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"You've just stopped being a study group. You've become something unstoppable. I hereby pronounce you a community."
Jeff Winger, "Pilot"

Community is an Ensemble Cast Sitcom created by Dan Harmon. It first aired on NBC from 2009-2014, and then was promptly Uncancelled and had its sixth and final season streamed on Yahoo! Screen in 2015.

Joel McHale stars as Jeff Winger, an Amoral Attorney who got caught playing fast and loose with the truth... this time in regards to his college degree. In an attempt to get a legitimate(-ish) degree without doing any work, he's enrolled in the local community college. He quickly attempts to get in good with Britta (Gillian Jacobs), an outspoken ex-anarchist from his Spanish 101 class, by pretending to be a "board-certified Spanish tutor" who can help her study.

Things go awry, however, when she invites their mutual acquaintance, the socially challenged Abed (Danny Pudi), to their fake study group. Abed, in turn, invites some of their other classmates — ex-high school football star Troy (Donald Glover), compulsive overachiever Annie (Alison Brie), single mother Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), and not-quite-as-smart-or-with-it-as-he-thinks moist-towelette magnate Pierce (Chevy Chase) — leading to the organization of the cast's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits. Rounding out the main cast are the inept dean of the college, Craig Pelton (Jim Rash), and the study group's mentally unstable Spanish teacher-turned-frenemy, Ben Chang (Ken Jeong).

Each season shows the study group developing through an underlying theme, with the first four seasons tying that theme into a class the group took together. The first season had Spanish, alluding to the study group members learning to communicate with each other; the second season featured Anthropology, which highlighted the group growing into a tight-knit "tribe"; the third season centered around Biology, feeding into the group struggling with their capacity to evolve; and the fourth season incorporated History, with the group coming to terms with their pasts but also realizing how much they've grown. The fifth season revolves around the characters returning to the school after some time, having failed to make much of their lives outside the school, and deciding to form the "Save Greendale" committee in order to both improve the school overall and to find meaning in their lives. The sixth season had a theme of moving on through acceptance both of where you are and of change alongside the realization that it's okay for things to end.

The show's humor is driven by the characters' interactions, supplemented by rampant lampshade hangings. (As a side effect of this, the show's trope examples will be very quote-driven.) Episodes often directly riff on different media genres, taking great artistic liberties and changing the style of the show to match what they're parodying. This means that from episode to episode, Community can become a wildly different show; it can be a sendup to American mobster films like Goodfellas one week, a space disaster film another, and in yet another a documentary-style parody of Apocalypse Now.

Dan Harmon — whose work ethic and perfectionism made for constant battles with the network, the production studio, and star Chevy Chase (who infamously left a hate-filled tirade on his voicemail) — ultimately got fired off his own show at the end of the third season, replaced by producers Moses Port and David Guarascio (known for Just Shoot Me! and Happy Endings). After the fourth season, the show was renewed and Harmon hired back as showrunner for season five. Chase left at the end of season four, leaving the show bringing in Jonathan Banks guest-starring as an unofficial replacement, and Donald Glover departed after five episodes for personal reasons. NBC officially canceled the show after season five, but it was picked up by Yahoo Screen! for a sixth season. Yvette Nicole Brown left to focus on taking care of her ailing father (ultimately guest-starring in the season's premiere and finale), and Keith David and Paget Brewster were added to the cast for the sixth season as new main characters, but only billed as supporting players in the show's credits.

For the longest time, fans held out hope for "six seasons and a movie," as their collective mantra went. In spite of the low television ratings, notoriously Troubled Production, firing-then-rehiring of its creator, departure of three cast members and raising the profile of several actors/resurrecting careers, the show got to end on its own terms after all on June 2, 2015, though conversations about a potential film occasionally popped up since. In September 2022, the film was finally announced for Peacock, with McHale, Jacobs, Pudi, Brie, Glover, Rash, and Jeong confirmed so far to reprise their roles. McHale will also serve as an executive producer along with Harmon, who will co-write the screenplay with fellow Community scribe, Andrew Guest. Filming was originally set to begin in 2023 before being pushed back to 2024 due to the Hollywood Writers' Strikes.

The writers of the show are aware of this very wiki (Harmon has been quoted on Twitter as having used to be on this site "religiously"), and often use it for research.

The show also has its own Community Tumblr. Vote here for the best episode.

Note: Due to the Troperiffic nature of the show, tropes relating to the series in general go here. Please put tropes that apply to individual episodes or individual characters in the series on their respective pages.

Community contains examples of:

