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The Study Group (AKA "The Greendale Seven")

The original main cast of the series.

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     In General
From left to right: Abed, Troy, Annie, Pierce, Jeff, Britta, and Shirley

Dean Pelton: Tomorrow, they are having a hearing to investigate the ringleaders of the riot, a.k.a. 'The Greendale Seven.'
Pierce: Catchy. How about Pierce Hawthorne and the Greendale Six?

The seven original main characters of Community; a diverse group of outcasts who met after forming a study group for their community college Spanish class.

  • Action Girl: All three of the girls have no trouble handling themselves in the show's more action-heavy segments, though how competent they are exactly tends to fluctuate per the Rule of Funny (note that this also applies to the guys in equal measure).
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: All the girls have this in spades. It's often played with, however.
    • Shirley is devoted to Andre who, after we meet him, is consistently depicted as an otherwise decent man who made a mistake and is trying his best to make up for it, and it's often suggested that for all her initial bitterness toward him Shirley had her own role to play in the break-up of their marriage.
    • Annie's crush on Jeff is often demonstrated to be unhealthy, or at the very least ill-advised, for both of them and she herself acknowledges that it's largely due to issues she has around loneliness and being a bit of a Control Freak who finds the idea of a man completely changing his identity for her appealing.
    • Britta's thing for jerks and weirdos is often deconstructed as being the result of deep-seated self-esteem issues and self-loathing on her part, prompting her to throw herself into disastrous relationships with damaged goods as a subconscious way of validating her own lack of self-worth.
  • The Artifact: The study group aren't really students anymore by mid-Season 5 but they're still occasionally called as such.
  • Badass Crew: They have, among other things, survived through hellish days-long paintball tournaments, beat up a school bully gang, started a school riot, and rescued their dean with an elaborate heist.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: All of them have their quirks and attitude, but nonetheless get their job(s) well-done.
  • Characterization Marches On: While traces of how all the characters the audience will be familiar with are present and several of them only slightly different from how they will eventually turn out, there's notable and at times quite significant differences with all of them, especially in the Pilot:
  • Daddy Issues: With the exception of Shirley, pretty much all of them have psychological problems that can be stemmed back to their parents.
  • Depending on the Writer:
    • Jeff either leans closer to "jerk" or "heart of gold" depending on the episode.
    • Britta's level of intelligence.
    • Annie's crush on Jeff can be one-sided or mutual.
    • Troy can either completely indulge Abed in his adventures or be the saner, more responsible voice of reason.
    • Pierce is either a bumbling, relatively harmless old man or an unapologetic Jerkass.
  • Dwindling Party: Happens towards the last two seasons. In Season 5, Pierce dies and Troy subsequently starts sailing across the world. In the final season, Shirley departs early on to take care of her sick father while the Grand Finale saw Abed and Annie respectively relocating to Los Angeles and Washington D.C. to start their careers.
    "One by one, they all just fade away."
  • Dysfunction Junction: All of them are pretty screwed up in their own ways. Delving into this more as the show went on is a big reason for the Cerebus Syndrome that the later seasons are infamous for.
    • Jeff defines himself by being the best at everything, to the point of repeatedly suffering minor breakdowns when some new development highlights that he's not perfect. He's also got a lot of hang-ups related to being abandoned by his dad at a young age.
    • Britta comes from a Friendless Background that has left her with a crippling lack of self-esteem, which she tries to mask with activism and charity. It's also implied on a couple of occasions that she secretly believes the rest of the study group views her as a killjoy and don't want her around.
    • Abed is sufficiently neurodivergent that he often has trouble making sense of the world except through the lens of pop culture. He has enough trouble relating to other people that the study group appears to be the first set of friends who really accepted him. And that's not even getting into the occasional emotional breakdowns where he retreats completely into fantasy to cope with stress.
    • Shirley is shown to struggle with feelings of inadequacy after her divorce, particularly since Andre left her for a much younger woman. She also angsts over fears of getting older and that her closely-held religious faith isn't respected by the rest of the group.
    • Annie had an epically terrible high-school experience capped off by a stay in rehab to deal with her drug addiction, around the same time as being essentially cut off by her parents. She lives alone in a bad neighborhood with barely enough money to get by, and her Control Freak tendencies are largely an attempt to affect positive change in what little aspects of her screwed-up life she can control.
    • Troy is a classical example of a Jaded Washout, initially unable to grow up because he's secretly afraid he'll never improve beyond his high-school football years. The series also makes clear that his very close friendship with Abed is extremely codependent and borderline toxic at times, to the point that both struggle to function without the other.
    • Pierce had a father who was both controlling and emotionally abusive, but who also spoiled him enough that he never developed useful skills. He's been married seven times, the only stepchildren he still sees are the ones he bribes, and he's been going to Greendale for over a decades, because it's the only place he feels accepted.
  • Everyone Meets Everyone: The pilot involves the formation of the study group and their somewhat disastrous first meeting. This trope is downplayed since Troy and Annie went to high school together, and a later episode reveals that Jeff and Shirley knew each other as kids.
  • Family of Choice: It helps that several in the group come from dysfunctional families themselves or are children of divorced parents, and as such, throughout the series the entire group forms deep, family bonds to the point that the thought of losing the group completely freaks some of them (notably Jeff or Annie) out and they attempt subterfuge in a desperate ploy to keep the group together or remain a part of it. Interestingly, the Team Mom (Shirley) and closest thing they have to a father figure (Jeff) are one of the opposite-sex pairings with the least Ship Tease.
  • Fatal Flaw: Every group member has one. Together they collectively cover the Seven Deadly Sins.
    • Jeff's ego. His body issues push him to make himself into a perfect physical specimen, while his narcissism and desire for control are due to his fragile sense of self-worth. (Pride)
    • Abed's Lack of Empathy and overindulgence in fiction. (Gluttony)
    • Pierce's resentment of the rest of the group and of Jeff in particular. (Envy)
    • Troy's naivety and desire to avoid work and pressure. (Sloth)
    • Britta's self-loathing; she throws herself into self-destructive behaviors out of a desire for approval and acceptance from her peers. (Lust)
    • Shirley's anger, which manifests through her passive-aggression. (Wrath)
    • Annie's pathological need to 'win' at whatever the cost. (Greed)
  • Five-Token Band: The study group is rather diverse, not just in terms of race and gender, but also age, religion, and socioeconomic background.
    Dean Pelton: Well, look at this group. Having some kind of meeting and being so diverse. There is just... boy, there is just one of every kind of you, isn't there?
  • Freudian Trio: Troy, Abed and Annie form one when they start living together in Season 3.
    • Id: Annie — Passionate and emotional. Gets the guys in more shenanigans than even they can handle.
    Troy: You moving in was supposed to tone us down!
    • Superego: Abed — Logical and analytical.
    • Ego: Troy — Balances the two out. It becomes apparent when Troy leaves in Season 5 and Annie and Abed get into a dispute over who to accept as their new roommate.
      • When Britta moves in, Annie takes over as the Ego while Britta, the newbie, becomes the Id.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: A few within the group. Pierce and Abed only have a few notable moments together throughout the series, while Troy and Shirley don't have a side-plot with just the two of them until Season 4. Somewhat justified in the case of Pierce and Abed, who admits he doesn't find Pierce all that compelling as a character.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The group is reduced to Jeff, Britta, Abed, and Annie by the start of the final season, then with just Jeff and Britta by the Grand Finale.
  • The Generation Gap: A fundamental dynamic of the group, as they're all of different ages. It's most obvious between Pierce (Baby Boomer) and the rest of the group (Generation X and younger), but there are generational conflicts between Shirley and Jeff (Generation X) with occasional addition of Britta (in-between) on one side and Troy, Abed and Annie (Millennial) on the other as well.
  • Good Is Not Nice: With the exception of Pierce, the study group almost never intend to hurt anyone. However, they can also be insufferable, self-absorbed jerks who take things too far and are ignorant of other people's feelings.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Britta (the crone), Annie (the maiden) and Shirley (the matron/mother).
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Happens in "Course Listing Unavailable" when they unwittingly instigate a riot at Starburns' wake and are expelled from Greendale.
  • Iconic Item: The wooden rectangle table they use is one of the first things (if not the first) that comes to the audience's mind if the show is brought up.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: The group consists of a Baby Boomer (Pierce), three Generation X (Jeff, Britta, Shirley), and three Millennials (Abed, Annie, Troy).
  • It's All About Me: This is the usual attitude of the study group (e.g. thinking that a professor ignited a protest against them so that they could learn about different perspectives of history). It doesn't earn them any favors with the rest of the student body, who are tired of the group hogging the spotlight all the time. This operates as part of the series' tendency to Lean On The Fourth Wall about such matters; while in the real world they would (and to their fellow students they do) appear to be self-obsessed Attention Whores, ultimately they're the main characters of the series and to varying degrees are Genre Savvy about this — so the world they inhabit really is All About Them.
  • Jerkass Ball: The whole group has taken this on from time to time.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jeff is the most obvious example, but all of them could be considered as this.
  • Large Ham: They all have their moments, especially Troy, Britta and Annie. Pierce takes a level in hamminess in Season 2 (bordering on Evil Is Hammy) and even the normally cool-headed Abed is not averse to exaggerated freak-outs or over-the-top spiels (usually when impersonating one of his favorite TV characters).
  • Limited Social Circle: There is barely any activity of the group outside of their established circle and they can be downright hostile towards outsiders, as shown with their treatment of Todd.
    Annie: [to Jeff] Who the hell are you always texting? Everyone you know is here!
  • The Notable Numeral: Known in-universe as "The Greendale Seven". (The name usually comes up in unflattering contexts.) Pierce tried to suggest that they should rebrand it to "Pierce Hawthorne and the Greendale Six".
  • Not So Above It All: The entire group seems to look down on Greendale's crazy antics but tend to cause most of them. Specifically, Jeff, Britta, Shirley, Annie and Pierce often try to seem in control, wise and above-it-all, but often fall to the level of Abed or Troy, who at least tend not to put on airs about how mature and/or cool they think they are.
  • Platonic Life-Partners:
    • Jeff and Shirley, first established in "Social Psychology" and solidified in "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism" (Shirley has this dynamic with all the guys, but it's most prominent with Jeff). The two trust each other with all of their secrets, and Shirley is the only member of the group Jeff isn't afraid to show the less flattering sides of his personality to.
    • Troy and Annie become this after finally working out their romantic issues in "Romantic Expressionism", particularly after they start living together along with Abed in Season 3.
    • Abed and Britta, particularly in the first season and from "Introduction to Finality" onwards. Despite Abed's initial reluctance, they frequently help each other work through their psychological problems and generally seem close with one another.
    • Abed and Annie flirt with this role throughout the series, but it's not until after Troy leaves for his round-the-world journey that their relationship fully develops into this trope.
  • Pottery Barn Poor: A source of contention for fans is the fact that the sources of income for almost all the characters are unclear. This ends in the fifth season, when the group except Pierce are all hired by Greendale.
    • Jeff deals with his lack of income and savings in several early first-season episodes and he's briefly homeless, but this is dropped in later episodes, and he always seems to have funds for whatever he needs. During this time, he's shown to live in a nice apartment by himself. Between Seasons 4 and 5, Jeff opens a private law practice and goes bankrupt.
    • Britta is repeatedly established as being poor. Of the younger characters, she is the only one ever seen with a job—in "Critical Film Studies", she works at a diner, but gets fired at the end of the episode. Britta is also known to live in an apartment. Season 6 establishes that Britta mooches off of her friends, and her wealthy family have been secretly financing her without her knowledge.
    • Troy lives with his father in the first season, but gets kicked out and goes to live with Pierce. In the third season, he and Abed live together in an apartment, but their source of income is never revealed.
    • Abed is the only one who lives on-campus in the first two seasons, and then lives together with Troy in an apartment in Season 3. He actually gets into debt with a celebrity impersonator company, revealing he has no source of income. Abed seems to have depended entirely on his parents until arriving at Greendale, and it's possible that his father still pays for his bills.
    • Annie's financial status is actually the focus of an episode, "Celebrity Pharmacology." A recurring claim throughout Season 2 and early Season 3 is that she lives in an apartment in a "bad neighborhood." She tells Pierce that she pays her bills with money she saved from every birthday and special occasion (such as the "period fairy") she's had, which, although unrealistic, is at least more than can be said for the others. However, she runs so low on money that she is forced to take a bribe from Pierce. At the end of the episode she says she plans to get a job, but this is never elaborated on. In Season 3, she begins living in Troy and Abed's apartment.
    • Shirley, as a single mother, presumably receives child support and alimony from Andre. They later reconnect and get back together. Later, she begins attempting to start her business, and Andre implies that he is the breadwinner of the family.
    • Pierce is rich and the heir to his father's fortune, although he chooses to give it up to his half-brother Gilbert Lawson. He presumably has a large fortune for himself.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Their numbers include: a disbarred lawyer with serious Daddy Issues, a socially-isolated pop-culture geek who may or may not have an unidentified mental disorder, a former anarchist struggling to find a new identity, an old and lonely millionaire, a divorced mother of two with anger problems, an ex-drug addict, and a washed-out high school athlete. Despite their individual foibles and flaws, they can (usually) be counted on to come together as a group and makes things right when it counts.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: From most red to most blue we have Troy, Pierce, Annie, Britta, Shirley, Jeff, Abed. Specific pairings include:
  • Sanity Ball: The ball seemed to lie pretty firmly with Britta early on, but in later episodes it gets passed around mostly between Jeff, Annie, Troy, and Abed. In general, Jeff is the relatively normal one (heavy emphasis on "relatively") who is the most likely to realize that the Serious Business doesn't really matter, but usually gets swept up in the rest of the school's weirdness anyway. Annie is the most intelligent and often acts as the group's conscience, but doesn't live up to her own ideals as often as not. Troy is generally the most moral member of the group, but also a complete ditz. Abed is Genre Savvy to the point of being a borderline Fourth-Wall Observer, but has an Ambiguous Disorder to the point that even he sometimes wonders if he is actually, literally insane.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: The three most antagonistic members of the group, Jeff, Britta and Pierce, cover their respective issues and hang-ups with either or both sarcasm and douchebaggery.
  • Straight Man: Mainly Britta and Jeff in the first season, though in later seasons, the role alternates between Jeff and Annie.
  • Teacher's Pet: They are the Dean's favorite students—roles they emphatically did not seek out.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: At their worst.
  • The Three Faces of Adam: Jeff (lord), Troy (hunter), Pierce (prophet).
  • The Three Faces of Eve: Shirley (wife), Britta (seductress), Annie (child).
  • Town Girls: Cheerful, motherly housewife Shirley is the Femme; outspoken, fiery activist Britta is the Butch; spirited, optimistic go-getter Annie is Neither.
  • True Companions: For all their bickering, they're an almost unbreakable family unit.
  • Two Girls to a Team: The inversion happens midway through Season 5 following Pierce's death and Troy's departure but played straight after Shirley's departure between Seasons 5 and 6.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Troy, Abed, and Annie, who share an apartment from Season 3 onwards. They're also the three youngest members of the group.
    • Inverted in Season 6, when Britta moves into the apartment with Abed and Annie.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Pierce and Jeff are the most obvious examples, but all the members of the group have come to qualify at some point. The best example is in "Competitive Ecology", where they spend most of the episode insulting Todd to his face because nobody wants to be lab partners with him, not to mention they clearly haven't learned their lesson by the end. Professor Kane even refers to them as the "mean clique."
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: All of them (with the exception of Troy and Abed) could be said to be this with each other to some degree, Jeff and Britta especially. Shirley and Annie have also become more competitive of each other by Season 4.

