Silicon Valley is, along with shows like HBO mate Veep, one of TV’s best and most consistently hilarious comedies. It got there in no small part thanks to the chemistry and improvisational flair of its ensemble cast, including Thomas Middleditch, Kumail Nanjiani and T.J. Miller. The show’s continued success means that HBO just renewed Silicon Valley for a fifth season but now we know that T.J. Miller is leaving Silicon Valley.
Shortly after the renewal news hit, HBO released a statement confirming that Miller – who plays the blustery weed expert and entrepreneur Erlich Bachman on the series – will not be back for Season 5.
“The producers of Silicon Valley and T.J. Miller have mutually agreed that T.J. will not return for season five,” an HBO rep told Vulture. “In Erlich Bachman, T.J. has brought to life an unforgettable character, and while his presence on the show will be missed, we appreciate his contribution and look forward to future collaborations.”
Silicon Valley has brought new opportunities to all of its stars but Miller in particular has seen an already promising film career kick into another gear. Last year he co-starred in the holiday comedy Office Christmas Party and the superhero blockbuster Deadpool. This year he’s one of the stars of The Emoji Movie. Throw in a new HBO special and upcoming roles in How to Train Your Dragon 3 and Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One and Miller’s a very busy guy.
As for what this means for the show, that’s a little harder to track right now. While the series has increasingly explored Erlich’s exploits outside of Pied Piper (including the failed “See Food” app this season), the gang still congregates in his home/tech incubator. It would be truly weird to see them laughing and playing their “Always Blue!” game somewhere else at this point but perhaps the house will stay even as Erlich doesn’t actually appear onscreen.
More crucially, Erlich has been one of the show’s most reliable comic foils, particularly for Middleditch’s Richard. Whenever Richard begins to freak out, Erlich’s there to either yell at him or give him a quasi-philosophical, weed-hazed lecture. It’s a great dynamic and it almost always delivers big laughs. Now, that aspect of the show will be gone. If there’s one thing Silicon Valley’s proved over the last two seasons in particular, though, it’s that there is a very deep comedic bench at work on this show. They may have to explore some new avenues for laughs but the Pied Piper gang will be just fine even as Erlich takes his bong and his Aviato car and rides off into the sunset.
Silicon Valley airs Sundays on HBO.