It Still Stings: The Downfall of The Mindy Project's Danny Castellano (2023)

Editor’s Note: TV moves on, but we haven’t. In our feature series It Still Stings, we relive emotional TV moments that we just can’t get over. You know the ones, where months, years, or even decades later, it still provokes a reaction? We’re here for you. We rant because we love. Or, once loved. And obviously, when discussing finales in particular, there will be spoilers:

It Still Stings: The Downfall of The Mindy Project's Danny Castellano (1)

(Video) Best of Danny Castellano - The Mindy Project

If you’re a rom-com enthusiast like myself, the first three seasons of The Mindy Project are absolute pudding. The slow-burn, rivals-to-best-friends-to-lovers storyline between Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and Danny Castellano (Chris Messina) remains top-tier in the world of iconic sitcom couples; it’s hard to imagine anyone else coming close to their status. I mean, when the duo finally get together at the end of Season 2, the show quite literally pays homage to When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail in one single episode. It’s enough to make Nora Ephron herself proud, which only makes Season 4’s assassination of Danny’s character all the more upsetting.

Created by Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project began airing on Fox in 2012 and moved to Hulu for Seasons 4-6. The network shift—combined with Messina slowly stepping back from the series to pursue roles in film—set the writers up to completely decimate his character so that viewers wouldn’t miss him. Granted, Danny was never a perfect person to begin with. From the beginning of the series, he harbored a lot of casual sexism and less-than-ideal beliefs about traditionalism that made viewers cringe. In the show’s pilot, Danny tells Mindy that she could “stand to lose 15 pounds,” and much of their initial relationship was spent clashing. But for the most part, Danny served as the grumpy half to Mindy’s sunshine behavior, and his cynical stance on romance was mostly a result of his dad abandoning his family and his ex-wife cheating on him. He also consisted of a variety of silly quirks—including an adorable penchant for gingerbread houses—that begged audiences to look past his flaws. That, coupled with the fact that Chris Messina is the textbook definition of handsome, set Danny up to be the show’s perfect romantic comedy lead.

(Video) Is Danny Dying? - The Mindy Project

In Season 4, Danny’s character sees a stark 180 that morphs him from a grumpy-yet-lovable cynic into a manipulative, controlling, and borderline abusive caricature of a 1950s husband. The birth of their son Leo turns out to be the beginning of the end of their relationship, as Danny’s absolute worst qualities are dialed up. Instead of going to therapy to deal with his unresolved daddy issues, he takes everything out on Mindy, pushing her to quit her job and become a stay-at-home mom despite her objections. Whereas Mindy is constantly compromising her own comfort for the sake of her relationship, Danny continues to be patronizing and stubborn. He’s unwilling to consider sacrificing his own career to stay with their son because of his outdated views on gender roles, calling the idea itself “ridiculous.” In Danny’s eyes, Mindy’s only dreams and goals should revolve around Leo, and any personal aspirations are considered to be selfish.

Given Danny’s hellbent position on Leo having present parents, you would think that he would carry his weight as the perfect father. But no! Danny isn’t even there for much of their early parenting months. Instead, he travels to California to care for his sick father, leaving Mindy with the task of acting as a single mother, going to work and caring for their son all by herself. In Season 4’s “The Departed,” Peter (Adam Pally) visits and drops a couple of truth-bombs onto Mindy. “You let him call all the shots,” he tells her. “You moving into his apartment, you’re selling your sweet-ass place, you’re raising your son Catholic… and then Danny ditches you and now he’s not telling you when he’s coming back.” It’s here that Mindy realizes that she’s not as happy as she thought she was. Sure, one could potentially argue that Danny is being a good son by repairing his damaged relationship with his estranged father. But he leaves behind a mess of responsibilities that Mindy has to balance by herself with zero complaint, and it makes him a complete hypocrite.