    Jeff Winger 

    Britta Perry 

Britta Perry
"This may shock you, but I come from a long line of wives and mothers."

Played By: Gillian Jacobs

"Who do you think I am? I lived in New York!"

A passionate but inept political activist, feminist, anarchist cat owner and psychology student, who, although generally well meaning, tends to eagerly latch on to particular causes with more enthusiasm (and obnoxious self-righteousness) than actual understanding or dedication.

  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: One of her defining character flaws is a tendency to take any perceived advantage, no matter how slight, and use it as an excuse to flaunt her ego and hold it over everyone else around her.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Britta has to learn at least three different times that her "activism" is almost entirely shallow and self-serving.
  • Age-Gap Romance: In Season 4, she dates Troy, who is nine years her junior.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: She seems to have quite the thing for damaged goods, jerks and weirdos; subject to a process of Deconstruction in that it's made clear that this is due to severe self-esteem issues on her part, and she initiates these relationships as a self-destructive way of validating her own lack of self-worth.
    Troy: Britta likes guys who are mean to her. She doesn't like herself.
  • Ambiguously Bi: While she admits that she'd never kissed a girl prior to "Early 21st Century Romanticism", she does have a few moments.
    • After spending all of "Comparative Religion" insisting that men fighting is an outlet for them to express their "pent-up gayness", she ends up fighting with the only girl in Mike's gang during the big group brawl at the end.
    • She and Annie both give each other looks when the group glances nervously at each other for signs of attraction in "Romantic Expressionism".
    • When the group is debating what "sexy" TV character Abed should role-play as to get a girl's attention, Britta says he should be "like Jo from Facts of Life!" (cue looks from the rest of the group) "... but, you know, the dude version."
    • When everyone is tripping on strange berries in "Intro To Felt Surrogacy", Britta begins caressing Annie's arm with her face while commenting on how soft her skin is. After Jeff declares, "I love women", Britta is shown still rubbing her face on Annie's arm.
  • Anticlimactic Parents: Despite her negative opinions about them, her parents are actually very nice people, who are liked by pretty much everyone other than her. Her reasons for disliking them are still quite justified, though.
  • The Bartender: She gets a job working at a bar to make ends meet in the Time Skip between Seasons 4 and 5, though it's not until Season 6 that the audience actually gets to see her at work.
  • Battle Cry: "Britta for the win!"
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Jeff. Lampshaded by the rest of the study group in "Modern Warfare". Even after they stop sleeping together, a lot of their interactions have a hint of this.
  • Berserk Button:
    • She gets annoyed when she finds out that Annie is pursuing someone she was recently linked to.
    • She completely loses it when she finds out that her parents are secretly helping to support her. She didn't mind when she thought she was just mooching off her friends, but goes ballistic when she finds out they in turn had been going to her parents.
  • Better as Friends: With Jeff, and later with Troy.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • The Betty to Professor Slater's Veronica for Jeff's Archie in the beginning.
    • The Veronica to Annie's Betty also for Jeff's Archie.
    • The Archie for Jeff's Veronica and Troy's Betty.
  • Break the Haughty: Like Jeff, Britta tends to have a rather high opinion of herself. Again like Jeff, many of the plots involving her tend to involve knocking her off her high horse as humiliatingly as possible.
  • Buffy Speak: Moreso in later seasons.
  • Butt-Monkey: If it's not Pierce, it's Britta. Per Troy, she's the AT&T of people.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Duh doy!"
    • "I lived in New York!"
  • Character Development: She learns to relax a lot over the course of the series and starts to put less of a huge emphasis into her own neuroses and pet projects, which helps her get more of a handle on avoiding/averting her own hypocrisy. Additionally, she becomes far more effective and insightful as a psychologist and manages to better help her friends on their own terms by using her own imagination and embracing, at least partially, their ways of looking at the world.
  • Characterization Marches On: In early Season 1, Britta has "douche-ray vision", is a worldly, well-traveled (if somewhat insufferable and hypocritical; see below) Soapbox Sadie who the other characters come to for advice, and serves as a competent foil to Jeff's jibber-jabber as well as being his Will They or Won't They? fellow romantic lead. By Season 3, douches are her catnip, she's a ditzy Butt-Monkey with No Social Skills who Brittas everything she does, and people who've barely even met her instantly recognize her as "the worst". Britta's seismic shift in characterization is lampshaded by Jeff in Season 3, when he points out that she seemed smarter than him when he first met her. The standing explanation is that Gillian Jacobs greatly prefers to play oddball wacky characters over morally superior characters, and negotiated to make her character more "fun", at the expense of the character's dignity. Amusingly, her regaining some of her own previous intelligence serves as part of her Character Development in Season 5.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Starting Season 2, she gets increasingly awkward, wacky, eccentric and ditzy. Though not as weird as Abed, Pierce or even Troy.
  • Color Motif: Her wardrobe never excludes black, white or/and blue.
  • Commander Contrarian: Her Soapbox Sadie-meets-Pretentious Hipster qualities mean that she frequently seems to object to things purely for the sake of being cool and different rather than out of a sincere contrary belief. As Jeff puts it, she's frequently just "pro-anti" rather than anything else.
  • Compressed Vice: In "Regional Holiday Music", Glee Club instructor Mr. Rad insists that Britta play the part of a mute tree in the Christmas pageant, and when we finally hear Britta sing, we understand why - she's terrible. The thing is, Britta sings in other episodes, as well as in the very next scene, and she can carry a note fairly well. She was only bad when the plot required it.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: She's quite paranoid about the government and its influence on society. She also believes kids should be required to read George Orwell's 1984.
    Britta: We already live in a totalitarian surveillance state! Do you not read my status updates?!
    Abed: But I'm not the government. I'm your friend.
    Britta: That's what governments say, nimrod!
  • Cool People Rebel Against Authority: Often exaggerated and Played for Laughs. Her D&D moniker was even "Britta the Needlessly Defiant".
  • Cop Hater: Derisively refers to cops as "crossing guards with guns".
  • Crazy Cat Lady: According to Jeff. Abed also refers to her as an "anarchist cat owner" in his documentary in "Advanced Documentary Filmmaking: Redux".
  • The Cynic: While not quite on Jeff's levels, she has a rather pessimistic view toward many things.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: It's hinted, and Dan Harmon has confirmed, that she was molested on her eleventh birthday by a man in a dinosaur costume, and that her father didn't believe it had happened. Season 6 seems to suggest the writers quietly dropped the latter part, however, as it never comes up even when she lists off the reasons why she dislikes her parents.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She can be just as snarky as Jeff in the first 2 seasons. Even after her character Took a Level in Dumbass, she still gets a few good zingers in.
  • Demoted to Comic Relief: In the first season she is essentially the second lead of the show after Jeff and is involved in a Love Triangle with him and Professor Slater. She's also relatively sane compared to the rest of the cast and is more or less the Straight Man of the ensemble, with few quirks of her own. As the show goes on, Britta loses her role as Jeff's nominal love interest to Annie, her goofiness and Butt-Monkey status are increasingly mined for comedy, and her flaws and storylines (while not without providing some Character Development) are usually Played for Laughs. By the final season she's one of the show's go-to comic relief character next to the Dean and Chang.
  • Determinator: She doesn't give up easily when she wants to prove a point. Just ask Troy.
    Troy: [in tears] I DON'T UNDERSTAND YOU, BRITTA!
    • Pierce of all people is shown to admire this about her; i.e. when he arranges for Sophie B. Hawkins to appear at Britta's dance because he respected that she didn't back down even in the face of absolute failure.
  • The Ditherer: Played with, but in a more straightforward fashion than Jeff: like him, on the surface she seems committed to her various causes and has a very forceful, loud personality, but it quickly becomes apparent that she's not nearly as dedicated as she wants other people to believe she is, and most of her loudness is bluster designed to conceal the fact that she can't really manage to get things together and take responsibility for her life. In Season 5, her former anarchist friends call her out on this by pointing out that not only are they able to do more tangible good for the causes they believe in after "selling out" than she is, but the only reason she's able to self-righteously lecture them about this is because she hasn't done anything meaningful or useful with her life, and so consequently has less to lose than they do.
  • The Dragon: To Hickey's Big Bad in the "Floor is Lava" Game in "Geothermal Escapism". She does a Heel–Face Turn after learning from Troy that Abed is seeing real lava.
  • Drama Queen: At times, she can be high on her drama.
    Britta: High on my own drama?!
  • Dumb Blonde: Though she starts off as reasonably intelligent, it fades over time, and she falls significantly into this trope by Season 3, to the point of becoming birds of a feather with Troy.
  • Ethical Slut: She is implied to have a very active (and kinky) sex life and is not averse to one night stands, Friends with Benefits arrangements, and so on. She has also gotten with two of the four males in the group: Jeff and Troy.
    [Pierce is locked in his panic room]
    Britta: Don't worry. I've been locked in way worse places than this.
    [Troy looks at her, confused]
    Britta: Not against my will.
    [Shirley looks at her]
    Britta: (changing the subject) Been in there long?
  • Foil: Britta has a genuine desire to help others but her obnoxious posturing and limited understanding of certain topics tends to put people off more often than not. Meanwhile, Jeff is usually reluctant to get involved but actually has the charisma and know-how to get things done.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Used to be an activist who traveled the world and joined the Peace Corps before deciding to go Back to School, which explains her Soapbox Sadie tendencies.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Melancholic.
  • Freudian Excuse: Her constant Soapbox Sadie tendencies and urge to lash out at "the system" are eventually shown to be in part her lashing out against her parents, who were apparently very strict and cloying when she was a child to the point that she felt like she was (ironically) worthless and not even a real person.
  • Friendless Background: Tearfully remarks at one point that she's never really had any female friends ("Women have always hated me!") and there are hints that most of the people she hung out with pre-study group couldn't wait to be rid of her.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Increasingly rivals Pierce for this role as everyone in the group gets more and more tired of her loudmouth Know-Nothing Know-It-All antics. They even start using her name as a verb meaning "to ruin something". Ultimately downplayed, since she still tends to be on relatively good terms with everyone else in spite of this and, unlike Pierce, her status as a member of the group is never once called into question.
  • Friends with Benefits: With Jeff in Season 2.
  • Genius Ditz: While her knowledge of psychological theory is shown to be quite lacking and her over-eagerness to apply this flawed knowledge makes her the subject of derision, she is often shown to actually be quite insightful about pinpointing people's issues and what they should do to address them. Unfortunately, because her flawed theoretical knowledge makes her sound like an idiot, people (particularly Jeff) are often inclined to dismiss her advice out of hand when perhaps they shouldn't.
  • Giftedly Bad: As a photographer.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: During the first paintball episode, Jeff remarks that he finds it funny that a woman wearing Hello Kitty underpants is calling him immature.
  • Granola Girl: She was clearly one before entering the show, but snarkiness has turned her into more of a Straw Feminist.
    Britta: I'm a vegetarian.
    Troy: Wow. Shocker.
  • The Grinch: In "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas", her rather smug and snide dismissals of the trappings of the festive season, such as Christmas songs, see her come off as a bit of a killjoy.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Britta is the only blonde in the study group and while she may sometimes be a hypocrite, she genuinely cares about all the friends she's made at Greendale and will stand by them in their time of need.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Was once referred to by Professor Slater as the girl with "the infinite supply of leather jackets". The thread of Britta's hypocrisy is reflected in her attempt to look like a sexy badass in animal skins while professing proudly not to eat them. Eventually she undergoes a wardrobe makeover sans leather jackets symbolic of her being less hypocritical and perhaps less of a sexy badass as well.
  • Hidden Depths: Has a hidden talent for planning weddings. It upsets her as if that humiliated her as a feminist.
    • She also knows how to knit.
  • Hipster: Like Jeff, much as she might try to deny it Britta is totally a hipster. In particular, she tends to occupy the 'pretentious, smug and poorly informed left-winger' aspect of the stereotype. And she's apparently always been a hipster—for example, she deliberately tracked down VHS bootlegs of Rebop as a child.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Like everything else, she flaunts it proudly, and it constantly puts her at odds with Shirley as a result.
  • Hollywood Psych: Despite her passion for her major, it's pretty clear that her knowledge of psychology only ranges to this. This is done on purpose, to showcase how ignorant she is. And to remind viewers, yet again, how atrocious Greendale's classes are.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Only during the Christmas pageant in "Regional Holiday Music". Otherwise, like when the group comes caroling at Abed's door at the end of the episode, she's average.
  • Hot-Blooded: She's fiercely intense and passionate about her ideals despite being a self-serving, pretentious and inept Womanchild who gets riled up easily.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Although the Soapbox Sadie, Ditz and Granola Girl aspects of her character would be gradually heightened for comedy over time, hypocrisy has been an aspect of Britta's character since the early days of the show —the second episode reveals that her championing of social justice causes is mainly for appearances and credibility points and she doesn't really do anything towards them, and the fifth episode reveals that her trumpeting of honesty as being her big defining feature is a sham when she admits to having cheated on a Spanish test.
    • In the very first episode, Britta conceals her smoking habit from Jeff until he catches her outside with a cigarette while running out to the football field. It's especially funny because Jeff could easily have been the one to be found out in that scene.
    • This is lampshaded in "The Psychology of Letting Go", when Annie, having had to put up with an episode of snide self-righteousness from Britta about her efforts to appeal to guys, angrily points out that despite her posturing Britta obviously also cares about getting attention from men seeing as she wears stripper boots, eats celery and mustard for lunch and gets up "an hour early to ever so slightly curl [her] hair."
    • She proudly and smugly lauds her vegetarian practices over the other members of the study group while simultaneously owning "an infinite supply of leather jackets"; in other words, she'll loudly trumpet her disdain for eating animals as a mark of virtue, but is otherwise quite happy to wear their skins so that she can look like a cool, sexy badass.
    • In "Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality", when she calls out her friends for selling out and abandoning their former principles, they in turn point out that they still manage to do more good for the causes they believe in than she does, and that her supposed activism ultimately benefits no one but herself. They also point out that the only reason she calls for the downfall of the system she supposedly loathes so much is that, unlike them, she hasn't accomplished anything and so has nothing to lose from it.
