Community Movie: Which Cast Members Will Return?

Streets ahead! The Community movie is now confirmed but will Donald Glover, Yvette Nicole Brown, or "The Chevy That Shall Not Be Named" return for it?

Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) and Ben Chang (Ken Jeong) in Community
Photo: Sony Pictures Television

Perhaps you’ve heard but a beloved American sitcom that just happened to go six seasons is now getting a cheeky little movie.

That’s right: Sony Pictures TV and Peacock jointly announced the confirmation of a Community movie today, fulfilling the show’s decades long “six seasons and a movie” promise. This is something that fans have been waiting for ever since Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi) uttered the now-prophetic line in season 2’s “Paradigms of Human Memory.”

Community showrunner Dan Harmon has been remarkably open and honest about wanting to get a movie made pretty much ever since the show went off air in 2015. As recently as 2020, Harmon revealed that he was actively working on an outline for the script. Still, the arrival of this news today is somehow quite shocking. Who could have ever imagined that an entire fanbase could successfully browbeat two major media enterprises into greenlighting an actual motion picture? Memes are supposed to stay dreams!

The announcement of the film also leads to many pressing questions. What will the movie be about? When will it be set? Will we ever find out the identity of the ass-crack bandit? It’s probably too early to speculate on these big queries. One thing it’s not too early to speculate on, however, is the show’s cast.

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In announcing the news of the film, Peacock also confirmed that a significant chunk of the cast will be returning. Joel McHale (who plays Jeff Winger), Danny Pudi (Abed Nadir), Allison Brie (Annie Edison), Gillian Jacobs (Britta Perry), Jim Rash (Dean Craig Pelton), and Ken Jeong (Señor Ben Chang) are all officially in the fold.

While that is an impressive list of returning actors for a movie based on a TV show that concluded nearly a decade ago, one can’t help but notice there are a handful of big absences on it. Original cast members Donald Glover (Troy Barnes), Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley Bennet), and Chevy Chase (Pierce Hawthorne) are not included on that list, though Chase’s absence is not a surprise as his character was killed off and he was excommunicated from the show for…behaving like Chevy Chase. Additionally, latter season characters like Buzz Hickey (Jonathan Banks), Frankie Dart (Paget Brewster), and Elroy Patashnik (Keith David) are also not included in the announcement.

Certainly, a Community movie will make every effort to incorporate as many characters as possible (also likely including background faces like Star-Burns, Magnitude, and Vicki). Are Sony and Peacock merely being cagey about the full cast so that fans have some surprises to look forward to once the film is out? Our best guess is yes, that’s exactly what they’re doing.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Pierce Hawthorne is not going to be in this film. And if he is included as some sort of ghostly specter, Chevy Chase will not be playing him. The reasons for this are well-catalogued in Community history and you can read up on them over here. TL;DR – don’t be racist. As for the other two original study group characters, Troy and Shirley, they will almost certainly make some sort of appearance.

Both Donald Glover and Yvette Nicole Brown have a good reason for not wanting to return as main cast members for a film: they’re extremely busy. Glover, as you may have heard, is a pretty big deal now. The former Community star is both a Grammy-winning musical artist under his nom de plume Childish Gambino and an Emmy-winning TV producer who just wrapped up work on FX’s Atlanta and will be moving over to Amazon for a big overall deal with Prime Video.

Meanwhile, Brown has created an impressive post-Community career for herself as a TV personality and super fan. The actress has parlayed her cheerful social media presence into multiple TV hosting gigs and has also become a prolific voiceover artist.

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Committing to a full movie filming schedule was likely not realistic for either Glover or Brown. But that doesn’t mean they can’t appear in the Community movie in a supporting capacity. At that aforementioned 2020 charity event in which Harmon revealed he was working on a movie outline, both Glover and Brown raised their hands (along with the rest of the cast) when asked if they’d be down for a Community movie. While raising one’s hand during a Zoom call is not a legally-binding contract, it is a good sign that Harmon would wait until everyone was actually ready to commit before pulling the trigger on a film.

Also for what it’s worth, McHale tagged Brown and Glover on Twitter when announcing the news. He also tagged Gillian Anderson instead of Gillian Jacobs but let’s just assume that was an accident.

If Troy, Shirley, and other other tertiary Community characters are indeed involved in the film, we likely won’t find out officially until closer to the movie’s release date (which is still TBD). At least until then, we’ll have plenty of time to rewatch the series, with Peacock also acquiring the full library of episodes.

Until then … Pop! Pop!