These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
The characters themselves go back-and-forth over whether Pierce is an inherent, fundamental and completely irredeemable Jerkass or whether he's just a lonely but socially inept old man who just wants to make friends but has no clue how, and merely ends up lashing out whenever his overtures are rejected.
Abed; Lovable NerdWoobie with numerous psychological and emotional problems who uses pop culture as a way of trying to connect to people, or Manipulative Bastard who enjoys pulling strings to get people into trouble that resembles his favourite movies and TV shows?
In Season 3, is Evil Abed really trying to crossover into the Prime Timeline, or just a figment of Abed's imagination?
Badass Decay: In the first paintball episode, Chang is The Dragon and brings his own weapons. In the second, he's an incompetent moron who continually betrays the groups he latches on to. Of course, the entire second season was largely dedicated to giving Chang a near-constant Humiliation Conga, so this is perhaps understandable.
Also, he was unarmed the entire time, and spent most of that time (that we see) tied up and blindfolded.
It's worth bearing in mind that, in spite of having the only automatic weapon in the game and a paint bomb strap to his chest, he only took out one person that we know of, and got hit doing it. It's a little overblown to call him badass in the first place.
Ever since the "gimmick" episodes started becoming more frequent in season two, fans have been really divided on whether they're the best thing to come out of the show or if they're a cheap way for the show to fill in time for an episode rather than focusing on actual humor.
Related to the above, there's the divide between the fans who prefer the show's Character Development and interplay and those who prefer the media-savvy genre parodies and meta-humour. In debates between the two, the former will often be accused of being humourless snobs who sniffily turn their noses up at anything 'fun' if it doesn't involve the characters being put through the wringer or having melodramatic / sentimental issues with each other, while the latter often get accused of being superficial drones who can't deal with anything more complex than a joke based around a movie reference and are overly-fixated on worshipping Dan Harmon. And then there's the people in the middle who like both elements, who make up the majority of the fandom but don't get as much attention because they aren't involved in arguments over which aspect of the show is better.
The division between fans who think that season 4 is just as good as previous seasons, and those that think Dan Harmon being fired ruined the show. This is probably the biggest and most well-known division among the fans.
The show is so divisive that some fans think they took a perfectly good show about a Dean making a terrible speech and messed it up by putting a lawyer into it.
"Intro To Felt Surrogacy" is either one of the highlights of season 4; comes up short for trying too hard to emulate the feel of the Dan Harmon era; or one of the worst episodes of Community to ever be produced.
The study group will always stand up for Jeff no matter what a jerk he is. Then again, the study group will ultimately stand up for any of their members no matter how big jerks they can be (they're kind of True Companions that way).
An excerpt from "Environmental Science" that was used standalone to promote the show. It's too long to present in its entirety here: see the Quotes page.
When Pierce is playing 'Pictionary' and draws a swastika to convey a windmill, saying that Rabbi Chang should know what it is.
"This isn't going to stop until Pictionary bans the word 'Windmill.'"
Pierce in "Geography of Global Conflict":
Pierce: You be careful. They are ruthless.
*study group gasps*
Pierce: What? Not Asians. Women!
And again later.
Pierce: Sneak attack! That's just like-
*study group stares at him*
Pierce: Not women, Asians.
Cult Classic: It's hardly mainstream, but the fanbase is dedicated enough and big enough to campaign for its renewal and succeed.
Designated Villain: In "Geographies of Global Conflict", while she steals Annie Edison's idea for a model UN and passes it off as her own and is generally less friendly and more arrogant and snide, Annie Kim's behaviour in general is much better than her main-cast counterpart. This is arguably part of the point, however, since while she might be better behaved than the Annie we know and love, she also lacks the humanizing qualities that enable us to sympathise with Annie despite her faults. In short, being well behaved doesn't by itself make you the good guy.
Pierce can be this a few times.
As Pierce was for season 2 it seems Jeff fits this role sometimes in season 3.
Double Standard: Shirley gets a lot less flak from the group for her racism and judgemental attitude than Pierce.
To be fair though, Pierce is more extreme about it, and his racism is also really, really blatant compared to Shirley's one-liners or passing comments that even some fans don't realize until after the fact. Shirley is also a lot more willing to accept blame and fault and make amends if she's confronted or crosses the line more than Pierce. Pierce is also prejudiced against almost everybody, his father is even worse (to the point there doesn't seem to be anyone he isn't prejudiced specifically towards), he is quite accepting of people if there is even a vague reason that it is in his self interest, and Pierce rarely shows any actual hostility specifically based on prejudice. Shirley targets specific groups and can be very confrontational towards them.
This is in large part due to the Law Of Fan Jackassery- the fandom is essentially right at the middle. The show is far too popular for the Vocal Minority to just be kicked out, but doesn't have nearly enough mainstream recognition for them to just be ignored.