    • She tirelessly needles Jeff about his father issues while having a strained relationship with her own parents (though admittedly she isn't as estranged from them as Jeff is from his father). She later gets pissed at her friends for hanging out with her parents behind her back, despite previously showing up at Jeff's dad's house on Thanksgiving unannounced in an effort to get them to reconcile.
    • In the same episode, she also harangues her friends for accepting money from her parents on her behalf, viewing this as condescending of them. They, in turn, point out that they only started doing so because Britta keeps sponging money from them without showing any intention of ever paying it back, thus making her indignation ring more than a bit hollow; either way, she's still leeching off someone for a free ride, and if she's not going to repay her debts she's got no right to get outraged if her friends accept money from someone who will.
    • Britta vocally and loudly embraces progressive positions, including being a vegetarian, atheist, and Straw Feminist, but she often tends to fall back on using snide implications of repressed homosexuality to mock Jeff or other men.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Seeing as there's a bit of a gulf between Britta's beliefs and her actions, she tends to generate this kind of humor.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Often when her obnoxious, Soapbox Sadie façade is broken down, she reveals her vulnerable side, admitting she actually hates herself, even going as far as to compare herself unfavourably to cancer at one point. A lot of the things she does are to gain respect from others, especially the study group. In Season 3, she discovers a new method of trying to gain respect: touting the fact that she's a psych major and (unsuccessfully) showing off her psych skills.
  • Insufferable Imbecile: Downplayed in that she can be a good therapist when she needs to be but for the most part, Britta is a dramatic, opinionated and egotistical hypocrite who gets very passionate over her social and political views despite mostly being inept, immature and socially ignorant.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Britta tends to be rather obnoxious, self-righteous and egotistical, but her heart is generally in the right place and it's often made clear that she'd jump through fire for her friends.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: And her cats all seem to have an incredible range of illnesses and disabilities.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: She often presents herself as an experienced and enlightened woman-of-the-world, but isn't nearly as well-informed as she believes herself to be or wants others to believe she is.
  • Large Ham: While she was originally one of the laid-back characters in the show, she becomes more over-the-top and goofy as the series progresses.
  • Law of Disproportionate Response: She is driven to binge-drinking, a complete identity crisis and the depths of despair essentially over the fact that she turns out to be good at flower-arranging and wedding planning.
  • Lust Object: For Professor Duncan throughout the fifth season.
  • Malaproper: Has a tendency towards this; some examples are "edible complex" (Oedipal Complex), "rowboat cop" (RoboCop), and "Steppenwolf wives" (Stepford wives).
  • Meaningful Name: Britta is a rather brittle person, who puts on a tough, confident and self-impressed front but is really a rather unstable stew of neuroses and insecurities when you get past the surface. Pierce accidentally foreshadows this in the pilot by introducing her to Jeff (belatedly) as "Brittles". As Abed notes in "Contemporary American Poultry", she compulsively filters herself. "Britta" is also originally a Swedish name (and Britta mentions at one point that she's got Swedish ancestry), and Sweden is commonly considered the archetypical "progressive" country.
  • Mirror Character:
    • With Shirley. Although they often come from different ends of the spectrum when it comes to their religious and political beliefs and often clash because of it, they're more alike than they think. In particular, they both tend to get very self-righteous about their particular standards (often without justification) and will often drive the other members of the group up the wall with their moralizing when they get up on their respective high horses.
    • The first season onwards also makes it pretty clear that as much as she disdains Jeff for his superficial and self-centered nature, she is in many ways just as superficial and self-centered. Both of them are also incredibly smug Hipsters who act with a front of insufferable and often unjustified self-satisfaction in order to mask deeper insecurities, and often try just a little too hard to make sure everyone knows that they're the coolest person in the room at any given moment. In certain episodes (like "Modern Warfare" and "Mixology Certification"), their attempts at verbally one-upping each other just end up annoying the other members of the group immensely and equally.
    • Weirdly enough, to Abed, in that both have strange ways of looking at the world, often suffer from having No Social Skills, and are a lot more insecure about their place in the group than they may first seem.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Pierce maintains an ironclad belief throughout the series that she's a closeted lesbian. There was also that one girl in "Early 21st Century Romanticism"... and that girl's best friend... and the entire crowd at the school dance.
  • Money Dumb: Britta is in huge debt during the second season, which is lampshaded when she meets Troy's childhood hero. She tries to convince him to stay to spend time with Troy by paying him all she has in her bank account, less than 300 dollars. He refuses, saying that she is a nice girl, but is very stupid with her money, which she happily agrees with.
  • Ms. Fanservice: She has her moments, notably spending the Cold Open of "Conventions of Space and Time" in her underwear. Defied on Halloween episodes, as she refuses to wear "sexy" Halloween costumes and ends up going so far in the other direction as to sacrifice practicality (for example, dressing in a dinosaur costume that left her unable to use her hands).
  • Nice Girl: She becomes this in Season 3 where she is more vulnerable and sensitive, and in Season 4 is inhumanly patient with Troy keeping their relationship a secret and the somewhat cowardly way Troy breaks up with her in the switch-er-oo episode.
  • No Social Skills: Her reactions to certain situations tend to be inappropriate or just nonsensical. According to Dan Harmon, this is why she plays a "malfunctioning robot" in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas".
  • Not So Above It All: It's suggested a few times that, despite her Straw Feminist-like disdain for traditional women's roles, gender binaries and their trappings (such as marriage) and her tendency to lord it over Shirley and Annie when they display interests that align to this, she's not quite as detached from them as she likes to believe. This most notably turns up in "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts", in which she displays a surprising innate and instinctive talent for floral arrangement and wedding preparation. Furthermore, for someone who tends to display a Straw Feminist disdain towards the male gender, she seems to frequently use her relationship status and the guys she dates as a way of defining herself and tends to get very, very annoyed whenever men demonstrate interest in women who aren't her.
  • Oblivious to Love: She is unaware of Troy's crush on her for quite some time.
  • Old Maid: The fact that she's not getting any younger, any less single or any closer to the hot young rebel she used to be is often touched upon, and it's very heavily implied that despite her posturing otherwise she is not happy about this.
  • Only Sane Woman: In the first half of Season 1, she is easily the most "normal" and level-headed member of the study group. It's pretty much gone without a trace by Season 2.
  • Person as Verb:
  • Phrase Catcher: "You're the worst!"
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Eventually evolves into this by the final season.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: In Season 6, when Abed (loosely) quotes a bit of Jack Nicholson's speech from A Few Good Men, she incorrectly identifies it as a Pink Floyd lyric.
  • Prom Wrecker: She decides to throw a Sophie B. Hawkins dance in protest of the Dean's Sadie Hawkins dance, which she believes encourages outdated gender roles by having the "girls ask the guys."
  • Punny Name: She's both brittle and bitter: Britta.
  • Purely Aesthetic Glasses: She wears them whenever she's trying to feel or look smart. Evil Abed lampshades it in "Introduction to Finality", much to Britta's shame and his amusement.
  • Rape as Backstory: It hasn't been confirmed outside of supplementary material, but it has been implied that she was molested by a man in a dinosaur costume when she was eleven. It's usually been played more as Black Comedy Rape.
  • Really Gets Around: At least, it's frequently implied that she does. Over the course of the series she hooks up with Jeff, Troy, Vaughn, and Rick; she also made out with Star-Burns while drunk, has several weird ex-boyfriends and dating horror stories, and Troy and Abed rattle off a list of friends they had who she dated and then "ruined".
  • Rebellious Princess: She has supportive, loving, rich parents whom she can't stand because of how they treated her individualist tendencies and idiosyncrasies when she was a child.
  • Relationship Upgrade: With Troy between Seasons 3 and 4. They eventually decide that they are Better as Friends, though.
  • Romantic False Lead: Jeff initially forms the study group to sleep with her and they spend the majority of Season 1 in a Will They or Won't They? dynamic before finally breaking the tension in "Modern Warfare". Then in late Season 2 it's revealed they've been secretly hooking up all season, only to stop when they realize the rest of the group knowing about it takes away the fun. After that they're strictly friends while Annie becomes Jeff's nominal romantic interest for the rest of the series. They nearly have sex again in Season 5 and even become engaged for a time but it's more out of a desperate effort to cling to the past than out of any legitimate attraction, and they break it off for good in the season finale.
  • Secret Relationship: Has casual sex with Jeff in Season 2 and they keep it a secret from the group. She and Troy try to do this with Abed, but he figures it out from the start.
  • Secretly Wealthy: Britta's parents are actually well-off. How is it a secret? It isn't revealed until the second episode of the final season.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Implied to be the root of her attraction to Troy in Season 3, especially after Annie helps her realize that it was him who sent her a kind text message in "Origins of Vampire Mythology". It's likely this is the first time Britta has crushed on someone who wasn't a jerk, a "bad boy", or an otherwise toxic relationship.
  • Sitcom Character Archetypes: In early Season 1, she's The Square, before evolving into The Bigmouth (with some shades of The Goofball thanks to her Cloudcuckoolander nature). Britta constantly and ineffectually lectures the other members of the study group about whatever cause she's stumbled onto that week. Other characters use her name as a verb meaning "ruined."
  • Sliding Scale of Beauty: Britta begins as "World Class" in the first season to the point of being nominated for queen of the Transfer Dance in the season finale, but in the following seasons she is considered more of a "Common Beauty"; that is, she is considered beautiful but nothing special.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Britta likes to think of herself as a rational, worldly and intelligent woman but instead she's often a childishly impulsive, ditzy and ignorant egotist.
  • Smug Smiler: She can look very, very smug when she gets self-righteous about something. Which is often.
  • Smug Snake: Thinks being a feminist and a vegetarian is the be all and end all of being an enlightened woman. It isn't.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Parodied; she will latch on to any excuse to jump onto her high horse about something, especially if the something in question is something that is no longer as radical or controversial as she thinks it is. This tends to lead to her making a fool of herself.
    Annie: You're anti-wedding now?
    Jeff: No, she's just pro-anti.
    Britta: No to everything you both said!
  • So Unfunny, It's Funny: The kind of humor Britta usually provides.
  • The Stoner: Britta is a recreational drug user, something Shirley hopes doesn't rub off on Troy. While we only ever see her smoking pot, she also alludes to tripping on ecstasy in "Regional Holiday Music", using peyote in "Curriculum Unavailable" and is eager to get a hold of whatever substance the whacked-out partygoers are on in "Epidemiology" (they've actually been infected by a zombified Pierce). Deconstructed in "Remedial Chaos Theory" when she lights up a joint specifically to get comfortable with the rest of the group in an environment outside of school and only doesn't in the prime timeline where Jeff doesn't stop her from singing "Roxanne", thus allowing her to actually cut it loose and have a fun time.
    Britta: How long does peyote last? Just asking for a friend.
  • Straw Feminist: It's frequently made clear that her understanding of feminism is flawed and that she mainly tends to use her feminist causes as a way of feeling superior over others.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Towards Jeff. Their relationship tends to fall somewhere between Vitriolic Best Buds and Belligerent Sexual Tension, with a healthy dose of Snark-to-Snark Combat.
  • Team Mom: Juggles this with Shirley. Britta tends to be the group's "buzz-kill" and has become more concerned with their mental well-beings since becoming a Psych Major. She's generally at her most motherly when interacting with Abed.
  • Tomboy: Has very few stereotypically feminine traits, especially compared to the much more girly Shirley and Annie. She's definitely not One of the Boys, though, largely on account of her Straw Feminist tendencies.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: The confrontational and rebellious tomboy to Annie's well-behaved and studious girly girl.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: Begins the show as the relatively serious Only Sane Woman before becoming a lot more goofy and incompetent by Season 3. It does start to fade somewhat in Season 5 when she starts to get more Character Development, though.
    • Lampshaded by Jeff in "Course Listing Unavailable":
      Jeff: You seemed smarter than me when I met you.
      Britta: Thank you.
    • Lampshaded again in "Repilot":
      Jeff: Britta, when we met, you were an eclectic anarchist. How did you become the group's airhead?
      Britta: [confused] Thank you?
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: She's noticeably a bit harsher in Season 2, particularly to Annie and when she dismisses Abed and Troy's blanket fort as not grown up. The former might be related to her and Annie's competitiveness over Jeff after the events of "Anthropology 101". She proper grabs the Jerkass Ball during "Mixology Certification", when she and Jeff mock Shirley over her drunken past.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: While still a Soapbox Sadie and Know-Nothing Know-It-All, she mellows out somewhat in Season 3.
  • Totally Radical: More so after she Took a Level in Dumbass.
  • Tsundere: Her actions seems to imply she's a Type B tsundere, especially towards Jeff.
  • Unfortunate Names: "What is she, a water filter?" "Can you imagine living with that?" And she doesn't even realize it.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: With Jeff. He finally gets over her, Britta claims she's in love with him... but only as a means of besting Slater and Jeff, and she later recants it in the Season 2 premiere.
  • Walking the Earth: She's been to fourteen countries as a member of the Peace Corps prior to the events of the series.
  • Weakness Turns Her On: A self-admitted example. She even falls for Troy when he makes up a story about being molested as a child. It's usually played to reflect her own weaknesses, however, since it's suggested she only initiates relationships with deadbeats and losers in order to validate her own lack of self-worth.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: As Annie puts it:
    Annie: It's obvious from your name that your parents smoked pot.
    • Hilariously, she's right.
  • Womanchild: She acts like she's more mature and enlightened than the others, but in fact she's quite childish, seems to be locked in a permanent state of knee-jerk teenage rebellion, and really can't manage to get her life together.
    • Most noticeable in Season 6, when she's fallen on hard times and her estranged parents enter the picture.
  • Women Are Wiser: None of the characters is a flawless human being, but she tries to act, invoke and otherwise claim this trope (particularly for herself) more than the others, which tends to lead to Hypocritical Humor when reality or her own character flaws trip her up and prove her wrong—usually in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. She does admit at one point that she doesn't really consider herself to be so deep down, however, and her heart is generally in the right place even if there's a gulf between her opinion of herself and the reality.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: She is downright giddy at the idea of Jeff's feud with Mike the bully translating into Belligerent Sexual Tension.

