blog he posted this morning. If the network wants to change the show to get a wider audience it will ruin it. As far as I am concerned the show lasted three awesome seasons. Whatever airs next Fall will be some spinoff…

      • Josh says:

        Did you read the entire article above? Harmon said he can’t do any rewrites, can’t make anything other than suggestions that will more than likely fall on deaf ears.

      • piper says:

        No he won’t be writing anything. He’s just a figurehead now. The show is going down the drain. Good reference in gilmore girls

    • Ari says:

      I feel the same. You never know, maybe it will be the same but a promise to reach a broader audience sounds to me like, “Dumb it down, normalize the character, create a dumbass love triangle.”

  6. AJ says:

    Should have just cancelled it. This combined with moving it to Fridays after Whitney of all things will only serve to tarnish the memory of what was a great show. Leave it to NBC to do something this stupid.

  7. Jon says:

    NBC are idiots. This show is brilliant and doesn’t deserve this crap.

  8. sally says:

    Why Dan Harmon?
    He crafted this show with an extremely unique view point, it is so intrinsically Dan Harmon, and now for essentially the last season he is stepping down as show runner?

    • Vicente says:

      Not stepping down. They never offered him a deal. Hired the guys to take over. Read vulture.com for story.

  9. andrea says:

    You have got to be kidding me… I was so excited when this show got one more season, but Community IS Dan Harmon I just have this really unsettling feeling that without him the show will suffer. This will be Gilmore Girls without Amy Sherman-Palladino all over again.

    • andrew says:

      the Gilmore Girls reference is the perfect one to make, the show will lose is quality without Harmon that’s just a fact.

      • Drew says:

        I disagree. Gilmore Girls started failing before she left. ASP made Rory into a complete b—- before she ever left and there was really no coming back from that. The dynamic was gone once Lorelai realized that her “best friend” style of parenting produced a monster.

        • lara says:

          Agreed. GG went downhill after Jess left – the married Dean/Rory storyline, Lorelai/Chris’s hookup, and April’s existence all happened under ASP, if I remember correctly.

          • Drew says:

            Yup… Except maybe the Christopher thing. That might have been season 7.

          • I felt that, at least with the Christopher affair, ASP was somewhat wittingly leaving the show somewhere it couldn’t recover from out of frustration with the studio/network – I’m glad that if Harmon saw the writing on the wall with Sony he at least gave us a really satisfying conclusion to his tenure and a jumping off point for those who don’t want to see the show retooled.

          • andrew says:

            it did go downhill but NOTHING was worse than the 7th season, it felt like a complete different show (to me at least) and I think Amy planned the Lorelai/Chris hookup as a short-term thing and not for them to actually get married! I liked season 5 just fine, season 6 was bad but not horrible you could still see the essence of the show… but by season seven I was literally like “what am I watching?” plus the series finale was painfully underwhelming and I don’t think Amy would have butchered her own show like that.

        • you are an unreliable witness to even fake tv reality says:

          I missed the GG episodes where Rory was a “monster” but would love to see them.

          What kind of meds are you on?

  10. Johnny says:

    My whole brain is crying!!
    But seriously I feel like this show is Dan Harmon’s baby and I am very sad that he will no longer be running the show.

  11. JD says:

    Aliens in America, dude. Aliens.

    • Steven says:

      They were not ACTUAL aliens. It was about a muslim exhange student living with a white family. Actually a very cute show.

  12. TV Gord says:

    NBC guts Community. This is awful news. If I wanted George Segal and his banjo as Pierce, I would have tweeted Steve Martin for his support. This is awful, awful news.

    I guess we’ll have to be satisfied that last night’s final three episodes were so wonderful.

  13. Drew says:

    Uncool Uncool Uncool.

  14. Benny says:

    That’s disappointing.

  15. LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME!

  16. Rachel says:

    #sixseasonsandweloveyoudanharmon

    Tweet it.

  17. Farrell says:

    Without Dan community isn’t community.

  18. Brian says:

    This freakin’ blows.

  19. Brian says:

    This news really blows…

  20. ByeBye says:

    Ratings are plummeting.
    Thursday’s finale was series low.
    Bye Bye after final 13.

  21. DanHarmAn says:

    Cruel, cruel, cruel.
    Dan Harmon you put shame to our similar shared name. The captain goes down with his ship to the bitter end. All the best to David Guarascio and Moses Port.

    • Lace says:

      Don’t blame Dan Harmom! Sony replaced him then to appease fans he was given a figurehead position. Sony and NBC are determined to cancel this show!

  22. Steven says:

    People it isn’t NBC. They air the show, but do not produce. Be mad at Sony.