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  • Aborted Arc:
    • Chang's Sanity Slippage at the beginning of season two was supposed to feed into a subplot where Chang would be haunted by the twin sister he ate in utero. The idea was quietly dropped, though it was briefly referenced in "The First Chang Dynasty."
    • In "Beginning Pottery", Rich is revealed to have severe mommy issues. He's seen a few times in season two, but his Freudian Excuse is never brought up again.
    • The show Abed makes based off his adventures with the study group is never brought up again after Season 1.
    • The ending of "Home Economics" strongly implies that the feud between Pierce and Vaughn will continue past that episode, with Pierce plotting revenge on Vaughn for humiliating him by hiring a member of his band to write a Diss Track against him. By Vaughn's next appearance, however, the two appear to have made up.
    • The show mentions on occasion Britta's Dark and Troubled Past of having been molested by a man in a dinosaur costume on her eleventh birthday party and her father not believing her. This is oddly never mentioned when her parents finally appear in person in Season 6, even when Britta lists off her reasons for resenting them.
  • Academic Alpha Bitch: Also an example of Brains Evil, Brawn Good, if seen in the context of Troy being the academically challenged, but ultimately Lovable Jock who shed his Jerkass reputation from high school. Season 1 features two examples of smart people acting like total jerks – debating superstar Jeremy Simmons, and high school kids Mark, Kelly, and Scott, who take pleasure in taunting Jeff and Britta while bragging that they'll never be caught studying in a lowly community college. Season 3 also has Annie Kim.
  • Academy of Adventure: Between paintball wars, pillow-fort civilizations and vocational secret societies, Greendale campus has definitely grown into this over time.
  • Adaptation Decay: In-universe, the American remake of Inspector Spacetime shown in "Conventions of Space And Time'' is considered an example of this by Abed, mostly due to the drastic changes suggested by Pierce at the focus group meeting (including making the Constable a blonde Statuesque Stunner and forcing the Inspector to sleep with his own grandmother in 1960's San Francisco.)
    Abed: (whispering to Pierce) I hate you.
  • Aerith and Bob: Jeff, Annie, Troy... Magnitude, Paradox, Subway. Even within the main group, Britta's unusual name is often poked fun at, and Pierce's already uncommon name gets weirder when it's revealed to be short for "Piercinald."
  • Aerosol Spray Backfire: In one episode, Annie and Shirley get jobs as campus security officers, although they are kinda mediocre at it, such as constantly arguing who is the bad cop of the duo. When Annie tries chasing Jeff, she starts spraying pepper spray, only for her to keep running through it and start crying in pain. The next scene shows Annie picking her hat up off the ground with a lot of makeup running down her face.
  • An Aesop: The episode "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts" have Shirley and Andre each go on a Character Filibuster when Britta reveals that she fears being a wife is all she'll be good for and Jeff says people just make wedding vows for one day and then never keep them. Shirley says that people change regardless of the relationships they're in, and their partners have to accept that they aren't going to remain the same. Andre then tells Jeff that when you make wedding vows, it's not just when you're in the tuxedo and gown; you commit to them and remember them every day because a relationship requires work.
  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head:
    • Moments of tension between Annie and Jeff end with him awkwardly patting her on the head.
    • Discussed. Jeff and Annie's relationship is characterized by him being an older brother to her, except that the increasing sexual tension is making that awkward and they can't keep it up, meaning their relationship has to evolve. The discussion ends with "We can't keep doing this, kiddo," with a gentle chuck of the chin.
      Annie: Can't we? (long pause) No, it's gross.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Jeff and Annie have addressed one another as "Milady" and "Milord," (respectively) on more than one occasion.
  • Affectionate Parody: Numerous episodes are explicit parodies of existing genres or shows.
  • Affectionate Pickpocket: In the season 4 finale, Evil-Annie gives Jeff a hug in order to steal his phone from his back pocket.
  • Age-Gap Romance:
    • Subverted with Jeff and Annie. There are some feelings and series-long Ship Tease between Annie (in her late teens at the beginning of the series) and Jeff (a thirty-something guy). They occasionally act on their feelings and kiss or act like they are a couple on a date, but they always realize that them dating would be too weird and rather creepy, and the full relationship does not happen.
    • Evil Annie & Evil Jeff are together in the Darkest Timeline. When Evil Annie asks if he has a problem with the age difference, Evil Jeff says he wishes she was younger.
    • Late season 3 and season 4 also had 31-year-old Britta date 23-year-old Troy.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: "Room-temperature" refers to an actual room, which is the world's most comfortable room. It is found in the Air Conditioning Repair School Annex, which is found in Greendale Community College.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys:
  • All Just a Dream: This promo trailer for season 5.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: The first few episodes seemed to offer a fairly predictable version of this, with alpha-couple Jeff/Britta and beta-couple Annie/Troy. But it eventually averted this, in that after a while the characters decided to move on to other people instead of fawning over someone seemingly uninterested. There is still occasional Ship Tease between these pairings, but it's not a primary focus (and there's just as, if not more, Ship Tease between other pairings, such as Jeff/Annie and Britta/Troy). By season 3, Jeff/Britta and Troy/Annie ship tease has all but disappeared, with Jeff/Annie becoming the primary source of Ship Tease while Troy gets a fair amount of it with both Abed and Britta. Annie and Abed also have their moments.
  • Always in Class One: The study group passes all three criteria.
    • The seven main characters all took the same Spanish class, and never added anybody else that they met at Greendale to the study group afterward (well, except for that one time). Invoked Trope after they got to know each other, however, as they all purposefully scheduled at least one class together each following year (instead of happening to randomly get matched with each other).
    • Criteria number 2 was lampshaded in Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts by Vicki:
      "We came so close to having one class that wasn't all about them."
    • You can bet that they're Weirdness Magnets, too.
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • The Dean was regarded as this for the first two seasons before it was revealed in the third (as well as by Jim Rash in outside interviews) that he's actually pansexual.
    • In season 6, Frankie's remark about not letting her sexuality be an aspect of her role in society makes the Dean and Jeff, and later the rest of the group, wonder what her sexuality is. She considers it none of their business.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Parodied by the Air Conditioning Repair School Annex, who act like one.
    Vice-Dean Laybourne: It all began in Ancient Egypt. Our ancestors were slaves, fanning pharaohs with palm fronds, making them feel comfortable. But they evolved. They learned to make themselves comfortable. No more palm fronds. Now we are the pharaohs.
  • And Starring: "With Ken Jeong and Chevy Chase".
  • Animated Episode: The episode "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" is animated in stop motion, while the episode "G.I. Jeff" is animated in the style of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
  • Apathetic Teacher: A large number of the teachers, and to a lesser extent the dean, are shown to be questionably effective at their jobs. Señor Chang bullies his students, Professor Duncan throws a tantrum and blames a student when his experiment doesn't go like he wanted, and at least one chemistry teacher spends a large portion of a class answering a trivial phone call inside the classroom. Even Jeff, when given a job teaching law, spends his time on his phone, giving his students documentary box-sets to watch, instead.
  • Arc Words: "Look at me now, Dad!"
    • "Annie, you live in a terrible neighborhood." Annie moves in with Troy and Abed in season 3.
    • "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" had the question "Why do I go Greendale?"
  • Artistic License – Education:
    • For a community college, having alcohol on campus is a big no-no—even if everyone is the right age, regulations and by-laws prevent campus-sponsored activities from including it. This is especially important in S1E11; a lack of alcohol and the subsequent sexy activities would have made the last few moments much less urgent and funny.
    • Played for Laughs in season 3, where we finds out Greendale students have lockers.
    • Everyone in the study group is going after a four-year degree, and after four years, they all graduate with degrees. It's true that some community colleges have started offering bachelor's degrees. However, Jeff's diploma, seen in the final episode of season 4 and the first episode of season 5, clearly states that it's an associate's degree, which is a two-year degree offered by community colleges. Alan Connor points to it and calls it a bachelor's degree.
    • When getting the results of their Spanish 101 final, Abed reads the study group members scores from sheets of paper hung up on a wall in the hallway. In reality, the US's FERPA laws, which protect student privacy, would prohibit posting student scores in a public place.
  • Artistic License – Law: In real life, a lawyer who is found out to have falsified their credentials would be permanently disbarred, not given a second chance to earn a degree as Jeff was.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: Throughout the series, Abed is referred to — and refers to himself - as “Arabic.” There is no such thing as an “Arabic” person; “Arabic” refers exclusively to the Central Semitic language widely spoken across North Africa, the Levant, Mesopotamia and the Arabian peninsula. “Arab” note is the English adjective for the ethnic group and its culture, as well as the demonym for members of said group. Ironically gotten right by Pierce, in his own idiom:
    Pierce: Ay-bed the Ay-rab.
  • Artistic Title: Features a cootie catcher! It changes for a few episodes—the Halloween episodes have spookier images, while the "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" credits had epic music and medieval-looking script. Then, of course, there's the one-shot animated opening for "A Fistful of Paintballs."
  • Art Shift: Thanks to a budget increase with the move to Yahoo, the show was able to adopt a brighter, more naturalistic lighting scheme rather than the harsh florescent look it had in previous seasons.
  • Asshole Victim: Jeff gives Pierce's father such a great "The Reason You Suck" Speech that he has a heart attack and dies. Nobody minds much, though, since he was racist, homophobic, and an abusive parent.
  • Audience Participation: Of the voting variety. Fans designed their own Greendale flags and then voted for one to become official, the winning one was introduced in "Basic Rocket Science" and the voting was written into the plot as having been done by Greendale students.
  • Back to School: Of the main study group, only Troy and Annie (and possibly Abed) are the standard college student age. At the start of the series, Britta is 28, Jeff and Shirley are in their mid-30s, and Pierce is in his 60s, having enrolled at Greendale a decade earlier.
  • Bait the Dog: A very weird inversion. Before the fandom met Andre all they heard about him was nothing but bad things from Shirley. So when he turned out to be Mr. Perfect it jarred so much with the fandoms preconceptions of who he was. As a result many in the community fandom absolutely hate Andre, because they can't see Mr. Perfect as the man who Shirley described. Andre would eventually reveal his imperfect side, but remain a sympathetic character.
  • Berserk Button: A new one comes up every few episodes. Individual Buttons are found on the Character Sheets.
  • Beta Couple:
    • For a short time, Troy and Annie, before Troy started going out with Randy (it can be a girl's name too) and Annie generated some UST with Jeff. Annie clearly still carries a torch, though, based on the loud gasp when Britta says that she and Troy have something to announce.
    • In season 2, as the Britta/Jeff relationship was developed, there have been moments of Ship Tease for Annie/Abed.
    • With Season 2 and 3 building up Jeff/Annie, Troy/Britta ended up becoming the new Beta Couple.
    • Abed/Troy is the consistent Beta couple to either Jeff/Britta or Jeff/Annie.
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: One of the show's primary rules is: Never let a Trope go unlampshaded.
  • The B Grade: The teachers at Greendale use A-minuses (and minuses in general) as a way to purposely invoke this trope in students they don't like so that they will drop the class out of frustration. One teacher even says they were explicitly invented for this purpose.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Aside from Chang, several seasons had other major antagonists.
    • In Season 2, Pierce fulfills the role of Big Bad in the final third of the season, until the paintball finale where City College Dean Spreck’s agenda is revealed, and Pierce helps save the day.
    • In Season 3, Chang tries to take over Greendale, Evil Abed tries to cross over from the Darkest Timeline and corrupt the Prime Timeline until it matches, and Vice-Dean Laybourne tries to bully Troy into joining the Air Conditioner Repair School.
    • Subverted in Season 4, when the rest of the Evil Study Group invades the prime timeline but it’s revealed to be All Just a Dream. Chang also fakes "changnesia" to infiltrate Greendale on behalf of Spreck, but pulls a Heel–Face Turn.
    • In Season 5, Carl and Ritchie (the School Board Guys) try to sell Greendale to Subway, the sandwich restaurant chain, and convert the entire campus into a “sandwich institute”.
  • Big "NO!": Originally Annie but seems to have passed on to Troy.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The label on the bottle of wine Pierce gives Jeff in "Competitive Wine Tasting" says 'La tua diventa più bello con ogni bottiglia', which translates as 'You become more beautiful with each bottle'
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The study group (minus Jeff and Pierce, who are more obvious bitches) and Dean Pelton can be this from time to time.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor:
    • During the season 3 hiatus, the 3-part cartoon, "Abed's Master Key" took a shot at NBC's failure to consider online viewers, which had been determined during the second season comprised the majority of the show's demographic.
    • The cast has a lot of fun with NBC's claims to air season 4 on October 19th.
    • When the show was about to make its debut on Comedy Central after entering Syndication, they took the opportunity to take a shot at NBC's lack of promotion for the show.
    • Season three opens with Jeff dreaming about having a normal, less random year is a direct reference to what NBC wanted the show to be like...and is totally lambasted with the fact that the dream takes the form of an over-the-top musical number.
    We're gonna stand holding hands in this brand new land, far away from the borderline
    We're gonna seem like a mainstream dream, and be appealing to all mankiiiiind!
  • Black-and-Gray Morality:
    • On the one hand, we have:
      • Pierce (Depending on the Writer and how uncharitable you're feeling towards him), a racist, sexist sociopathic bully dedicated to making everyone's lives a living hell
      • Chang, a murderous psychopath
      • Cornelius Hawthorne, an even worse version of his son
      • Dean Spreck, an underhanded, vicious cheat.
      • Starburns, a sleazy drug-dealer.
      • And Allan, an Amoral Attorney with no limits as to what he'll do to win.
    • On the other hand, we have:
      • A selfish, dishonest jerk (Jeff)
      • Self-righteous, judgmental hypocrites (Britta, Annie, Shirley)
      • Social outcasts still getting used to the world outside their TV (Troy and Abed)
      • A lonely, socially-maladjusted old man who just wants to make friends but, thanks to his neglectful upbringing, has no idea how to go about doing so without rubbing people the wrong way (Pierce again, Depending on the Writer and the Alternative Character Interpretation)
      • An incompetent and deeply insecure administrator who, despite his eccentric and frequently inappropriate behaviour, just wants to be liked and respected by those around him (Dean Pelton)
  • Black Dude Dies First: Troy is the first to be eliminated in Modern Warfare.
    • Discussed and subverted in "Epidemiology." Abed lampshades this trope as he sacrifices himself so Troy can escape the zombies. Troy is the last of the study group to be bitten, and even then still manages to turn on air conditioning and save the day.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • One example occurs in the episode "The Politics Of Human Sexuality" after Troy 'wins' his race with Abed:
      Troy: [Breathless and exhausted] "How'd you like... those apples?"
      Abed: [Clearly not breathless and exhausted] "I don't like those apples. I'm so upset. It was clearly a fluke that I won those other games."
    • In a later episode, a therapist attempts to convince the gang that their entire time at Greendale College was a shared delusion. This would be a lot more believable to take in if there wasn't a large amount of easily-available evidence to the contrary, such as pictures on a phone, families who they see every day, and Annie wearing a Greendale backpack during this whole conversation. Needless to say, the therapist turned out to be a fraud.
    • His next attempt to fool them, claiming that Greendale was purgatory and he was the Devil, was even less successful. Mostly.
      Troy: I knew it!
      Jeff: (Dope Slap) Stop letting him make you realize stuff!
  • Book Ends:
    • The first and last episodes of Anthropology class under Duncan are, fittingly, about death and birth, respectively.
    • Chang begins and ends season 3 hiding in the air vents but with the latter, he's in City College.
    • The Tag of the season 3 finale, marking Dan Harmon's departure from the show, ends with the same music that was used in the Cold Open of the pilot.
    • Season 4 begins and ends with episodes focused on change and what happens when the Study Group start their lives after Greendale. Both episodes also heavily feature elements of All Just a Dream, with Jeff and Abed flipping roles - It's Abed's fears at the start of the season, resolved by Jeff giving a Rousing Speech in Abed's mind; and the other way round in the finale. The first and last lines of the season are also variants of the "Troy and Abed in the Morning!" Mad Libs Catchphrase Running Gag.
    • Jeff and Britta are the two founding members of the original study group in the series' pilot. In the closing scene of the last season's final episode, the only two remaining members from that group are Britta and Jeff.
  • Bottle Episode:
    • The most notable is the episode "Cooperative Calligraphy", which takes place entirely in the study room that the main characters meet for their study group. Abed and Jeff even refer to the "Bottle Episode" concept by name. (It's also the only one actually referred to as being "The Bottle Episode" by fans and crew alike.)
    • The second season episode "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" took place almost entirely in the study room with the group playing D&D. Like, dice-rolls-and-described-actions D&D, not elaborate-dream-sequence D&D.
    • Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts was shot in the anthropology room, due to the two/three expensive episodes it was between.
    • Season 3 has "Remedial Chaos Theory" which takes place entirely in Troy and Abed's apartment (save for one scene in the study room at the end) that involves Jeff rolling a die to decide who has to go downstairs to let the pizza delivery man in the building and each way that it lands creates an alternate timeline.
    • Season 5's "Cooperative Polygraphy," except for The Tag, takes place entirely in the study room as the group is interrogated as to whether they were responsible for Pierce's death.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Britta's parents were hippies in the 1960s and too free-spirited to raise their daughter correctly, but they've settled down into normal, upper-middle-class people. It's a twist when we find out that Britta is rebelling against them because they were too permissive rather than too authoritarian.
  • Brand X:
    • Characters sometimes sip on "Old British 600" and an ill-sized oval changed Jeff's laptop's brand from a Sony Vaio to, apparently, a teapot.
    • When the security staff is directed to gas the ventilation system with "monkey tranquilizer", the logo on the canister reads "ChimpanZZZZZZ."
    • Lampshaded by having Leonard post video reviews of Eugenio's frozen pizza and Let's potato chips. The Let's bag is a prop sold by company called Independent Studio Services.
    • The cafeteria stocks PC Cola.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Abed has a whole subplot entirely in the background in "The Psychology of Letting Go" - he refers back to this in "Applied Anthropology" when Shirley goes into labor, to widespread confusion among the rest of the study group.
    • This running gag of Beetlejuice.
    • In "Curriculum Unavailable" the police officer tells the group they shouldn't keep their door open with a brick (as Annie said in "Remedial Chaos Theory") but rather than being for security reasons, it's because the brick is actually valuable.
  • The Bro Code: Britta calls her friend Annie out for getting with Britta's ex-boyfriend Vaughn, then for kissing Jeff after Britta had told him she loved him.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Greendale seems to be one among institutes of higher learning, especially where local powerhouse City College is concerned.
    • Britta is the Butt Monkey of the study group. Her constant attempts to be capital-G "Good" (in the most politically liberal interpretation of "good") receive constant groans from the other group members, her attempts to become a therapist are universally mocked (despite having some good results) and "you're the worst" has become so much of a catchphrase that it has now been repeatedly lampshaded. This said, she does bring a lot of it on herself; her attempts to be good (or Good) tend to be hypocritical, inept and backfire disastrously, she often overanalyzes her friends rather ineptly (frequently stumbling into being helpful inadvertently rather than as a consequence), and overall she often puts her foot in her mouth and embarrasses herself.
    • Chevy Chase on the DVD commentaries, which seem to include everyone but him, and while there will be occasional nice things said about some work he's done, generally he is a walking punchline to the other cast members. And writers. And directors. And producers.
      • Pierce was the Butt Monkey before and after Britta. The one time he got kicked out of the group they fell apart, since they needed someone to be the Butt Monkey.
  • Call-Back: The show thrives on these, and there seems to be two or three per episode. Individual Call Backs and Continuity Nods are listed in the episodes in which they took place.
  • Camp Gay: THE. DEAN. Even though his character is supposed to be pansexual, everything about Dean Pelton, from catchphrases to being there for light entertainment, to showy effeminate costumes and banter is this trope in spades. An interesting evolution/variation from earlier iterations of the trope in that he's allowed to have a sexuality and does indeed hit on Jeff mercilessly. The difference now is society isn't so obsessed with Gay Panic that such attempts aren't even remotely threatening and therefore allowed for the character.
  • Captain Obvious: In "Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts", when Shirley's water breaks and she goes into labor:
    Dean Pelton: Okay, give me your attention. This student is having a baby. What am I talking about? You already know.
  • Casting Gag:
  • Celebrity Paradox: Several instances given the show's habit of making pop-culture references.
  • Celebrity Resemblance:
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Pierce's increasing villainy and peeks at other characters' issues made the second season significantly more serious than the first, and the third is building up to be even heavier.
    • After "Community S 3 E 17 Basic Lupine Urology", there follows several more serious episodes.
    • While Season 4 had a much lighter tone, Season 5 may have been the darkest season of them all. It starts with Greendale in danger of being sued, and everyone being worse off than before. And the next few episodes have Pierce's death, Troy's departure, and the Ass Crack Bandit episode.
  • Chaos Architecture:
    • In the pilot, the study room is not on the ground floor, but it is for the rest of the series.
    • It is revealed in Digital Exploration of Interior Design that every Greendale student has a locker. Lockers haven't been seen in the series at all up until this moment.
    • In Laws of Robotics and Party Rights, Greendale how suddenly has a parking garage, while up until this point everyone has been parking outdoors (as seen in every episode up until and including the season premiere Ladders).
  • Character Catchphrase:
    • Played relatively straight with Abed's "Cool... coolcoolcool.,"
    • Parodied with Magnitude's "POP POP!"
    • "You don't have a patent on (insert thing)" which started as something Britta said to Slater in the season 1 finale.
    • Leonard's repeated use of the Bronx Cheer.
    • Shirley also has "That's nice!"
  • Character Development: Most of the main characters grow over the course of the show.
    • Troy goes from a popularity-obsessed, immature Jerk Jock to a kind-hearted, responsible geek. A lot of this is apparently due to his friendship with Abed.
    • Jeff learns to care for others and decides to confront his Daddy Issues head-on.
    • Annie grows up a bit over the course of the show. In early episodes, her insecurity and drive to over-achieve are much sharper. Her youth is also played up: Jeff states that she's too young to be "sexualized," and her fashion sense is one of a prim schoolgirl. In later episodes, her personality softens to be more sweet and sensitive. Coinciding with this change, she's portrayed as a more mature woman. Her hairstyle and fashion sense look more mature, and she's even romantically linked to Jeff.
    • Abed's No Social Skills were emphasized with his Asperger syndrome played up in the early episodes, and also not yet seems to grasp the concept of friendship. After several years of being in a tight-knit clique of friends, however, he's become slightly more sociable and is now merely the oddball of the group.
    • Britta eventually works through her parental issues and abandons her misguided desire to become a therapist. While she ends the series as a bartender (i.e. not in her dream career like Abed and Annie), she has settled into a comfortable place in life, realized who her true friends are, and has in essence stopped pretending to be someone she's not (she even stops bleaching her hair and embraces her natural color).
    • Chang, despite his tenure as a despised antagonist and unreliable/deceitful psychopath, legitimately helps save the school in season 5 (a school he initially thought very little of, at that). After his brief taste of cinematic fame in season 6, which abruptly collapses, he instinctively returns to Greendale, where he knows that the group will accept him back, despite his countless betrayals. He breathes a sigh of relief while joking with the group in the study room, finally seeming to feel at home. Also comes out as "legit gay" in the finale.
  • Characterization Marches On: Some characters don't so much grow as simply change from their original persona.
    • Britta gets hit especially hard. In the early first season, Britta has "douche-ray vision", is a worldly, well-traveled (if somewhat insufferable) Soapbox Sadie whom 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. This changes again in Seasons 5 and 6, in which Britta shifts closer to her Season 2 personality, and ends the series with some Character Development.
    • 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 mental issues are 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 Elizabeth Shue in 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. "Physical Education" also established that Abed was actually quite good with women, to the extent that they actively approached him to flirt, which mostly went out the window as Abed's personality developed as described above.
    • Pierce in the first few episodes dressed in a slightly suave style, appearing to be a sort of Casanova Wannabe, and showed very few of his Innocent Bigot traits. It didn't take long for him to grow into the Pierce we know today of course, with the Racist Grandpa traits growing quickly and his would-be Casanova tendencies cropping up only occasionally.
    • During the first few episodes, Annie was uptight and mean, taking pleasure at subjecting test subjects to mental torture in a psychology experiment with professor Duncan. She gradually became sweeter over the first half of season 1. By the 2nd half, she had settled into her sweet personality.
    • In Season 1, Chang starts out as a mix between an Apathetic Teacher and a Sadist Teacher, a tyrannical, eccentric, but ultimately competent Bunny-Ears Lawyer, but also with hints at more of a normal outside life than most of the study group. The end of the season reveals he was faking his Spanish credentials the whole time, Season 2 makes his ongoing Sanity Slippage a Running Gag, and by Season 3, he's been Flanderized into a full-blown lunatic.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Most notably with Jeff, but throughout the series if a character tries to solve their problem through underhanded means or through cheating it usually backfires on them.
  • Chekhov's Gun: True to form, Community pulls this off with an actual gun in "Remedial Chaos Theory." Troy discovers Annie's gun in the very first timeline we see. Later on, in another timeline, where no one knows about the gun, it accidentally goes off. The stray bullet leads to Pierce's (somewhat) untimely death, which, in conjunction with Jeff's loss of an arm, makes this undeniably the Darkest Timeline.
  • Chewbacca Defense: Jeff's go-to strategy as a lawyer. He particularly seems to like invoking 9/11. Subverted in at least one instance: when he uses it in "Debate", Greendale loses, 50-8 (and the 8 points went to Annie).
  • Christmas Episode:
    • "Comparative Religion" (Season 1), "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" (Season 2), "Regional Holiday Music" (Season 3), "Intro to Knots" (Season 4).
    • Lampshaded several times in "Comparative Religion", when Shirley's efforts to force everyone to participate in her Christmas party as if they'll completely ruin Christmas Day for her if they don't do exactly what she wants often elicit the response that it's only "December 10th." She later picks up on this; when one of the bullies begs for mercy from Shirley, saying, "Please, it's Christmas!" she responds, "It's December 10th!" and attacks him.
    • Also "Miracle on Jeff's Street", an animated promo trailer for season 5.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder:
    • Dean Pelton in "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design" admits that he can't keep track of the lies any more and just teams up with anyone who suggests it.
    • Chang betrays his teammates at every turn during the second paintball war.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Professor Slater after season 1, Duncan after season 2.
    • Lampshaded with Slater in the season 2 episode "Political Science":
      [ticker at bottom of the screen] PROFESSOR SLATER STILL MISSING
    • Duncan finally returned in season 5, explaining he was taking care of his sick mother. His sudden disappearance after season 2 was lampshaded in "Intro To Felt Surrogacy":
    Puppet-Troy: (as the air balloon that gang is in plummets to the ground at high-speed) Has anyone else noticed Professor Duncan hasn't been around in a very long time?
    • Aside from a blink-and-you-miss-it reference to his whereabouts in a season 6 episode, and a mention of his name in the series finale, Buzz Hickey's departure from the Save Greendale Committee is not addressed at all, he just disappears after the season 5 finale.
  • Church of Happyology: Apparently Pierce is in a variation of this, called Reformed Neo-Buddhism (which appears to be a combo of this and Buddhism.)
  • Clean, Pretty Childbirth: Lampshaded in S2, E22: Shirley gives birth in the middle of class. While the trope appears to be averted via Britta's vomiting at the sight of the birth, in the end it's played straight as the birth turns out looking clean and tidy.
  • Clip Show: Subverted in the episode "Paradigms of Human Memory," since many of the flashbacks were to scenes that weren't in any episode; such as the infamous St. Patrick's Day rafting trip.
  • Cloudcuckooland: Greendale.
  • Collective Groan:
    • Every time Shirley mentions her Finnish friend Gary.
      Troy: I hope he transfers to Hell!
    • Whenever Britta starts acting self-righteous.
      Troy: You're like the AT&T of people!
    • Whenever Annie tries to stand up for real academics at Greendale.
    • Jeff also gets one for his lame excuse as to why he didn't bring anyone to Family Day. And also when everyone's discussing their religions and he says he's agnostic.
  • College Is "High School, Part 2": Season 3 reveals that Greendale students each have a locker. And Jeff once lamented that all the drama makes him feel like he's in a high school drama.
    Jeff: Oh my God! My life is Degrassi High!
  • Comedic Work, Serious Scene: Despite being primarily a comedy, the show isn't afraid to get serious when it has to, and episodes like Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas often tackle serious subjects in a semi-unique way.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • The core of Pierce's character.
      "That makes no sense! Why would I [sexually] harass someone who turns me on?"

      "Don't use that word [tardiness] around Abed!"

      Jeff: Can you help me block out people's voices I find extremely annoying?
      Pierce: (discreetly pointing at Britta) Jeff, she's right there...

