Glenn Howerton May Not Return to ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ (Exclusive)

Show will go on an “extended hiatus” after tonight’s Season 12 finale, actor tells TheWrap

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star Glenn Howerton, who just signed on to a new NBC pilot with Patton Oswalt, may not return to “Always Sunny” after tonight’s Season 12 finale, he told TheWrap.

Howerton said the show will go on an “extended hiatus” after tonight’s episode before returning for Season 13. (“Always Sunny” has been renewed through Season 14.) Howerton said whether he returns will depend on what makes the most sense for the show and his character, the possibly sociopathic Dennis Reynolds.

“The option to come back is there, is in place,” he said. “It’s very much a creative decision.”

“Without dancing around it too much … anything is possible. It is possible but it’s hard for me to say what seems probable at this point. It’s definitely not a foregone conclusion that I won’t be coming back,” he added.

Howerton’s exit would break up the five cocky semi-degenerates known on the show as “The Gang”: Howerton’s narcissistic Dennis, his aspiring actress sister Dee (Kaitlin Olson), the conceited (and recently out of the closet) Mac (Rob McElhenney), the frequently filthy Charlie (Charlie Day), and Dee and Dennis’ terrible father, Frank (Danny DeVito.) Howerton executive produces the show with Day and developed it with McElhenney, its creator.

“I’m not being coy,” Howerton said. “I’m not just trying to spin a mysterious tale here. It will be an artistic decision on behalf of myself, Rob and Charlie as to whether my character comes back, more than a logistical decision.”

“I want to service the show as best I can, and if we decide the best thing for the show is for Dennis to leave, or at least leave for a while for whatever reasons we come up with, then that’s what we’ll do. If we decide it really is best for the show for my character to come back in some capacity then that’s what we’ll do.”

However, Howerton said his decision won’t depend on whether his NBC pilot is picked up to series. He noted that his “Always Sunny” co-star, Olson, plans to continue on Season 13 and 14 of “Sunny” while continuing on her new Fox series, “The Mick.”

Reynolds, a character so damaged that the show toyed this season with the notion that he might be a killer in a “Making a Murderer”-inspired episode entitled “Making Dennis Reynolds a Murderer,” has spent the show deliberately avoiding introspection. But tonight’s season finale — without giving too much — could provide a satisfying conclusion to his begrudging journey of self-discovery.

“Always Sunny” is a cult favorite and underrated comic masterpiece known for pushing hot buttons as it addresses issues ranging from racism to child molestation to homelessness, is on its way to being one of the longest-running live-action sitcoms in television history. It became one of the signature shows on the FX network before becoming one of the anchor shows for FX’s spinoff network, FXX.

Howerton’s new NBC pilot, “AP Bio,” finds Howerton playing an Ivy League professor demoted to teaching high school under the eye of Oswalt’s principal. It is executive produced by Lorne Michaels and Seth Meyers and written by another “Saturday Night Live” alum, Mike O’Brien.

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” airs Wednesday at 10 p.m. on FXX.