Fearing one of their classmates is suicidally depressed, the study group decides to intervene by engaging in a game of Dungeons & Dragons. The plan goes awry when Pierce, after discovering he wasn't invited, demands to join the game.
- Aerith and Bob: Abed is "not the best at making up names", resulting in characters named Zipadee Doo, Marrrrrrr, Bing-Bong, Hector the Well-Endowed, Lavernica, Brutalitops, and Kyle.
- Almost Dead Guy: The group re-encounters the gnome waiter shortly before his demise.Lavernica: Who did this to you, gnome waiter?
Gnome waiter: I never saw his face. Just so you know ... My name ... was Kyle. [Dies]
- Ancestral Weapon: Fat Neil says that the Sword of Duquesne is irreplaceable because it was passed down through his family.
- The Atoner: Jeff, who accidentally coined the "Fat Neil" nickname, is trying to make up for this by defeating Pierce so they can win back Neil's sword, which took Neil ten years and fifty campaigns to get.
- Author Appeal: Series creator Dan Harmon was a role-playing game enthusiast in his youth. He plays various pen and paper games in his podcast Harmontown and in an animated RPG show Harmonquest.
- Big Bad: Pierce opposes the rest of the players out of jealousy for being left out of the game.
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: Hector the Well-Endowed, the character Annie plays. Although Abed originally designed him with Troy in mind.Shirley: Yeah, I bet you did.
- Big "NO!": Chang cries "NO!" in a spectacular fashion after his character gets decapitated by Pierce.
- Big "YES!":Pierce: I don't like being excluded, Jeff! Do you?!
- Black Dude Dies First: Chang's character, a black-skinned dark elf, dies first. This is possibly as a punishment for cosplaying in blackface.
- Black Face: Chang shows up to the Dungeons and Dragons game cosplaying as a dark elf, having painted his skin jet black and donned a white wig. He's mistaken for wearing blackface by both Shirley and Pierce. In 2020, this episode was pulled from Netflix and Hulu due to the "blackface" humor.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Pierce had the chance to go for a Total Party Kill but he decides to remove the time freeze spell which enables the team to get back at him.
- Bottle Episode: The episode takes place almost exclusively in the study room. Unlike the previous Bottle Episode in the study room, the characters barely leave the table, which makes sense since they're playing D&D.
- Breaking Speech: Pierce tries to break Neil with a long rant in order to turn him against Jeff.
- Call-Back: Fat Neil makes another appearance, and we learn why he's called Fat Neil.
- "Cavemen vs. Astronauts" Debate: The tag sees Troy and Abed arguing about which would be better: a tail or giant ears.
- Character Development: It's absolutely believable that Jeff would have been the one to give Neil his shitty nickname. It's also believable that Jeff would feel bad about that now.
- Compressed Adaptation: Most games of D&D played have a lot more setup and follow-through.
- Condescending Compassion: The study group play Dungeons and Dragons to cheer Neil up, but their lack of understanding of (barely concealed disdain for) the game, along with their obvious intention to give Neil an easy victory makes the whole thing really condescending. Ironically, it's Pierce's malevolence that actually makes the game engaging, since everyone really wants to beat him, and he doesn't make it easy.
- Continuity Nod: The name Marrrrrrr is from "Epidemiology", it's the sound made by Zombie!Jeff.
- Covert Pervert: Annie, of all people is the one to role play her character seducing an elf maiden, apparently in elaborate detail. We don't hear what she's saying, but we see her miming actions and the other players' reactions. Troy takes notes.
- Critical Hit: Pierce is able to decapitate Chang's character in their game of D&D.
- Disappeared Dad: Jeff is identified as the son of "William the Barely Known".
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: An Exploited Trope; after Pierce is gloating over derailing the game, the others consciously get under his skin by noting how much they pity him for his pathetically spiteful and vindictive way of looking at the world, and how it prevents him from forming true friendships.
- Dramatic Wind: Pierce's arrival is heralded by a whooshing sound and Shirley and Annie hugging themselves for warmth.
- Embarrassing Nickname:
- Even Evil Has Standards: Note to Pierce: when amoral and jerkish Jeff Winger seems disgusted with your lack of common human decency, you have clearly set some kind of record in dickishness.
- Fantastic Racism: Britta is incensed about the status of gnomes in the fictional world of D&D. They're several classes below human warriors.
- Full-Frontal Assault: Since Pierce's character is nude for the entire game, the final confrontation is this.
- Game Within a Game: An alternative ending was for the study group to start playing another game of Dungeons and Dragons within the cube where Pierce trapped them all, thus continuing to exclude him from within the game.
- A Glass of Chianti: Pierce holds a glass of red wine while sitting on his throne.