      Troy: (Deconstructing a classic prank on April Fool's Day) Snake in a can?
      Pierce: No thanks, I'm fasting.
    • In "The Politics of Human Sexuality", the Dean discovers free condoms handed out by the school are faulty. Fearing pregnancies and the spread of STDs amongst students, he instructs Abed to make an announcement about the condoms over the speaker system. Abed then instructs everyone "if you're going to have sex tonight, don't use condoms."
    • In "The Psychology of Letting Go", Duncan points out that Jeff's recent desire to belittle and undermine Pierce's faith in his cult is linked to Jeff's discovery that he has high cholesterol. Jeff accepts this, but instead of the expected 'so lighten up about it and let Pierce continue regardless' message, Jeff instead decides that this increased self-awareness means he can really go to town on pulling the rug from under Pierce.
      Professor Duncan: No, that wasn't what I w — actually, I don't care.
  • Competence Porn: Inverted in "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps". Abed's story is an inversion: sure, the heroic characters are (by slasher victim standards) hyper-competent, but the (In-Universe) audience (other than Troy) hates this.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: In "Advanced Documentary Filmmaking," Jeff is convinced that Chang is faking his Changnesia. Then it turns out that Chang genuinely doesn't remember his ex-wife, and now Jeff knows how Chang used to feel all the time - hated and ostracized. Naturally, it was subverted by the end of the episode - Chang really is faking, and is taking orders from someone unknown.
  • Confidentiality Betrayal: Dean Pelton explains to the class that Señor Chang has a crippling fear of frogs. Chang whispers in horror "I told you that in confidence!"
  • Continuity Nod: Present in most episodes.
  • Continuity Porn: Look at the Callback + Continuity Nod list. Walk through the episode guide and you'll find up to a dozen of these in a single episode.
  • Convenient Replacement Character: Usually, when one study group/committee member leaves, their spot at the table does not remain empty for long.
    • By the time Season 5 premieres, Pierce is banned from the campus (and later dies) . Buzz Hickey takes his place two episodes later.
    • Mid-Season 5, Troy leaves. Existing character Ben Chang takes his place and role as resident ditz.
    • Season 6 sees the departure of Buzz, Shirley, and Ian Duncan. The former two are replaced in the first two episodes by newcomers Frankie Dart and Elroy Patashnik, and Dean Pelton now participates in the committee's meetings and sits at Duncan's place.
  • Conversational Troping: Abed enjoys examining both TV and real life in terms of tropes.
  • Couch Gag: Coupled with The Tag. Most episodes end with Abed and Troy doing/saying something funny, often on the couch in the library (making it a literal Couch Gag).
    • Couch Gag Vanity Plate: "A Dan Harmon/Russo Bros. (word or phrase that changes every episode)" The design of the plate changes as well.
    • "Troy and Abed in the MOOORNING!"
    • "Troy and Abed in STOP MOOOTION!"
    • "Evil Troy and Evil AAAAABED!"
    • "Troy and Abed sewn toGEEEEETHER!"
    • "Troy and Abed being normal."
    • "Troy and Abed shooting LAAAAAAAAAVA!"
    • "Troy and Abed back from SUUUUUUMMER!"
    • "Troy and Abed in the MOOORNING, Nights!"
    • "Troy and Abed are in MOOOURNING!"
    Troy: "Wait, you were saying it with a 'u'?"
  • Counting Bullets: Evil Troy does this, badly:
    Evil Troy: I'm counting bullets. And one of us is out.
    Troy: Is it you?
    Evil Troy: ...yes.
    Troy: Why would you tell me that?
    Evil Troy: To sound intimidating.
  • Court-martialed: In the episode "G.I.Jeff", Jeff dreams that he and the rest of the study group are members of G.I. Joe. He gets court-martialed for killing Destro, which is against the Joe team's rules for some reason (though it should be noted that in real life, the way he killed Destro really would be illegal, as it violates the Geneva Convention and is considered a war crime).
  • Crack Pairing:
  • Crazy Workplace: The staff at Greendale Community College are as eccentric as their students, if not more so:
    • Dean Pelton is an eccentric “pansexual imp” with a love for wearing extravagant costumes for any reason, and who is generally somewhat competent at running a community college.
    • Señor Chang is a semi-psychotic Spanish teacher with fake credentials and no social skills, who ends up going from teacher to student to head of security to evil overlord to janitor to teacher again across 6 seasons.
    • Vice Dean Labourne of the air conditioning repair school is the latest of a conspiracy that has purportedly lasted since Ancient Egypt dedicated to the ideals of the superiority of air conditioning repair.
    • When Jeff Winger becomes a professor, he’s just as snarky and maladjusted as he was as a student, only with more day drinking.
    • Elroy Patashnik is brought on in Season 6, a semi-cantankerous old guy who lives in his RV and created an entire VR world in the 90s because he thought a simple desktop was too inelegant.
  • Create Your Own Villain:
    • The Study Group's treatment of Chang during season two can be seen as the reasons behind his descent into madness and outright villainy during season three.
    • As lampshaded several times throughout the season, Pierce becoming more and more antagonistic to the Study Group over the course of season two was in large part prompted by the Study Group's poor treatment of him, which was in turn prompted by Pierce's jerkassery in the first place.
  • invokedCreator Breakdown: Parodied when Vaughn breaks up with Britta, he cowrites a song called "Getting Rid of Britta" that consists of the refrain "She's a GDB" sung multiple times.
    • In Documentary Filmmaking Redux Dean Pelton completely breaks down trying to film a commercial for Greendale, and warps the entire school around, canceling all classes. Abed decided to document the whole thing because he predicted this would happen. The whole episode is a parody of Hearts of Darkness, which gets lampshaded repeatedly.
    Abed: The Dean is going insane and taking all of you with him.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • The season 1 finale has Dean Pelton mention a nominee for Queen of the Transfer Dance called Danielle Harmon.
    • Dan Harmon can be seen on the far right of the "old-timey" photograph at the end of "Introduction to Bondage and Beta Male Sexuality," just before the camera zooms in on the left side.
    • Harmon's face is used in the season 3 illustration of English Memorial, the Portuguese sailor who was looking for a fountain that cures syphilis.
    • Harmon performs the legal disclaimer at the end of the Season 6 finale.
  • Creator Thumb Print: All the '80s references from Abed. He doesn't seem to make many from either earlier or later than the '80s.
  • Cutaway Gag: The show used a number of them from time to time, increasing through the third season before backing off. The Tag (typically with Troy and Abed) tended to be an interchangeable joke that could be paired with any episode. An episode in the third season based itself around them, where flashbacks feature Jeff giving a "Winger Speech" over out-of-context adventures that we hadn't seen in previous episodes.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • The group sets up a D&D game to make Fat Neil feel better in "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons."
    • Garrett's wedding, in which he actually gets some dramatic lines, and the actor gets to play two roles.
    • "Economics of Marin Biology" is the closest Magnitude got to one.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Jeff Winger, the protagonist.
    • Britta Perry, as well. Perhaps even more so.
    • And Abed when he goes into "sarcasm mode".
  • Debut Queue:
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Pierce is pretty much a walking deconstruction of the "wacky old person" character. His attempts at humor end up being offensive, his insensitivity makes him seem like a jerkass, any slapstick involving him ends in injury due to his old age, and while his memory loss is usually Played for Laughs, at one point the study group takes advantage of it so they can cover up forgetting his birthdaynote .
    • The episode "Studies in Modern Movement" deconstructs the Loony Friends part of the Loony Friends Improve Your Personality trope. After the strait-laced Annie agrees to move in with the eccentric Troy and Abed, she tries to go along with their zany antics and off-the-wall kookiness, but gradually gets more and more frustrated with their eccentricity and the selfishness, obliviousness, and annoying behaviour it leads to. The point is clearly made that while the Loony Friends may seem cool, wacky and fun in short doses and from a distance (such as the twenty-odd minutes you spend watching them on television), if you had to spend any meaningful amount of time up-close and personal with them they'd quickly become insufferably selfish and annoying if they weren't willing to tone things down a bit.
    • Episodes like "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" and "Virtual Systems Analysis" do this to the Meta Guy with Abed, showing that rather than being a charming, in-control, Deadpan Snarker, they really act like an inconsiderate and manipulative person to be around, not to mention detached to the point of delusion.
  • Deconstruction:
    • Both "Documentary" episodes deconstruct documentaries (and 'Mockumentaries' based on the documentary format), suggesting that for all that documentary makers try to remain objective and present the 'real' events as they occur without interference, the very act of filming random events and building a narrative around them is inherently artificial, and that remaining objective and watching people and events deteriorate around you might do more harm than good.
    • Jeff's relationship with Britta in season one could be deconstructed in terms of the Official Couple/Belligerent Sexual Tension trope. Instead of truly falling in love, they spent most of the time snarking at each other and competing with each other, to the point where everyone was complaining about in "Modern Warfare." Speaking of which, they finally slept with each other, only to go back to snarky arguments and competition. In the finale, Britta's war with Jeff's ex led to her blurting out that she loved him (the season two premiere revealed that she did not mean it), only for Jeff to leave... and kiss Annie. In short, relationships that are based mainly around snide arguments are likely to be at the very least a bit messed up.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Many classic sitcom plots and conventions are deconstructed throughout the show.
  • Demoted to Extra: Pierce gradually had less and less to do in any given episode, or would have a subplot by himself, due to Chevy Chase's noted difficulties with the show and the grueling schedule. By the fourth season he was outright missing from several episodes, and left the show after a cameo in the fifth season premiere.
  • Denser and Wackier: Progressively throughout the first three seasons, before reaching a new level in Season 4 (which becomes so outlandish that characters in-universe refer to it as the "gas leak year"). Dialed back to Season 2-level goofiness in Season 5, and then again in Season 6.
  • Depending on the Writer: Pierce. He's been portrayed as an unapologetically sexist and racist borderline sociopath, a insensitive but ultimately well-meaning lonely old man, and everywhere in between.
  • Diegetic Visual Effects: When Abed and Troy attempt a "Freaky Friday" Flip (appropriately while holding a copy of the film), the lights begin flickering crazily. A maintenance guy flips them back on and apologizes for the routine light switch check.
  • Dine and Dash: When Abed and Troy dine in a fancy restaurant in The Tag of "Critical Film Studies", they discover that the price is ridiculously high and make a run for it.
Troy: It said market price. What market are you shopping at?
  • The Diss Track: After breaking up with Britta, Vaughn makes an insulting song about their relationship and performs it in front of the entire school. Later, he does the same with Pierce, who had joined his band only for the two to have a falling out. In The Tag of that episode, Pierce is shown writing a diss track directed at Vaughn. Vaughn finds out and vows to make yet another diss track.
  • Doctor Whomage: The Show Within a Show Inspector Spacetime is basically just a bizarro universe copy of Doctor Who. Apparently within the Community universe, Doctor Who does still exist, but only as the less-popular ripoff of Inspector Spacetime.
  • Documentary Episode: Abed tries his hand at making a documentary of Pierce's supposed dying days in "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking". He returns to the format for a Hearts of Darkness-style look at filming a new commercial for Greendale in "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux", an investigation of "Changnesia" in "Advanced Documentary Filmmaking", and a wedding the study group attends in "Wedding Videography".
  • Double Standard: If a guy in the show wants casual sex, he's shamed for it when a relationship gets serious. This happened with Jeff and Troy in two different seasons, with Britta in all cases of irony. in contrast, when a woman wants casual sex, she's not judged for it unless said relationship messes with friendship dynamics. Britta regularly hits on Abed and Troy's gaming buddies, and the duo is more annoyed about how Britta reveals uncomfortable truths about said men.
  • Downer Ending: Parodied and played straight in "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics." The episode is a sorta funny episode trying to discover the identity of the Ass Crack Bandit. Then we find out Pierce is dead. The episode concludes on the characters deciding the Ass Crack Bandit isn't as important as Pierce. The end card says that Greendale is lying about the identity of the Ass Crack Bandit, they let Star Burns take the fall in exchange for paying for his weed, and the real guy is still free. It ranges on Sudden Downer Ending on top of a Downer Ending.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Annie had an Adderall addiction and Pierce was on painkillers; both spent time in rehab for it. Also the message of the play the group puts on in "Celebrity Pharmacology 212."
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe, a few times.
    • Troy, to Chang, when he calls Troy and Shirley dirty.
    • Chang, to Pierce, when he says, "Hm, Asian, can't drive, can't direct."
  • Dump Them All: The season one has Jeff torn between Britta and Professor Slater. He essentially chooses this option when he decides to leave as opposed to making any decisions.
  • Dysfunction Junction
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Early episodes came across like high quality short films, The first two episodes of the show include pop songs on the soundtrack to give it more of a college movie vibe. They also featured more outdoor sequences and the main courtyard is the center of Greendale activities. Jeff was the central character and the stories largely involved him interacting with the other cast one-on-one. Over time it became more of an ensemble and the budget of the show leaned more into the existing sets (seasons four and five used almost exclusively the study room and cafeteria).
    • While the show could be self-referential, as the Meta Guy Abed referenced The Breakfast Club repeatedly in the first episode, but there was no big Genre Shift driving the stories. The Affectionate Parody or High Concept episodes started near the end of the season with "Contemporary American Poultry" and Mafia movies like Goodfellas, and cemented two episodes later with the Die Hard-esque "Modern Warfare." By season three the majority of the episodes were a parody of a specific genre.
    • The first season deals more heavily with Jeff's transition from lawyer to student, and the group is fairly unfamiliar with each other. By the second season, Jeff is comfortably a student and the group members are true companions, plus or minus Pierce.
    • Early episodes present Annie as a dowdy nerd while Britta is the most desirable woman in the group, and Jeff's primary motivation in the pilot is to hook up with Britta. Before long, the roles had been reversed, with Britta becoming the Butt-Monkey of the group (including jokes about her appearance), while Annie becomes more and more of a Ms. Fanservice with a longstanding Will They or Won't They? with Jeff.
  • Earth Day Episode: In the B-plot of the first season episode "Environmental Science", Dean Pelton announces they are becoming more environmentally conscious and changing their name to Enviro-Dale. Starburns immediately points out they're already named Greendale.
  • Easter Egg:
  • Eating the Eye Candy: When Jeff and the Pool Professor strip nude during their showdown the entire study group averts their eyes, except Annie who sneaks a few dozen peeks, the Dean, and Abed.
  • End-of-Episode Silliness: Almost every episode ends with a final scene. Sometimes these scenes have some connection to an aspect of the episode. Usually, they will involve Troy and Abed.
  • Enhanced Punch: The fictional superhero Kickpuncher uses cybernetics to give his punches the strength of kicks. It makes exactly as much sense as it sounds.
  • Ensemble Cast: While originally intended to be Jeff-centric, the show regularly gives A-stories to other characters in the study group.
  • Epic Fail: Several instances, which is only natural for a sitcom. The Dean is the main perpetrator of this. The STD fair and Greendale commercial are only a few of several examples.
  • Everybody Is Single: The study group at the start of the series.
  • Everyone Is Christian at Christmas:
    • Notably averted in "Comparative Religion." Fed up with the Dean's pushing an inclusive, nondenominational holiday, Shirley organizes an overtly religious Christmas party - then is surprised to find she's the only Christian in the group. Annie is Jewish, Abed is Muslim, Britta is an atheist, Jeff is agnostic (called "lazy man's atheist"), Pierce is in a New Age cult calling itself Buddhist, and Troy is a Jehovah's Witness (technically Christian but doesn't observe Christmas).
    • Carried over in the third season's "Regional Holiday Music" where Troy is slated to spend the day with his family that pointedly doesn't observe Christmas. Shirley plans to gift her "persuadable Jewish friends" with a surprise visit from her pastor, but Annie plans to observe her people's custom of spending the day at the movies with her 'bubbie'.
  • Evil Counterpart: City College, complete with a pretty gay dean.
  • Evil Is Hammy:
    • Chang, when he's acting as an antagonist, has a penchant for chewing the scenary, such as in Season 1 Episode 23 Modern Warfare when he enters the paintball game, first shooting up the study room with a bright orange rifle before dramatically drawing his golden pistols and taunting Jeff and Britta.