(Video) Do Mindy and Danny End Up Together? - The Mindy Project

The biggest indicator of how horrible Danny becomes is in the season’s 12th episode. In “The Parent Trap,” Danny attempts to get Mindy pregnant again behind her back, which she realizes after seeing her ovulation cycle charted in his calendar. It devastates her, since Mindy thought that Danny was just being extra-romantic when he was really taking advantage of her vulnerability. She starts taking birth control pills again, unbeknownst to him, and it leads to their biggest argument yet. Danny continues to recycle the same sexist talking points and berates Mindy with referendums on her character, calling her flighty, indecisive, and unable to think through consequences. “I just wish you didn’t have a list of my flaws ready at the tip of your tongue,” Mindy replies. “You’re a good person, Danny. But if you were the best person, you wouldn’t always rub it in my face all the time.” In Danny’s mind, he is the only person who is capable of making good decisions and because of this, he thinks he should be responsible for all of Mindy’s. It’s unfathomable to him that people’s goals are able to shift over time, which is made extra frustrating by the fact that just prior to him finding out about the birth control pills, Danny seems to be nearing a moment of breakthrough that gets disregarded for the rest of the episode.

After the couple calls off their relationship, Danny essentially fades into the background as a recurring character, barely seen until the Season 4 finale, where the two have sex while trapped in an elevator. Season 5’s premiere follows directly in the aftermath, as Mindy finds out that Danny is engaged and confronts him. And in classic Danny Castellano fashion, he takes zero accountability for his actions, instead blaming Mindy for “seducing him.” As the two consider the idea of getting back together, Danny reminds us that he is incapable of compromise (“I don’t want to change, I don’t need to change”), and even decides to keep his infidelity from his fiancée. It’s such a slap in the face, considering Danny refused to propose to Mindy while she was seven months pregnant, but proceeds to marry another woman after only a couple months of dating. If Season 4 was meant to show us how much of a jerk Danny is, the Season 5 premiere shatters any possibility of redemption.

(Video) No One Makes Danny Castellano Late - The Mindy Project

In the sixth and final season, The Mindy Project attempts to bring back the Danny we initially grew to love and is painfully unsuccessful. In the series finale, Mindy gives a heartfelt speech about how great it is that people can change, which leads to an epiphany about Danny that has her running through the streets of New York in typical rom-com fashion. Yet it doesn’t provide the same endorphin rush that comes when we usually see our favorite sitcom couples get back together (I’m looking at you, New Girl’s Nick and Jess). For one, Danny is barely in the season, so their entire reconciliation feels especially rushed. Second, there’s no real explanation for why Danny was so hot and cold this entire time. He’s an absolute monster in the two previous seasons, but he comes back in Season 6 suddenly defending Mindy’s skills as a parent and acknowledging her as a working mother. While it’s nice that he is finally showing a semblance of growth, it doesn’t diminish his previously horrible treatment, and it certainly isn’t enough for us to forgive his behavior. We aren’t given enough proof that Danny has actually changed, which only makes their recoupling feel sour.

If The Mindy Project wanted us to root for Danny Castellano again, they shouldn’t have given him some of the most damning personality traits. I’m all for a good redemption arc, but some crimes just can’t be forgiven. Danny’s overt sexism, stubborn inflexibility, and complete disregard for Mindy’s autonomy shows us that even the most romantic of gestures cannot prove him to be somebody worthy of our beloved heroine’s love and attention, and it’s a shame that the series demolished such a great character to begin with.

(Video) Danny's Secret Santa Dance - The Mindy Project

Dianna Shen is an entertainment writer based in New York. When she’s not crying over a rom-com, she can be found on Twitter @ddiannashen.

For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.


Why did they write Danny out of The Mindy Project? ›

Created by Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project began airing on Fox in 2012 and moved to Hulu for Seasons 4-6. The network shift—combined with Messina slowly stepping back from the series to pursue roles in film—set the writers up to completely decimate his character so that viewers wouldn't miss him.

Did Danny actually go to India in The Mindy Project? ›

Danny switched his flight destination from Austin, Texas, to India (the really romantic thing here is Danny eating what I assume was an astronomical fee on that one) and showed up at the Lahiris' door to say: "I'm Danny Castellano, and I'm in love with your daughter." There was small validation in seeing Mindy realize ...

Why is Danny so mean to Mindy? ›

The birth of their baby boy Leo exacerbates Danny's controlling behaviour. He pressures Mindy into becoming a stay-at-home mum. When she's unhappy with the arrangement, he becomes verbally abusive and accuses her of being a bad mother.