    Abed Nadir 

Abed Nadir
"I have a profile pic now. Cool. Coolcoolcool."

Played By: Danny Pudi

"I need help reacting to something."

A media-aware and pop-culture-obsessed film student who is either suffering from an unspecific psychological disorder or is just very eccentric. He tends to view the world around him as if he and his friends were the main characters in a weekly television sitcom about a group of oddball students. As such, he tends to make frequent references, comparisons and 'homages' to various TV shows and movies.

  • Ambiguous Disorder: While it is never explicitly confirmed, Abed is heavily implied to be autistic. He is incredibly fascinated with films and television and often projects their tropes onto real life in an attempt to better understand and relate to the world around him. He has a tendency to struggle with social cues and reading emotion, sometimes explicitly asking other characters for help understanding other people’s feelings and reactions. He loses his cool whenever there's any kind of unfamiliarity in his life, even if it's something like having the engine of his Dreamatorium being tampered with, and he tends to make loud, repetitive humming noises whenever he's really distressed. He also struggles to read an analog clock in "Basic Lupine Urology," which is possibly another hint towards his diagnosis. Lampshaded in "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons," in which his "title" is "Abed the Undiagnosable."
    • In the first season, when they all find out someone has a crush on Abed:
      Annie: This is so romantic! This is just like The Notebook except instead of Alzheimer's, Abed has—
      Shirley: [clears throat loudly to stop Annie from saying "Asperger's"]
      Annie: [changing her sentence] ... someone who likes him.
    • There's also this exchange from the pilot episode:
      Abed: You know, I thought you were like Bill Murray in any of his films, but you're more like Michael Douglas in any of his films.
      Jeff: Yeah?
      Abed: Yeah.
      Jeff: Well, you have Asperger's.
  • Ambiguously Bi: He has a very close relationship with Troy, has been hit on by both women and men, and shows only mild interest in pursuing relationships with girls outside of a fictional context. Jeff and Britta also refer to him as Troy's boyfriend several times (the latter when she is dating Troy, no less). That being said he does eventually get a girlfriend in Rachel, and is quite capable of seducing women when he wants to (specifically, Annie). When the Group looks nervously between each other for signs of attractions, Abed makes wiggly eyebrows at Jeff and Britta.
  • Author Avatar: Dan Harmon has stated that he believes Abed is the character that best represents him. Make what you will of The Reveal of Abed as the Only Sane Man in "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps", which came after Harmon had first publicly said that he felt this way.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: He's so Genre Savvy that he can predict, word for word, how anyone in the group will respond to a given situation. In "Cooperative Calligraphy", it was revealed that in this fashion he figured out the menstrual cycles of the women in the group.
  • Badass Bookworm: His interests are centered mostly on pop-culture and literature, but he surprisingly has an athleticism that could compete with resident jock Troy.
  • Batman Gambit: A prime example would be him manipulating Jeff and Britta in order to finish a student film, which would then help him patch things up with his father.
  • Birds of a Feather: To both Annie and Britta, in that all three are Control Freaks that have countless neuroses and are secretly terrified about their greater inadequacy within the study group.
  • Bollywood Nerd: Spoofed. One of his nicknames is "Slumdog".
  • Brutal Honesty: Abed tends to deliver cutting analyses of people without any sort of sugary coat. It becomes a plot point in "Aerodynamics of Gender".
  • Cannot Convey Sarcasm: He has to announce whenever he's being sarcastic as well as announce when he's finished.
  • Catchphrase: (points) "Cool. (beat) Coolcoolcool."
  • Character Development: His No Social Skills were emphasized along with his Ambiguous Disorder being played up in the early episodes, and he still seemed to not yet entirely grasp the concept of friendship. After several years of being in a tight-knit clique of friends, however, Abed's become slightly more sociable and is now merely the oddball of the group. He also starts to slowly gain more of an understanding of his own neuroses and gains significantly more empathy for his fellow man as the series goes on.
  • Characterization Marches On: Abed is much more of a Motor Mouth in the pilot, and his mannerisms are more nervous and less robotic — smiling, laughing, and gesturing fairly naturally, such as when he's gratified after Jeff gets his references to The Breakfast Club and Dirty Dancing. While Jeff (obviously not a doctor) says he has Asperger's, the ambiguity of Abed's Ambiguous Disorder is amped up to Running Gag levels in later episodes. His pop culture gimmick is also less explicit, though it does still seem to be his go-to resource for communicating with others. Meanwhile, Abed's trouble with recognizing and reading faces is only established in Season 2 — he compares Britta to Elisabeth Shue in the pilot, it doesn't seem to interfere with his impersonating Don Draper in "Physical Education", and he almost falls for Annie's Disney face in "English as a Second Language".
  • Chick Magnet: Despite the study group's misguided assertion that Abed can't pull because of his condition in "Physical Education", it turns out Abed has no problem attracting girls because he's Endearingly Dorky and his aloofness reminds them of their Daddy Issues. Naturally, he's well aware of this. His vast range of TV helps, meaning he can act like Don Draper to attract Annie, for example.
  • Chuunibyou: Abed watches too many movies and often emulates the characters and actors to accommodate himself in his social circles. While Troy has fun with Abed and indulges in his fantasies, everyone else isn't as patient with him and reacts with varying degrees of hostility. While his chuunibyou status has made him wiser, improve his conversation skills, and can even make him attract women, Abed comes to realise that he needs help and that this isn't healthy.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Easily the most eccentric character in the entire show and that's really saying something.
  • The Comically Serious: His underreactions to the drama around him makes for many funny moments.
  • Consistent Clothing Style: Nerdy Abed favors graphic shirts under a shirt or jacket.
  • Control Freak: Abed is a self-admitted control freak who will go out of his way to exert power over others, usually in order to try to connect with them or ensure they don't abandon him. Despite not having malicious intentions, his actions can make him appear to be a bit of a Manipulative Bastard.
    Annie: You don't have a patent on being a Control Freak, Abed.
    Abed: Actually, I kind of do.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Not as much as Jeff or Britta, but he can occasionally do this when he goes into Sarcasm Mode, especially when he sarcastically thanks whoever stole Annie's pen for ruining his day in "Cooperative Calligraphy".
  • Declarative Finger: A frequent Character Tic. Especially pronounced when Troy pretends to have switched bodies with him.
  • Deconstruction: His problems and issues were a central focus in Season 3, along with the difficulties that his condition produced in enabling him to form connections with and empathize with others. By the end of the season, he mentally snaps and admits that he does have problems and needs help.
    • Taken further in Season 5 after Troy's departure. Without his best friend around to indulge his childish behaviors, Abed's forced to interact more with other members of the group who are far less tolerable of his antics, and his reactions to their disapproval go beyond the usual deconstruction of his control freak tendencies into Jerkass territory.
  • Ditzy Genius: For all his social misunderstandings, there is no one who knows more about pop culture than Abed.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Eccentric, Sarcasm-Blind, pop-culture obsessed Abed, with little to no social skills, has no problem attracting girls because he's weird in a cute way and his aloofness reminds them of their daddy issues.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Abed is not only popular with the ladies, but apparently with the men as well.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Melancholic.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: At one point he looks directly at the camera and says "This is the movie!" while someone sings "Abed!" in the background.
  • Genre Savvy: His defining characteristic. As he says, talking about people like they're in a TV show is his gimmick and that they "leaned pretty hard on that last week." He then says that he "can lay low for an episode." As mentioned above, this becomes savvy at times (oddly enough it is relatively rare that he is victim to Wrong Genre Savvy). He's even Genre Savvy about having an Ambiguous Disorder—he got out of a conversation with Chang where he was caught in a lie by pretending to glitch in "Asian Population Studies", making Chang go away in frustration.
    Abed: Works every time.
  • Geek Physiques: Tall and lanky.
  • Giver of Lame Names: Self-confessed. Gems include Bing-Bong, Fibrosis, Marrrrrrr (as Jeff observes, "Boy, you weren't kidding") and Hector the Well-Endowed ("I made that one with Troy in mind").
  • Heroic Blue Screen of Death: Ranging from seeing everything in Claymation, mentally shoving himself in a locker, viewing the floor as actual lava, to just freaking out over Daylight Savings Time.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: His deep friendship Troy is a big staple of the show.
  • Hidden Depths: "Virtual Systems Analysis" reveals that he is more insecure about his place in the group than he appears. To elaborate, Annie tells him that his "simulations" in the Dreamitorium need to take other people's feelings into account (and she messes around with his mock-up "Dreamitorium engine" to reflect this change). This causes him to go into a Heroic BSoD and drag Annie into a "simulation" where other people's feelings are taken into account, from which he is noticeably absent. Annie later finds him jammed into a simulated locker, where he reveals his fear that if he considers how the rest of the group feels, then he'll have to face the possibility that they don't actually want him around.
  • Hyper-Awareness: He predicts the way other characters will act with eerie accuracy, to the point of being able to visualize alternate realities depending on others' choices and sequences of events.
  • Informed Judaism: Abed is a Muslim, but his religion doesn't really come up, except at Christmas or when Pierce wants to be Pierce. Like the other younger members of the study group, he appears to have been raised in his religion, but is non-practicing as an adult.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Has this as a major character flaw. His plan to keep track of Britta, Annie and Shirley's period cycles so as to avoid saying the wrong thing could also be seen as No Good Deed Goes Unpunished if Annie's Idiot Ball reaction is anything to go by.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite his occasional Jerkassery and oftentimes semi-willful ignorance of other people's feelings, Abed truly does care about his friends and learns to be more sociable and show more empathy for others as the series progresses. When it comes to actual intentions, he borders on being an outright Nice Guy.
  • Lack of Empathy: Suffers from this a lot due to his status as the Meta Guy distancing him from other people. He slowly starts to grow out of this though as the series goes on.
  • The Lancer: During the paintball episodes, particularly in Season 2. In "For a Few Paintballs More", he deliberately calls dibs on the "Han Solo role".
  • Loners Are Freaks: More of a straight example in the earlier episodes likely due to pre-Character Development.
  • Lost in Character: For his walk-on role in Cougartown. Very, very lost.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Annie has a tendency to swoon and show increased interest in Abed whenever he cosplays as Don Draper, Han Solo or Batman.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Guy: Discussed in-universe; Troy describes him as "a magical, elf-like man who makes us all more magical by being near us". Also a Deconstruction: his antics can be exhausting and irresponsible, and his odd outlook on life may stem from an Ambiguous Disorder.
  • Meaningful Name: The name "Abed" means "worshiper", "adorer", or "devout" in Arabic; The Movie Buff and token Geek of the group, his fandom often borders on reverence. Meanwhile, "Nadir" is an Arabic loanword that's frequently used in English to mean "lowest point"; like many people stuck at Greendale, Abed is at a low point in his life when we first meet him, being a friendless and socially awkward geek being pushed into a career that he has no passion for.
  • Meta Guy:
    • Abed's Medium Awareness and Genre Savvy Leaning on the Fourth Wall (if not outright breaking it) is justified as him being a Cloudcuckoolander (or at least a Genius Ditz) with some degree of Obfuscating Stupidity or Insanity—Britta worries in an early episode that he doesn't know the difference between real life and television. In fact, he has transcended normal Genre Savvy into the realms of prophesy now that he is taking film classes. Wild Mass Guessing has postulated that he is either a patron of this site or knows that he's fictional. Examples can be found on the Quotes page.
    • Lampshaded in "Anthropology 101": Abed asks Shirley if she would "spin off with him" and she responds, "I don't understand, is this you being meta?"
    • There are a few times when it's arguable he's done so already. He sung a variation of the theme song in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas." It's almost like Abed can see the fourth wall out of the corner of his eye, and the only thing he can't do is look into the camera and address the audience. From the same episode, as they walk through the valley where the plants sing Christmas carols, Pierce asks if it will be "expensive to walk though here," to which Abed answers "No, these songs are all public domain." That joke doesn't even make sense out of the context of them knowing they're in a TV show. Suffice to say, Community plays pretty fast and loose with the fourth wall.
    • In the "Twittersode" before the Season 2 finale, Abed is the only one able to see that every character ends their tweets with a hashtag referencing the show itself.
      AbedsTweets: Why do we keep typing "// #NBCCommunity?"
      JeffWingerAtLaw: @AbedsTweets Nobody knows what you're talking about. AGAIN.=]
    • In "Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples" he looks at the camera saying "This is the movie."
    • In "Basic Sandwich," he tells Annie that the only way they won't be back next year is if an asteroid wipes out all life on Earth. He then gives an Aside Glance and says, "And that's canon." Annie stares confusedly at the camera in a futile attempt to figure out who exactly Abed was talking to.
  • Missing Mom: Sadly has one.
  • Money Dumb: Invoked in Season 1 and 3 he has a serious problem spending money over unnecessary things.
  • Motor Mouth: He can slip into this when he's talking about something pop-culture related. A truly epic example occurs when he becomes obsessed with figuring out if Nicolas Cage is a good actor. He spends so much time analyzing the man's filmography that he ends up going on a series of rants which quickly devolve into him actually talking like Cage.
  • The Movie Buff: And how! It's his character's bread and butter, to the point of Jeff asking, "Will your reality ever come on blue-ray so that we can enjoy it.".
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Despite a clear lack of social skills, he seems to have little difficulty attracting women (he's Endearingly Dorky and his aloofness subconsciously reminds them of their fathers). He has also made out with the hottest girl in school.
  • Nerdy Nasalness: Abed's nasal voice only adds to his nerdy nature.
  • No Social Skills: Until he's forced to branch out after Troy leaves in Season 5.
  • Noodle People: Abed is quite thin. See Geek Physiques.
  • Odd Friendship: Develops one with Buzz Hickey in Season 5.
  • Only Sane Man: He definitely has some issues, but despite his eccentric way of looking at the world, Abed can sometimes come across as being more sensible, calm and down-to-earth than his supposedly more 'normal' friends. Seemingly confirmed in a literal way at the end of "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps," where it's revealed that Britta's only psych test that didn't come up with something absolutely dreadful was his.
    • Season 3 reveals that Abed is quite fragile without the stabilizing presence of Troy, and is aware of the risk of being institutionalized if he loses his grip. In fact, he starts becoming a lot more selfish and out of touch with reality as Season 3 goes on (to the point of trying to cut off Jeff's arm when his dark side takes over). As much as he managed to solve people's problems in the first and second seasons, he starts causing a lot more in the third onwards.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Part of his Meta Guy shtick. He goes as far as giving cues to the characters so they know how to proceed cinematically.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: A film/TV encyclopedia who can more than hold his own in the school's physical challenges, such as the paintball games.
  • Prophecies Are Always Right: Any prophecy he makes in this fashion will be accurate. Later episodes seem to be suggesting that Abed is not as accurate as he thinks, however; "Virtual Systems Analysis" suggests that his analysis is ultimately affected by his insecurities and his personal relationships with the group. In that episode, his predictions lead him to conclude that Britta and Troy's lunch date will go poorly; this is a reflection of his underlying concern that he will be gradually excluded, however, and the date in fact goes very well.
  • Proud to Be a Geek: Very much so. When he finds out Troy broke up with a girl because she said Abed was weird, Abed nonchalantly replies, "I am weird."
  • Punny Name: Nadir is a last name, but it also means "the lowest point". The opposite of zenith.
  • Quizzical Tilt: His signature Character Tic: tilting the head when puzzled.
  • Reference Overdosed: References are basically how he communicates with the world. In "Communication Studies," he gets drunk and is horrified to discover he can't recall any shows or movies to reference. At one point, to keep up appearances, he just says "movie reference".
  • Sarcasm-Blind: Early Season 1. He gets better. He does tend to need to announce to everyone when he's planning to or using sarcasm, however. Lampshaded in "Advanced Criminal Law":
    Abed: Troy invented rap music, and he's related to Danny Glover, and President Obama.
    Troy: Hey man, that stuff I said this morning wasn't true, I was just messing with you.
    Abed: You were lying?
    Troy: Yeah, as a joke. You've never had somebody mess with you before?
    Abed: Yes, just kidding, no. Like that? ... This isn't a table. [laughs] ... That's funny.
  • Sitcom Character Archetypes: The Dork (with some shades of The Goofball). He's an exceptionally, almost robotically awkward guy who only understands anything through the lens of television.
  • Speaks In Shoutouts: Much of his dialogue is peppered with references to his favorite TV shows and movies.
  • The Stoic: Easily the most patient of the group and least likely to get upset. He's even unfazed by sitting through more than twenty-six hours of Duncan's psychology experiment. However, Abed quickly loses his cool when something interferes with the order of his universe (changing his apartment, setting the clocks back, etc.). A danger sign is a continuous, high-pitched wail.
  • Stronger Than They Look: Despite the Geek Physiques, he could give resident jock Troy a run for his money in many athletic activities except American Football.
  • Tagalong Kid: Although Annie and Troy are technically younger than he is. Doubles as the group's Smart Guy.
  • Token Minority: The only non-Caucasian member of the study group left in the final season.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Season 3 saw him become a bit more ill-tempered and insulting to his friends than the first two seasons. And again in Season 5 after Troy leaves.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Buttered noodles is Abed's meal of choice. He particularly likes the microwaveable kind made by "Papa Penne's."
  • Two Decades Behind: His 1980s references. Abed is aged somewhere between 21 and 27, which makes his constant '80s references 10 to 20 years behind where they should be. Most of his references should be from The '90s and the Turn of the Millennium. Obviously the reason is because Dan Harmon (born January 3, 1973) and his references are taken from the '80s and early '90s when he grew up and are transferred into his writing. The show has lampshaded this oddity; it's often made clear that Abed is a fanatical consumer of pop culture in a way most people aren't and that he goes to way greater lengths than most would in pursuit of it. The weirdest example is his encyclopedic knowledge of Who's the Boss? which (depending on his exact age) began when Abed wouldn't have been born yet and ended before he had started preschool.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Although Abed does appear on Cougar Town and ends the experience with him apparently pooping himself, most of the details he gave to Jeff in “Critical Film Studies” don’t line up with what we see actually happen on Cougar Town.
  • Vague Age:
    • He's somewhere in his twenties, but where?
      Jeff: Abed is an adult and a U.S. citizen ... right?
      Abed: Yeah.
    • He is at least as old as Troy as of Season 2, given that he is able to legally drink when the group goes to a bar to celebrate Troy’s 21st birthday, but that is pretty much the only solid piece of information given about his age.
    • There's a possibility that he's closer to Jeff and Shirely's ages than he looks; in "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism" there's a kid who looks like Abed during the flashbacks (though "Heroic Origins" reveals that the kid in the flashback wasn't him since he had no idea about Jeff and Shirley's interaction as kids), and in "GI Jeff," he claims to be thirty-five (within a year of Danny Pudi's real age), before saying he's joking.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: At first his traditionalist father is disappointed that he wants to study film instead of taking over the family falafel restaurant. He later changes his mind after seeing one of his son's films.
  • When He Smiles: His most common expression is a dead pokerface, but on the couple of occasions when he does smile ... it's pretty adorable. Played enormously straight in "Remedial Chaos Theory", though he's obviously forcing it.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Occasionally. It's the closest he ever gets to being Genre Blind.