  • Fake Guest Star: Outside of the original Study Group, the only other people who were eventually added to the opening credits as the show progressed were Ken Jeong and Jim Rash. As a result, several cases of this resulted.
    • Jim Rash was actually one of these himself before his Promotion to Opening Titles in Season 3. He is listed as a guest star in the first two seasons despite appearing in almost every episode and often driving the plot. He even had the first lines of dialogue in the Pilot.
    • Jonathan Banks and John Oliver are listed as guest stars in Season 5, making them the only members of the Save Greendale Committee to have this happen. This comes in spite of them both being featured on the promotional poster for the season with the rest of main cast. Additionally, Jonathan Banks appears in all but two episodes of the season.
    • Paget Brewster and Keith David are only credited as guest stars in season 6, though they appear in most of the episodes (in Brewster's case, all 13 episodes of the season; David appeared in all but the premiere).
  • Fake–Real Turn: The study group, after the pilot episode.
  • Fake Texting: Jeff is an aloof cool guy who is frequently seen texting throughout the first three seasons. When he finally encounters his father in the fourth, he reveals that there was no one on the other end and has been texting nobody.
  • Faking the Dead: Starburns. Evil Pierce is also revealed to have done this in an imaginary scenario in the season 4 finale.
  • Family of Choice: The study group evolves into a close-knit, if occasionally dysfunctional, family unit over the course of the series. They frequently spend birthdays, holidays, vacations, and weekends together and turn to each other in moments of crisis. It's gradually revealed that this is most likely because they're all alienated from or at odds with their relatives. Jeff's father left when he was young and it's implied that he's stopped talking to his mother because he's too ashamed to admit that he lost his job. Abed's mother also walked out on their family to start a new one, and he's had a strained relationship with his father ever since. Annie's parents cut her off after she went to rehab because they didn't want to acknowledge that she had a problem. Britta has deliberately estranged herself from her parents due to their overly strict treatment of her when she was growing up. Shirley's family took Andre's side over hers in the divorce and she doesn't get along with her in-laws even after they reconcile. Pierce's mom dies early in Season 2, he hates his verbally and emotionally abusive dad, and he has seven failed marriages behind him. Troy's parents are divorced and his dad made him move out in favor of his much younger girlfriend.
  • Fanservice:
    Jeff: "Eventually you reach a point of diminishing returns on the sexiness."
    Annie: "What's a diminima-mya-mya?"
  • Fanservice Faux Fight: Buddy's Self-Serving Memory of Britta and Annie in cheerleader outfits fighting over a bra that neither one has in a kiddie pool filled with whipped cream, which he states afterwards "may have been a dream."
  • Feedback Rule: Whenever a character grabs a microphone, there's a good chance it will give off feedback before working correctly.
  • Female Rockers Play Bass: Vaughn's band, which has the classic five-person rock band composition of lead singer, guitarist, bassist, drummer, and keyboardist, has a female bassist as the only girl. She doesn't get any lines and is in the periphery of most shots.
  • Fetishes Are Weird: In "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism", Troy, Abed, and Annie's unkempt manchild of a landlord is revealed to have a foot fetish in just about the creepiest way possible: the trio uncover a closet full of shoes stolen from the building's female residents. Everyone is extremely squicked out by this revelation, and Annie remarks to Officer Cackowski that she doesn't feel safe living in the same building as the guy.
  • Fictional Board Game: The final episode ends with a commercial for a board game based on the show which remarks on the show's Better Than a Bare Bulb tendencies. The commercial shows a family of three playing the game and the son producing a special item, the script for the very commercial they're shooting. The father then reprimands the "stupid child" (his words) for proving they don't exist.
  • Final Season Casting: While the first four seasons featured the entire Study Group, the show saw Pierce, Troy, and Shirley leave respectively before, during, and after season 5. The show made up for it by integrating into the group first Buzz Hickey and the returning Ian Duncan in season 5, then Frankie Dart and Elroy Patashnik in season 6, along with giving more focus to Ben Chang and Dean Pelton.
  • Fire Means Chaos: In Timeline 5 during the episode "Remedial Chaos Theory", a nasty case of Disaster Dominoes strikes everyone in the apartment while Troy is away to get some pizza. Sometime later, Troy cheerfully steps in with a stack of pizza boxes in his arms only to find the apartment on fire, Pierce with a gunshot wound on his leg, and a creepy troll doll staring right back at him.
  • Flanderization: To the extent that "Repilot" addressed it on-screen.
    • Britta's Soapbox Sadie aspect was increased to the point of being a Straw Character, where she'll actively contradict herself within the same conversation just to be Anti-something; at the same time, Britta moved from being The Straight Man to a more sympathetic character, before eventually regressing into the Study Group's resident airhead.
    • Abed was originally portrayed where his massive knowledge of movies and tv shows was how he interacted with and understood the world, filtering the events of the episode through a pop culture reference. A number of times he would learn that the situation is either not as applicable as he thinks it is or that he missed the original point of what he was referencing. In later seasons he is pathologically dependent on movies and tv shows in order to function at all, and his Meta Guy status almost reaches Medium Awareness of Community the actual show.
    • Pierce started out as a misanthropic, bigoted, but generally kind of harmless and Grumpy Old Man, even with occasional hints of a well-buried heart of gold. By Season 2 he's evolved into an overtly evil Manipulative Bastard who plays elaborate, cruel mind games with his only friends, gleefully abuses a suicidal classmate, and shows very little regard for anything except himself and his status in the group. Season 3 dialed him back towards his Season 1 persona, before Season 4 flanderized his Racist Grandpa side resulting in him becoming an extreme racist. The extent of the racism caused Chevy Chase to blow up on the set and quit the show. Season 5 settles on his season 1 and 3 treatment, as a misguided Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
    • Dean Pelton begins the show as a fairly incompetent administrator with an inferiority complex about Greendale. His campiness and sexual eccentricity, first hinted at in episode four when he makes a Freudian slip about "going both ways," gets quickly ratcheted up to him being a pansexual freak who is obsessed with outrageous costumes and stalks Jeff shamelessly. His habit of dropping "dean" into every conversation also starts in episode four and quickly becomes one of his major running gags.
    • Shirley and her Christianity. Every season she becomes more and more of a hypocritical Christian fundamentalist. Her high-pitched, lilting sing-song voice also becomes much more pronounced after a while.
    • Annie moved from being a driven young woman to an "Awwwwww" machine. Her crush on Jeff also moved from merely being a smaller aspect of her character to one of the more notable parts of Annie's identity. Season 5 dials her back to her original characterization whilst also having her undergo Character Development to become a more assertive and confident adult. Her Ship Tease with Jeff is also minimized quite a bit.
    • Chang becomes crazier with each passing season, to the point that Season 5 opens with Chang himself outright admitting to it and moving back towards his Season 1 persona.
    • Troy and Abed go from being merely being best friends, to so codependent on one another that Abed literally can't function without Troy. Individually, Troy becomes dumber and more immature, whilst Abed goes from being a reasonably functioning adult to suffering a mental breakdown over his favorite TV show being delayed to mid-season. Season 3 also has him moving from being a pop-culture encyclopedia to being almost entirely hung up on Inspector Spacetime, the in-universe Doctor Who.
    • The Season 5 premiere addresses this, with Jeff pointing out how Britta went from being a socially-conscious anarchist to the show's Butt-Monkey, how Troy had his entire identity consumed by his relationship with Abed, and so on.
  • Foe Romantic Subtext: Exaggerated with Dean Spreck and Dean Pelton.
  • Food Slap:
  • Foreshadowing:
    • After the revelation that Abed can see the show's Plot Twists coming, he demonstrates Jeff's character trait of actually being bothered by things he pretends not to by showing a clip where he gets distraught that Pierce is at the top of the class. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Pierce is actually a genius.
    • In "Advanced Criminal Law", Pierce writes a song about life at Greendale which mentions "taking air conditioner repair", a major plot thread of Season 3.
    • In "Football, Feminism, and You", Troy tells Jeff that he should accept what he's good at and maybe take a pottery class.
    • In "Introduction to Statistics", when he notices Pierce taking his medication, Abed tells him a story about his grandpa hallucinating from taking the wrong pills. Cue Pierce taking what appears to be the most powerful ecstasy known to man.
    • In "Intro To Political Science", Troy asks Abed "Do you just constantly have your own little side adventures?" to which Abed bluntly replies "Yep", prompting a saddened "Yeah, me too", in a high-pitched voice. Troy feeling inferior to Abed becomes an important point exploited by the vice dean in the third season, during the build-up to the blanketfort vs. pillowfort war.
      • Additionally, one of Annie's campaign promises is that "the assailant known only as the 'Ass Crack Bandit' will be brought to justice." The search for the bandit becomes the subject of "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics" years later, in season 5.
    • In "Aerodynamics of Gender," Abed's Robocop sequences foreshadowed the events of the next several episodes, including the blanket forts, Troy's birthday and the Christmas special. One of his mental notes says "Sell Group on Paintball Sequel." A few episodes later in "Intro To Political Science", the news blurbs mention the dean denying another paintball match and suggesting a "Western-themed end-of-the-year picnic." The two-part finale of the season? A Western-themed paintball adventure.
      • On the opposite side of the screen from the notes during the Robocop sequences are the dates of Britta's, Annie's, and Shirley's menstrual cycles, foreshadowing the events of the very next episode.
    • In "Epidemiology" Troy becomes the hero and saves the day by lowering the temperature of the air conditioning to get everyone to collectively snap out of their zombie state which foreshadows his affinity for fixing air conditioning units.
    • In "Cooperative Calligraphy", Britta comments that Jeff usually wears different boxers - only Abed catches her use of "usually." He is later the first to figure out that they've been having secret sex in "Paradigms of Human Memory."
    • In "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design, Troy ponders his and Abed's growing blanket fort, musing "When does a fort stop being a fort?", to which Abed replies "Hey, as long as it's still made out of blankets, right?" A season later, when revisiting the idea, his stance on the importance of sticking to a single building material for their fort ends up leading to a civil war and serious conflict between the two.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Jeff and Shirley realize that when they were children Shirley humiliated him in a game of foosball. Jeff moved away soon after and they did not meet again until they were adults. The humiliation turned Jeff into the Jerk with a Heart of Gold he is today and Shirley's Heel Realization made her a very passive person.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: The show has established a ratio of doing this once every three episodes (or so), a few examples include mafia movies, action movies, space movies, zombie movies, conspiracy movies, claymation, mockumentary, and Westerns.
  • Foul Cafeteria Food: A general consensus that chicken fingers, which always run out, are the only edible food the school cafeteria serves leads the study group to create a crime family centered around the chicken fingers.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: More than one of each type:
    • Sanguine: Shirley, Pierce, and Pelton
    • Choleric: Annie and Chang (when he has power, at least)
    • Melancholic: Britta, Duncan, and Abed
    • Phlegmatic: Jeff and Troy
  • Freudian Trio - Troy, Abed and Annie since they started living together.
    • 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!
    • Ego: Troy
    • Superego: Abed — Logical and uptight.
  • Friendless Background: Most of the study group:
    • In "Pillows and Blankets", Troy sends a vicious text message to Abed saying that "we all know I was your first friend."
    • Pierce had been attending Greendale for over ten years, but it would seem that the study group are the first meaningful connection he's made.
    • Jeff's line of career makes it pretty obvious that he never had anyone he trusted or cared about in his firm.
    • Chang, for obvious reasons: he's pretty much insane. Despite his efforts, though, he never makes it into the study group.
    • Britta 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.
    • Annie was the bullied awkward nerdy girl at school.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang:
    • Shirley and Troy didn't have a B-Plot together until the fourth season. Yvette-Nicole Brown (Shirley's actress) noted this in the DVD commentary for a season three episode where Troy gave a heartfelt goodbye to Shirley, although the two never spent time together on-screen. They also rarely spoke to one another directly even when the group was all together around the study room. This could be read as an attempt to avert having the only two African-American members of the group hang out all the time, except that it's gone a bit far the other way.
    • Shirley and Jeff intentionally invoke this because it was established in their first episode together that they were really toxic to one another. This is brought to light again in season 2 where the two almost conspired to get Chang imprisoned for the rest of his life. The third season episode "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism" had a Jeff and Shirley pairing that seemed to resolve their issues and later in the season the two spend an episode together without resulting in them becoming horrible people.
    • Also Abed and Pierce haven't spent too much time together, but this seems to be at least partially intentional on Abed's end because, as Abed puts it, he doesn't find Pierce all that compelling as a character.
    • In Season 1's Social Psychology, Abed lampshades the lack of plotlines between him and Annie using Phoebe and Chandler as an example. Although this is somewhat of a parody of the trope seeing as this episode was only the fourth in the entire series. Indeed in the later episodes and seasons Abed probably has the closest relationship with Annie outside of Troy.
  • Friends with Benefits: This eventually becomes the arrangement between Jeff and Britta.
  • From Roommates to Romance: Discussed when Annie moves in with Troy and Abed in "Studies in Modern Movement". Shirley has Friends-related concerns that "cohabitation leads to sex, drugs and something a Parade magazine called Schwimmer-fatigue". However, the three are compatible as roommates and Annie develops a siblinglike relationship with them instead of anything romantic.
  • Front 13, Back 9: there is a very clear shift in tone and characterization after the first half of the first season that persisted for the rest of the show's run, making the first half come off as particularly rough.
  • Funny Background Event: Usually provided by Abed.
    • Including, in "The Psychology of Letting Go", an entire funny background storyline. While the main plot of the episode takes place, Abed can frequently be seen in the background meeting a pregnant woman, getting in a fight with her boyfriend, and finally delivering her baby.
    • In "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas," a blink and you'll miss it moment when the group is in the Christmas world. As Abed is talking to the group, a snowman can be seen looking at the group from behind a tree. In the real, non-stop-motion world, this would be Chang staring at the group from outside the study room.
  • Fun with Foreign Languages:
    • In the pilot, this is combined with My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels when Jeff is trying to sell Britta on the idea that he's a Spanish tutor. When challenged to say precisely that in Spanish, he gives a supremely confident delivery that the audience (thanks to subtitles) can see is nowhere close. It is, however, in itself coherent Spanish ("I sleep late Spanish. One more hour. Don't scratch my car."), implying that Jeff knows some limited Spanish (but only what he would need to say to interact with hotel maids and valets) and is pulling a minor Batman Gambit on her, knowing full well that she won't understand it. He even includes the word 'Spanish' in Spanish in the middle because that's the one thing she'll be listening for.
    • Subverted when the gang walk out on their Spanish final to go and rescue Annie, and as they're leaving each of them talk to the replacement teacher and each other in perfect Spanish. Pierce, however, brings it back to form.
    • Also Abed talking with his father in Arabicnote  and with Pavel in Polish.
  • Genre Savvy: Being autistic, Abed bases all of his understanding of social interactions on media, and he often states his belief that they're all in a sitcom. Because he actually is in a sitcom, almost all of his predictions and insights turn out to be true.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot:
    • While hypnotising Britta, Pierce tries to coerce her into a hot tub party with himself and her "friend... with lower self-esteem and slightly larger breasts," presumably Annie.
    • In "Early 21st Century Romanticism," Britta kisses Paige (very awkwardly) and is very nearly kissed by Annie.
    • Buddy feels this way about Britta and Annie, daydreaming of them wrestling in whipped cream while wearing cheerleader uniforms over a missing bra.
    • Britta and Annie accidentally put this to good use when raising money for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, as they end up raising most of their money by oil wrestling.
  • Golden Moment: Played straight and subverted frequently.
  • Greeting Gesture Confusion: A UST-filled moment wherein Jeff and Annie alternate trying to hug while the other goes for a handshake, until Jeff decides to pat her head.
  • Group Hug: The study groups does this every few episodes.
    Jeff: Bring it in here you knucklehead!
  • Guilt-Tripping: This is Shirley's go-to move for manipulation early in the series, such as in Comparative Religion, when she attempts to guilt Jeff out of fighting Mike the Bully by invoking the spirit of Christmas, even though it's only December 10th.
  • Gushing About Guest Stars: When LeVar Burton appears, multiple characters claim to be big fans. Justified as the reason he was called was because Troy is such a huge fan that a signed picture of LeVar Burton is his most desired thing in the world.
  • Hair Memento: In the episode "The First Chang Dynasty", Troy agrees to join the Air Conditioning Repair Annex in order for their help in rescuing his friends from Chang. As he says goodbye to his friends at the end of the episode, Britta (with whom there has been some mutual attraction with Troy hinted at in the prior few episodes) gives Troy a lock of her hair as a keepsake. The rest of group grumbles and scowls, lampshading how the gesture is more creepy than anything else to modern audiences.
  • Halloween Episode: "Introduction to Statistics" (Season 1), "Epidemiology" (Season 2), "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps" (Season 3), "Paranormal Parentage" (Season 4).
  • Happily Failed Suicide: Fat Neil in the Dungeons & Dragons episode.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: "Beginner Pottery" is about learning the uncomfortable lesson that you won't necessarily be the best at whatever you put your mind at in Real Life, but it does also note that with determination and perseverance, you can actually improve going forward (as shown by Pierce's Determinator standpoint towards the sailing class) along with taking solace in what you're naturally talented at (as shown with Jeff at the end coming to terms with the fact that he's terrible at pottery).
  • Head Smashes Screen: In the pilot, Shirley makes a light threat that involves grabbing someone's head and pushing it through a jukebox. In "Heroic Origins", it's revealed that she smashed a stripper's face, namely Misty, into a jukebox as retribution for sleeping with Andre.
  • Heel Realization: After getting passive-aggressively scolded by Garrett's mother, the gang realize that they acted atrociously during his wedding ceremony and resolve to be the best wedding reception guests ever.
  • Held Gaze:
    • Between Jeff and Annie, frequently, as part of their UST.
    • In the intro episode for Rachel, Abed's love interest. She notes that these usually happen (appropriately) before The Big Damn Kiss.
    • In the series finale, Jeff and Abed hug as part of their final goodbye, and then share a lengthy, meaningful look. Jeff subsequently gives Abed a second, deeper hug, which Abed reciprocates.
  • Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue":
    • Abed's films about the gang, especially if you actually watch them.
    • Buddy in-universe, but the show is so meta, it's hard to tell how obnoxious he is in the show's universe.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Abed has one in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" after he finds out his mom started a new family.
    • He has a second one in "Biology 101" after all the characters in "Cougarton Abbey" kill themselves after only six episodes. He recovers when Britta shows him Inspector Spacetime.
    • Troy has one in "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" when he meets LeVar Burton in person instead of just getting an autographed picture.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • There's another, apparently cooler study group, which includes Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Starburns and a hot chick. The study group is this to the other students, since everything turns out to be about them.
    • Abed experiences the entire C plot of "The Psychology of Letting Go" in the background.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Abed and Troy. In "Physical Education", they even do The Tag in imitation of this trope and Ho Yay's patron saints, Bert and Ernie.
    Shirley: You don't see me saying anything crazy about Abed and Troy's weird little relationship.
    Both: They're just jealous.
  • Hidden Depths: Several although the most surprising examples are probably the moments when resident jackass Pierce gives Jeff some insight into a given episode's moral.
    • Pierce did hand out useful advice to Shirley on how to give a class presentation.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: The DVD Extras for every season include what are often lengthy behind the scenes bloopers. Recurring themes include Alison Brie's terrible freestyle rapping, constant Black Comedy Rape bits involving Brie, Donald Glover & Joel McHale in particular, Ken Jeong ruining takes because he can't stop laughing, everyone making fun of Chevy Chase and Don Glover imitating other members of the cast & crew to make Yvette Nicole Brown laugh.
  • Hollywood Board Games: In "Basic Genealogy", Pierce and co. play a game of Pictionary, with the cue being "windmill". Matching the sitcom's customary Black Comedy and in a justified case for it, Pierce's drawing resembles a swastika. This derails into a fistfight with a rabbi who gets understandably offended by it. The cop that arrests them thinks Pictionary should ban the abovementioned cue.
  • Hollywood Law: Although state laws vary, there really isn't a situation in which a practicing attorney would be forced to reacquire his bachelor's degree to continue practicing law. To stop him from practicing, he'd have to be disbarred.
  • Hollywood Psych: An interesting case of this actually. There are several instances of this in the show, but they're all facts stated by people who are clearly incompetent and ignorant. This is most likely done on purpose.
  • Hot for Teacher:
    • Jeff, in one of the rare examples where the student is older than the teacher.
    • Professor Duncan assumes Annie is hitting on him before she even asks him anything, then immediately rates her an 8 (which is "a British 10")
  • A House Divided: A recurring theme is the in-fighting when they were supposed to be reaching a common goal.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • "Social Psychology": After ranting — at length — about a student evaluation feedback card he received, how hurtful and racist it was, and the lengths he went to in order to discover who the evaluator was:
      Señor Chang: [To Annie, very very creepily] Who's erratic and unstable now, Princess Gringa? [Kisses her on the forehead]
    • "Advanced Criminal Law":
      Britta: You know I have a problem with dishonesty!
      Jeff: You're on trial for cheating!
      Señor Chang: That's right, we are mature! Too mature to sit in a class with a cheating, lying poop face!
    • "Environmental Science":
      Annie: Britta, Jeff suffered for us, give him a little credit.
      Troy: Yeah, you can be pretty cold.
      Abed: (in the distance) Troy?
      Troy: Damn. Here comes Abed. He needs my help- I gotta get out of here.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Most episodes have a name like a community college course (Intro to ______, _______ 101, etc.), sometimes referring to the actual class that the study group is taking and other times referring to the life lessons they learn.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: The show blends this with Grand Romantic Gesture. Both Britta and Slater admit that they are interested in Jeff and end up openly competing for his attention, turning it more into a game of chicken with how far the other will go. Britta decides to get the attention of the entire end-of-semester dance and make a big public announcement that she loves Jeff, and then Slater does the same. Jeff is actually put off by how badly this situation has turned and retreats from both of them. Later, Jeff learns that the school thinks of him as the bad guy in the situation and he tries getting back at Britta by making a similar big declaration of love, expecting her to turn him down. THAT ends up backfiring as Britta responds in kind and they spend the afternoon as a couple doing a weird mix of Sickeningly Sweethearts and Slap-Slap-Kiss (literally, their kisses almost look like headbutts), and the whole thing implodes on itself.
  • Improbably Predictable: Abed is so good at predicting his friends' responses that he can mimic them while they're talking and his videos foretell the future. Season 3 shows his predictions aren't as accurate as they seem.
  • Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Done repeatedly with Dean Pelton.
  • Informed Poverty:
    • The college itself. Despite their atrocious reputation and numerous alleged problems, their campus is large and well-maintained, and they have lots of money to use on various plot-relevant events (including redoing 5,000 posters, a paintball match, and a large statue, just to name a few). Later in the shows run this is justified by the introduction of the air conditioning repair school, which rakes in massive amounts of funding.
    • The show makes infrequent references to the fact that some characters have trouble making rent due to most of them being unemployed students. Jeff has difficulties maintaining his apartment in season 1. Troy needs to stay at Pierce's house for a season. Annie lives in a bad area and moves in with Troy and Abed in season 3. In spite of that, however, the gang always seems to have plenty of money to spend on their hijinks.
  • Internal Deconstruction: In "Studies in Modern Movement," the show points out that Troy and Abed are the funniest guys to be around... In small doses. Living with them while they act out a usual side plot from an episode is very not fun.
    • The third season has also done a bit of a deconstruction of Jeff and Abed respectively; Jeff's role as Standardized Leader is being examined and his snide, aloof snarkiness has been shown to be concealing a rather messed-up person underneath, while Abed's mental issues have been put under a spotlight to reveal him to be not just a cool, in-control Meta Guy but an inconsiderate, damaged and controlling person to be around sometimes.
    • Greendale itself faced massive deconstruction in the season five premiere, where the school faced major criticism for ruining the group's lives. Basically, it is a look at what happens when a school acts ridiculous instead of ensuring that people actually learn.
    • Season six goes even further and deconstructs the series as a whole. For the first five seasons, the theme has always been that Greendale is a sort of dysfunctional haven where broken people can go to heal themselves through The Power of Friendship. Season six has a running theme that the danger with such a haven can easily turn into a way of avoiding reality instead of preparing for it and that sooner or later, you need to learn to stand on your own two feet.
  • Intimate Artistry: Parodied. One episode opens with Abed and Annie (who are not in a relationship) filming a overly-sentimental morning encounter where they express their love for each other. When they are discovered, they mention that they are filming the encounter for if Annie ever disappears and they hold a news press conference where they present the overly-sentimental footage.
  • Irony: Rich is supposed to be better than Jeff at everything. Greg Cromer, who plays Rich, was the runner-up for the role of Jeff.
  • I Think You Broke Him:
    • Abed reacts this way to a hangover in "Communication Studies."
      Abed: The last thing I remember is... you were dancing like that girl in the movie... The kids in detention?
      Jeff: The Breakfast Club.
      Abed: Dear god... What have you done to me?
    • Lampshaded by Abed, who uses this trope for his own means to end a conversation with Chang in "Asian Population Studies"
      Abed: It's a mixer, it's a mixer, it's a mixer... [Chang walks away] Works every time.
    • The premise for "Virtual Systems Analysis." Annie breaks Abed and has to find/fix him again.
  • It's Always Spring: The weather is almost always sunny and mild at Greendale, even during times of the year when Colorado would be a lot colder than, say, Southern California.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Although Jeff and Pierce are probably the most obvious examples, pretty much all of the main characters have both their jerk sides and their hearts of gold (albeit to varying degrees).
  • Jumping the Shark:
    • Lampshaded. Many fans consider "Modern Warfare" to be the best episode yet. In the second season Abed has shirts and hoodies made up to give as souvenirs to the people who took part in the paintball game; on the back is printed "It's all downhill from here." invoked
    • Invoked by Abed. Troy immediately complains that the trope-naming episode of Happy Days was the best one.