Fanon: Given his nicer-than-nice attitude concealing an apparently very fucked-up mindset resulting from maternal abuse, a common fan-interpretation is that Rich is secretly some kind of Serial Killer.
Fanon Discontinuity: Season 4 (the first without Dan Harmon and most of the writers of seasons 1-3) has been declared this by some fans, with some even hoping one of Harmon's first orders of business following his return for season 5 is to erase the season from canon by having Abed walk out of the Dreamatorium shortly after the end of season 3 & reveal it was all just him running simulations.
Since his return was announced, however, Harmon has said a few times he wouldn't be following that course.
Fans found Abed's freakout over Cougartown being benched in the third season premiere a LOT less funny once NBC's Spring 2012 lineup was revealed.
Jeff saying "This is the year we all die" in "Biology 101". By the time "Basic Lupine Urology" rolls around, Starburns has died.
That same line is also a bit more bitter with the announcement that Dan Harmon will not return to be showrunner for season four and the fandom's subsequent collective meltdown, as that season is the end of Harmon's run on the show.
Abed cutting himself off from both the Study Group & the outside world, before succumbing to the Darkest Timeline's influence after Troy was forced into the A/C Repair School in "Introduction to Finality" & only returning to normal after Troy's return becomes worse when you realize Donald Glover will only be in 5 episodes of season 5.
Genius Bonus: In one episode, a German man says, "I wish there were a word to describe the pleasure I feel in viewing misfortune!" In fact, German notably does have a word to describe this feeling: schadenfreude.
Growing the Beard: The show became a lot less predictable midway through the first season (around Investigative Journalism, which featured Jack Black as Buddy), when they stopped putting so much focus on Jeff trying to seduce Britta and Annie's crush on Troy, and instead started focusing more on meta-humor.
In the episode Paradigms of Human Memory, there is a flashback to Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas; however, it is seen through the eyes of the other characters. Puts a much darker light on the former (with the other characters lampshading that it wasn't as fun as Jeff and Britta seemed to be remembering), and really makes you think about snowman Chang's bottom button...
The jokes about the original Greendale College Glee Club dying in a bus crash became a lot more awkward after Glee star Corey Monteith died in July 2013.
In the Season 1 Finale, Abed is using a banana to do impressions: (Banana on forehead- Banana Rhino. Banana over top lip- Banana Sam Elliot. Banana over eyes- Banana Levar Burton.) What makes it perfect is Troy being the only person who laughs at the last one.
"We're Gonna Finally Be Fine," the opening musical number from "Biology 101" with the Study Group singing about how much better life's going to be without Pierce, became this after Chevy Chase's departure at the end of season 4 & Dan Harmon returning as Show Runner for season 5 following his departure a year earlier.
Then there's the episode where Shirley talks about being the only married woman in a group full of googly-eyed teens. Then Jeff and Annie look at each other, then Jeff and Britta, then Troy and Britta, then Troy and Abed.
Pierce's friendly advances on Jeff, right after his each failure to manipulate Britta into a date.
The heated pool duel between Jeff and his coach, escalating into nudism and ending with the coach kissing him on the lips with admiration.
Jeff running in the rain, ringing into an apartment, making a confession to Rich.
Abed persuades Jeff to flirt with a roleplay character elf maid (impersonated by himself). Annie takes over the task. In detail.
Dean Spreck of City College, whispering into Dean Pelton's ear.
Hype Backlash: The first few episodes of the fourth season, coming after Harmon was fired from the show and the premiere being delayed for 4 months, was criticized fairly harshly by both fans and critics as signalling the downfall of the show. Others pointed out that even with Harmon every season took some time to get into the right rhythm.
It's the Same, Now It Sucks: Played with, in that it overlaps to some degree with They Changed It, Now It Sucks; a sections of critics have emerged arguing that Season 4 spends so much time and effort trying to reassure fans that the show hasn't changed and absolutely nothing is different and that it's the same as it ever was while Dan Harmon was around, calling upon old Running Gags and Call Backs in the process, that the show begins to feel like it's trying to replicate itself rather than allowing the writers room to breathe and get a feel for the show themselves. There's also been a few accusations that the characters seem to have regressed to earlier, broader versions of themselves and Character Development has slipped backwards a bit.
The eldery gang of hooligans, the Hipsters, from "Messanic Myths and Filmaking". After the car stealing incident, no one's family was willing to bail them out of holding. Simply put, no one wants to be near them because they're assholes but they're assholes because no one wants to be around them.
Season 3 seems to be casting Jeff in this role.
Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Annie/Abed. Annie/Jeff. Annie/Troy. Annie/Señor Chang. Annie/Britta. Annie/Professor Duncan. Annie/Vaughn. Annie/Rich. Notice anyone all those pairings have in common?
They said they try. They never said they succeeded.