    • Esaul says:

      NBC still couldn’t called Dan Harmon. They’re not good with that sorta stuff. Reminds me of Jeff Zucker/Conan/Leno fiasco.

  23. lara says:

    Way to Britta Community’s renewal, idiots.

  24. ***** says:

    I watch community but I don’t understand why he left?

  25. danielle says:

    Why watch now? Dan Harmon is the spirit of the show.

    Way to mess it up, NBC.

  26. GH says:

    Why don’t they also get rid of the characters? And then put Charlie Sheen as lead actor? Why the half measures?

  27. Vicente says:

    Community without Harmon is like The West Wing without Sorkin. F this NBC. Same for Sony. Community lost its soul

  28. Michael says:

    I think Dan Harmon brought this on himself…when you are a showrunner you have to not only make sure a show is good, you have to play nice and make sure the network and actors are happy….this is a guy who lead a chant to make fun of Chevy when Chevy’s wife and daughter were there and then went public with the voicemail response….Dan had a great vision early on, I think season 1 of this show was one of the best I have ever seen, but he painted himself into corners this past season with his choices and then he showed that he could not run the ship….I hope he writes more and produces less and maybe we can have some great moments on the way out the door with this show….

    • goonies01 says:

      Yeah, agree with everything. For his sake, and because I do love Community when it clicks, I hope he matures. But from his blog post, he’s completely playing the victim and acting like this came out of the blue. Shame.

    • Drew says:

      I have to agree. As showrunner, the job is to be captain of the ship and that is more than writing.

      His writing has been genius, but if he can’t captain the whole ship, they need someone to do that… I just wish they had brought in a co-exec producer to pick up the slack while keeping him around for his writing talent.

    • rubytu says:

      Yes, just as you say. It’s not like Dan Harmon is Joss Whedan or Bryan Fuller. I mean, what else is he famous for? Monster House and Laser Fart. I don’t think he’s the genius he thinks he is. He behaved very unprofessionally. Probably needs therapy & meds (imho). He’s not the whole show, and I hope the show continues on without him at the helm.
      But, that said, I’m glad he came up with Community, because I’ve enjoyed it despite the unevenness of the episodes.

  29. Yvonne says:

    no…NBC…you Britta’d it…

  30. Angela says:

    Such a shame, this news. But if he stays involved in some form or another with the show, that will be something good of note. I’ll try and reserve my worry and concern until the fourth season starts and we see how the show fares with all these changes.

  31. asdfjkl; says:

    Dan Harmon or Bust!

  32. Babybop says:

    Did he ever write the show? I feel like as long as they have the same writers they will be fine. Honestly, I love both Just Shoot Me and Aliens in America (which should not have been cancelled after one season!) and I’m interested to see what will happen with Community. I really don’t think they’ll change it that much…

    • Anne Ansible says:

      None of the original writers will remain and yes he did in fact write the show. He had creative input into every single episode. Showrunners don’t usually get writing credits.

      • Gem says:

        Where did you even hear that? Changing show runners doesn’t fire an entire writing staff. Read all the articles and get your facts straight!

        • liddad says:

          Actually 2 of the writer’s have announced that they will not be returning for a fourth season.

          • Gem says:

            Exactly! Thank you. Not everyone!

          • Angela says:

            Actually I’ve been hearing a good portion of the staff is leaving-Chris McKenna, Anthony & Joe Russo, Garrett Donovan, Neil Goldmanm, and Dino Stamatopoulos (aka Star-Burns)…

            That has me a bit more concerned. If it’d been just Harmon, chalk it up perhaps to creative differences-he’s got a very unique vision for the show, yes, but the others who worked there could’ve continued to see his ideas through, since they’d worked with him for varying lengths of time the last three years. But to lose THAT many people at once…kind of drastic and worrying.

            I’ll still watch next year, because I love this show and I tend to be a loyal person when it comes to shows I like. I’m not going to automatically assume next year will be ruined because of all this. Sometimes big overhauls happen on shows and they still manage to do just fine. And the new people coming in do have some good credentials based on what I’ve heard about their work, and we’ve still got the central cast, and I know they have their own odd sensibilities that they’ll bring to every show they do. I’ve no doubt the cast will do its best to keep the show’s central spirit going no matter what. Plus, after all the begging and hoping I did about bringing the show back during its hiatus, I’ll be damned if I’m giving up on it now.

            But losing so many people like this is still very sad to hear about. I wish them well in their future endeavors, but the fans will miss you guys, no question.