  • Lampshade Hanging: Everywhere.
    • In Cooperative Calligraphy, Jeff explicitly says:
      Jeff: Gwenifer! Hi, yeah, it's me, I can't make it. Well, tell your disappointment to suck it; I'm doing a Bottle Episode!
    • Examples of tropes not yet covered by this website, but employed and then lampshaded by the show:
      • It is revealed to the audience that Troy is in a dance class when he suddenly and dramatically tears off clothes to reveal tights underneath. Later, when encouraged of the positives if he were to reveal his dancing secret to the group, he notes "I have been spending a lot on tear-away clothing."
      • In the first season finale, Britta is taking therapy with Professor Duncan. She has automatically lain down on the couch for the session, which Duncan notes is how one would act "in a Woody Allen movie" and is unnecessary.
    • Jeff will sometimes yell at Abed for using meta-humor, which is itself meta-humor.
      Jeff: Abed, stop being meta! Why do you always have to take whatever happens to us and shove it up its own ass?
    • In "Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts", Neil and Vicki mention how everything at Greendale seems to revolve around the study group.
    • Much later on, in "Basic Crisis Room Decorum", new recurring character Dave tells Vicki that he's excited to be getting called up more by the Save Greendale Committee. Vicki, having more experience with them, says that they'll be lucky to get in three words before they're interrupted, whereupon she's interrupted and neither of them get any more lines.
  • Large Ham:
    • Jack Black as Buddy.
    • Señor Chang's defining character-trait.
  • Last-Second Word Swap:
    • Season 4 episode 9 Intro To Felt Surrogacy
      Annie: So nobody else heard my terrible secret about how I... trail off from time to time?
    • Season 2 episode 18 Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy
      Britta: What? He asked me out.
      Troy: You're not allowed.
      Britta: Not allowed?
      Troy: You'll ruin him.
      Britta: Ruin him?
      Troy: Stop repeating.
      Britta: Stop re... Premanding me.
    • Subverted and lampshaded in "Comparative Religion":
      Shirley: What is going on?
      Troy: We're trying to get Jeff ready for the fi-iiiiiii.... iiiighhhh... t. (whispers) I couldn't think of another word.
      Jeff: Idiot. He meant we were figh- ...ting. It is hard to think of another word.

    • Played straight a couple of times in "Physical Education":
      Annie: It's just like The Notebook- except, instead of Alzheimers, Abed has—
      Shirley: (Mm-hmm!)
      Annie: —someone who... likes him.
      (next scene)
      Troy: Abed, for guys like you, this kind of opportunity only comes around once in a li- (looks at Shirley) ...while.