    Shirley Bennett 

Shirley Bennett
"Oh, that's nice!"

Played By: Yvette Nicole Brown

"I haven't felt any of that chemistry coming my way! I don't know if it's because you're racist, or because I intimidate you sexually, but I know it's one of those two."

A divorced housewife and mother who started attending business classes at the school following her divorce. A devout Christian, she tends to see herself as the group's moral and spiritual compass and conscience—whether the group wants her to play that role or not. Her sugary-sweet demeanor barely hides thinly-veiled rage issues.

  • Action Mom: A mother of two (later three) boys and a force to be reckoned with when provoked. She even takes part in the Season 2 paintball tournament while still nursing her newborn son Ben.
  • Aesop Amnesia: There are at least three episodes where Shirley finds out her Holier Than Thou attitude, combined with her competitive spirit, cause her to alienate her friends. It's happened with Jeff twice — the first time when he was a kid to boot— Troy once, and even Britta once.
  • The Alcoholic: Started drinking a lot after her divorce. By the present day she's a Recovered Addict, but there are a few times when she almost backslides, and her Alternate Self in the darkest timeline is fully off the wagon once more.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: All of her attempts toward romance after her divorce fail, including her memorable fling with the sexy dreadlocks guy in "Contemporary American Poultry".Abed proves to her that the only reason he hung around Shirley was because she fed him chicken fingers.
  • The Atoner: It's implied on a few occasions that the strength of her religious faith has something to do with her guilt about her former alcoholism, and it's outright stated that it has a lot to do with her being a bully as a twelve-year-old. Gets deconstructed when her friends call her out for her Holier Than Thou attitude, with Jeff, in particular, saying she likes to appear good rather than actually be a good person.
  • Bad Liar: See Verbal Tic, below.
  • Badass Preacher: Shirley is both the most religious member of the study group and the most prone to violence. She's absolutely terrifying in "Pillows and Blankets". She cosplayed as one of these during the second paintball game.
  • Berserk Button: She is touchy about her age, her weight, and doesn't particularly appreciate jibes about her religious beliefs either.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Shirley appears to have deep-seated rage issues underneath her saccharine-sweet exterior, as noted by Jeff in the pilot:
      Jeff: Shirley has earned our respect. Not as a wife, not as a mother, but as a woman. And don't test her on that, because that thing about the jukebox was way too specific to be improvised.
    • Shirley also threatens Jeff with a pizza slicer at one point.
    • She humiliated foosball competitors as a child.
    • She takes to Video Game Cruelty Potential disconcertingly quickly.
    • She's extremely vicious during the campus-wide pillow fight in "Pillows and Blankets".
  • Big Beautiful Woman: She's somewhat more heavyset than the other girls in the study group (and very insecure about it), but her attractiveness towards men never seems to suffer much for it — Chang and Pierce both lust after her at different points, and the Held Gaze sequence in "Romantic Expressionism" implies that Troy and Jeff both find her attractive as well.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: She can come off like this — her sugary-sweet exterior conceals an extremely short and sometimes vicious temper, a self-righteous and judgmental nature and what can be quite a bitchy personality at times.
    • That being said, her true character is someone who is genuinely trying to be nice and good to the people around her, and she is painfully aware of and constantly keeping a handle on her deep-seated issues.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Oh, that's nice!"
    • Her and Annie's dual "Awwwwww!"
  • Character Development: In the second half of Season 3, her bigotry and self-righteousness is significantly toned down. Possibly because of her remarriage with Andre. In her first break with Andre she placed the blame entirely on him, despite details slipping that she was at fault too, later the second time it happens, She admits that it was her fault and Andre may have been right.
  • The Conscience: Shirley sees herself as playing this role within the group; it's subverted more often than not.
  • Consistent Clothing Style: Shirley, who is a wife and mother, dresses sensibly in a conservative top and trousers.
  • The Cutie: With her sweet motherly tone, especially during her Catch Phrases.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In a less subtle way than Jeff, but still present from time to time.
    Shirley: Oh look, Britta brought what she believes in: nothing.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Shirley is essentially the sensible wife out of a wholesome family sitcom who's forced to interact with people who are neither her children nor her Manchild husband and who thus don't regard her as inherently more moral than them.
  • Drink-Based Characterization: As a recovered alcoholic, she's always seen with a glass of water when the group goes out drinking together. She comes very close to accepting a shot of whiskey during a moment of weakness in "Course Listing Unavailable", but ends up passing it off to Jeff instead.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: One of her talents is baking, and she hopes to use her business degree to sell her brownies online.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Sanguine.
  • The Fundamentalist: Shirley is a Christian fundamentalist who is shown early in the series forcing her beliefs on other members of the group. Most attempts are rather mild, like mandating wearing "What Would Baby Jesus Do?" bracelets. There are other instances hinted at that aren't so benign, like inviting Annie to a pool party which turned out to be an involuntary baptism. Downplayed as later episodes tone this down considerably, and ultimately Shirley is shown to have many good qualities that outweigh the bad.
  • Glurge Addict: She loves all things sugary-sweet and originally comes to Greendale to start a dessert bakery.
  • Gossipy Hens: She and Jeff bond over their shared love of gossip in "Social Psychology".
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Smash one of her Berserk Buttons and she'll get riled up extremely easily.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Did one as a 12-year-old girl, after making 10-year-old Jeff wet his pants and letting him run off in tears.
  • Hidden Depths: For a supposedly clean-cut Christian woman, Shirley is hinted to have a surprising familiarity with the BDSM community. In "Paranormal Parentage" she recognizes immediately what Pierce's "special gym" is and what it's used for, and is also very keen that Troy forget that she knew what it was in the first place. Much to Abed's surprise, she's also a big fan of the Hellraiser movies, which frequently drew upon BDSM themes and imagery.
    • It's revealed in Season 4 that Shirley's in line to be the class valedictorian, apparently having even better grades than Annie.
  • Hiding Behind Religion: Jeff accuses Shirley of this in "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism" when he learns that Shirley was his childhood bully. While he's (understandably) overwrought at the time and Shirley is a genuinely religious person, a good case can be made that this isn't actually that far off from the truth; she does tend to use her religious beliefs as a way of feeling superior to others, manipulating them into doing what she wants through guilt and avoiding having to address the less savory aspects of her personality (such as her volatile temper).
  • Holier Than Thou: Shirley is both the most passionately religious member of the study group and the most insufferably self-righteous and judgmental about it. Unsurprisingly, the other members call her out for this when said beliefs insult them.
  • Hypocrite: She's not nearly as moral and upstanding as she likes to think she is. She tries to grow out of it, with varying results.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Shirley tends to produce this kind of humor, usually by comparing various beliefs/ideas/practices unfavorably to her religious beliefs only to then either engage in the same things herself or by inadvertently suggesting that her particular beliefs are similar to those she condemns in condemning them.
  • Iconic Item: Her purse. Or, "comedically huge bag", as Abed calls it.
  • Innocent Bigot: What she tries to pull off toward the members of the study group. It doesn't go so well.
    Shirley: [to Annie] I didn't know you were a... Jew?
  • Ironic Echo: "That's less nice..." in "Modern Warfare".note 
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Although she can be a self-righteous ass to people especially in her younger years towards kids like Jeff, she does insist on being kind and is genuinely happy for anyone in the group when something 'nice' happens to them.
  • Large Ham: Not nearly as often as Troy or Annie, though she has her moments.
    Shirley: Ooh! Troy made God mad!
  • Manipulative Bitch: Whenever she uses religion, her Team Mom tendencies or, really, any predicament that befalls her as an excuse to get people to do as she wants.
    Jeff: Let me guess. I'm not going to make a pregnant woman storm off?
  • Not So Above It All:
    • When Jeff gets into a fight in "Comparative Religion". At first, she is insistent on considering Jeff 'dead to her' if he goes to his fight, but later on she admits the bullies Jeff was facing deserved a nice whooping and gets into it herself. Along with the entire study group.
      Mike: What would Shirley do?
      Jeff: She would shake your hand and wish you a merry Christmas.
      [Mike slams Jeff down]
      Shirley: Jeffrey! Kick his ass.
    • This comes back brilliantly in the video game episode, where at first she is appalled at Annie killing a (virtual) blacksmith... but when his pregnant wife comes downstairs, Shirley sets her on fire and smashes her to death and quickly goes on to make sure the whole family is dead and that the house is completely destroyed once they leave.
  • Odd Couple: Being a devoutly religious African-American homemaker and housewife, she tends to generate this kind of dynamic with Britta, who is almost her exact opposite in every way. Less so with Annie, whom she seems closer to, as they're quite similar in many ways.
  • Odd Friendship: Develops this kind of relationship with Jeff. Comes to a head in "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism", but they become even closer after the events of the episode.
  • Out of Focus: Zig-zagged. Midway through Season 5 she complains about having not had much focus recently, only for the next two episodes to center heavily around her. Then she dips out of focus again.
  • Politeness Judo: Her status as Team Mom gives her this ability. Case in point, the WWBJD bracelets.
  • Put on a Bus: Departs in the final season premiere to take care of her sick father, though she technically comes Back for the Finale as part of two Imagine Spots.
  • Religious Bruiser: The Token Religious Teammate of the group and a bonafide asskicker when the situation calls for it. See the group's fight with Mike's gang, the paintball tournaments, and the epic Pillows vs. Blankets war for examples.
  • Sassy Black Woman:
    • Shirley is largely an aversion of this trope, as Yvette Brown points out in this roundtable interview that she and the show's other female regulars conducted during their last day of shooting for Season 3:
      Yvette Nicole Brown: As a black actor, it's refreshing that I'm not playing the 'sassy black woman.' It's something that Dan Harmon was cognizant of from the beginning. It is something that I'm always cognizant of. Every woman on the planet has sass and smart-ass qualities in them, but it seems sometimes only black women are defined by it. Shirley is a fully formed woman that had a sassy moment. Her natural set point, if anything, is rage. That's her natural set point, suppressed rage, which comes out as kindness and trying to keep everything tight."
    • In "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux", the Dean asks her to be more "happy/threatening". She responds accordingly.
      Shirley: I believe the word the Dean is looking for is "sassy." [her smile fades] He'd better pray he don't find it.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Her attempt to rebuild her life anew fails. While she is a good baker and has decent intuition, she runs a loss on Shirley's Sandwiches, causing Andre to divorce her again and win custody of the kids. That also puts a torpedo in her love life, since she believes you should only sleep with the person you married. Then her father gets sick, putting her back into a domestic role.
  • Shipper on Deck: For Jeff and Britta, initially. The events of the Season 2 premiere quickly put an end to it.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Usually motherly and sweet, but can go from that to sassy in a second.
  • Sitcom Character Archetypes: The Stick. As the Token Religious Teammate, Shirley sometimes has a Holier Than Thou attitude and often tries to force the rest of the main characters to adhere to her morals.
  • Stepford Smiler: On the mild side of the trope, but she has 'thinly veiled rage issues' under her cheer.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: In Season 2, after a brief (and memory-wiped) fling with Chang.
  • Team Chef: She's the one who mostly brings food (specifically brownies) for the group.
  • Team Mom: Whether the group wants it or not.
  • Third-Option Love Interest: What she wants to be for Jeff, besides Annie and Britta. In fact, she makes no secret of her belief that Jeff is physically attractive.
  • Token Religious Teammate: The member of the group who brings up religion and her strong faith the most.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In the Season 2 finale. She takes out several of the enemy by dousing the school in paint and later almost wins the game, only being outlasted by Pierce.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Concerning her marriage. In Season 1, almost every reference she makes to her husband centers around what a complete and utterly irredeemable bastard he is for cheating on her. Given that when we finally meet him he turns out to be a pretty decent guy genuinely contrite about having an affair, in addition to it being revealed that Shirley had problems with alcohol in her past, it can be safely assumed that Shirley is exaggerating and may not be as faultless in the original breakdown of her marriage as previously suggested.
  • Verbal Tic:
    • It's quite obvious when Shirley is lying, as she enunciates her lies with very clipped, forced-out syllables, such as when the group is attempting an I Am Spartacus moment after Jeff farted during a mock UN debate.
      Shirley: I far-ted.
    • After Shirley and Annie have "accidentally" murdered the video game Blacksmith and his Wife in "Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne" and have rigged their home to burn down, after stealing every last piece of equipment in the building and ensuring there were no other "loose ends".
      Shirley: Hel-lo!
      Annie: Everybody go shopping? [nervously] 'Cause that's all we did! [the blacksmith's house begins burning down in the background]
      Abed: Is that hut on fire? [Hilda begins running around in a panic as her parents' house burns]
      Shirley: [deadpan] Ohhh myyy, what an un-ex-plained tra-ge-dy.
    • She also tends to adopt an exaggeratedly chipper sing-song tone whenever trying to manipulate anyone. Both tics are pointed out by Jeff on one occasion:
      Shirley: Hel-lo!
      Jeff: Are you here to help me with Biology or to get me to help you?
      Shirley: [singsong] Bi-ol-o-gy.
      Jeff: Are you lying? [Shirley looks cornered] Hard to put the word 'yes' into lilting syllables, huh?
      Shirley: Ye-eh-es?
  • Weight Woe: Shirley, followed closely by Jeff, is the study group member most often shown concerned about their weight.
  • Younger than She Looks: Only two years older than Jeff but her fussiness doesn't help.