- The GM Is a Cheating Bastard: Abed averts both the light and dark sides of this by maintaining strict objectivity during play. This allows Pierce to derail the adventure by stealing Neil's stuff and running away with it before the other characters can do anything about it.
- Head-Tiltingly Kinky: The sex scene between Hector the Well-Endowed and the elf maiden that Annie describes. Soothing music plays while she speaks, so we can't actually hear what happens, but Shirley looks horrified, Troy takes notes, and Britta and Jeff look astonished that this is coming from Annie of all people. At one point, the viewer can see Annie saying "I take out my huge member." At another point, she holds up two fingers, then three, and then four.
- I Am Big Boned: The Opening Monologue describes Fat Neil as having heavy bones.
- I Am X, Son of Y"Jeff the Liar, son of William the Barely Known."
- Ignored Aesop: We are told in the ending voiceover that Pierce learned "very little" from the episode. As usual, then.
- Innocent Bigot: To the others, Chang was in Black Face. For Chang, he was just being a dark elf.
- Pierce. He destroys everything Neil had worked for just For the Evulz. Basically the opposite of what Pierce did in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas."
- Jeff gets a minor moment. After Neil protests Jeff using "Fat Neil" to distinguish him from the other Neil who was present by pointing out that the other Neil happens to be both bald and African American, Jeff sanctimoniously informs Neil that "I don't view the world through that lens", with an implied rebuke of Neil doing so. Considering that this is mere moments after it's been revealed that Jeff (inadvertently) coined the cruel and bullying nickname that has almost driven Neil to suicide, he could probably have kept his mouth shut, or at least dialed down the smug self-righteousness a bit.
- Just Desserts: Neil achieves a Critical Hit on the amulet that allows Pierce's character to control the dragon, which then eats him.
- Kick the Dog: Everything Pierce does to Neil — whilst he's merely being a dick to the rest of the study group, he actively goes out of his way to insult Neil as cruelly as possible.Pierce: "I cast shape change on Duquesne."Abed: "what form do you choose for him?"Pierce: "Faaaaaaaaaat"
- Lousy Lovers Are Losers: While playing D&D and doing good during an encounter, Jeff strokes his own ego by wondering aloud "What am I not good at?" prompting Britta to snark "Sex", causing him to do a Double Take in disbelief before the scene moves on.
- The Magnificent:
- In true D&D fashion, the narration gives each of the regular characters an adjective as a title:
- Within the D&D game, most of the characters have these as well such as Hector the Well-Endowed and Bing-Bong the Archer.
- Metagame: Pierce the Insensitive's whole plan was only possible because he obtained a second copy of the adventure to read and exploit.
- Munchkin: Pierce, due to a combination of not knowing how the game works and extreme pettiness, essentially the prime example of what is known as a "murderhobo".
- Mundane Made Awesome: Walking is described in epic terms.Narrator: And so the group did describe themselves walking. And Abed did confirm that they walked.
- Naked People Are Funny: Pierce's character starts out with no clothes and no weapons, so in every one of his scenes, Abed makes sure to point out that he's naked.
- Narrator: Played straight, until the end when the Narrator (the cleaner) breaks the Fourth Wall to say good night.
- Never Say "Die": The word "suicide" is never said, despite Neil being an obvious suicide risk.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: As aggravating as Pierce's intrusion and subsequent behavior is, it ultimately has positive effects.
- Off the Rails: Pierce does this at the start because the gang left him out.
- One-Liner, Name... One-Liner:Abed: I need to know what you want to do next.
Pierce: So many things, Abed ... So many things.
- One-Steve Limit: Averted, sort of. Neil only gets the nickname "Fat Neil" because, at the moment it was coined, there was another student named Neil nearby (off-camera) and Jeff had to refer to a specific Neil.Jeff: Someone asked where the restrooms were. You were standing by them, but you were also standing kind of near, uh, other Neil.Neil: So call him "Skinny Neil"!
Jeff: Well, he's not actually that skinny.
Neil: He's bald! He's black!
Jeff: Well, I don't see the world through that lens ... I shouldn't be high-roading you.
- One-Woman Wail: When Brutalitops dies and Chang hands in his character sheet.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Winger appears unusually concerned and invested in Neil, when Winger's usual attitude is apathetic and condescending. He realizes it's his fault Neil's suicidal.
- Power Walk: We see the group doing this again before the opening title sequence.
- Pet the Dog:
- The entire episode is about the study group giving Neil one of these, and as such most of them try to keep their quirks and Jerkasseries in check. Even Chang's customary Manchild behavior is somewhat in abeyance.
- Even after Pierce is a complete dick to him, Neil still invites him to another D&D game at the end.
