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‘Good Trouble’ Boss on Maia Mitchell’s Exit

Joanna Johnson explained that the cast member’s departure has been in the works for a while

(Warning: This post contains major details about Wednesday’s episode of the Freeform series “Good Trouble.)

Maia Mitchell has left the “Good Trouble” building.

After starring in nearly four seasons of the show alongside Cierra Ramirez, on top of her five-season run on ABC Family-turned-Freeform’s “The Fosters,” Mitchell is saying goodbye to the franchise.

Mitchell’s last episode as Callie aired on Wednesday night, when her character made the move to Washington, D.C., after being offered a job (actor Beau Mirchoff, who played Jamie, also exited the series in the episode). 

“Good Trouble” Joanna Johnson said Mitchell made the decision to leave the show last season, which gave the writers time to craft a storyline to give Callie a proper exit.

“In Season 3, I went to talk to her and I was like, you know, ‘Come on, stay,’ and she was like, ‘I really feel like I need to change in my life,” Johnson told TheWrap. “And she agreed –  I said, ‘Will you still stay on for Season 4 and do a couple of episodes because I want time to kind of write you out.’”

Callie’s final episode featured some tender moments and even a few major memories from “The Fosters,” like the time the youngster got in a car with a pimp as she worked to take down a prostitution ring.

“We often sort of laugh about, you know, some of the things that we had Callie doing back in the day and on ‘The Fosters.’ We always had to find things for her to get into and things for her to do, and that was maybe one of the craziest things she ever did,” Johnson recounted. “But … knowing all that history so well – this is now nine years for me, from the beginning of ‘The Fosters,’ through ‘Good Trouble’ – it’s nice to bring up those moments for the fans that watched ‘The Fosters’ and came with us to ‘Good Trouble.’ It’s fun to remember those moments, as any family would remember those moments.”

The emotions in the episode as everyone prepared to say goodbye to Callie was similar to what happened behind the scenes.

“We all got very emotional during the table read for that episode and it was interesting that you know, in the finale of Season 3, the speech … in the courtroom fantasy sequence, where Judge Wilson is talking to Callie. And she says, ‘What’s keeping you here?’ I really wrote those as part of Maia’s journey and Maia gotvery choked up during that, as did I. And the two of us could [barely get through] the table read because that was when I really knew she was going to go. And I was, you know, devastated, not to have Maia on the show. But after a while you accept it and you have to move on.”

In order to help break the news to Mariana, Callie and Mariana’s moms – Stef (Teri Polo) and Lena (Sherri Saum) – came to town to help cushion the blow.

“We just had to bring the moms back for that and I love bringing the moms back whenever we possibly can,” Johnson said. “‘Good Trouble’ is such a big ensemble and we have so many characters to write to that it’s challenging to come up with stories to bring the Foster family in, but it’s always so rewarding and something that I just love doing and everybody loves doing because you know, I’m still mourning the end of that show. I haven’t quite gotten over that one. And our fans love our moms. So I was just so grateful that Sherri and Teri agreed and Hayden [Byerly], who plays Jude, agreed to come and do this very special episode. It just felt like they had to be there for it.”

Wednesday night’s “Good Trouble” ended with an Easter egg for “Fosters” fans – the two little Mariana and Callie dolls they first found in the pilot returned for Mitchell’s goodbye episode.

“I love those little dolls and I loved in the pilot, the first episode, when they found those dolls in the thrift store. … Me and the writers, we’re always looking for quirky teasers, and it just felt right to have our little dolls do a little dance, a little animated dance. And at the end of the teaser, you see that the Mariana doll is gone, and it’s a little confusing, like, ‘Where did she go?’ – especially when you realize that wait, Callie is the one who left, and then when you realize that she gave the doll – the Mariana doll – to Callie, it all makes sense.”

In a statement on her Instagram, Maia Mitchell bid farewell to her former costars and to fans:

To the Good Trouble family,

Firstly, this post comes with a big, flashing spoiler alert. So, if you haven’t seen tonight’s episode…circle back.

Secondly, how are we? Are we ok? I know how it feels to watch that episode for the first time. (I’m sorry!)

I know there will be a lot of questions and after sticking by me for so many years, you deserve transparency. So, with that said…

10 years ago, I auditioned for a little pilot called The Fosters. I was 19 with no clue of the luck I had stumbled upon. Years later, I was able to continue my journey as Callie when we formed the Good Trouble family. Two shows, 156 episodes, and a chosen family for life. Lucky me.

While I have been so beyond fortunate to have this career and a job that I love, with not an iota of regret, for quite some time I have suppressed an undeniable gravitational pull to return home to Australia to be closer to my nearest and dearest.

The past two years have been trying, for everyone. I fully recognize the privilege of being able to work and make our show during a global pandemic, but it also meant being separated from my loved ones when we needed each other the most. Thus came the need to create the space to split my time between both countries.

So, with that, it is time to start a new chapter and bid farewell to Good Trouble.

I want to thank everyone at Freeform, our producing team, our cast and our crew for being so understanding and supportive, and for treating my last episode with such care. I’m so proud to have sent Callie off on her new adventure with such purpose and agency.

Oh, and I’m so thrilled that I now hold the title of Good Trouble’s newest biggest fan. I cannot wait to see what the team has in store for what I know will be another incredible season. You best believe I’ll be watching every week and screaming from the sidelines!!!To the fans who have embraced me as Callie for so many years, thank you. Words can’t express how beyond grateful I am for your consistent and unbreakable loyalty. Fact: We have the best fandom in television. You will always hold a special place in my heart, and I know our paths will cross again in the future.

Until then, stay safe and be good to yourselves and to each other.

“Good Trouble” continues Wednesday nights on Freeform.

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