    Annie Edison 

Annie Edison
"I'm Annie Edison, but people call me Psycho because I had a nervous breakdown in high school."

Played By: Alison Brie

"A passing grade? Like a 'C'? Why don't I just get pregnant at a bus station?!"

An insecure and neurotic overachiever attending Greendale following an addiction to prescription medication which ruined her previously flawless high-school record. Intelligent and driven, she's usually perky and cheerful but tends to get tightly-wound and uptight when things fail to go to plan or when matters of grades or academic achievement arise.

  • Aesop Amnesia: Many times she realizes that her attraction to Jeff is not healthy, that does not prevent her from falling in love with him again.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Vaughn calls her "mountain flower" when they're dating. She and Jeff sometimes call each other "milady" and "milord."
  • Age-Gap Romance: She and Jeff are sixteen years apart.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Her crush on Troy that she's had since high school. When he remains totally oblivious to her, she decides to get over it.
    • Her crush on Jeff, though how much so varies between episodes.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: She appears to have been on the receiving end of this trope a lot during high school.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Her only confirmed relationships are with males, but she also seems very eager to kiss Britta near the end of "Early 21st Romanticism". And then there's her very detailed sex scene with a female elf maid during her stint as Hector The Well Endowed in "Advanced Dungeons And Dragons".
  • Ambition Is Evil: Played with; Annie does have a tendency to let her ambitions override her morals, but it's never suggested that her ambitions themselves are bad, per se.
  • Anchored Ship: Her relationship with Jeff does not develop much over the course of six seasons.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: The youngest of the group.
  • The B Grade: She's extremely grade-conscious, to the point of her quest for a better grade forming the main thrust of several episodes, particularly "Basic Lupine Urology".
  • Badass Adorable: In the paintball episodes. There are other instances though; in the climatic fight scene in "Comparative Religion," she can be seen viciously whaling on three different opponents and winning.
    • In "Paradigms of Human Memory," she's shown to be a purple belt in jujitsu.
    • In "Accounting for Lawyers", she chloroforms a janitor twice and almost does the same to Jeff.
    • In "Analysis Of Cork Based Networking", she jumps on the back of a man more than twice her size and starts choking him before Jeff pulls her off.
    • Downplayed in later seasons, though not in a Chickification kind of way. She starts making an effort to dress and act more mature, and the other characters react accordingly — she's still a badass, but she's not quite "adorable" anymore.
  • Beautiful All Along:
    • She's an interesting version of this, as rather than being called homely, she's accepted as being 'cute' most of the time, but goes to a more sexy appearance by Letting Her Hair Down.
      Jeff: Annie's pretty young. We try not to sexualize her.
    • In another odd example, Troy is actually unaware that Annie is attractive until Jeff points it out to him. Then again, Troy is not exactly the brains of the operation. And he did say that that his high school memories with her blurred out her current beauty.
  • Berserk Button: Being called "Little Annie Adderall", or taking her pen.
  • Betty and Veronica: The Betty to Britta's Veronica for Jeff's Archie.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • As "The Science of Illusion", "Anthropology 101", "Accounting For Lawyers" and "A Fistful of Paintballs"/"For a Few Paintballs More" demonstrate, irking Annie Edison is not recommended. She can get... aggressive.
    • Annie has no issues taking down a man twice her size with chloroform... twice. And she seems totally prepared to do it to Jeff, too.
    • She has punched Jeff in the face and slammed his head into a table.
  • Book Smart: As she puts it: "I know you're all wondering how I do it. How do I balance straight A's, extracurriculars, and Israeli folk dancing every Friday night?"
  • Bound and Gagged: As part of a classroom reenactment of an Indian Princess' kidnapping in the second episode.
  • Brainy Brunette: She has brown hair and is the most studious of the study group.
  • Bridezilla: She's all but building up to be one, judging how she seems to have a huge scrapbook on wedding preparations handy.
  • Catchphrase:
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: She does this to Jeff at the start of Season 2, after they kiss and he doesn't call her back.
  • The Comically Serious: She's surprisingly hyper, immature and quirky for a serious nerd with ambitions and drive.
  • Competition Freak: You can believe that any time Annie plays something, she plays to win, and it often takes her to unhealthy or even friendship-threatening extremes. A good example is when she humiliates Jeff in the school's presidential election by showing an embarrassing tape of him auditioning to be on The Real World.
  • The Conscience: To Jeff. With just her Puppy-Dog Eyes alone she can convince him to do the right thing.
  • Consistent Clothing Style: Prim and young Annie is usually wearing a brightly-patterned blouse or dress, sometimes paired with a cardigan.
  • Covert Pervert: Annie is seen as the young and wholesome member of the group, but there are many instances of her displaying surprising perversion.
    • In "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons," Annie ends up playing the character "Hector the Well-Endowed" during a Dungeons & Dragons game, due to grabbing a character sheet at random. She then ends up seducing an elf maiden, and Abed makes her describe the process in full detail. Music plays over the narration so that we don't get to hear what she says, but if you read her lips you can see that it is filthy. The camera cuts to Troy a few times, furiously taking notes.
    • While the rest of the study group is averting their eyes from Jeff's nakedness during his showdown with the Pool Professor, Annie sneaks a few peeks.
    • She also suggests that Jeff change his shirt because "it's not working", but really it's just to sneak a peek of his chest.
  • Coy, Girlish Flirt Pose: Quite unintentionally, as it turns out. Britta calls her out on this, claiming that she's "selling out her gender", which Annie does not take lightly.
  • Cry Cute: Her "Disney face".
  • Cute Bookworm: Especially in the first season.
  • Cute and Psycho: A benign variety, but Annie has been shown to be one failing grade, lousy party, or bad round of model United Nations from a complete mental breakdown.
  • The Cutie: Annie is the living, breathing embodiment of this trope.
  • The Determinator: A very driven and ambitious young woman who's also super intense and passionate about being the best at whatever she's involved in.
  • Dude Magnet: Besides Jeff, many men have expressed attraction towards her.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "Little Annie Adderall", due to her high school pill addiction.
  • Everyone Is Christian at Christmas: Dons a sexy Ms. Santa outfit, albeit to lure Jeff into the seedy world of a cappella singing.
  • Flanderization: Her passive-aggressive competitiveness with Shirley reaches new heights during the gas leak year.
  • Fanservice Pack: Goes from being a cute and preppy girl with the occasional moments of being Beautiful All Along to the show's primary Ms. Fanservice.
  • The Finicky One: Starts out this way, but becomes more fun-loving and relaxed as time goes on.
  • Formerly Fat: She claims to have lost a lot of weight since high school, but it's mostly an Informed Attribute, as noted below.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Choleric.
  • Girliness Upgrade: Applied and then semi-inverted. Annie starts off dressing like a normal 18-year-old, then gradually begins wearing flowery dresses and cardigans more often, to the point that they comprise the bulk of her wardrobe. Come Season 5, Annie's wardrobe has undergone a major overhaul to better fit her being more assertive and mature, with her wearing sweaters over blouses and pants.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: She seems to have quite a healthy collection of them.
  • Go-Getter Girl: She's ambitious and quite the perfectionist.
  • Has a Type: Annie is attracted to aloof, emotionally distant men in general, and especially men who need her in some way so that she can ensure they won't leave her. This leads to some overlap with Britta's type, but not much. For the most part, Annie's type manifests as Jeff. She's initially attracted to Troy before he outgrows his Jerk Jock phase, Vaughn for being detached from the world, the Dark Rider in the second paintball episode for being a badass Bounty Hunter-type, Abed when he's playing Jeff's archetype (especially when he plays Han Solo), and of course Jeff himself. She even gets hot and bothered when the Dean is pretending to have switched bodies with Jeff, even though Annie wasn't aware of what he was doing.
    Shirley: What is happening with you?
    Annie: I don't know.
  • Held Gaze: With Jeff as part of their Ship Tease.
  • Hidden Buxom: Her perky pair are initially downplayed as much as possible by having her carry books and other stuff as well as wearing cardigans.
  • Hidden Depths: She's a lot more mature and observant than she lets on, particularly from the third season on. She recognizes her attraction to Jeff for what it is, and was able to understand and reach Abed on a level that even Troy couldn't.
  • Hollywood Nerd: She was unpopular in high school. Justified with the revelation that in high school Annie was overweight, wore braces and had terrible acne. It was only after she went into rehab for her Adderall addiction (after screaming "Everyone's a robot!" while running through a plate glass door) that she became attractive. That, and she's clearly neurotic. Not that this is necessarily a turn-off. We finally see what Annie looked like during high school in "Heroic Origins" and she looks exactly as she does in the present day but with glasses, braces, and messy hair. Lampshaded in "English as a Second Language", when Jeff scolds her.
    Jeff: You are insecure, because you didn't get hot until after high school.
    Troy: That's true!
  • Hot-Blooded: Annie is very ambitious, passionate and, when under pressure, a force to be reckoned with.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: With her younger brother, Anthony.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: When Annie has to be another character's assistant on something, she is usually much more competent than the person she is helping.
  • I Just Want to Be Badass: Her reason for trying to be the Cowboy Cop to Shirley's By-the-Book Cop when both become security guards at the school. Shirley seems to think it should be the other way around.
  • Informed Judaism: Like with Abed being a Muslim, the fact that she is Jewish only really comes up in Christmas episodes.
  • The Ingenue: She gives this impression, and it's mostly true (some subversive personal history notwithstanding).
  • Innocent Blue Eyes: Annie has light blue eyes that reflect her relative naïveté.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: She used to wear back braces so she sticks her chest out a lot. In the episode "Accounting for Lawyers" there is a moment where Troy and Abed are caught looking at her breasts when she is shaking her chest.
  • Insufferable Genius: At her worst. While generally kind-hearted, sweet and studious, she can also be an arrogant, self-righteous, manipulative and selfish Control Freak with a ruthless streak.
  • Jerkass Ball: Hilariously, every episode that includes Todd, poor guy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Annie can come off as being overly competitive, high-strung, nagging and judgmental, but it's mostly a front for her own neuroses, and she's a very nice and caring person underneath it all.
  • Jewish and Nerdy: Annie is Jewish and is a dorky grade-obsessed perfectionist.
  • Large Ham: Possibly the hammiest of the group after Troy, given her tendency to get quite Hot-Blooded, hyper, and manic when frustrated.
  • Last Girl Wins: Subverted. Jeff admits he's in love with her in the series finale, but since she decides to leave Greendale to pursue an internship in the FBI they don't end up together.
  • Loving a Shadow: She admits in "Virtual Systems Analysis" that she isn't actually in love with Jeff, but rather, the idea of loving him and being able to change him for the better.
  • Matzo Fever: Jewish and the show's resident Ms. Fanservice.
  • Morality Pet:
    • To Pierce; he openly admits that she's his favorite of the group and generally, if he reveals a nicer, more generous or decent side to his personality, Annie will be involved somehow.
    • She is also this to Jeff which feeds into their Ship Tease.
  • Ms. Fanservice: For a series that tries not to sexualize her, Annie certainly does seem to get wet, dirty, endure Clothing Damage and get undressed quite a bit. Not to mention the fact that she's the program's go-to girl for fetishy costumes.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: An awkward, unpopular and nerdy young woman played by the attractive Alison Brie.
  • Nervous Wreck: She's prone to mental breakdowns if things don't go her way.
  • Obsessed Are the Listmakers: Occasionally seen making long and elaborate to-do lists. She also has a huge binder for ideas and progress for the group's "Save Greendale" committee in Seasons 5 and 6.
  • The Ophelia: Especially back in her Adderall days.
  • Parental Abandonment: Annie going to rehab for her Adderall addiction resulted in her being estranged from her family, who would rather have pretended the whole ordeal never happened.
  • The Perfectionist: Annie is studious, perfectionistic and obsessed with academic success to the point that her high-strung personality turns extra hyper when she gets disappointed.
  • Plucky Girl: Annie can be very childish and quirky, but she also doesn't give up easily and is very optimistic.
  • The Pollyanna: This trope could just as easily be called 'The Annie'. Lampshaded by Jeff, who actually calls her "Pollyanna" at one point.
  • Progressively Prettier: As shown in flashbacks in "Heroic Origins". She goes from having curly unkempt hair, braces, and glasses in high school, to straight hair and glasses by the end of the summer, to finally looking like she does in the present day.
  • Proper Tights With Skirt: In the first four seasons.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: A signature of hers, variably described by Jeff as the "Disney Face" and "Hello Kitty stare". She definitely knows how to use 'em, too.
    Jeff: You're becoming dangerous, Annie. It's those doe-eyes. Disappointing you is like choking The Little Mermaid with a bike chain.
  • Schedule Fanatic: Demonstrated in the "Study Break" shorts.
  • Self-Proclaimed Love Interest: Jeff considers Annie to be this, even when this is not completely one-sided.
  • Seriously Scruffy: In one of the documentary episodes, the Dean gets Annie to work as a script supervisor while he directs a commercial. He suffers from a severe case of Sanity Slippage, and after several days of putting up with his increasingly bizarre demands, Annie is completely out of it and ungroomed. She rationalizes the Dean's behavior because she doesn't want to admit that she's wasted several weeks of her life helping him.
  • Sexy Santa Dress: She wears one in "Regional Holiday Music." Also, the scene in question includes Baby Talk (A la Betty Boop), Brainless Beauty (Pretending that as a Jew she knows nothing about Christmas) and Everyone Is Christian at Christmas (Sarcastically inverted in the lyrics).
  • She's Got Legs: Her wardrobe consists mostly of dresses and skirts, and they all highlight her stems. And yes, this was even before she became the resident Ms. Fanservice.
  • Shipper on Deck: In Season 3, she's all for Troy and Britta getting together.
  • Sitcom Character Archetypes: The Square. Annie is a kind-hearted, former overachiever/Go-Getter Girl who is often the voice of reason amidst wackiness, though her own neuroses are also a source of comedy.
  • Sliding Scale of Beauty: She is considered a World Class Beauty, although initially seems to be an example of Hollywood Homely. As the series progresses, many characters notice how beautiful she really is, to the point of being distracted by her appearance.
  • The Smart Girl: The most intelligent of the group and the one most concerned with studying and grades.
  • Stepford Smiler: She's really frustrated with how her life turned out.
  • Stocking Filler: She mostly wears these.
  • Supporting Leader: In the last two seasons. While Jeff is nominally the leader of the Save Greendale committee, it is Annie who often takes charge and does most of the actual work.
  • Sweater Girl: Cardigans appear to make up about half of her wardrobe. Lampshaded by Britta who accuses her of using her sexy school girl routine to raise more money for charity: "I'm Annie, ooh, my sweaters just keep shrinking."
  • Sycophantic Servant: Annie tends to gravitate towards whoever's in charge in order to feel helpful/wanted, insinuating herself as their Dragon or helper. She usually resets by the end of the episode.
  • Teacher's Pet: She mentions to Jeff she was the least popular student in high school because of this trope. And apparently she can't let go of this deep-seeded habit. For instance, in "Physical Education", instead of putting his binder back, Señor Chang drops it on the floor and orders Annie to pick it up.
  • Teens Are Short: She is 18 at the start of the series and at 5'3" is the second-shortest member of the group. Seasons 5 and 6 play with this, in episodes where she's supposed to be more "adult" and mature have her wearing heels to appear taller, In episodes where she's "younger" and more naïve she wears flats.
  • Third-Option Love Interest: For Jeff in "Pascal's Triangle Revisited" — after spending most of the season trying to choose between Britta and Prof. Slater, he realizes only at the last second that Annie is the only girl he has real Unresolved Sexual Tension with. In later seasons, Jeff and Britta are Better as Friends, Slater is gone entirely, and Annie is generally treated by the writers as Jeff's main Love Interest for all intents and purposes.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Annie is the second of the group to be eliminated during the paintball game in "Modern Warfare", but by the time Season 2's Western-themed "A Fistful of Paintballs" rolls around she's become a one-woman killing machine, dropping no less than ten opponents single-handedly on-screen, a higher kill total than the rest of the group combined. "Remedial Chaos Theory" reveals that she carries around a gun due to living in a bad neighborhood, which may also explain why Annie became such a crack shot with paintball guns — she's been practicing with real ones.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: At the end of the fifth season, she decides to give up on Jeff and soon after Jeff realizes that he is in love with her.
  • Verbal Tic: Her little half-gasp, half-squeak of indignant horror whenever she's shocked or offended.
  • Vocal Evolution: Her voice gets noticeably less high-pitched and little-girl-ish as the series goes on.
  • "Well Done, Daughter!" Girl: It's implied at times that a lot of Annie's issues (including her pill addiction) stem from overly demanding, hypercritical parents, her mother especially, whose expectations she could never hope to meet.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: She calls herself "Irony-Free Annie" for a very good reason.
  • Will They or Won't They?: With Jeff, thanks to years of Shiptease. The finale doesn't definitively answer it one way or the other. In it, Jeff acknowledges his feelings for Annie but recognizes that her opportunity to leave Greendale for an internship with the FBI is too good to pass up. At her suggestion, they end up sharing a kiss before she leaves. It's left open as to whether or not she will return sometime in the near future.
    Jeff: ... We were just saying goodbye to the room.
    Annie: For Season 6. Season 7, who knows? It's out of our hands. Too many variables.

