Damon Wayans Jr. notoriously left New Girl after filming the pilot. But what prompted the actor to quit the show so early?
Fox comic series fans New girl know that the series would be nothing without its stellar lineup of characters. For its seven seasons, the sitcom has featured a rotating cast featuring stars like Megan Fox, Linda Cardellini, and Dermot Mulroney, among others. Still, the show’s most beloved recurring actor was part of his original cast of the first episode in 2011.
Damon Wayans Jr. appears in the pilot episode as a coach, personal trainer, and one of three roommates Jess first moves into the loft with after his breakup. However, by the second episode he was gone, leaving fans wondering what happened to this seemingly lead actor after Episode 1.
Following New Girl Pilot episode, Coach leaves the apartment to move in with his girlfriend, Malia. In his place to help complete the cast was his cousin Winston, a basketball player returning to the United States after playing in Latvia, played by Lamorne Morris. And while Coach was mentioned sparingly after he left, Wayans Jr. has finally made his glorious return to New girl two years later in the first episode of season 3, titled “Coach”. However, he unexpectedly left the show again at the end of Season 4 when he moved to New York City with his new girlfriend, May.
Wayans Jr. initially left New girl after filming the pilot because he was contractually obligated to play the role of Brad Williams on the ABC show Happy endings. During this time, he took on the role of coach because he thought Happy endings was canceled. But the series received an unexpected renewal for a second season, which forced the actor to leave the sitcom directed by Zooey Deschanel to fulfill his pledge. Wayans Jr. returned to New girl for a season and a half after Happy endings was canceled, but, again, its stint did not last long.
This time around, however, the exit was for a different reason. According to TV Line, the actor chose to leave the series instead of renewing his contract. In his own words, Wayans Jr. explained, “I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to return to New girl in season 3 to reprise the role of Coach. Working with these incredibly talented and funny actors and crew has been one of the best experiences of my career. “
As to why Coach was not recast after the pilot but instead replaced by Winston, the reason is simple. Bringing the cast back for covers would have been too expensive, and there wasn’t enough money to remake most of the episode. Luckily for New girl fans, the door was left open for Wayans Jr. to return as an arrogant but clumsy former athlete, and the show was only better.
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