Sunday's Season 4 finale of Silicon Valley saw the exit of Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller) from the show, as he was abandoned in a Tibetan opium den, possibly never to be seen again. It was an open-ended exit, but T.J. Miller says he's never coming back. Miller told The Hollywood Reporter about why.
When news broke last month that Miller was leaving, he said that he was stepping away to focus on his myriad other projects. While that's true — Miller is one of the busiest people in show business — it's not the whole story, and he explained his choice in-depth after the finale aired. HBO offered him a reduced role in Season 5, but he opted instead to leave entirely. Despite being a fan favorite, Bachman was becoming less important to the show, operating on the periphery of the main story. Which Miller was fine with comedically, but he also thought he could throw a wrench in the works and force the show to try something new. And also he thought it would be funny.
"It was a joke," Miller told The Hollywood Reporter. "Leaving was a joke that I thought would be a good joke because the show would grow and change. It seemed like a funny trick to play on everyone. It's just like, what if Kramer [Michael Richards] left in the middle of Seinfeld's height?"
Reading between the lines, though, tension with showrunner Alec Berg probably also contributed to Miller's exit. At one point in the interview, Miller says "I don't like Alec." He says that the show's cyclical nature of always returning its characters to the same place is old-fashioned and stale, so he decided that Erlich leaving would mean the other characters would have to grow and change. Perhaps they'll finally move out of Erlich's house, since they'll sort of be squatting if he's not around.
The full interview is a wild ride, and includes Miller dishing on his "contrarian" relationship with his friend Thomas Middleditch, dissing Harvard, and describing himself as "a public servant and jester to the American public."