This could almost be interpreted as some kind of Running Gag on the part of the writers, since out of all the main characters Annie's often established as being the most prudish, repressed, inexperienced and unwitting/naive about matters of sexuality... so of course, she's the one who unwittingly or not generates most of the sexual tension.
Love It or Hate It: "Virtual Systems Analysis" seems to have about evenly split the Community audience (or the fandom at least) into two camps; one of which thinks it's possibly the best thing ever, and the other which hates it with the fiery intensity of a supernova.
After Dan Harmon was fired as the showrunner, the mantra "Dan Harmon is a genius and I will die protecting his vision◊" sprung up around the place in support, often accompanied with a .gif or image of Annie saying the same thing about the Dean in "Documentary Making Redux". To which a few interesting and (probably) unintentional layers are added when you remember that the clip being used is, in context, the result of Annie experiencing a stress-related nervous breakdown as a result of the Dean's increasingly tyrannical and out-of-control behaviour as his creative baby spirals rapidly out of control; while people have tended to be more inclined to support Harmon than not (particularly in regard to things like his feud with Chevy Chase and his being fired from the show) some reports have suggested that this isn't an entirely unfair summary from how Harmon would conduct himself on set.
"Pop pop, Magnitude."
The scene in "Remedial Chaos Theory" where Troy walks into the fire-ridden apartment has been put to popular use at Tumblr. The best usage of it is when someone finds that their particular fandom has gone haywire.
You just created [X] new timelines!
Sure I/they did, [Insert Name Here].
Dammit, [Insert Name Here], there are no other timelines!
Abed most likely wasn't an intentional example, but his generally gentle and adorkable disposition (along with the increasing number of woobie moments he's been getting lately) can evoke this.
Nightmare Fuel: There's something deeply unsettling about "Greendale Babies", the Imagine Spot "happy place within a happy place" TV series Abed creates inside his head in season 4. It's all cheery and bright, but it takes place in a confined room, and the premise seems to be that all our beloved characters are stuck in some sort of infinite childhood. Plus, you know, there's a stuffed Human Being plush.
Abed: Greendale Babies will be right back. Forever!
Don't forget about the "Human being" costume. Brrr...
No Yay: The episode "Physical Education" has a scene where Jeff has a pool match with his aging, overweight new billiards instructor. It features both of them getting naked and the instructor walking up to Jeff while both are still naked and then kissing him on the lips.
Dan Harmon, the creator of the show, apparently reads a lot online about the show and adjusts it based on feedback. Abed's Meta Guy status and the lampshade hanging on it in season two includes references to the paintball episode that suggests he's read the Crowning Pages.
Portmanteau Couple Name: "Trobed" for Troy/Abed seems to be catching up after "Remedial Chaos Theory," though it's used just as much for shipping them as it is for referring to them in a friendship kind of way.
Season 3 was considered by some fans to be weaker than the previous two. The increased darkness wound up dividing the fans on its overall quality. The greater focus on the Inspector SpacetimeRunning Gag was also fairly controversial, though not to the extent of its usage in season 4. There's also a faction that believes it's the best of all four seasons, leaving a bit of a broken base as far as it's concerned.
To make things more complicated, it's generally agreed to have some the best episodes of the show's entire run ("Remedial Chaos Theory", "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux", "Pillows and Blankets", "Basic Lupine Urology," and "Curriculum Unavailable") even though many believe it's the weakest season overall.
Community fans get along well generally, but there is some Britta vs. Annie sparring when it comes to who will end up with Jeff. If you root for Jeff/Britta as your OTP, Jeff/Annie shippers will have a field day ranting about how unlikable Britta is or how the duo lacks romantic chemistry. If you openly advocate Jeff/Annie, the BP&J shippers will declare their disgust with the age gap and claim that their massive differences could never be reconcilable in a relationship. Shippers of all other pairings seem to be much more civil.
Many Troy/Britta shippers are at least a little bitter that their ship is getting the stereotype of being a side-dish that people only ship because they want to clear the way for Jeff/Annie.
Fans of Jeff/Annie will often ship Troy/Britta, who in Season 1 were romantically linked to Annie and Jeff respectively in canon. On the flip-side, Jeff/Britta shippers will often ship Troy/Annie (and increasingly commonly, Annie/Abed), in order to keep Annie away from Jeff.
Annie/Abed fans have a slight problem doing this in a way that hinders their ship. If they ship Troy/Britta it leaves the Jeff/Annie ship open. If they ship Jeff/Britta it leaves the earlier Annie/Troy ship open. With Troy/Britta being sunk & Troy's departure in the fifth season, it makes Jeff/Britta the obvious choice of ship mate pairing.
Shipping Bed Death: More than a few fans of Britta/Troy ended up being disappointed when they actually got together because the writers seemed unable to do anything interesting with them.