What happens to Danny in The Mindy Project? ›

What happened to Mindy and Danny in the series finale of 'The Mindy Project'? In The Mindy Project series finale, Mindy found her happily ever after with Danny. The couple previously got engaged and had a child named Leo together.

Does Mindy wear a wig in The Mindy Project? ›

But although Mindy chopped off her hair, clipped locks are not something Kaling shares with her onscreen counterpart. "This is a wig," Kaling said of her character's blunt hairdo.

Does Danny ever return to Mindy? ›

Danny showed up as a guest star occasionally, and in the sixth season, he appeared again after his mother, Annette (Rhea Perlman), was diagnosed with breast cancer. As Danny watched Mindy take care of Annette, he realized he might have made a mistake in leaving her.

Why is Danny Castellano not in season 4? ›

Danny's reduced presence in Season 4 has been a result of Chris Messina landing a role in Ben Affleck's big screen venture Live By Night, which affected his availability for Mindy. If Live By Night goes well for him, Messina will likely have plenty to do in the future without playing Danny Castellano.

Are Mindy and Danny friends? ›

The series quickly establishes that Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) and Danny are workplace enemies. As seasons pass, they become friends, fall for each other, get engaged, and even have a son named Leo.

Did Danny go to Paris? ›

With Danny moving to Paris to be with Georgie, Bonnie tries to come with other ways to make money by starting a baby-sitting business and continuing her sports memorabilia business while Danny is still in town.

What was the point of Ben in Mindy Project? ›

Ben was a recurring character on Hulu comedy, The Mindy Project (2012). He was in a relationship with Mindy in season five, after Mindy proposing they got married but in season six due to marital problems between the couple , they get divorced. He is portrayed by Bryan Greenberg.

When did Danny fall for Mindy? ›

Mindy and Danny slowly become friends. The relationship began to blossom during the first episode of the series when Danny made a joke that Mindy laughed at. Their relationship turned into friendship after Mindy reached out to Danny during the holidays when she sent him a photo on Thanksgiving.

Who says go to bed at the end of Mindy Project? ›

The Mindy Project on Twitter: "The voice you hear saying "Go to bed" is that of executive producer @MCWarburton.

Did Mindy and Danny end up together? ›

Mindy Lahiri (played by series creator Mindy Kaling) finally got her happy ending — with Danny and her business — in the series finale of The Mindy Project, which started streaming on Hulu on Tuesday, November 14.

Why was Chris Messina not in season 4 of Mindy Project? ›

But if you didn't catch the obvious hint in this week's episode — “Fat-Bottomed Girls” has never sounded so good — let us reassure you: TVLine hears that Messina's absence will come to an end in next Tuesday's installment. Why the long vacancy? Messina was busy shooting Ben Affleck's latest movie, Live by Night.

Does Mindy go to dannys wedding? ›

Luckily, Mindy isn't going to the wedding, which is the first sign that everything might go well for us. If she doesn't attend, we probably won't have to, either. My feelings remain mixed when Grandma (Rhea Perlman) and her friend Dot stop by Mindy's to pick Leo up for the festivities.

Why does Mindy have a lisp? ›

Don't mind the lateral lisp, that slushy sound escaping around her s's and z's. It's the plate tectonics of her mouth, Mindy Kaling explains.

How much weight has Mindy lost? ›

Actress Mindy Kaling is responding to fans' concern that she may have food "issues" in order to keep her svelte new frame after her 40-pound weight loss.

Why is Mindy's hair short in season 2? ›

Last night, on the season finale of The Mindy Project, creator and star Mindy Kaling chopped off her long, wavy (shiny, extremely enviable) hair to prove her commitment to her Haiti-bound minister boyfriend.

What episode does Danny leave? ›

Danny meets his end in the last episode of series 3.

Does Danny marry Sarah? ›

Danny and Sarah begin dating while she is working for him, and eventually get engaged. Sarah and Danny get married at the beginning of season five.

Does The Mindy Project have a happy ending? ›

The Mindy Project pulled it off in the end: a happy, satisfying, romantic, and somehow believable ending for our heroine. Of course, Mindy Kaling and her writers benefitted greatly by knowing this season would be their last, and the short, ten-episode run served their purposes perfectly.