        • Christina says:

          No, but some of the writers were already leaving before this happened and now some of the other ones are leaving. At least four writers are gone along with Dan Harmon. And the Russo brothers who have directed a lot of the episodes aren’t returning.

  33. Mark P says:

    Sucks. But we don’t have any choice. He’s stil a consulting producer anyway so… not bad!

  34. Mike says:

    As long as the new guys are willing to spank Britta (and maybe Annie, too) on-screen like Harmon, I don’t see a terrible change.

  35. Tim says:

    #sixseasonsandamovieanddanharmon
    Gonna miss Dan’s dedication and love for the characters he created. I know that he probably wasn’t the best showrunner in technical terms, but he lived and breathed Community. Without him, we NEVER would have gotten episodes like Dungeons & Dragons or Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas, and that’s a fact. In both instances he spent personal time and money for the episodes and it showed. I’ll always stick around for more Community, but this is just sad news.

    • big cheddar says:

      Agreed. While I’m really sad that we probably won’t get any more fantastically inventive episodes like the D&D or paintball episodes, I do remember Aliens In America was pretty funny show and I enjoy Happy Endings as well. I think the show will still be funny, just not as oddly creative. I really do hope Harmon stays on in some capacity; this show will always be his and could use his voice. But I would understand if he decides to walk away, given the treatment he received from Sony. Regardless, I will continue to watch Community and any other show Dan Harmon is involved in – he has created a fan for life!

      • Sina says:

        “I think the show will still be funny, just not as oddly creative.”
        – But oddly creative IS the point of the show! It was what separated it from all the other comedies on tv. Just look at the themed episodes. It was original! I’m not saying the show is going to suck, it’s just not going to be the same.. (and that does in fact suck!)

        • tripoli says:

          Well said. Take away the odd creativity and it’s just your every day half hour comedy. Not going to be the same at all.

  36. Danny says:

    I don’t know who to be mad at, but i feel like i have to punch someone in the face right now. TV isn’t life, but laughter is, and Community made me cry with laughter. F**K you, everyone who didn’t watch this show and made it die like this. F**K you!

  37. Mandy says:

    am i the only one who doesn’t think this is a huge deal?

    this is harmon’s own fault. if he had acted more professionally, none of this would have happened.

    the show will continue without him and it will be just as good.

  38. Heni says:

    Check Dan’s latest post on tumblr. Community as we know it IS over. That’s a fact.

  39. Kaa says:

    I love Community, but the Dan Harmon model – where you have public spats with your stars and where the production of the show is chaotic – is not sustainable. Especially not when you’re pulling a 1.3…

    Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be an arsehole to create brilliant, adventurous TV that gets renewed despite cellar ratings. See: Fringe

    • Abby says:

      Agreed. To me Dan Harmon comes off as a spoiled, entitled brat that thinks he’s the best thing that TV ever saw. And while he is pretty genius at inventing awesome storylines, he’s clearly very poor at managing his actors and crew, which is part of being a showrunner.

      I feel bad for Community fans, but not for Dan Harmon.

  40. This is very disappointing. I don’t know if DH wanted to do this to focus on other projects, or if NBC made it happen because of the behind the scene drama with Chevy Chase. Either was, it is a bummer. I hope the show doesn’t change.

  41. Sarabi says:

    Boooo!

  42. stevie says:

    firing dan harmon may be a bad decision from a creative point of view. on the other side – when you read his ‘musings’ on tumblr he comes across like a bitter, whiny nerd. newsflash, you don’t insult a man in front of his wife and children, no matter if its chevy chase, charlie sheen or joey mchale. if ‘community’ gets the boot next year after 13 episodes, it won’t be because of the new showrunners or a dark timeline.
    dan harmon brought it on himself.

    • L says:

      His name is Joel not Joey. As for Dan coming off as whiny I disagree. He is setting the record straight and letting fans know what’s going on.

  43. Oliver says:

    RIP Community 2009-2012.

  44. mfarrance says:

    #3seasonsandafiring

  45. John Berggren says:

    This is awful news. No wonder the last episode seemed framed as a series finale.

  46. John Berggren says:

    #cruelcruelcruel

  47. Raksha says:

    I hate NBC. They’ve Britta’d things concerning Community ALL THE TIME. I hate them. They are the opposite of Batman. Dan Harmon is the single MOST important aspect of Community..the show would lost its heart and soul without him!

  48. Sina says:

    Dan Harmon is trending on twitter right now! And how I loath Sony at the moment! Dan was the soul of the show!!

  49. sindella says:

    Harmon gives his viewpoint…
    danharmon . tumblr . com/post/23339272200/hey-did-i-miss-anything

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