Ship Sinking: The interminable Britta/Troy pairing is sunk without much fanfare toward the end of Season 4.
Suspiciously Similar Song: Subverted. At first it appears that Pierce is going to have slightly changed Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is", for the new school song (the intro notes are indeed slightly different from the original). Subverted when it turns out the rest of the song is exactly the same.
Abed: Can they sue us? Jeff: Don't know. (Pierce sings the line "Greendale's the way it goes") Yeah, they got us.
Squick: Jeff and Annie's relationship has become very big brother\little sister, but now that she's getting older it's getting creepy.
Jeff: But now you're becoming this mature, self possessed, intelligent young woman, and I can't keep patting you on the head or talking down to you.
Annie: But I like how close we are; I don't wanna grow up if it means losing what we have. Jeff: Well, tough, Annie. You have to grow up because the world needs more women like you. Can't keep doin' this forever, kiddo. [He takes her gently by the chin.] Annie: Can't we? [Beat] Jeff: Nope. I can't. No. No. Annie: [simultaneously] No, that's gross. I feel gross.
The earlier episodes of the third season seem to hint at/foreshadow Jeff suffering from some sort of mental breakdown or depression, but it really doesn't go anywhere. The rest of season three is still good, of course.
Britta & Troy's relationship in the fourth season - After the first few episodes of the season, it's barely mentioned before they break-up towards the end of the season, which arguably comes out of nowhere because the writers seemingly forgot they were dating for most of the season.
The stop-motion figures in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas." Britta's is especially bad. Hilariously, the normally expressionless Abed looked the most human. Possible Fridge Brilliance as we see all the events through Abed's perspective, and he's experiencing a mental breakdown throughout the episode.
In "English as a Second Language", people are convincing Troy to be a plumber instead of staying in school. Played for laughs as usual.
In-universe, almost everything Pierce says and does. He (probably) didn't even realize how much that windmill looked like a swastika...
However, if at least part of his faux Buddhist religion is accurate, the swastika would be perfectly fine for him. It wouldn't carry the same sort of meaning for him; it would be a sun symbol.
Though Pierce uses the term Buddha, the religion is really more of a parody of Scientology. Considering the amount of flak said religion can rain down, it's perhaps understandable that the show tried to cover it up with something so absurdly inaccurate that most people would know it's wrong.
The portrayal of the homosexual community in "Advanced Gay" has been met with some criticism. Dan Harmonadmitted that a few of the concerns were actually pretty valid and apologized, promising to be more aware of the issue in the future.
Pierce and Chang. Both are often barely tolerated by the rest of the group, but they're popular characters with the fans.
Also Britta. Although not exactly disliked by the other characters, they frequently call her a killjoy. Evidently her colleagues at work don't like her much either. And she's apparently not too popular with the rest of the Greendale student body either:
Vicki: You're the worst. Britta: She's just saying that to fit in!
Annie was apparently so unpopular in high school that a crossing guard tried to lure her into traffic.
The study group in general appears to be this to some degree; they're very close-knit with each other and are, of course, very popular with the fans of the show, but there's some evidence to suggest that they're not that well liked among the student body at large in Greendale.
Given the facts that they are very judgmental regarding who they socialize with, it ain't that hard to believe.
Abed, unusually, appears to subvert this. He's in many ways the show's breakout character, being very popular with viewers — however, of all the study group, he appears to be the one who has the most friends outside the study group, or at least is on reasonably friendly terms with more people. Which is particularly interesting given how a frequent subplot is how he finds it difficult to connect with people.
Though it does make sense if you consider Abed's analytical abilities — it's not a stretch to believe that he could use them to determine what other people might respond well to, à la playing Don Draper or Han Solo for Annie.
What an Idiot: Jeff insults Cornwallis (albeit unaware he was in earshot at the time) at their Christmas party despite knowing that he could change their grade (and in fact began the night HOPING to do so). Naturally, Cornwallis decides to drop their grade.
Oddly enough, Chang in season 2. All he wants is to join the group and he just gets shot down. Although he did spend most of the first season tormenting them, so it makes sense.
According to Word of God, Britta was designed to become this over the course of the series, especially in the Season 1 finale. Her self-esteem issues are certainly often referred to.
Abed also becomes this, particularly in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas".
Then the second half of Season 3 hits, exploring more of Abed we never knew. Virtual Systems Analysis has major insight to his issues.
Britta also becomes this in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" after Abed expels her from his Christmas fantasy because she tricked him into a therapy session; she protests that she was genuinely concerned about him and was trying to help him, and is clearly quite hurt by his rebuttal song that she's basically a broken robot with no faith in anything.
All of the main characters, and more than a few of the minor ones, have had their moment of Woobie-dom; no matter how big a Jerkass they might be at times, it's also quite clear that they're all broken and vulnerable people to some extent.