    Troy Barnes 

Troy Barnes
"Did you know that Gogurt is just yogurt?"

Played By: Donald Glover

"Sometimes I think I lost something really important to me, and it turns out I already ate it."

A charismatic but not-incredibly-intelligent high-school football star who decided to attend Greendale after he suffered an injury that put a halt to him having a college football career. Despite seeming like a typical jock at first, he quickly starts to show his nerdy side after he becomes best friends with Abed due to their shared love of pop culture and goofy antics.

  • Actor-Shared Background: A lapsed Jehovah's Witness, the same as Donald Glover.
  • Age-Gap Romance: In Season 4, he dates Britta, who is nine years his senior.
  • Ambiguously Bi: His friendship with Abed is so strong that when Troy and Britta are dating he seems to pay more attention to Abed than to his girlfriend. Also confesses to having a Celeb Crush on Clive Owen, to the point that he "might just as well be attracted to him".
    Troy: [to Abed] Let's go film the sex scene.
  • "Aww"-choo: He sneezes like a cute little girl, a fact he's ashamed about. He goes so far as to get lessons on giving a Sneeze of Doom from Pierce in a Sensei for Scoundrels scenario.
  • Better as Friends: How his relationship with Britta comes to an end.
  • Betty and Veronica: The Betty to Jeff's Veronica for Britta's Archie.
  • Black and Nerdy: His friendship with Abed brings out his inner geek.
  • Book Dumb: At least in the beginning.
  • Breakout Character: Started out as the least focused-on member of the cast before his popular dynamic with Abed and Donald Glover's performance made him into one of the series' most beloved characters.
  • Catchphrase: "You just wrinkled my brain" and "He/She is like the (insert terrible thing here) of people".
  • Celeb Crush: When Jeff, speaking about Troy's friendship with Abed, insists that Troy's identity has been "consumed by his relationship with another man", Troy thinks Jeff is referring to his Clive Owen tumblr.
  • Character Development: The most noticeable example on the series (except for Jeff); starts off as immature and obsessed with popularity, becomes a responsible and kind young man who's able to hold the group together in trying times.
  • The Chosen One: He's "The Truest Repairman," who was prophecized by his school to repair men as he does Air Conditioners.
  • Closet Geek: Heavily implied. Troy is introduced as a stereotypical jock character before his wacky self comes through after being paired with Abed.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Definitely one of the more wacky and eccentric members of the group, at least around Abed.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: To Abed, who is definitely the more odd and irresponsible of the two.
  • Dork Knight: An acclaimed high school athlete and part of the show's resident Cloud Cuckoo Lander duo with Abed.
  • Dumb Jock: A classic example. God bless him, he is not the brightest bulb in the box.
    Jeff: I want you to clear your mind.
    Troy: [immediately] Done.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Sanguine.
  • Genius Ditz: He's a plumbing and air-conditioning-repair prodigy. Not that he wants to do either of those things. The end of Season 3 ultimately sees him embrace his gift for air-conditioning repair.
  • The Heart: He is easily the sweetest and most morally "pure" member of the group, and often mediates conflict or tries to stop the others from resorting to violence. It's quite notable that on the few occasions it's suggested or looked like he's about to leave, things have fallen apart for everyone very quickly. Though it should be noted that even he has his moments of weakness, as it is Troy who suggests killing Annie after she reveals that she sabotaged the space simulation.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Abed, who he refers to as his "other half".
  • Hidden Depths: Has a talent for mechanical maintenance and is a phenomenal (interpretive) dancer.
  • Hollywood Jehovah's Witness: Averted. He is one of Jehovah's Witnesses and this is often referenced and demonstrated in that he doesn't celebrate Christmas or birthdays. However, you otherwise couldn't tell that he was a Witness if he didn't say so.
    Troy: Yeah, but we don't celebrate birthdays or Christmas and we can't drink. But it helps.
  • Jerk Jock: He's more Lovable Jock now but apparently in high school, and to a degree in the early episodes of the show, Troy wasn't without his Jerkass side, as demonstrated in "Football, Feminism and You" when a chance to join the Greendale football team ends up with him strutting around in a self-obsessed manner lambasting people at random with his "politically conservative high school's shamefully outdated fight rap(s)."
  • Large Ham: The member of the group most prone to crying or yelling.
  • The Leader: He occasionally supplants Jeff in the role. Unlike Jeff, he's a clear Type II.
  • Lovable Jock: Definitely by mid-Season 1, though he becomes less of a jock as time goes on.
  • Malaproper: Some of his gems include "all tomato" (ultimatum), "escape goat" (scapegoat) and "jugglenaut" (juggernaut).
  • Manchild: Troy's last year of high school he witnesses Annie scream during a party "Everyone's a robot!" as she ran through a window. As a result, it seems Troy remains a man-child out of fear. Shortly after Annie's dramatic departure Troy faked an injury by doing a keg flip. Troy's fake injury guaranteed that he could remain in his comfort zone as a man-child a little while longer. By delaying manhood he could continue to live a fun care-free life and not become an adult weighed down by the responsibilities of life thus becoming a robot. During a wedding Troy and Abed make an agreement not to act "weird". However, "weird" is really code for their childlike behaviors. When Troy sees the the monkey which he named "Annie's Boobs" run into the air ducts, he uses this as an excuse to escape the conformity (robot behaviors) of the adults around him. Abed would have continued with his appropriate adult like behaviors at the wedding had it not been for Troy pulling him back into the comfort of behaving like children together.
  • Meaningful Name: The name "Troy" means "soldier"; Troy is certainly loyal enough, and he almost always joins in on whatever adventure the group embarks on in any given episode. What does Abed cast Troy as in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"? A toy soldier.
  • Messianic Archetype: He's apparently this for the air-conditioning repair school. Much to his bemusement.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Not to the extent that Jeff is, but Troy does get a few moments here and there. Namely spending all of the Season 2 Halloween Episode shirtless.
  • Nice Guy: The friendliest and most good-natured of the seven and the least likely to play an antagonistic role within the group.
  • Oblivious to Love: He is completely clueless to Annie's obsession with him for years. Ironically, Troy later finds himself in Annie's shoes when Britta is oblivious to his crush.
  • Only Sane Man: A weird example. Troy is often shown to be an enormous Cloud Cuckoo Lander and man child, but only when interacting with Abed. When Abed's not around, Troy is often the most normal member of the group. Also for the other members of the Air Conditioning Repair Annex, who are too caught up in their weird little cult.
  • Proud to Be a Geek: Part of his character arc in the early seasons is coming to terms with his newfound nerdiness and realizing there's nothing wrong with it. Particularly in "Epidemiology", when his attempt at a Halloween costume drives women away and Troy retreats into acting like a stuck-up jock again before deciding to embrace being a geek to save the school from a Zombie Apocalypse. Despite everyone's memory being wiped by the army at the end of the episode, the lesson sticks, and Troy is firmly proud of his geekiness for the rest of the series.
  • Put on a Bus: Only appears in the first five episodes of Season 5 before leaving to sail around the world with LeVar Burton. They are captured by Mexican Gulf pirates the next episode as noted in a background newsfeed.
  • Real Men Don't Cry: Averted, he cries often. Then lampshaded by Troy himself in "Mixology Certification" by his reaction to getting a birthday cake with Jehovah's Witness-appropriate language.
    Troy: [reading] "Hello during a random dessert, the month and day of which coincide numerically with your expulsion from a uterus." You guys, I never cry, but...

    Pierce Hawthorne 

Piercinald Anastasia "Pierce" Hawthorne
"Streets ahead!"

Played By: Chevy Chase

"I'll show you the tool most important to our survival. Fair warning — it's my penis."

The oldest member of the study group; a local curmudgeon and a wealthy but lonely tycoon who attends Greendale primarily to find company and give himself something to do. Not nearly as smart or popular as he thinks, he tends to act inappropriately and thus come across as racist, sexist and buffoonish.