    • Played straight once in "Basic Rocket Science":
      Britta: During high school field trips, we used to sneak in there and get— (glances at Shirley) praying.
      Shirley: That's nice!
    • It is unclear when it comes to Troy finding out that Jeff and Britta had sex on the study room table. He starts with what seems to be an agonized "AAAAH!" with Annie and Pierce, then finishes it out as "AAAWESOME!" It's unclear whether he was planning that word from the beginning.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The season two DVD packaging reveals the (admittedly minor) spoiler that for much of the season, Shirley is pregnant.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The two final seasons have it in spades:
    • The original study group progressively dwindles from seven members to four (notably, the geek duo of Troy and Abed is broken up with only Abed remaining). The group also becomes the "Save Greendale Committee", and contains both students and faculty members.
    • Prominent villain Ben Chang undergoes a Heel–Face Turn, save for one last relapse, and becomes an official member of the group.
    • The final season has a format change (longer and slower-paced episodes and ending credits being shown after tags, and not during them, just like in the pilot) , and the show's wackiness is toned down.
  • Latex Perfection: Chang attempts to reveal he is wearing a latex mask during the Season 5 finale, but he actually isn't.
  • Laughing Mad: Chang after losing the Pop 'N Lock contest, which the study group doesn't care about.
    Dean: Okay, he's bringing us down. Get him out of here.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Abed mentions that 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." Abed is not featured in the episode after that, except when he avoids talking to the study group and Britta explains, "he's just laying low."
    • In the first episode of the second season, Jeff tells Abed that self-referential humor is "so last season."
    • From the second episode of Season 3: "Abed, I told you, you can't just mumble stuff. Nobody's cutting away!"
  • Lethally Stupid: Dean Pelton bought the bio-hazard material that caused the Zombie Apocalypse in "Epidemiology", thinking they were taco meat containers with goofy labels.
    • Chang almost burnt down Greendale and everyone in it with fireworks in "The First Chang Dynasty" because "fire can't go through doors, stupid; it's not a ghost!
    • Troy and Pierce pulling the hot air balloon's cord before the guide gets in and when they're dangerously high in the air is what got the study group lost in the woods in "Intro to Felt Surrogacy."
  • Like Brother and Sister: Annie was always friendly with Troy and Abed (and was previously in love with the former and briefly attracted to the latter), but the three of them develop a strong siblinglike relationship after Annie moves in with them in the third season. Instead of romantic tension, Annie instead participates in their shenanigans. After Troy is Put on a Bus Annie and Abed are frequently seen together as close roommates; when the two of them search for a replacement roommate, Annie pitches her brother, saying Abed is like a brother to her already.
  • Limited Social Circle: In "Community S3 E03: Competitive Ecology, Annie asks Jeff, "Who the hell are you always texting?! Everyone you know is here! In episode 405, it's revealed he's texting no one.
  • Logo Joke: The first, third and fourth logos at the end are the same on each show (Krasnoff-Foster Entertainment, Universal Media Studios/Universal Television and Sony Pictures Television), but the second states this to be "A Dan Harmon/Russo Brothers...
  • Lonely Bachelor Pad: Overlapping with Feng Schwing, Jeff's apartment is a classic rich man's tasteful bachelor pad, to the point that it looks like it came straight out of a magazine. That means it's rather dull and boring, with almost everything colored some shade of gray. When he hosts a party, Annie comes over early to "help decorate," and within five minutes has filled with place with colorful pillows, curtains, and overall made it look like the well-loved home of a married couple.
  • Lousy Lovers Are Losers: While Jeff seems to be competent at seducing women when he wants to, Britta (the only one of the group who has actually had sex with him) often claims that he's actually incredibly bad in bed. It's implied that it's due to him being self-centered and emotionally closed-off, he only focuses on his own pleasure.
    • In "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons", 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.
    • In "Contemporary Impressionists", Britta says that Jeff is a poor lover due to being emotionally closed off in bed.
    • In "Geothermal Escapism", when Troy asks Britta if he's better at sex than Jeff, she replies she's "yet to have anyone worse".
  • Love Dodecahedron: Just about every possible pairing has been explored with the cast, and when you throw in the supporting cast, it gets complicated.
    • Jeff started the study group to be closer to Britta, who at one point dated Vaughn, then went out with his (former) statistics teacher who he broke up with in "Basic Genealogy."
    • Annie had an intense study session with Jeff when he joined Debate Club, but still had a serious crush on Troy, until she decided to pursue her relationship with Vaughn. Troy apologized for leading Annie on when he announced he had a date with Randy, quickly explaining that Randy can be a girl's name, too, but (due to some interference by Britta and Jeff) became attracted to Annie, who rejects him for Vaughn.
    • Britta claims she doesn't have feelings for Jeff, but choked onstage when she saw him with an "official" girlfriend, Professor Slater, and Troy had to snap her out of it by "being a friend AND a man." A few episodes later, Jeff and Britta hooked up in the middle of an intense paintball game. In the finale of S1, Slater and Britta both declare their love for Jeff, but he leaves and kisses Annie. Annie and Jeff continue to have big-time UST in S2 and a bit in S3 as well.
    • Meanwhile, Jeff and Britta had been hooking up on the down-low throughout S2, which is brought to an end when everyone else finds out.
    • Annie and Abed kiss in the S2 finale, but only because Abed is in character as Han Solo, and once the paintball game is done he drops character and doesn't reference it again, though Annie is still a bit flustered by the experience. The two of them have a couple of nice Ship Tease moments in S3 as well.
    • Meanwhile, Troy and Britta have more and more bonding moments throughout S3, especially in "Origins of Vampire Mythology", which sets Troy up as the sweet, earnest, good guy Britta's never really had in her life. The amount of lingering hugs and longing looks and other such moments between the two of them, especially in the S3 finale, means that they're the closest thing to an actual couple currently in the group. As of Season 4, Britta and Troy are an official couple until they amicably break up in "Basic Human Anatomy."
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Annie when Abed cosplayed as Han Solo, Batman, or Don Draper.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The lyrics to the theme song are surprisingly dark, (e.g. "We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year!" Even the jaunty chorus "I can't count the reasons I should stay / one by one they all just fade away" seems pretty gloomy in the context of being with your friends.
  • MacGuffin:
    • The "MacGuffin Neurological Institute" in the Season 4 episode "Advanced Documentary Filmmaking."
    • Annie's pen in "Cooperative Calligraphy." The pen itself plays no role in the story, and it doesn't even matter that it's a pen. But the need to find it drives the entire plot. (It could just as easily have been a pencil, a roll of tape, a stick of gum, etc., and the episode would have played out exactly the same.)
  • Major Injury Underreaction: When one of Britta's cats bites Chang through his hand in "Lawnmower Maintenance & Postnatal Care", Chang calmly describes how it's happening and how it was a big mistake.
  • Matchmaker Failure:
    • When Annie starts dating Vaughn, both Jeff and Britta are disgusted. They plan to break the two up by encouraging Troy, who Annie had a crush on, to pursue her. The thing is, Annie had gotten over her feelings for Troy and his attempts to pursue her fell flat. This results in both Troy and Annie getting mad at Jeff and Britta. They do succeed in breaking up Annie and Vaughn, but it's only temporary.
    • In another episode, both Annie and Shirley try to set up Abed with girls. Abed doesn't tell his dates about the other as he wants to live out the sitcom cliche of having two dates at the same time. This results in the two girls getting hurt when they find out the truth.
    • In an early episode, the group discovers a picture of Abed with hearts drawn around him in a Spanish textbook. Excited to learn someone has a crush on Abed, the group pushed him to find the girl who drew it and ask her out. It turns out that the girl wasn't drawing a picture of Abed, but her boyfriend who looked like Abed, only white.
  • Meaningful Background Event:
    • In the Bottle Episode, the reveal that it was the monkey who stole the pen seemingly came out of nowhere. Early in the episode, during the shot where Troy says he wants to lick the puppy Dean Pelton is holding, in the background a tiny monkey hand is seen taking the pen off the table. It is very easy to miss.
    • In "The Psychology of Letting Go," the background events tell the story of Abed helping a pregnant woman, getting in an argument with the father, and eventually delivering the baby.
    • In "Introduction to Teaching", the bulletin board in the cafeteria falls from the wall during a riot. Replacing it becomes the focal point of a later episode, "Analysis of Cork-Based Networking."
    • In season one's Christmas episode, "Comparative Religion", Shirley struggles to accept that the other members of the group don't share her faith (and especially has difficulty with Annie's Judaism). At the end of season two's episode, "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas", when Professor Duncan and Dean Pelton are in the foreground doing shots, Shirley can be seen in the background doubling back after the rest of the group has left to grab a menorah, so that Annie's faith can be represented at the gathering in the next scene.
  • Medium Awareness: Abed is teased at being aware that he's in a sitcom, but this is explained as a quirk of his autism. However, because he actually is in a sitcom, he is extremely Genre Savvy.
  • Memetic Badass: In-universe, Jeff Winger and the study group - at least according to the Dean.
  • The Mentally Disturbed: Chang starting in season 2.
  • Mic Drop: Annie Edison finishing her eulogy for Star-Burns. The Dean points out that doing this damages expensive equipment.
  • Milkman Conspiracy:
    • The Greendale AC Repair School. Turns out, their Vice Dean holds more power than Dean Pelton himself (his office is bigger and fancier), and to them the Air Conditioning Repair trade is Serious Business. They also keep close surveillance all over Greendale, and their members reportedly had deadly air conditioning repair competitions (where the loser gets roasted to death in a sealed chamber).
    • To a lesser extent, the Greendale Janitors and Custodians (note that it's not the same thing) turn out to have a hilariously convoluted hierarchy, and they use the most mundane of tasks (like installing a bulletin board) as bargaining chips to ask for bribes and favors.
  • Mistaken for Gay:
    • Pierce thinks both Jeff and Britta are gay.
    • Britta and her "lesbian" friend from "Early 21st Century Romanticism" are both straight, both think that the other is a lesbian, and both only befriended the other so they could feel hip and progressive for having a lesbian friend.
  • Money Dumb: Brita 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.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Inevitable in a series which insists on playing out typical comedy scenarios - but with genuine consequences and character development. For example, the story arc where Pierce gets injured in a wacky accident on a trampoline... which leads to his being forced to wear full casts on both legs for a good portion of the season, and become addicted to painkillers which nearly claim both his friendships and his life.
    • Referenced by name in "Repilot."
  • Moral Myopia:
    • Jeff points this out to Duncan in the pilot episode.
      Jeff: Duncan, you did seem less into integrity the day I convinced twelve of your peers that when you made that U-turn on the freeway and tried to order chalupas from the emergency call box, that your only real crime was loving America."
    • Jeff is being more than a little hypocritical here, given that he's on several occasions a near-perfect example of Moral Myopia. Granted, he is gradually getting better, but even so. One particularly notable example:
      In the Pilot, having spent the entire episode manipulating, lying and cheating the other members of the study group to get what he wants, he's outraged when Britta reveals she's also been lying to him to try and expose him and when Duncan reveals he hasn't given Jeff the test answers he's been demanding throughout the episode.
  • Mortality Phobia: Jeff panics that he is going to die after learning he has high cholesterol.
  • Motive Decay: The original reason the study group was formed was so Jeff could seduce Britta. This premise stopped being mentioned about half way through the first season, and towards the end of the third even the study group was temporarily dropped as an excuse to keep the group together. This does not go without a lampshade for long.
  • Multi-Gendered Outfit: In one episode, Dean Pelton (whose exact sexuality and gender were never fully clarified, but who definitely isn't straight) wears an outfit literally split by gender down the middle.
  • Mr. Fanservice:
    • Jeff. Particularly in that episode when he played pool.
      Jeff: I discovered a new back muscle to work out. Ladies, you'll thank me come tank top season.
    • Troy's Dracula costume (shirtless with a toilet seat cover as a collar and toilet paper cuffs) during season 2's Halloween episode "Epidemiology." Donald Glover running around cracking wise and fighting zombies without a shirt is nothing to complain about.
    • All the guys, except Pierce, stripping down to their underwear in "Cooperative Calligraphy." Especially, and surprisingly, Abed.
  • Ms. Fanservice: As of the season two finale, Britta and Annie have wrestled in whipped cream while wearing cheerleader uniforms (and no bras) and in oil while wearing tight t-shirts. Annie's also been covered in paint - which Alison Brie has referred to as part of Community's plot to cover her in as many different liquids as possible.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • Jeff and Pierce's multi-costumed, multi-propped Spanish presentation, which gets horrified looks from the students and F/F- grades.
    • "Debate 109" gives this treatment to debating club.
    • "Somewhere Out There"/Shirley's Public Speaking Speech/Chang's Irish Dancing Montage.
    • The entire episode "Modern Warfare" does this for paintball.
      • "A Fistful Of Paintballs" and "A Few Paintballs More" follow its footsteps.
    • The sailing course from "Basic Pottery" which is treated like a high seas adventure.
    • The entirety of "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" is done in stop-motion, since it's from Abed's perspective.
    • Abed and Troy rapping while inside their blanket fort bedroom in "Regional Holiday Music" get the music video treatment.
    • "Virtual System Analysis" turns Abed and Annie playing and confronting some personal demons in the Dreamatorium into an Inception-esque Mind Screw.
    • "Pillows And Blankets" does to pillow fights what "Modern Warfare" did to paintball.
  • Mushroom Samba: Several season 2 episodes have Pierce overdosing on pain meds and conjuring up a "friend" who's a tiny little airplane pilot (played by Andy Dick).
    • Before that, he had a bad reaction to some ecstasy from Star-Burns.
  • Musical Episode: Regional Holiday Music, possibly the darkest example of one.
    • "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas."
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • In "Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy", Andre talks Shirley and Jeff out of getting Chang put in jail for 20 to life for human trafficking. This comes back to haunt not just the study group, but all of Greendale in season 3 when Chang becomes the Big Bad.
    • Also, Jeff and Shirley mocking Vaughn behind his back led to him attacking Britta in song after he dumped her over their actions.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If Alan hadn't gotten Jeff disbarred, Jeff would've missed the tons of Character Development he went through during his time at Greendale. He manages to top it in "Repilot" by convincing Jeff to go back to his Amoral Attorney ways, which almost led to him manipulating the study group into suing Greendale.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: In the episode "Intro to Documentary Filmmaking", Jeff threatens to and does attack Pierce, resulting in visible injuries.
    Jeff: Oh, I should probably tell you; if you're lying to me, if my father isn't coming, if a car pulls up, and anyone other than my father steps out, say, an actor, you in a wig, if you try to pull any Ferris Bueller, Parent Trap, Three's Company, FX, FX 2: The Deadly Art of Illusion bullshit, I will beat you. And there will be nothing madcap or wacky about it.
  • Noodle Incident: An inverted example. Thanks to Laser-Guided Amnesia, none of the cast can remember the Zombie Apocalypse of Epidemiology, and refer to it as "the Halloween we can't remember."
  • No Sense of Humor: Shirley's Unseen Finnish friend Gary is hated by the group in part because he's a humourless buzzkill.
    Shirley: He grew up in a land without sun!
  • Official Couple: Troy and Britta, as of Season 4.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX:
    • Abed and Troy's Kickpuncher costumes.
    • Also, Abed and Troy's Alien Queen and Power Loader costumes from "Epidemiology." This comes back to bite Troy when he attempts to fight off zombies in the power loader, despite it being made of PVC
      Troy: OK, I don't know why I thought this would work.
  • Old School Introductory Rap:
    • In "Pascal's Triangle Revisited", the very British Prof. Duncan drunkenly bursts on stage to rap "My name is Ian Duncan and I'm here to say, I'm here to rhyme in a rapping way, I have a really big penis and I drink lots of tea...." before getting cut off.
    • In another episode, the Dean (who's desperate to be liked and to be seen as in touch with the urban youths) starts off a meeting with "My name is DJ Dean and I'm here to say, your checks will arrive on another day", but his rap quickly goes off the rails.
  • Omake: Usually non-related to the plot of that episode.
  • Once a Season:
    • A Paintball Episode, after the wild success of the first season episode "Modern Warfare" the second season ended with a two parter. Recognizing diminishing returns, the third and fourth seasons relegated it to minor references and the fifth season didn't feature any paintball playing. The sixth season saw it return with a spy thriller approach.
    • A Documentary Episode done by Abed, especially given that he is involved with the film club. The second season had a psuedo-Mockumentary in the style of The Office as the group try to help Pierce while he is in the hospital. The third season Abed does a documentary on the Dean trying to make a school commercial, quickly going out of control like the production of Apocalypse Now and IT'S famous documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse. There was also a Ken Burns-esque episode exploring the civil war Abed and Troy started over "blanket forts vs. pillow forts." The fourth season Abed does a documentary exploring "Chang-nesia," while the sixth has him do a wedding video.
  • One Head Taller: Jeff is a head taller than both Britta and Annie.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Star-Burns, so named because he shaves his sideburns in the shape of stars. He actually prefers his given name Alex, but nobody calls him that.
    Chang: Silencio, por favor. Star-Burns! That means you.
    Star-Burns: My name's Alex, dude.
    Chang: Well then maybe you should spend five hours every morning carving that into your face.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Britta came off this way early in Season 1, but Characterization Marches On. Jeff likes to think he is this. However, according to the Britta's psych evaluations in Season 3, Abed is the only one of the group who isn't psychologically insane. On the commentary track for that episode, Dan Harmon suggests not reading too much into this, because part of his point was that there is only so much about a person's mental stability you can gather from any multiple-choice test.
    • Whenever he shows up, Shirley's husband Andre comes across as a rather sensible and decent fellow who has plentiful reserves of common sense, in contrast to many of the main characters.
    • Professor Kane acts as this in season three. "I have so many conversations that have no sense."
    • Head Greendale security guard Muniz is the only one to point out that Chang is mentally disturbed, and that enabling him dangerous and unfunny. They should've listened to him.
  • Opaque Lenses:
    • Jeff does this to hide/fight a hangover:
      Britta: Well? did you talk to Chang?
      Jeff: Yeah, but... it didn't do any good. My head still hurts from all the yelling... and my pupils are more sensitive to light because he yelled at me so much.
    • Britta uses them the same way in a later episode. And later that same episode, Jeff and Abed use them... also to hide a hangover.
  • Out of Focus: Aside from her brief turn as a sci-fi dictator, Shirley had basically nothing to do for all of season 5. Lampshaded by her.
  • Out Run The Fireball:
    • Abed (as Batman) dragging Jeff and Pierce out of the library to Out Run The Collapsing Fort Made Out Of Desks in the Halloween Episode.
    • In the end of "Modern Warfare" when Jeff leaps out of the study room to escape the blast from Chang's paint bottle time-bomb.
  • Out with a Bang: Sort of. After Pierce's death his lawyer came with a series of gifts to each of the members of the study group, some were given something a little more specific to the individual (an iPod for Britta, a bottle of scotch for Jeff) but everyone got a frozen vial of Pierce's sperm to do whatever they wanted to with. At the end the group asks how Pierce actually died, and his lawyer said it was dehydration from filling up all those vials.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: During a spirited defense of the Barenaked Ladies, Britta describes them as "the most celebrated Canadian alt-rock band of the mid-nineties".
  • Overused Running Gag: By season 3, paintball episodes. "Curriculum Unavailable" first sets lampshades that paintball's overdone, and then the next paintball episode where they say they "finally figure out how to make paintball cool again" (though opinions are mixed on how successful that was).
  • Paintball Episode: Happens Once a Season. The first season's "Modern Warfare" had an emphasis on Heroic Bloodshed type action. Season two had a two part finale, the first "A Fistful of Paintballs" leaned towards Spaghetti Western while the second was full on Star Wars "For a Few Paintballs More." Season three relegated the paintball elements to just a Flashback while season four had an Imagine Spot in an otherwise unrelated episode, while season five didn't feature one at all. Season six saw it return as a spy thriller "Modern Espionage."
  • Parody Episode: A focal point of the show's humor, starting with the second half of the first season, various episodes devote themselves to being parodies of various genres:
  • Parody Product Placement: In Season 3 the series got sponsortship from Subway but they made a joke of it, showing the corporation is evil manipulative, going so far as to pay a man to change his name to Subway.
  • Phony Degree: Jeff's diploma-mill undergraduate degree.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: For a study group, they don't do that much studying onscreen - which makes sense, since that would most likely be boring and slow. Typical of this show, they lampshade this from time to time, as whenever they are reminded that they have to study, they are reluctant to do so.
  • The Place: The title refers to Greendale Community College.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Although they do feature some Ship Tease moments in episodes like "For a Few Paintballs More", Abed and Annie become this as the show goes. After Troy leaves in the fifth season, this dynamic really ramps up between them, and by the sixth season it's pretty much cemented.
  • Poisoned Drink Drop: A Show Within a Show example with the finale of Cougarton Abbey. The series ends with the characters committing suicide by drinking hemlock. One of the characters drops her drink glass afterwards.
It's also averted in "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps" during Britta's Imagine Spot of a masked psycho murdering the entire study group; Jeff and Pierce both manage to carefully set down their poisoned martinis before succumbing.
  • Political Overcorrectness
    • The Greendale mascot was carefully designed so as not to resemble any specific race or culture; it ended up being called "The Greendale Human Being" and looking like a blind and mute alien.
    • The religiously neutral Mr. Winter costume the Dean comes up with.
    • Pretty much everything involving the Dean is an example of this. Case in point: "Alternative History of the German Invasion" has the Dean slamming on the obnoxious German trio for celebrating Oktoberfest (along with everyone else), because it's their own tradition and therefore a national stereotype.
  • Pokémon Speak:
    • Magnitude, while capable of a full vocabulary, goes to great lengths to limit the majority of his on-camera speech to just repeating "Pop! Pop!" (see video example below)
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure:
    • Occasionally pops up due to the age gaps within the study group (from Pierce to Jeff and Shirley to Annie and Troy) and to a lesser extent due to the race differences:
    • A conversation about the UST between Jeff and Britta:
      Shirley: You remind me of Sam and Diane... I hated Sam and Diane.
      Annie: Who's Sam and Diane?
      Shirley: [furious] Okay, we get it! You're young!
    • When attempting to convince Abed to change his personality in order to help him talk to a girl:
      Abed: You're gonna Can't Buy Me Love me. You know, transform me from Zero to Hero, Geek To Chic?
      Troy: Ohhhhh, he wants us to Love Don't Cost a Thing him.
      Shirley: Ohhh!
      Troy: Can't Buy Me Love was the remake for white audiences.
      Shirley: That's so uncomfortable when they do that, I can't believe it doesn't insult them.
    • One of the 'Study Break' webisodes has the gang decide to play a game while on a study break. Troy, Annie and Abed decide to play 'The Floor Is Lava', Pierce and Shirley break out the cards to play pinochle, and Jeff and Britta find themselves trapped between the two poles. Lampshaded when Jeff dryly taunts Britta by pointing out that "the generation gap is splitting our group — and you're right in the middle of it."
    • Shirley repeatedly makes a point of reminding everyone that she and Jeff are about the same age—she just seems to be further removed in age because of her more old-fashioned, conservative views and the fact that she is a parent while Jeff is not.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: an in-universe (platonic) example in "Trobed."
  • Pose of Silence: Troy leans close to Abed to whisper something, while the rest of the study group is gathered around them. Annie subsequently prompts Abed to reveal what Troy said to him. Turns out, it was, "I know you hate when people do this in movies."
  • Post Modern: The show repeatedly takes dialogue, scenes, shots, premises, and songs directly from other works (about higher education or otherwise) and notes it.
  • 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 is 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. Possibly justified in that he is offered consulting work from his former employer at the beginning of Season 2. Between season four and five, 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 six 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 has never been elaborated on. Some fans jokingly think she works at Dildopolis, the sex toy store below her apartment. In season 3, she begins living in Troy and Abed's apartment.
    • Shirley, as a single mother, presumably received 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.
    • Chang in Season Two. It's doubtful the school was paying him to show up to classes, given how grievous his resume-falsifying was, and he flat-out tells Jeff that his wife kicked him out in "Early 21st Century Romanticism," depriving him of whatever income she had. Chang squats inside Greendale for an undefined amount of time.
  • Powder Keg Crowd: It doesn't take much for Greendale's student body to start rioting or otherwise trashing the campus, as multiple episodes have shown. By Season 5, all it takes is Annie shouting that "Minuses are made up!" for the students to go nuts.
    Neil: [knocks over a trash can] It's riot time! Yeah!!
    • The Dean states that he doesn't think they'll ever truly eliminate the riots, but he's hoping that they can reduce them by forty percent.
  • The Power of Friendship: The Community universe seems to be fueled by this. The Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits work together to bring home a space simulator, make a bullied kid feel better with Dungeons & Dragons, help Pierce get his rightful inheritance in a video game, and save the school with an elaborate heist.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • In the episode where the group is visiting Pierce in the hospital, and he is using it as an opportunity to screw with them, he tells Jeff that he located Jeff's real dad. Jeff knows that Pierce is almost certainly messing with him, so after saying that he will go see him, he turns and says: "Oh, I should probably tell you; if you're lying to me, if my father isn't coming, if a car pulls up, and anyone other than my father steps out, say, an actor, you in a wig, if you try to pull any Ferris Bueller, Parent Trap, Three's Company, F/X, F/X 2: The Deadly Art of Illusion bullshit, I will beat you. And there will be nothing madcap or wacky about it."
    • When the show was moved online to Yahoo! for the sixth season, it kept to the same network TV rule of not swearing as it did when it actually was on network TV... until the season finale, when Dean Pelton asks Abed, unbleeped, "Isn't the shape of your brain kinda fucked up?". Britta also says “this is fucking war”.
  • The Present Day: A rare example of a show that literally takes place as much in the present day as possible; it is implied episodes are taking place on the very same timeline as they're airing. On two occasions, characters have referenced the events of the previous week's episode as having happened last week. The first season's Christmas episode aired on December 10, 2009 and takes place on December 10, 2009; more subtly, "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design" featured a Latvian Independence Parade, and aired on November 18 — Latvian Independence Day. The time when the season takes place (mid-fall through spring, usually with a break in the winter) corresponds with the time that most colleges are in session, even to the point that the mid-season break is the break between fall and winter semesters and the customary re-run period over spring break is the break between winter and spring semesters. So doing the episodes in a real-time weekly structure works.'
    • This is also why "Paradigms of Human Memory" is so effective—compared to what we see in the episodes, there's tons of stuff we don't get to see, including entire episodes revolving around a ghost town, a haunted house, a shark hunt and a St. Patrick's Day rafting trip. Even when the cameras aren't on, the characters are still doing things.
    • Similar to the Latvian Independence Day example, "Pillows and Blankets" first aired on National Pillow Fight Day.
    • Averted so far in season 4, which was delayed till February 2013 and yet its first episode still takes place on the first day of school in the fall.
  • Present-Day Past: The supposedly 1980-vintage RV based space simulator included flatscreen displays and the glimpse we got of the actual RV dashboard was considerably more modern than it "should" have been.
  • Pretentious Latin Motto: E Pluribus Anus.
    • "Out of many, an old woman"?
  • Pretentious Pronunciation: In "Advanced Gay", Pierce talks about looking something up on "the Wackapah-DIE-ah."
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Chang and Dean Pelton both start as supporting characters before receiving more focus in later seasons and ultimately making it into the opening credits.
  • Psychologist Teacher:
  • Pun:
    • Oh, Christmas Troy! Oh Christmas Troy!
    • "Asian Population Studies" has Chang constantly doing this with his own name (to Jeff's increasing frustration).
      Jeff: Let's change the subject...
      Chang: You mean CHANG the subject.
    • "Most of you have responded to my e-vite, but some of you remain eeeeeeeeevasive!"
    • "My room has a bunk bed... which is kind of a misnomer because it's the real deal."
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Annie's not-so-secret weapon, also referred to as her "Disney face".
    Jeff: You're getting dangerous, Annie. It's those doe eyes. Disappointing you is like choking the Little Mermaid with a bike chain.