Who married Mindy season 5? ›

Although Mindy Lahiri married boyfriend Ben (Bryan Greenberg) in the season five finale, Warburton sounded optimistic about where the new episodes will leave Mindy and Danny despite their breakup and Danny's subsequent marriage earlier in season five.

Why did Peter leave The Mindy Project? ›

Pally brought the laughs on a regular basis in both roles, but the five years of sitcom work evidently took a lot out of the actor. His reveal to The A.V. Club that he departed The Mindy Project to focus on indie movies makes a lot of sense, all things considered.

Why did Shulman leave Mindy Project? ›

“The decision was theirs,” Tobolowsky tells He says that the role — which he took on after Richard Schiff (who originally played a similar part) couldn't continue with the show — became less and less funny as production continued.

When did Chris Messina leave The Mindy Project? ›

He played a recurring character on HBO's The Newsroom. Messina was a series regular on the Fox/Hulu sitcom The Mindy Project, playing Dr. Danny Castellano, until his character was eventually phased out in seasons 4 & 5. He makes his return in three episodes, including the season and series finale, in season 6.

How do Danny and Mindy break up? ›

Onscreen, Danny was written out to an extent when he and Mindy broke off their engagement because they couldn't agree on how much Mindy should work following the birth of their son Leo.

Is Mindy in friends Jennifer GREY? ›

Jennifer Grey (Mindy)

A few years after she played Baby, Jennifer Grey made a brief appearance as Mindy in the season 1 episode "The One With the Evil Orthodontist." The role later went to Jana Marie Hupp, who played Mindy in the episode in which she marries Barry.

Do Riley and Danny ever get together? ›

Danny has also been in love with Riley ever since he was six. Danny and Riley eventually end up together in seasons 5. In the season 5 finale, it is revealed that Riley is pregnant after Danny and Riley become very serious. During Season 6, Danny and Riley get married, and have a son, Puck.

Does Riley end up with Ben? ›

She and Danny have been friends since childhood, and although Danny has been in love with her since they were six, Riley was oblivious to it and always had a crush on Ben. However, in the end Riley Perrin ends up marrying Danny and they have a baby together.

Who does Tucker Dobbs end up with? ›

He has a girlfriend named Vanessa who he broke up with from the help of Bonnie. until episode All's Flair in Love and War in which he gets back with her.

Why does Mindy divorce Ben? ›

In the episode, Ben pretended to have a job interview in Philadelphia. When he saw that Mindy was totally fine with a long distance marriage, way too fine in fact, he decided to call it quits. According to his assessment, Mindy was in love with the idea of marriage more than she was with Ben.

Is The Mindy Project based on a true story? ›

The series follows obstetrician/gynecologist, Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) as she tries to balance her personal and professional life, surrounded by quirky co-workers in a small medical practice in New York City. The character was inspired by Kaling's own mother, an OB/GYN.

Is BJ Novak Mindy Kaling's baby daddy? ›

“(Novak is) the godparent to both my kids – and they have such a great relationship – and so far (the rumors haven't) affected my happiness at all, it hasn't affected my kids or B.J.,” she told Marie Claire.

What episode does Danny strip for Mindy? ›

'The Mindy Project' Season 3 Premiere Recap — Danny Strips for Mindy | TVLine.

Does Mindy kiss Danny? ›

Their First Kiss

Danny's reckless abandon when kissing Mindy for the first time during season 2's “The Desert” was beyond sexy and led to their first short-lived yet highly entertainment go at a relationship.

What TV show ends with go to bed? ›

Mindy is part of The Mindy Project theme song: Kaling's voice was used for the odd hip-hop-influenced song that was written by Novak's brother Jesse Novak. 17. Voiceover isn't just for the actors: Executive producer Matt Warburton is the voice of the person who says after the show, "Go to bed."18.

Does Mindy go to Stanford? ›

Mindy did it: She accepted the Stanford fellowship and is now living the life in Palo Alto — if you consider “the life” dealing with massive insecurities, a weird supervisor, and embarking on a months-long cross-country relationship.

