Not long ago, a writer friend of mine called me with some excellent news. “I just got fired!” he whooped happily into the phone. “From my own show! Let’s go have lunch at the Grill!” Over a seafood Louie salad and Parmesan bread (he was buying) at the well-known lunch spot in Beverly Hills, I heard the whole story. There had been trouble, apparently, from the beginning. My friend was the series creator and executive producer — the “showrunner” in entertainment industry parlance — but the real power centered heavily on the star and the star’s manager. There was friction during the casting process, chilly exchanges during the early days of production, and openly hostile outbursts on the set. And for the past few weeks, there had been a lot of phone traffic involving the actor, the manager, the studio, and the network.

It didn’t matter who was right or who was wrong. It didn’t matter that my friend was a veteran showrunner who had years of experience. It didn’t matter that everyone knew that this was a power play by the actor’s manager. In television, when push comes to shove, the network does the pushing, and the writer gets the shove. “And that,” he told me with a mouth full of lobster, “was that! They have to buy me out of my deal, settle the points with me, pay me for the remaining episodes, and I get paid to spend the rest of the summer in Liguria.”

We raised our glasses — me: an iced tea; him: a frozen margarita — and we clinked glasses. I was happy for him. If you’re not having any fun doing it, getting fired from your own television series is an almost perfect outcome: You don’t get all the money you might otherwise get, but you don’t have to do any of the work, either. And even better, you don’t have to take any more fraught, menacing phone calls from the actor or the actor’s manager.

“Yeah,” he said, leaning back cheerfully in the booth, “I sorta knew something was up when the execs approached me on the set. But, typically — you know, suits, right? They’re all cowards! — they hemmed and hawed and mumbled and said things like, 'We think there’s a problem' and 'Things aren’t going smoothly,' but they wouldn’t just come right out and say it, so finally, I said, 'Hey, can I cut to the chase? I’m outta here!' and they were like—“

“Wait a second,” I said. “You said what?” “I said, 'I’m outta here!' You should’ve seen their faces. Priceless. Anyway, I’m thinking maybe a few weeks in Perugia, then I’ll rent a villa in—“

“Wait a second,” I said again. “Listen to me. You said, 'I’m outta here,' and they said what?” “Nothing. What’s the big deal? Oh, hey, do you know when white truffle season officially starts?”

“They never said, 'You’re fired' or 'We’re replacing you' or 'We’d like you to go' or anything like that?” “No. They... never... they... never...” And then it hit him. He sat, stunned. The waiter cleared the plates. We were silent for a moment. “Oh, sweet Jesus,” he murmured. “They didn’t fire me. I quit.”

Quitting, of course, doesn’t have the same kind of payout. In fact, quitting rarely involves any kind of cash bonanza. And legally, the difference between quitting and being fired depends entirely on who says what first. In reviewing the conversation he’d had with the studio and the network, my friend suddenly understood that his 'I’m outta here' preceded their 'Get out of here' — not just preceded it, but preempted it. They were going to fire him and pay him and settle his points, but he didn’t let them. He cut to the chase. And now, he was going to miss truffle season.

“Maybe I could tell them that I was using a powerful antihistamine and wasn’t aware of what I was saying?” But we both knew that wouldn’t work. My friend was just going to have to take what they offered, however insulting, and hope to be fired another day.

Rob Long is a television writer and producer and the co-founder of