- Orcus on His Throne: After secretly managing to acquire a copy of the game book, Pierce is found slouched in a chair with a glass of red wine smugly anticipating his return to the game, with the storage room decorated like the throne room of an Evil Overlord in an epic fantasy.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Pierce completely defeats the group and temporarily 'wins' the game, but at the cost of becoming completely despised by everyone in the group.
- The Right of a Superior Species: Britta tries to tell a Gnome waiter that he's just as good as they are. Abed replies that according to the game rules, no, he's not, and the gang are justified in treating him however they want because of this trope.
- RPG Episode: The episode focuses on the group playing Dungeons and Dragons. Since it's a tabletop game, it conspicuously lacks deep immersion and everything is simply narrated out loud."And so the group did describe themselves walking."
- Rule of Drama: One wonders how high Abed must have rolled for Pierce — who is playing as himself, meaning an out-of-shape old man with no particular skills — to manage to first steal someone's sword right out of his belt and then kill someone with it in a single blow. Likewise, at the end Neil manages to defeat Pierce by succeeding at a roll with a mere 15% chance of success. In both cases, the die apparently opted to provide the interesting result over the probable one.
- Shaped Like ItselfTroy: I'm Bing-Bong the Archer. I'm an archer, and such.
Jeff: I take my throwing knife and throw it, knife-style.
- Ship Tease: Abed's character flirting with Jeff's, and later having a drawn-out sex scene with Annie's.
- Shout-Out: A ton in the beginning, specifically Neil's "Outlets of Fantasy" which include:
- A copy of Watchmen.
- A Doctor Who Day of the Daleks video.
- Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.
- An issue of Scud the Disposable Assassin, a comic book series which show creator Dan Harmon co-wrote.
- "Hector the Well-Endowed" was meant for Troy, and in The Iliad, Hector was a prince of the nation of Troy.
- "Lavernica" was meant for Shirley.
- The narration of the episode is done much like the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring.
- "I'll have what Fat Neil's having."
- Slouch of Villainy: "So many things, Abed ... So many things."◊
- Special Edition Title: The opening credits reflect the D&D theme. The drawings on the cootie catcher are fantastical and the theme music epic.
- Spikes of Villainy: The traffic cones on Pierce the Insensitive's throne.
- Squishy Wizard: Chang, the magician of the group, is taken out in one critical hit.
- Suffrage and Political Liberation: There is a class of beleaguered gnomes the group encounters. Britta plays a human warrior Lavernica who speaks gnome. Britta, being the Soapbox Sadie that she is, gets very distressed by their mistreatment and gets distracted from the group's quest. It's clear she would love to liberate those poor gnomes.Abed as gnome waiter: How can I help you, dear madam?
Britta as Lavernica: Oh, please, no need for such deference. I'm no better than a gnome.
Abed as gnome waiter: You are, madam. You are a human warrior, which is five species classes greater than I.
Britta as Lavernica: That's disgusting. Don't talk like that.
Abed as gnome waiter: I am so sorry, madam. Please don't report me for execution.
Britta as Lavernica: Oh, no, no, I didn't mean that. We've gotta do something about these gnomes!
- Suicide Watch: Fearing that Neil, one of the college students, is suicidally depressed, the study group decides to intervene by inviting him to play his favourite game Dungeons & Dragons with them without talking about it directly.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Shirley can't tell you how long she's waited to take out Pierce ... in the game.
- Swallowed Whole: Pierce's fate is to be swallowed alive by a dragon.
- Team Hand-Stack: During the voiceover, when the group decides to play Abed's module designed to reclaim Fat Neil's confidence.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Neil rolls a 19 in order to disarm Pierce via thrown sword.
- Time Stands Still: Pierce has Draconis cast Time Stop on the party.
- Title Drop:Pierce: I won Dungeons and Dragons, and it was advanced!
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Pierce has been getting worse and worse, but he really steps it up in this episode.
- Unfortunate Implications:[[Invoked]]
- Chang spends the episode in blackface. When Shirley calls him out, he says he's playing a dark elf.
- Discussed; Jeff defends his decision to refer to Neil as "Fat Neil" because there was another Neil in the corridor and he had to differentiate between the two. Neil, hurt, points out that the other Neil was both bald and black. When Neil brings up race, Jeff replies that he doesn't "view the world through that lens."
- Villain Reveals the Secret: Pierce is excluded from the game to cheer up "Fat" Neil because of this. He forces his way in anyway and causes much grief by tormenting everyone else. At one point, he reveals that Jeff was the one who came up with the nickname "Fat Neil".
- What the Hell, Hero?: The study group is genuinely shocked and appalled with Jeff the Liar when they learn that he was the one who started the "Fat Neil" nickname in the first place.
- The X of Y: Britta is "the AT&T of people".