Who said time in bed? ›

Mother Hare says it's time for bed, but baby Hare doesn't feel sleepy. He can't go to sleep until baby Mouse is asleep, so he sings him a lullaby. Bird is still awake so they must sing him to sleep too.

Who does Mindy end up with Ben? ›

(Season 6, Episode 1-Season 6, Episode 2)

Mindy and Ben are married, but never spend any time together.

Why did jeremys character change in Mindy Project? ›

Kaling and Barinholtz revealed that the shift in Jeremy's character was a combination of getting to know Weeks' strengths and idiosyncrasies as an actor, as well as the network change.

Why did Jeremy change in Mindy Project? ›

According to Kaling, shifting to Hulu platform gave her more freedom to creatively do what she pleased. She also explained on Friday that as the writers got to know Weeks better, they were able to reshape the Jeremy character — both in line with her original vision, and his abilities as a performer.

Why did Danny leave the show? ›

Why Did Danny Pino Leave Law & Order: SVU? Danny Pino's departure was a combination of the actor wanting to try new things and producers feeling like Nick Amaro had run his course.

Who does Morgan marry in Mindy Project? ›

Morgan and Tamra are primarily known as a couple from Hulu comedy, The Mindy Project (2012). Tamra is portrayed by Xosha Roquemore and Morgan is portrayed by Ike Barinholtz.

How did they write Danny out of the ranch? ›

Masterson was fired by Netflix and written off the show amid multiple allegations of sexual assault, which the actor denied. In the finale of Part 5, Rooster's character gathered his things and bounced after Nick, Mary's ex, threatened him at gunpoint.

Why did Fox cancel The Mindy Project? ›

The network axed Mindy Kaling's sitcom in May after three critically-acclaimed seasons, but the series has since been saved by Hulu. Fox co-CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman explained at the TCA press tour today (August 6) that it simply didn't make "good business sense" to renew The Mindy Project.

Why did The Ranch get Cancelled? ›

The star and executive producer of the recently ended Netflix comedy was a guest on Monday's episode of the WTF With Marc Maron podcast. During the interview, he suggested that the Colorado-set series had reached its natural conclusion, and there was no incentive to keep it going.

What did Danny tell his niece bloodline? ›

Danny tells Ghost Sarah they're going back to Miami and she messes with his mind. He says it was about the money and she is like, don't think so. He continues to reason that he thought he could make the family understand.

Why is The Ranch so dark? ›

The lighting.

This dark lighting is intentional. At the TCA panel, a reporter noted “multi-cam sort of abhors darkness, and you guys seem to be steering into darkness in a lot of cases.” Producers said that, like using swear words, it's all in an effort to be real.

Does Jeremy ever get turned? ›

Following the murder of his second girlfriend Anna, Jeremy purposely overdosed on pills after drinking vampire blood in the hope of becoming a vampire so he could turn off his humanity switch. However, his attempt to become a vampire failed, and the blood healed the damage the pills caused to his system.

Who does Jeremy from Mindy Project end up with? ›

Jeremy has a dog named Penelope, who he adopted from Morgan. Jeremy is currently dating Anna.

Are Mindy and BJ still friends? ›

Kaling and Novak previously dated on and off during their early years working on The Office. Even though they didn't work out as a couple, the pair have remained close of friends ever since. They even joked about their "will they or won't they" dynamic in September while presenting at the 2022 Emmy Awards.

Who does Danny marry in The Mindy Project? ›

Danny and Sarah begin dating while she is working for him, and eventually get engaged. Sarah and Danny get married at the beginning of season five.

Who does Peter marry on The Mindy Project? ›

Lauren is the wife of Peter and a neurosurgeon.

Why is Ed Weeks fat in The Mindy Project? ›

The formerly fit doctor has been stress eating this season, the result of his running the practice at Shulman's Women's Health Associates when Dr. Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) took off for Haiti with her former beau. "The gut actually is a onesie. It's a onesie fat suit," he told me during an Oct.

Does The Mindy Project end properly? ›

The Mindy Project pulled it off in the end: a happy, satisfying, romantic, and somehow believable ending for our heroine. Of course, Mindy Kaling and her writers benefitted greatly by knowing this season would be their last, and the short, ten-episode run served their purposes perfectly.


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