  • Quivering Lip: In the season 1 episode English as a Second Language, Jeff points out that Annie's lip will quiver when she's attempting to influence others.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Professor Duncan disappears after Season 2 due to John Oliver's work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (filmed on the opposite side of the country in New York). He returns in Season 5, only to leave again afterwards when Oliver began hosting Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in 2014.
    • Pierce being killed off early in Season 5 was to account for Chevy Chase's severance agreement stating he couldn't set foot on the set of Community ever again.
    • Troy left because Donald Glover wanted to focus on his music career.
    • Shirley left in Season Six so Yvette Nicole Brown could take care of her ailing father.
    • In "Ladders", this is the reason for the Greendale cafeteria rooftop's collapse under the weight of tons of frisbees, and subsequent reparation using load-bearing pillars. The show's set had moved for season 6, and the new soundstage had giant load-bearing pillars that were necessary to hold the ceiling up. The rooftop's collapse was written as an excuse to explain the presence of the pillars in the cafeteria.
  • Real Men Wear Pink:
    • Troy during dance class in "Interpretive Dance."
    • Also, Troy and Pierce in "Communication Studies." They wear vibrant blue and pink (respectively) pantsuits, as punishment for the fallout of Shirley and Annie's prank on Señor Chang.
    • In "Home Economics", Abed describes Jeff as being just like Goldie Hawn in overboard - he's wealthy, assertive, arrogant, and gets manicures all the time.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Troy and Abed. Troy, a highly expressive Lovable Jock, is the Red Oni to Abed, a stoic, undiagnosable nerd.
  • Reference Overdosed: The whole series, especially where Abed is concerned. "Modern Warfare" deserves special mention, though.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Mocked with both Buddy and Paradox.
  • La Résistance: Something that Greendale seems unusually prone to, despite being a community college.
  • Right Now Montage: "Anthropology 101" opens the second season scrolling right through a long constructed set of the group's individual bedrooms as the characters go about their morning routine.note 
  • Rousing Speech: This has become something of a Jeff Winger trademark. It's lampshaded in "Paradigms of Human Memory", where we see a whole montage of Jeff's rousing speeches during events from episodes that never were. Apparently this is something that happens to the study group whenever they do anything.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Surprisingly. Any character who may seem like a jerk does have a reason or backstory as to how they became who they are.
  • RPG Episode: Done twice. Both times notably avert Deep-Immersion Gaming, instead just depicting the characters actually playing Dungeons & Dragons.
    • "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" has most of the study group playing a game with Fat Neil to try to cheer him up, only to have Pierce force his way into the game and bully Neil even harder.
    • In "Advanced Advanced Dungeons and Dragons", the group arranges a game with Mr Hickey and his estranged son, Hank, hoping to patch up their relationship. Hank immediately catches onto the scheme and sabotages it, turning the cooperative adventure into a competition between two halves of the group.
  • Rule of Funny: The show got wackier and wackier as it went on. The most recurring example would be the names of the courses the school offers each semester, such as "Baby Talk", "Ladders", or "Grift".
  • Running Gag:
    • Shirley's (never-seen) friend Gary, whom nobody likes.
    • The Dean's Dalmatian-furry fetish is followed from its very beginning ("I hope this doesn't awaken something in me"), to its escalation (Dalmatian mugs, posters, and rugs), to its inevitable conclusion in "Pascal's Triangle Revisited."
    • Troy and his propensity for "butt-stuff."
    • Pierce mispronouncing Abed's name.
    • Jeff giving a big speech to inspire everybody, which works briefly, before everything is forgotten by the next episode.
    • People like to comment on the size of Jeff's forehead. By the end of season 2 he starts getting insecure about it.
    • Shirley having been a mean alcoholic before turning her life around. The first season commentaries also continuously allude to (the non-drinking) Yvette Nicole Brown being an alcoholic.
    • As well as Britta's "skankiness" (although Gillian Jacobs is the first one to use the term).
    • Season 2 involved a lot of diorama-making, including a diorama of them making a diorama.
      Annie: I heard someone made a diorama about a world without dioramas.
    • Season 2 also involved no one knowing what Anthropology is actually supposed to be about. Including the Professor teaching the class.
    • The Dean walking in and seeing Jeff in a compromising position, and then proceeding to check him out.
    • Every time the Dean leaves the study room, he touches Jeff.
    • Chang's inability to recognize backhanded compliments.
    • Pierce getting mistaken for dead.
    • Michael Haggins' song "Daybreak" finding its way into the show in various ways, starting in Season 3. Various characters hum it, and it shows up on the school radio and as elevator music.
    • Annie swooning over Abed's impersonations.
    • Halloween costumes: Jeff is always 'accidentally handsome' (handsome cowboy, David Beckham), Annie is obliviously sexy (lycra skeleton costume, Little Red Riding Hood), Britta makes an effort to wear an unsexy costume (squirrel, dinosaur), Pierce dresses as sex symbol from his youth (Beastmaster, Captain Kirk), Shirley's costume is always "unintentionally ambiguous" (Harry Potter [mistaken for Urkel]), Glinda The Good Witch (mistaken for Miss Piggy) and Abed's costumes reference his favorite films (Batman, Alien).
    • Magnitude not saying anything except his catchphrase, "Pop pop!" which causes everyone to rejoice.
    • Characters will make a suggestion to their group by pointing to individuals and asking the same brief question. ("Intervention? Intervention? Intervention?") This spreads to people who are not in the study group. Doubles as a Shout-Out to The Blues Brothers
    • The group (but mostly Annie and Shirley) saying "Awww!" in unison, and the Collective Groans to Britta's self-righteous statements.
    • Troy saying: "Pretend like you're asleep!"
    • The study group's habit of saying something aggressive, then rhyming it with a famous person's name.
    • "TROY AND ABED IN THE MOOOOOORNING!" and the numerous variants.
    • Various people (even a priest) telling Britta "You're the worst!", and accusing her and others of "britta-ing" when they mess something up or do something annoying.
    • One character interrupting another by blurting out "let him/her finish!" when they mistakenly expect him or her to be cut off mid-sentence by the rest of the group.
    • Annie being reminded that she lives in a terrible neighborhood.
    • Annie and Troy don't understand some pop culture references because they're too young. After they ask who Sam and Diane are, Shirley snaps, "We get it! You're young!"
    • The Dean and Chang replacing words with "Dean" or "Chang."
    • Leonard making a snarky remark to someone (usually Jeff), and that person responding "Shut up, Leonard! I know\heard about [embarrassing fact about Leonard]!" Leonard usually isn't affected.
    • Using Jim Belushi as a synonym for lousy and stupid.
    • Behind the scenes running jokes:
      • Alison Brie's rapping and predilection for handjob jokes. In the second outtakes reel the others start impersonating her doing the latter.
      • Joel McHale repeatedly humping things, ranging from a dead homeless man to Alison Brie.
      • In the season 3 commentaries, Joel McHale always introduces himself as somebody else, usually as Alison Brie.
    • Chang's difficulty remembering his ethnicity. While pretending to have amnesia (er..."Changnesia") in Season 4, he even leaves a note on his arm to remind himself that he's Chinese.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Chang in seasons 2 and 3.
    • The Study Group of the Darkest Timeline.
    • The whole study group is temporarily led to believe this of themselves in the Curriculum Unavailable episode.
  • Sarcasm Mode:
    • Annie makes a point of pointing this out when she sarcastically thanks Jeff and Britta for ruining her love life.
    • Abed has to go into this:
      Abed: Oh, that's sarcasm, but I forgot to inflect. This sounds way more like sarcasm. Inflection is so interesting.
    • Also:
      Abed: You shifted the balance, like in a sitcom when one character sees another one naked.
      Jeff: Is that really a sitcom staple?
      Abed: You're right, what do I know? I'm Abed, *derp face* I neeeever watch TV.
  • School Forced Us Together: The main characters come together to form a study group in order to get through Spanish. Due to their differing personalities, it's unlikely they would have become friends otherwise. For instance, while Annie and Troy went to the same high school, the two were in separate social groups (Annie being more focused on studying and Troy being a jock).
  • School of No Studying: Most characters worry more about campus life than their actual classes. In fact, the series featured more and more episodes taking place off-campus in season two and beyond.
  • Secret Handshake: Parodied. Troy and Abed's secret handshake is not particularly secret, it's just their usual handshake followed by both of them whispering "secret."
  • Self-Soothing Song: Troy starts singing the theme song of Reading Rainbow in a washroom stall and breaking down crying trying to calm himself down after meeting Levar Burton when he only just wanted an autographed photo of him and to never meet him in person.
  • Separated by a Common Language: Duncan peppers his speech with British-exclusive slang. Sometimes it's incorrectly used. It's eventually revealed that Duncan actually spent most of his life in America.
    • Duncan refers to leaving his wallet "in the back of my lorry." While "lorry" does refer to a truck in Britain, it's specifically used for 18-wheelers, not pick-up trucks as Duncan implies.
    • "Let's blow this pop stand and head out back for a spot of slap and tickle. That's sex, in case the lingo hasn't made it across the pond."
  • Series Fauxnale: "Introduction to Finality", which according to Dan Harmon was written as one in case NBC cancelled the series afterwards.
  • Serious Business: To the point of a Running Gag; it seems that there is nothing on Earth that either the study group or the wider Greendale community as a whole cannot take and find some way to completely blow out of proportion. Such as:
    • Chicken fingers are so important that the gang starts a mini-Mafia to control them.
    • Paintball, as shown in "Modern Warfare", "A Fistful of Paintballs", "For a Few Paintballs More", and "Modern Espionage."
    • Losing a pen leads to the Study Group literally tearing the study room apart to find it.
    • In ''Early 21st Century Romanticism" the group are just as — if not more — outraged by Jeff's dislike of the Barenaked Ladies than his reluctance to join them in an intervention for Pierce.
    • The rivalry with City College - up to and including a 'space race.'
    • Love of the game of pool is treated this way in "Physical Education."
    • The Air Conditioner Repair Annex is basically a cult, complete with their own by-laws and traditions.
    • Picking lab partners, instead of being a quick and painless task, took the Study Group an entire day to get done. And even then, they didn't actually do it.
    • Foosball.
    • The decision whether to make a blanket fort or a pillow fort turns into a campus-wide pillow-fought civil war in "Digital Exploration of Interior Design" and "Pillows and Blankets."
    • Abed and Troy's 'Dreamatorium' - they would rather sleep in a tent within their apartment than use the room as a bedroom.
    • Someone pushing a yam off a table in "Basic Lupine Urology."
    • "Alternate History of the German Invasion" reveals that the group treat anyone else using Study Room F as an invasion of their home, whilst the Study Group hogging the room leads to the rest of the student body protesting against them.
    • Someone else using Magnitude's "Pop pop!" catchphrase leads to him having a nervous breakdown and crisis of identity.
    • The Ass Crack Bandit, who runs around Greendale dropping quarters down people's ass cracks when they're bent over, is treated like a police force would a serial killer. This is gradually subverted towards the end, however; when the study group learn of the death of Pierce, they immediately recognize the Bandit as ultimately trivial in comparison to the death of their friend.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Parodied/referenced/somethinged during Troy's and Abed's "supercool elevator" mime act.
  • Share Phrase:
    • Troy and Abed: Troy and Abed in the Morning!
    • Annie and Shirley: Awwwwwwwwwww!
    • The study group as a whole appear to have adopted Britta's "Duh-doy!" when they want to suggest something or someone is stupid.
  • Shipper on Deck: Shirley, during around half of the first season, really wanted Britta and Jeff to get together.
  • Ship Sinking: Annie/Abed was sunk in Season 5, with the revelation that Abed was catfishing Annie so she'd make better breakfasts, followed by Annie invoking Like Brother and Sister with Abed in "VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing".
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: In-universe and out, Team Britta versus Team Annie. Also versus Team Slater in-universe.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Mike's gang in the climactic scene of "Comparative Religion":
      Mike: Shirts off, boys!
      Britta: I'm being Punk'd, right?
    • Jeff had a shirtless scene and then just simply didn't stop. Pretty soon it ended with him (gratuitously) lifting his leg up onto a pool table while lining up a shot... completely nude.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy:
    • Mocked mercilessly with Jack Black's appearance as "Buddy" a student who has allegedly been in the gang's Spanish 101 class this entire time. The entire main cast are either weirded out by his sudden, unexplained appearance in their lives or convinced he's a murderous psycho. The episode ends with Owen Wilson suddenly appearing and offering Buddy a spot in the "cool" clique.
    • Professor Slater - NO ONE is on Team Slater.
  • Shout-Out: The show does this a lot. Examples from individual episodes are listed on the Recap pages.
  • Show Within a Show:
    • Super-meta Abed writes and directs a campus TV show called The Community College Chronicles, with characters based on his study group. Abed's so well-versed in that he can use the show to predict what's going to happen to the study group next, down to Shirley being chased through the library by a werewolf - also making this a Type 4 example.
    • In the Season 3 premiere, two fictional television shows are mentioned - Cougarton Abbey, a portmanteu of Cougartown and Downton Abbey, and the fan-favorite Inspector Spacetime, an affectionate Doctor Who parody (although Cougartown and Doctor Who both exist in Community's universe—it's just that the former is a Transatlantic Equivalent and the latter is a more popular rip-off).
    • Hilariously played with in the Season 4 premiere, where Abed is told to go to a happy place in his mind. Cue an alternate multi-cam style version of the show (complete with laugh track and fake banner ads) playing on "Abed TV," followed by a cartoon version inside that one, where everyone's a baby. As Leonard so aptly puts it, it's "show-ception!"
  • Significant Reference Date:
    • December 10th, 2009: "Comparative Religion"
    • December 3rd, 2010: "Mixology Certification" - the day before Troy's birthday.
    • December 9th, 2010: "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas"
  • Silent Whisper: Troy does this to Abed when he leaves for air-conditioning repair school. When the rest of the group asks what he said, Abed tells them that Troy said, I know you hate when people do this in movies.
  • Similar Squad:
    • A pair of security guards freak Troy and Abed out with this at the end of "Football, Feminism, and You."
    • The cast of Abed's films is an invoked example.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Many examples.
    • Rich, for Jeff.
    • Duncan, for Chang.
    • Annie Kim, for Annie.
    • Chang, for the group.
    • The glee club, for the group.
    • The group, for Starburns.
    • Greendale and City College and their respective deans.
  • Sitcom Character Archetypes: Annie and Britta are the Squares, Jeff is the Wisecracker, Pierce is the Bully (though he can also occasionally be the Sage), Abed is the Dork, and Troy and Chang are the Goofballs, and Shirley is the Stick.
    • Shirley doesn't really fall into a slot as she's Team Mom.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Played with. On the one hand, Community completely toys with as many sitcom, genre, and storytelling conventions as possible and creates a series that has a fair amount of crazies and sociopaths. On the other hand, the characters prove to be very human once it deeps deeper into who they are as individuals. Once their human sides are shown more, so are their considerate sides which makes the hearttugging sides of the show that much more genuine. Overall, it does have a more optimistic leaning despite how often it will often tend to tone down the schmultzy nature of many comfort shows and movies.
  • Slut-Shaming: Jeff is a shallow manwhore and the ladies love to call him on it. Annie inverts it, though, in that she's an uptight prude and rather proud of it, thank you very much!
  • The Smurfette Principle: "As the only female member of the Greendale Gooffaws, I have played many memorable comedic characters on stage. My favorites include the roles of "Girlfriend," "Mom" and "Nurse 2" in the Greendale Goofaws' "A Tale of Too Witty" musical revue."
  • Smurfing: Chang and the Dean are both prone to this. Examples include (both from the Season 4 premiere) "Changnesia" and "Simmer dean."
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Jeff and Britta excel at this.
  • Society-on-Edge Episode: This is a recurring situation. Greendale Community College is a sucky school and the students tend to get more volatile and over-the-top as finals approach. The major breakdowns occur once a year in-universe; which corresponds to one per season. In the past this has twice resulted in paintball competitions totally wrecking the school. In Season 3, the school loses most of its funding so things get even worse. An attempt to achieve a world record for the biggest blanket/pillow fort results in a civil war and a short time later the wake for a deceased student turns into a riot.
  • Special Edition Title:
    • The Halloween episodes replace the normal cootie catcher drawings bearing the cast members' names with different, monster-themed ones.
    • "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" has Abed, in his stop-motion animated form, singing the title theme with different lyrics.
    • "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" has fantasy-themed pictures, to a medieval rendition of the theme.
    • "A Fistful of Paintballs" replaces the usual title theme with an animated sequence mimicking the opening credits of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.
    • The season two finale, "For A Few Paintballs More" replaces the main theme with a parody of the Star Wars opening crawl.
    • "Basic Lupine Urology" features titles similar to those of Law & Order, right down to an instrumental version of "At Least It Was Here" In the Style of Mike Post.
    • "Digital Estate Planning" has the study group's portraits being rendered into 8-bit avatars in preparation for the video game they're about to play, complete with the title theme in instrumental 8-bit.
    • "History 101" has Abed singing a rewritten version of the theme as part of his imagined "Abed TV" sitcom.
    • "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics" has a montage over the evidence and news reports of the Ass-Crack Bandit as an Homage to the opening credits of Hannibal.
  • Special Guest:
    • Parodied with Jack Black wanting to join the study group after coming back from the mid-season break.
    • LeVar Burton appears as himself in "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking."
    • French Stewart appears in "Contemporary Impressionists" as a guy who used to be a professional French Stewart impersonator, but has since become a legitimately intimidating mafia don.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: The series can be viewed as one to Parks and Recreation. Both are sitcoms that pay incredible attention to detail and canon, and both (like The Office) are centered around the friendship group of a motley crew of lovable misfits. However, they play on opposite ends of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism — the Parks gang climb career ladders throughout the series, often relying on each other to help them up said ladders, while Community is focused on how virtually nobody at Greendale is ever going to make anything of themselves and how the friendship group is, in a way, their only refuge from their terrible lives.
  • Spiteful Spoiler: In "Analysis of Cork-Based Networking", Abed deliberately spoils a major event of a Game of Thrones-esque TV series for Britta due to an argument they were having over it. Fueled by vengeance, Britta buys and reads every novel that the series is based on in order to spoil Abed. Abed dodges every attempt Britta makes to spoil him until Britta hires a deaf girl to bond with Abed, who promptly spoils a major event of the latest book to Abed through sign language.
  • Springtime for Hitler: In "Advanced Documentary Filmmaking," Jeff does his damnedest to sabotage the attempt to get a grant from the MacGuffin Neurological Institute for research into Changnesia, part of which includes having Pierce put on an incredibly racist puppet show. Needless to say, it backfires miserably.
  • Starstruck Speechless: Exaggerated for laughs when Pierce surprises Troy with his idol, LeVar Burton. Troy spends the entire meeting in wide-eyed, silent catatonia, then has a Freak Out, runs away, and huddles in a corner to sing the Reading Rainbow theme song and sob.
  • Stealth Pun: Most of the show's episode titles relate to the A- and B-plots of the episode. So at first glance, "Digital Exploration of Interior Design" doesn't make any sense. Until you remember that Britta and Subway did something in the pillow fort...
  • Stepford Smiler: Annie's parents, who would've covered up her drug addiction rather than support her in her decision to go to rehab.
    • Annie (covers up her insecurities), Shirley (has a Dark and Troubled Past) and Dean Pelton (afraid that Greendale isn't good enough).
  • Stepford Snarker: Jeff.
  • Stereotype Flip: Señor Chang the Spanish teacher goes on at great length about this.
    • He does embrace the Asian love of gambling displayed in the pool episode when he takes bets from the surrounding crowd, though.
    • In "Basic Genealogy," it is revealed that Señor Chang's brother is a Rabbi. This is lampshaded by Dean Pelton (though he also mistakenly assumes that the Changs are Japanese).
      Dean: Well, it was wonderful meeting your brother. Adios Señor Chang, Shalom Rabbi Chang, and to both of you, Sayonara.
  • Stock Scream: The producers love using the Wilhelm Scream whenever possible. It shows up about 5 times a season if you listen for it.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: And frequently, too.
    Jeff and Abed: [to Britta] You look like Elizabeth Shue.
    Britta and Pierce: If Señor Chang gets any crazier, he'll win a Grammy.
    Jeff and Britta: Oh good, now it has arrows, that's safe.
  • Studio Audience: In a very weird example, Joel McHale and Ken Jeong hosted a running commentary for a Community marathon between seasons 1 and 2 that had a studio audience. At one point, for no reason at all, the entire audience walked out.
  • Stylistic Suck: Abed's student film.
  • Subject 101: "Spanish 101", "Debate 109", "Anthropology 101", "Biology 101", and "History 101" thus far have been episode titles.
  • Sub-Par Supremacist: While Pierce Hawthorne's bigoted views are mostly due to his ignorance and have no real malice behind them, his father Cornelius is a virulent white supremacist/misogynist who constantly spouts about his natural superiority; he's also a frail, decrepit old man who wears a wig made from solid ivory because he fears getting a racially-mixed hairpiece, and is so weak he dies from a heart attack after Jeff gives him a blistering "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Cornelius also never bothers mentioning that his black assistant Gilbert is actually his biological son.
  • Sucky School: Greendale is filled to the brim with incompetent teachers and suffers from financial problems.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • Played more or less straight in Season 5 when Pierce left the group and died, with Professor Buzz Hickey taking his place at the study room table and his spot in the group as the resident "old guy", even fooling Ian Duncan into congratulating "Pierce" for removing his hairpiece. On the other hand, his personality is a complete 180 from Pierce's.
    • Subverted and discussed In-Universe in Season 6, with Frankie Dart and Elroy Patashnik coming on board to replace Troy, Shirley, and Buzz. Not only are two characters replacing three, the group discuss the replacements more than once, finding themselves struggling to figure out who replaces who.
  • Synchronised Morning Routine: The second season opener quickly flashes through all the rooms of the various study group members as they get up. Their decor and morning routines tells us a lot about them (e.g. Jeff is exercising in an almost bare room, Shirley is cuddling with her two children, Pierce has a trippy looking water-mattress, Annie's is perfectly pretty and organised, but has bars on the window, etc.)