  • Accidental Misnaming: Pierce routinely mispronounces Abed's name as "Ay-bed".
  • Adam Westing: Up until the beginning of 2011 or so, Chevy Chase was absolutely notorious for being difficult to work with. He briefly turned it around, but Pierce's general Jerkassness can be seen as him essentially playing who he thinks he used to be. Alternatively, this could be seen as the producers of the show lampooning Chase, since several behind-the-scenes reports (most notably the feud between Chase and Dan Harmon, although the same reports in that case also suggested that Harmon himself wasn't exactly blameless in the situation either) have suggested that Chase isn't exactly the easiest person to work with or the most popular person on set.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: An in-universe example; the characters themselves go backwards and forwards on whether Pierce is just an irredeemable Jerkass or whether it's the fact that people treat him like a fool that makes him act out that way. Jeff usually takes the former interpretation, Annie the latter.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Aside from some sort of Inferiority Superiority Complex, Pierce shows signs of Borderline Personality Disorder. Whenever the group does something without him, he switches to hostility pretty quickly, even if the exclusion was unintentional. He tries to force himself into anything the group does.
  • Ambiguously Bi: For all of his homophobia and calling Jeff gay, he is annoyed when Abed says that there’s no special connection between the two of them in "Paradigms Of Human Memory".
    • Not to mention his comments in Remedial Chaos Theory about pizza guys getting worse and worse looking, with all the good ones going into porn.
    • In one episode, he asks the rest of the study group if he has a shot with any of them, and is disappointed when they all shake their heads.
  • And Starring: And Chevy Chase during the opening credits.
  • Awesome McCoolname: "Pierce Anastasia Hawthorne" is a cooler name than he deserves, even with the feminine middle name. Subverted with the reveal that his first name is "Piercinald."
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: He considers himself the guy who does or says what everyone else wants, but isn't willing to.
  • Berserk Button: A double subversion occurs in "Accounting for Lawyers" when Pierce fails to guess another man's Berserk Button, but in fact has just mentioned his own—his hair loss.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: With City College Dean Spreck in Season 2.
  • Bondage Is Bad: While he's not evil, he is a Dirty Old Man, and the fact that he has a "secret gym" in his mansion only reinforces this image.
  • Brick Joke: He hires LeVar Burton to meet Troy as an act of revenge in Season 2, knowing that it would cause Troy to freak out and leave him in a catatonic state during the entirety of Burton's visit. During Season 5, Burton returns, this time on a more heartwarming note, hired by Pierce posthumously to help oversee Troy's journey when he leaves Greendale.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: While Pierce is strange, bigoted, and more than a little clueless, he's occassionally shown that he is actually a fairly competent businessman.
  • Bus Crash: He's revealed to have died off-screen in "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics".
  • Butt-Monkey: If it's not Britta, it is Pierce who typically serves this role within the study group, as lampshaded in "The Art of Discourse".
    • Season 2 deconstructs this; His resentment over his status as the group Butt Monkey causes him to lash out and antagonize the rest of the study group and other students to an increasingly disturbing degree.
  • Casanova Wannabe: When he tries to hit on Shirley. He alternates between this and Kavorka Man, however.
  • Catchphrase: Tries to force "streets ahead" in "Contemporary American Poultry".
  • Character Development: Much of Season 3 involves him making up to his friends for his atrocious behavior in Season 2. He admits Jeff has ample reasons to hate him and decides to be the group's bad guy for his sake.
    • Parodied in "Introduction to Finality":
    Alan: [to Jeff] This place has made you so gay.
    Pierce: Hey! Don't use gay as a derogatory term. Boo-yah, good person.
  • Characterization Marches On: The first few episodes had him dressed more suavely with a slight Casanova Wanna Be gig going on. He also showed relatively few Innocent Bigot traits than he would later on. It took only few episodes for him to get into his established persona, however.
  • Church of Happyology: He describes himself as a Neo-Buddhist, but his actual beliefs put him more in this camp.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: By Season 3 due to senility.
  • Comically Missing the Point: So very very much.
  • Cosmic Plaything: When Pierce was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, both of his arms, and one of his ankles. The doctors eventually stopped trying to deliver him and just started laughing.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: When he really puts his mind to it, note  Pierce is a devious Manipulative Bastard and a master of the Batman Gambit. The rest of the time, well...
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Doing too much of this is what ultimately kills him in Season 5.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He doesn't get as many zingers as, say, Jeff, but still gets in a couple good ones.
  • Death Equals Redemption: Subverted. The group was willing to leave his memory in peace, until he turned them against each other with a posthumous plygraph test. Jeff eventually admitted that they could mourn Pierce while acknowledging he was an ass in life.
  • Death by Irony: In his will, he leaves each member of the study group a canister of his frozen sperm. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that filling these canisters caused him to die of dehydration.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Pierce can be considered a deconstruction of the "wacky old person" character. His insensitivity makes him seem like a Jerkass, his out-of-touch outlook gets him ostracized, and his attempts to fit in turn him into an unlikeable Attention Whore. He can also be seen as a deconstruction of typical sitcom Butt-Monkey characters like Jerry, Scully, and Zoidberg; usually the oldest character in the group, lots of self-esteem issues, considered out of touch and uncool, and almost always the butt of everyone else's jokes to the point of being a Chew Toy. Pierce shows how this sort of treatment can eventually foster serious resentment from whoever's on the receiving end until things get ugly. Pierce lashes out at the group in increasingly mean-spirited, disturbing ways, in large part because of this treatment (he even says as much). Not that he doesn't bring it on himself most of the time, but he isn't really antagonistic until the group's treatment of him gets worse.
  • Demoted to Extra: In Season 4, he's lucky to get five minutes of screen time.
  • Determinator: Surprisingly enough. It's something he has in common with Britta, hence why he decides to help her out in "Herstory of Dance".
    Pierce: If I ever let being bad at something stop me, I wouldn't even be here. That thing some men call failure, I call living. Breakfast. And I'm not leaving till I've cleaned out the buffet.
  • Dirty Old Man: He openly and hopelessly lusts after the female members of the study group (particularly Shirley, at least early on), all of whom are much younger than he is.
    Pierce: So, just to be clear, I don't have a shot with any of you?
    [everybody shudders and walks away]
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Mostly in Season 2. He believes no retribution is too harsh for those who he feels have wronged him even a little. It gets to the point where Jeff beats him up for his cruelty.
    • In "Asian Population Studies", he theorizes that Shirley may be pregnant with Chang's baby (which she knew nothing about) just because she voted against him on what new member to invite into the study group.
    • In "Intro to Political Science", he joins the race for student body president just to repeatedly publicly humiliate Vicki for not lending him her pencil.
    • In "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking", he psychologically torments every other member of the study group by faking his own death and giving them "gifts" that turn each of them half-crazed. His reason for doing this is, in his own words, that they had started to exclude him more often and weren't taking him seriously.
    • An especially dark and borderline-sociopathic example in "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" is him trying to take the last remaining joy away from the already severely depressed Neil, who was heavily implied to be planning his suicide after getting bullied due to his weight. Pierce, who was fully informed of this fact by the others, also proceeded to, of course, mercilessly bully him due to his weight. Why? Because Neil was invited to a game of Dungeons and Dragons (which was specifically done in an attempt to save his life), and Pierce, for reasons that should be obvious, was left out.
  • The Ditz: A particularly nasty example. Pierce is crass, insensitive, clueless about many things and wilfully ignorant as to the effect he has on every one else.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Pierce hates the thought of anyone pitying him for any reason. Unfortunately, he's also so desperate for attention that rather than accept people's pity, he'll instead lash out in more negative ways to the point that pity ends up being the last thing anyone feels for him, even if he genuinely warrants it.
  • Draft Dodging: Fled to Canada to avoid fighting in the Vietnam War.
  • Driven by Envy: On many occasions, when he feels left out of the group's activities. This applies even if he considers said activities stupid.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: He shows piercing and penetrating insight every once in a while. Crosses over with Even Evil Has Standards when he tells off Jeff for being a crap friend to Britta by constantly using her name as a verb for a failure to the point where it gets old and mean rather than funny.
  • Evil Is Hammy: In "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons", which goes hand-in-hand with his increased jerkassery.
  • Evil Is Petty: When pretending to overdose on pills, he plays mind games.
    • He's especially petty during, "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons", when he cruelly taunts Neil.
  • Embarrassing First Name: His full first name is revealed to be "Piercinald"
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: His middle name is Anastasia
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: It's revealed that he often talks to his mother about how he feels Jeff bullies him, and tells her he has a Girlfriend in Canada.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • He's horrified when Leonard's gang, the Hipsters, abandon a genuinely senile old man to take the fall for their antics in "Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples". He also thinks Jeff accidentally implying that he thinks "all black people are in prison" is going too far.
    • Despite his blatant dislike and jealously of Abed for most of the series, Pierce is noticably disgusted with Professor Duncan's incessant bullying of him during his mental breakdown to the point of entering a catatonic state in Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas.
  • Flanderization: In Season 4, into a massive racist. Combined with Out of Focus as shown below and you get a character who does little more than spout racist one-liners before shuffling out of focus again, which was reportedly one of the main reasons Chevy Chase was increasingly frustrated with and dismissive of the show.
  • For the Evulz: Buying Abed and Troy's handshake just so he can ruin it is a good example.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Sanguine.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Jeff thinks so:
    Annie: He's a jerk because we exclude him.
    Jeff: We exclude him because he's a jerk. And the last time I checked, you were the last one feeling sorry about it.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: His necessity is revealed when, in his absence, the study group begins to fight amongst each other for incredibly petty reasons just because they no longer have Pierce to kick around.
  • Hidden Depths: In the Season 2 finale:
    Pierce: You know I've been coming to this school for twelve years? I—I've never been friends with anyone here for more than a semester. Probably for the same reason I've been married seven times. I guess I assume eventually I'll get rejected, so I, you know, test people, push them until they prove me right. It's a sickness, I admit it. But, this place has always accepted me, sickness and all. This place accepted all of you. Sickness and all. It's worth thinking about.
    • He can play piano, even if he can't compose any original material.
    • He is also seen skipping in one episode.
    • He's actually a fairly savvy business man. He helped Shirley get over her fear of public speaking by putting her through exercises for sales pitches, and he saw the monetary value in publishing computer games decades ago despite being told they were just a passing fad
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Deconstructed. What Pierce longs most for is affection and popularity, and as a result, he gets extremely jealous of other people's friendships, especially Abed and Troy's, since he really wants something similar but finds it hard to establish that kind of connection to another person. Ironically, it is his jealousy that leads him to act out in petty and vicious ways, and this in turn pushes people further away from him.
  • Insufferable Imbecile: Pierce is a very arrogant, rude and socially inappropriate but often he's so stupid and oblivious that he has zero awareness of his actions such as pantsing Shirley and not understanding how he was in the wrong.
  • Innocent Bigot: Regularly says things the other characters find offensive. Generational differences play a role.
  • Jerkass: Especially crass in Season 2 when he comes dangerously close (as noted by Abed) to becoming a real-life supervillain.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: For all his abrasiveness and stupidity, he's right about things more often than you'd expect or that the study group might be comfortable with, particularly when it comes to the subject of how like him they really are deep down.
    • In "Asian Popluation Studies", after Troy argues that they shouldn't tell Shirley that she slept with Chang as her not being able to remember it is a gift, Pierce points out that not telling Shirley that Chang might be the father of her unborn baby is far worse. It's taken Up to Eleven when Pierce ultimately does tell Shirley out of spite, as he's not exactly wrong for telling her, but rather how he tells her.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A very minor example; there are occasionally glimpses of someone more likable, decent and sympathetic within Pierce, but they're buried almost impenetrably deep within a crust and outer core of insufferable Jerkass. In general, if anyone's going to reveal Pierce's nicer side, it's Annie. Season 5 has Pierce's hologram and will put him firmly in this category.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Zigzagged and heavily downplayed. While the group will call him out for being a Jerkass or ensure that he faces karma, he's allowed to stay when they realize that need a Butt-Monkey to mock. In Season 5, it's revealed his antics got him banned from Greendale and then he suffered an Undignified Death.
  • Kavorka Man: He's been divorced seven times. This means seven different women agreed to marry him in the first place.
  • Kick the Dog: He definitely crosses the line with his treatment of the depressed, suicidal Neil (who has never done anything wrong to him except sit in his chair) in "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons".
  • The Klutz: He manages to fall out of Jeff's chair just by sitting in it, as well as getting the most laughs at Abed's bad movie night by tripping and knocking over Chang's popcorn.
  • Laborious Laziness: Pierce would rather expend his effort to punish people for excluding him than to actually be nice. The group calls him out for this, especially in Season 2. As shown during the "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons", if he put in the same effort to be a decent human being that he does into using the specific dungeon against the group and Neil, they wouldn't have felt the need to exclude him in the first place.
  • The Load: Whenever the group does a group activity. Subverted in "Basic Human Anatomy", when he does the group's History project by himself after they all left him behind to go have their episode plots.
    • Also subverted in "A Few Paintballs More" when Pierce manages to win the paintball game by faking a heart attack. Twice.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: His backstory in a nutshell. And the only real thing that has changed since then is his age.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Best showed in "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking", where he makes the rest of the group paranoid for ostracizing him.
  • Manchild: Pierce has a great list of immaturities and insecurities bordering on Psychopathic Man Child.
  • The Millstone: Especially in Season 2. He discovers Jeff and Troy's "secret trampoline" and manages to expose it in a matter of minutes, getting it removed from campus, and breaking both his legs in the process. His ego leads him to go off-script during an anti-drug PSA, getting a room full of middle-schoolers excited for drugs (until Chang fixes it simply by taking his place). The rest of the group is occasionally Genre Savvy about this, not inviting him to a Dungeons & Dragons game / suicide intervention due to his insensitive manner (and they are proven right when he crashes the game and nearly short-circuits the whole thing). During one of the paintball episodes, Jeff exploits this in order to use Pierce as a decoy:
    Jeff: Hey Pierce, don't come over here, okay?
    Pierce: Screw you! I'm comin' over there! [gets shot]
  • Mirror Character: Despite their obvious disdain for him, Pierce arguably has this going on with all the other members of the study group even if they don't want to acknowledge it:
    • It's most prominent with Jeff, as it's often suggested that Pierce is essentially what an older version of Jeff will look like if Jeff doesn't improve his ways;
    • Like Britta, Pierce often takes over-the-top offence at quasi-imagined slights and has some questionable political views (and understanding);
    • He shares Abed's social ineptness and tendency to say whatever's on his mind regardless of who it might offend;
    • He's intensely over-competitive and determined to win whatever the cost (even if it risks ruining his relationships with the people around him), like Annie. They also share a history of substance abuse;
    • Shirley is often offended by his ignorance, intolerance and bigotry, but she can often be just as ignorant, intolerant and even bigoted;
    • Like Troy, he's immature, a bit egotistical, and not very intelligent.
  • Misplaced Retribution: He takes out his frustrations of being excluded on Neil in "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons", even when Jeff and Abed tell him this is a suicide intervention without Neil's knowledge.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Despite his obvious lack of sensitivity, there are times when he genuinely doesn't intend to be offensive.
  • Never My Fault: Pierce lives and breathes this trope. His comments and actions aren't offensive, it's everyone else who needs to learn to take a joke. His over-the-top revenge schemes are no less than what others deserve for not giving him the enormous amounts of respect that are clearly his due. He usually gets away with it, too.
  • No Social Skills: With Pierce's tactlessness, general obliviousness and bigoted nature, he's easily the most socially inappropriate member of the group.
  • Not Helping Your Case: When he tries to dramatically say the group excluded him in "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons," they explain they're doing a fantasy RPG. He then calls it gay and stupid before berating them further.
  • The Obi-Wannabe: Fortunately, it's pretty obvious to the rest of the study group from the beginning. His cameo in the Season 5 opener plays with this, when Jeff encounters what initially appears to be Pierce's sprit telling him, "Looks as if you've lost your way"... but it just turns out to be a hologram directing students to the on-campus "Pierce Hawthorne Museum of Gender Sensitivity and Sexual Potency". Even then, his words about Greendale give Jeff his Heel Realization. The Season 6 opener has Abed invoke Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane, since nobody else has ever seen the hologram or the museum.
  • Odd Friendship: Pierce and... anyone, really.
  • Out of Focus: Receives less and less focus as time goes on.
  • Pet the Dog: As befitting him being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Pierce is in fact capable of true acts of kindness every once in awhile. Standout examples include:
    • "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking": The tiara he gives Annie was not a mind game, but in fact a genuine gift on his part because she's his favorite of the group.
    • "Digital Estate Planning": He thanks the group for helping him beat his father at his own game and later encourages Gilbert to do the same. Pierce then happily embraces Gilbert as the brother he's always wanted.
    • "Herstory of Dance": He arranges for Sophie B. Hawkins to make an appearance at Britta's dance, as he was sick of how Jeff was treating her and admired how she didn't give up, even in the face of absolute failure.
    • "Cooperative Polygraphy": He leaves genuine gifts and some very kind words for Britta, Shirley, Annie, and Troy, showing that he did in fact care for and respect them. Subverted with Jeff, who received a gift but rather than a compliment only got one last gay accusation, though it can also be interpreted as Pierce instead viewing their relationship as Vitriolic Best Buds.
  • Phrase Catcher: "Uh oh." Said by a member of the study group whenever Pierce appears to be demonstrating a dangerous level of senility.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: In so much as Pierce can be considered a hero, anyway. He's racist, sexist, and homophobic, but Innocently Insensitive for the most part.
  • Punny Name: He easily gets on everyone's nerves, piercing through their patience/tolerance.
  • Put on a Bus: Graduates with Jeff at the end of Season 4. Season 5 reveals that he's banned from Greendale. He dies off-screen that same season.
  • Punny Name: He's prickly.
  • Racist Grandpa: Naturally. Although unlike his father, who is actively malicious in his racism, Pierce just doesn't know better.
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: He's the oldest of the main characters and he's very rude and unpleasant to be around.
  • Senior Sleep Cycle: In "Competitive Ecology".
  • Serial Spouse: He's been divorced seven times.
  • Sitcom Character Archetypes: Flip-flops back and forth between The Bully and The Sage. As an old man he holds some politically incorrect views, and often throws fits or is transparently manipulative in order to get his own way. For example, in one episode he pretends to be dying and divides up the study group with final bequeathals to get back at them for ignoring him in previous episodes. On the flip side, he likes to view himself as a mentor to the study group, and often has quiet moments where he dispenses wisdom, particularly to Annie and Jeff.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: In the study room, Pierce and Jeff tend to butt heads the most, deconstructed in Season 2.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: To an even greater degree than Jeff, who can also be a selfish and arrogant narcissist, but at least has a level of charm, intelligence, and rationality... all of which Pierce only occasionally demonstrates.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Easily the biggest Jerkass of the seven. Pierce is spiteful, petty, immature, and insensitive, and has occasionally played the role of a villain within the group.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In Season 2, he starts engaging in self-alienating behavior while simultaneously castigating the others for alienating him; this culminates in the events of "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking," "A Fistful of Paintballs," and "For a Few Paintballs More."
  • Took a Level in Kindness: He loses much of his malicious edge in Season 3 upon some self-reflection, and returns back to the bumbling senior he used to be in Season 1. While he still has his moments of jerkassery, they're more out of insensitivity or a need to be acknowledged rather than nastiness. Conversely he's also a lot nicer to the other members of the Study Group, most notably in his interactions with Shirley over their mutual desire to open a sandwich shop.
  • Totally Radical: His attempt to coin the phrase "streets ahead".
  • Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Can come across as this. Pierce's social inappropriateness and pathological need to be accepted at all costs are all rooted in frustrations getting attention from his father and his fear that his age is now isolating himself from the rest of the study group.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Especially in Seasons 2 and 4.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Revealed as one in "Celebrity Pharmacology."
  • Yuri Fan:
    • He thinks Girl-on-Girl Is Hot. And he did have that oddly supportive letter for Britta after she "came out" for "dating a lesbian".
    • Played with, as despite his tendency toward perversion, in "Advanced Gay", he says that he hates lesbians.