  • The Tag: Every episode has one. In the first four seasons, this usually involves the whimsical hijinks of Troy and Abed.
  • Take a Third Option: In "Pascal's Triangle Revisited", Jeff has to choose between Britta and Slater after both admit they love him. He chooses Annie.
  • Take That!: Repeatedly.
    • "If I wanted to learn something, I wouldn't have come to community college."
    • Combined with Self-Deprecation:
      Pierce: [sincerely] You remind me of myself at your age.
      Jeff: I deserve that.
    • "Basic Genealogy": During Jeff's breakdown to Pierce after he sees Michelle dancing with someone else after she dumped him:
      Jeff: We used to watch the shows she wanted to watch. I hate Glee! I don't understand the appeal at all!
    • "Modern Warfare" issues another one to Glee when the Glee club's paintball unit is told to sing something original for once.
      Jeff: Write some original songs!
    • "The Art of Discourse": Abed explains how the absence of Pierce has left the status of group Butt-Monkey up for grabs:
      Abed: We've lost our Cliff Clavin, our George Costanza, our Turtle... or Johnny Drama... or E. Man, that show is sloppy.
    • "Anthropology 101": It's suggested that Troy's "Old White Man Says" Twitter feed could be made into a TV show... then is immediately written off as a stupid idea. A hint to one of CBS' competing shows, perhaps?note 
    • "Anthropology 101": "Since you've clearly failed to grasp the central insipid metaphor of those Twilight books you devour, let me explain it to you: Men are monsters who crave young flesh!"
    • "Epidemiology": Jeff throws another Take That! at William Shatner by mocking Pierce's Captain Kirk costume:
      Jeff: Whoa, hey, if you get any more sweaty and puffy, your costume is going to reach new levels of authenticity.
    • "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design": At CBS again
      Britta: Thanks, but I've got adult things to do tonight.
      Troy: Okay, enjoy eating fiber and watching The Mentalist.
    • In "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas", the first season of Lost symbolizes a lack of payoff. Doubles as a Shout-Out in a way.
    "Thanks, Lost."
    • "Early 21st Century Romanticism" has Jeff railing against Barenaked Ladies.
      "Oh, okay. They're 'BNL' now. We need a shorthand for the Barenaked Ladies. That's how fundamental they are."
    • In "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" Abed takes aim at mockumentary shows like The Office and Modern Family: "It's much easier to tell a complex story when you can just cut to the characters explaining things."
    • In "Critical Film Studies", Jeff lists "watching Cougar Town" as one of Abed's eccentricities that makes it seem like he's determined to make people not like him.
    • In "Biology 101" when Abed learns Cougarton Abbey is only 6 episodes, Britta states how British television actually gives closure to its shows.
    • "Regional Holiday Music" is basically a thirty-minute long Take That! aimed at Glee.
    • Jim Belushi is a favourite punching bag on the show:
      Jeff: The biggest truths aren't original. The truth is ketchup. It's Jim Belushi. Its job isn't to blow our minds, it's to be within reach.
      Prof. Slater: (later in the conversation, about Jeff's fear of the word 'boyfriend') Whoopdie-freakin'-ding, Winger. It happens 50 million times a day. It's the Jim Belushi of sexual commitments. It barely means anything and it grows on what's there over time.
      Jeff: Boy, that guy's really taking a pounding in this conversation.

      Jeff: (practicing a wedding toast) Webster's Dictionary defines-
      Annie: Aaaagh! Stop! 'Webster's Dictionary defines'? That's the Jim Belushi of speech openings. It accomplishes nothing, but everyone keeps using it and nobody understands why.

      Evil Abed: Do you know what kind of person becomes a psychologist, Britta? A person that wishes deep down that everyone more special than them is sick because healthy sounds so much more exciting than boring. You're average, Britta Perry. You're every kid on the playground that didn't get picked on. You're a business casual potted plant, a human white sale, you're VH-1, Robocop 2 and Back To the Future 3, you're the center slice to a square cheese pizza... actually that sounds delicious... I'm the center slice to a square cheese pizza...You're Jim Belushi.
    • Abed gives a rather subtle one in "Intro to Political Science" to the The Last Airbender.
      Secret Agent: *having just searched Abed's bag* You're clean. Although I could issue a warning for this pirated copy of The Last Airbender.
      Abed: Eesh, where were you a week ago? You can keep it!
  • Talking to Themself: In the second season Chang had a Gollum moment. The 'evil' Chang camera angle even had wild hair, whereas the 'good' Chang camera angle had neat, combed hair.
  • Talk Show: "Troy and Abed in the Morning!"
  • Team Dad: Jeff frequently ends up falling into this role against his will.
  • Team Kids: Deconstructed. Initially, Jeff and Britta were portrayed as the Team Dad and Team Mom of the study group, often involving themselves in the lives of Abed, Troy, and Annie (the youngest members of the group). At the same time, Jeff had romantic feelings for Annie. This came to a head when the two tried to stop her from dating Britta's ex Vaughn. While both claim it's because they're protective of Annie, in truth it was motivated by Jeff wanting to be with Annie and Britta jealous that Annie was seeing Vaughn. This causes the group to have a realization about how unhealthy this dynamic was.
  • Team Mom:
    • Parodied in one episode with Jeff as the Team Dad, Britta as the Team Mom and Pierce as their kid.
      (Jeff is at a water fountain; the rest of the group gathers around him expectantly)
      Jeff: Look, if you guys just let me get to the can opener, I can feed you.
    • Shirley.
      Troy: Hey! You don't get to talk to me like that! You are not Shirley! ...And Shirley's not my mom!
    • Deconstructed in "Comparative Religion"; normally Shirley is a benevolent Team Mom, but in this episode her ability and tendency to use this role to be smothering, passive-aggressive and emotionally manipulate her friends through guilt trips is noted and called out, and it's pointed out that since she's not actually their mom she has no right to act in such a fashion.
  • Technician vs. Performer: It's shown over the series that while Abed has an encyclopedic knowledge of film and television tropes he struggles with making his own material, often resorting to placeholders of trope ideas rather than developing it properly. Most of the time when working on a project he ends up hating it because it is all concept and no creativity. This is in contrast to Hickey, who draws his own indie comic about a duck and while the art is very rudimentary the characters and story is well developed.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: "Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations" features Jeff seeing his father for the first time in years and Britta crashing that reunion while the rest of the study group attends—and feels trapped at—Thanksgiving at Shirley's.
  • Therapy Backfire: A bizarre variation, the Big Bad has a fake psychologist attempt to convince the study group that they are insane, in order to prevent them from discovering his plots. It's because of the therapy that they even realize that Genre Savvy Abed was right and the Dean was replaced with an imposter.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!:
  • This Is Reality: Not often but now and then, the show gets its laughs showcasing just how nuts these events are in real life.
    • Jeff manages to get the school's show choir shut down because in real life, a small school show choir could never afford the rights to so many major songs.
    • During the Law and Order episode Troy and Abed catch Starburns and start interrogating him. He gets up and walks out when he remembers they're not actually cops.
    • Chang was able to get a restraining order against Professor Duncan after the man used 'his' restraining order against Chang in order to deliberately harass the man and follow him around.
  • Those Two Guys: Troy and Abed whenever they're not the primary focus of an episode.
  • Toilet Humor: The "Creative Compromises" featurette on the season 1 DVD is presented as a way for Harmon to show us what his cut of some scenes from "Football, Feminism and You" would've been. It changes the "Britta deals with her lack of female companionship" plot to "Britta has a flatulence problem."
  • Token Minority Couple: Pierce uses this to Schmuck Bait Troy:
    Troy: Dude! That is not cool!
    Pierce: Well, that foxy black girl thinks it is!
    (Troy looks away, Pierce kicks him in the shins)
    Jeff: What are you doing?!
    Troy: Why does she have to be BLACK?!
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Abed and buttered noodles.
    • Jeff and hard-boiled eggs.
  • Troperiffic: This show has literally gone down a list of tropes to invoke over the course of an episode.
  • True Companions: Explicitly described in "Basic Genealogy", and awesomely shown in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas."
    Pierce: You, me, Jeff, Rainman, Big Boobs, Medium Boobs, and Black Boobs - we're a family.
    Troy: I Black Boobs?
  • Truncated Theme Tune: Used on some episodes.
  • Tsundere: The Secret Service girl for Abed in Season 2, episode 17.
  • Two-Timer Date: In "Herstory of Dance," Abed ends up going to both dances with two different dates, simply because he always wanted to do that trope.
  • Ultimate Job Security:
    • All the teachers never get fired, despite how sadistic, lazy, or incompetent they can get. Lampshaded in at least one episode; after complaining to the Dean about Chang's latest insane assignment, Annie mentions that the school has been trying to fire him for three years, but no one else wants the job.
    • {{Subverted with Professor Bauer in "Anthropology 101." She initially suffers no consequences for shooting a dart at Star-Burns and knocking him into a brief state of paralysis, but strangling Jeff to the point where he ends up in the Student Health Center is enough to get her put on paid administrative leave.
  • Unabashed B-Movie Fan: The movies that Abed and co. watch, such as Kickpuncher. They watch them to riff on how bad they are.
  • Uncle Pennybags: A couple of times or three, Pierce's money will help save the day or drive/solve a plot for the group.
  • Unconventional Electives 101
    • Many of the courses offered by Greendale Community College fall under this category. Some unique courses offered at Greendale include Ladders, Can You Fry That?, When Is It Okay to Shake a Baby?, Nicolas Cage: Good or Bad?, A Deep Analysis of Who's the Boss?, A History of Ice Cream, and Physical Education Education.
    • One of the courses that Abed takes in the first season is the aforementioned "A Deep Analysis of Who's the Boss?" with the ultimate goal of finding out who was the titular boss of the show. After Abed almost immediately determines that Angela is the boss, complete with a full class presentation, the professor in question cancels the class entirely, contemplating suicide before working on a new course about the show What's Happening!!.
    • And of course, on a meta level, every episode of the show was named in such a manner as to evoke a college course, with examples ranging from the mundane to the ridiculous.
  • Unexpectedly Dark Episode: "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics." The episode has a decidedly darker tone than your usual episode and shortly after it begins, someone sticks a quarter in Garrett's butt crack. The rest of the episode focuses on finding the "Ass Crack Bandit" in a way similar to hunting a serial killer. Subverted in that despite the dark atmosphere, the hunt for the perpetrator is still relatively silly compared to an actual serial killer search. Double Subverted when their final pursuit of the Ass Crack Bandit is interrupted by Shirley telling Jeff and Annie that Pierce has died.
  • Unified Naming System: Invoked in the episode Pillows and Blankets, Abed and Troy are building a Blanket Fort called New Fluffytown. After Troy leaves and creates one called Blanketsburg, Abed renames his Pillowtown, for the sake of conceptual symmetry.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Happens with both Britta and Slater for Jeff.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension:
    • Jeff and Britta. Lampshaded in "Modern Warfare", and resolved by the end of Season 2.
    • Jeff and Annie.
    • Annie seems to spread this wherever she goes, and she has some clear UST with Britta, Abed and Troy.
    • Increasingly up through season 4, Britta and Troy. It's over now.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist:
    • Jeff's not a complete jerk, but he definitively leans towards the Jerkass side of Deadpan Snarker, and for sure most of his problems are his own fault.
    • Also Pierce, to the extent that he's a protagonist.
    • Chang, when he starts getting more focus.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Pierce is basically an trust fund kid with no real talents and nothing to do with his time or money except enrolling at college courses to give himself something to do.
  • Vague Age: Of all the main characters, Abed is the only one whose age is completely unknown. Danny Pudi was 31 when the show began and 36 when it ended, but his youthful appearance and Abed's social awkwardness and Manchild behavior make it difficult to tell how old he is supposed to be. Most fans assume he is somewhere in his early 20s, like Annie and Troy, but this has never been confirmed. Additionally, his development and childhood appear to have been heavily influenced by 80s and early-90s pop culture, suggesting he may be at least a few years older than Troy and Annie (born in 1989 and 1990, respectively). However, in one of the internet shorts, Abed participates in the "Floor is Lava" game with Troy and Annie, and he is usually grouped in with them when jokes or comments about the younger members of the group are made. In an early pilot script, Abed was said to be in his "mid-20s," at the same time when Annie and Troy were 18 and 19, although all the characters were substantially different in that early draft.
  • Valentine's Day Episode: "Communication Studies" (Season 1), "Early 21st Century Romanticism" (Season 2)
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: About every other episode has Jeff remove his shirt, if not he is often in revealing outfits in some way. Rather notably the first half of the first season doesn't do this, as "Home Economics" makes a deal of Britta and Shirley seeing Jeff shirtless for the first time and swooning a bit.
  • Was Just Leaving: In "Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy", when Abed wants Britta out of his room, he announces "Britta was just leaving."
  • Weaponized Offspring: While playing the in-universe video game "Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne" Abed reprograms his NPC wife to birth babies (which look like tiny versions of Abed) and uses them to fight the final boss.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Cornelius Hawthorne is this for Pierce, and his half-brother Gilbert.
    Troy (after meeting LeVar): I told Pierce a thousand times, I never wanted to meet LeVar in person! I just wanted a picture! You can't disappoint a picture!
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Professor Slater vanished into the ether after season one. Although in the episode "Intro to Political Science", it is noted by Troy and Abed's Campaign Followup that Prof. Slater is missing. Word of God is that Harmon was simply tired of the character.
    • Professor Duncan became a case of this after Season 2 (it was even lampshaded in Season 4). He returned in Season 5, having spent the last two years caring for his ailing mother.
    • Does Troy still play football for Greendale?
    • Lampshaded by Abed in "Lawnmower Maintenance And Postnatal Care", when he focuses on the minor detail of what happened to the child's tricycle that Britta stole earlier in the episode:
      Annie: Britta, we were so worried!
      Abed: What happened to the kid's Green Machine?
      Britta: What? I don't know, I ditched it.
      Abed: Where, and how long ago?
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The full-episode affectionate parodies:
  • Will They or Won't They?: Jeff and Britta in Season 1. Abed invokes both this and Unresolved Sexual Tension in the same sentence, by name.
    • In season 2, Annie references herself and Jeff with this trope.
    • By season 3, Troy and Britta did this too. As of season 4, they're together.
  • Women Are Wiser: Subverted. While at first glance it may appear as if Britta, Annie, and Shirley are the more normal ones in the group as opposed to Troy and Abed's wackiness and Jeff and Pierce's meanness, a closer look reveals that the girls can be just as crazy as the guys, they're just better at hiding it. In the episode Aerodynamics of Gender, Jeff and Troy find serenity and perspective, while the girls are consumed by hateful activities and dominant behavior.
  • World Limited to the Plot: Lampshaded when Jeff mentions they should learn the others' names, too and when the other characters mention it's irritatingly all about them. Almost everything happens in the study room, even Jeff's graduation and Shirley's wedding is organized there.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Pierce's dad dies of a heart attack (after being yelled at by Jeff). Having written in his will that whoever kills him will inherit his ridiculous looking ivory toupee, it goes to Jeff, who really doesn't want it. The ivory headpiece is later worn by Troy in his and Abed's apartment, indicating Jeff gave it to them instead.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: Pierce lies and claims he bribed Professor Kane to kick Jeff out of Biology. This directs the group's anger back at him so that they will accept Jeff back into the group.


Beetlejuice in Community

Just like in the movie, Beetlejuice is summoned by someone saying his name three times. Though, most summoners take faster than 3 seasons to do so.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / RuleOfThree

Media sources: