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Community is an Ensemble Cast Sitcom created by Dan Harmon starring Joel McHale as Jeff Winger, an Amoral Attorney who got caught playing fast and loose with the truth... this time about 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, a girl 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 Abed to their fake study group. Abed, in turn, invites some of their other classmates -- ex-high school football star Troy, compulsive over-achiever Annie, single-mother Shirley and not-quite-as-smart-or-with-it-as-he-thinks moist towelette magnate Pierce -- leading to the organization of the cast's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits.
Despite being set in a community college, very few of the jokes thus far have actually focused on any kind of scholarship tropes. Instead, the humor is driven by the character interaction, supplemented by rampant lampshade hangings. As a side effect of this, the trope examples will be very quote-driven.
Each season features the study group taking a class together with some sort of underlying theme. In the first season, it was Spanish and was built around the study group members learning to communicate with each other; in the second season, it was Anthropology, which highlighted the group growing into a tight-knit "tribe"; and in the third season, it is Biology, which will feed into the group struggling with their capacity to evolve.
The show also has its own Community Tropes Tumblr.
Community was on hold in January 2012 due to poor viewership and NBC's need to make room for 30 Rock on Thursday nights. A huge fan campaign to keep the show on the air was successful, with the rest of the season resuming broadcast in the following March. The series has also been approved for an abbreviated fourth season, scheduled to broadcast on Friday nights. However, it was subsequently announced that Dan Harmon would no longer be serving as showrunner.
- Aborted Arc: Chang's Sanity Slippage at the beginning of Season 2 was supposed to feed into a subplot where Chang would be haunted by the twin sister he ate in utero, but that thread was quietly dropped.
- Aerith and Bob: Jeff, Annie, Troy... Magnitude, Paradox.
- Affectionate Gesture to 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.
- Earlier examples have involved similar moments of tension between Annie and Jeff end with him awkwardly patting her on the head.
- Affectionate Nickname: Jeff and Annie have addressed one another as "Milady" and "Milord," (respectively) on more than one occasion.
- Affectionate Parody: 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:
- "The Science of Illusion": Annie and Shirley try to be a crime drama-esque buddy cop team, with each one trying to be the loose cannon bad cop.
- "Contemporary American Poultry": After noticing that the study group's illicit cornering of the cafeteria's chicken fingers is "like a mafia movie", the rest of the plot comes to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Abed: For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be in a mafia movie.
- "The Art of Discourse": Abed goes down a list to fulfill every college movie trope he can with Troy.
- "Modern Warfare": Practically every war-themed work under the sun except, well, Modern Warfare.
- "Basic Rocket Science": The gang gets trapped in a space simulator with Abed as Mission Control parodying space movies like Apollo 13,Space Camp, and The Right Stuff.
- "Epidemiology": shows a viral epidemic at the campus Halloween party that parodies zombie movies, including shot-for-shot recreations of scenes from I Am Legend and Shaun of the Dead.
- "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" to Dungeons & Dragons specifically, and the fantasy genre in general.
- "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" and "Documentary Filmmaking Redux" spoofs documentaries and mockumentaries -- specifically, shows like The Office.
- "Critical Film Studies" looks like it's going to involve a spoof of Pulp Fiction. It actually ends up spoofing My Dinner with Andre.
- "Paradigms of Human Memory" is a parody of Clip Shows, but uses new scenes rather than actual clips from previous episodes. The result is that rather than a pleasant stroll down memory lane, the audience gets wall-to-wall Noodle Incidents. It's also a parody of the Jeff/Annie shipping community and fanvids in general, and specifically, this Jeff/Annie video.
- "A Fistful of Paintballs" parodies The Western, specifically the style of 'Spaghetti Westerns' made popular by directors like Sergio Leone.
- The second part, "For a Few Paintballs More" actually notes that it is ditching the Western theme for more war-themed movies, including Star Wars.
- "Competitive Ecology". Chang tries to see his security guard job in Film Noir style.
- An ongoing Season 3 subplot involves Troy and Abed becoming fans of Inspector Spacetime, a charmingly even lower-budget spoof of Doctor Who.
- "Pillows and Blankets" is a direct parody of Ken Burns The Civil War.
- "Virtual Systems Analysis" paused being an Inspector Spacetime episode to parody Grey's Anatomy.
- "Basic Lupine Urology" parodies Law and Order.
- 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.
- Artistic Title: Features a cootie catcher! It changes for a few episodes--the Halloween episodes have spookier images, while the "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" credits had epic music and medieval--looking script. Then, of course, there's the one-shot animated opening for "A Fistful of Paintballs".
- 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.
- The Bechdel Test: Easily passes. This may be due to the fact that, unlike most shows, Community's writing team is made up of 50% female writers and 50% male writers.
- The first plot involving the women of the study group interacting centers around free speech in Guatemala.
- Learning how to fail the test is considered a point of character development for Britta in "Football, Feminism and You".
- Usually, the show will have a storyline with just the girls every 3-5 episodes or so.
- 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.
- One could also make an argument for Abed/Troy as 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.
- Big Bad: Chang in Season 3; Dean Spreck for the entire series, arguably.
- Book Ends: The first and last episodes of anthropology class under Duncan are, fittingly, about death and birth, respectively.
- 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".
- Breakout Character: Abed, Troy, and Chang.
- 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.
- Butt Monkey: Greendale seems to be one among institutes of higher learning, especially where local powerhouse City College is concerned.
- California Doubling: The college is supposed to be located in suburban Denver, but palm trees are often visible in exterior shots. According to Dan Harmon on the DVD Commentary, the reason it doesn't snow during the show is because Global Warming hit Greendale pretty hard.
- Call Back/Continuity Nod: 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.
- Casting Gag: It has yet to happen, but the crew is adamant about getting Bill Murray to play Jeff's father for the interplay against Chevy Chase as Pierce.
- Celebrity Paradox:
- On the school's website, Chevy Chase's character's favorite movie is listed as Fletch. Also, Production Posse extra D.C. Pierson's character's favorite book is listed as The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To.
- At one point Shirley refers to the "Gerard Butler movie poster with the guy's heart over his wiener." That movie poster is for The Ugly Truth, a movie Yvette Nicole Brown (who plays Shirley) starred in.
- While working on his skills as a ladies' man, Abed does a pretty spot-on impression of Don Draper, which Annie really enjoys. Alison Brie, who plays Annie, is widely known for playing Trudy Campbell on Mad Men.
- The Black Rider in Season 2's paintball finale looks exactly like one of the main characters from Lost, which Abed has a DVD set of according to "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas".
- The biology teacher in Season 3 is played by an actor from The Wire, which was referenced multiple times in the first season by Troy and Abed.
- Vice Dean Laybourne is played by John Goodman. Abed once stated that he loved The Big Lebowski.
- Celebrity Resemblance:
- As noted by both Abed and Jeff, Britta looks like Elisabeth Shue.
- Troy notes that the Dean looks like Moby.
- An unseen biracial character is alternately described as a black Michael Chiklis and a white George Foreman.
Britta: HEY! His name is David, he's biracial, and he's a person!
- In the same exchange Jeff calls Abed "brown Jamie Lee Curtis".
- The many "Jeff looks like Ryan Seacrest" jokes.
- In "Contemporary Impressionists", the study group are all hired to work as celebrity impersonators -- Troy and Britta are both Michael Jackson, Annie is Judy Garland, Shirley is Oprah Winfrey, Jeff is Ryan Seacrest, Abed is Jamie Lee Curtis, and Pierce is Fat Marlon Brando, although he insists that he looks more like Burt Reynolds.
- 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.
- Character Blog: http://www.greendalecommunitycollege.com/
- Characterization Marches On: Chang suffers this the most.
- Chewbacca Defense/Courtroom Antic: Jeff's go-to strategy as a lawyer. He particularly seems to like invoking 9/11. Subverted when he uses it in Debate: his team loses, 50-8 (and the 8 were to Annie).
- Christmas Episode: "Comparative Religion" (Season 1), "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" (Season 2), "Regional Holiday Music" (Season 3).
- 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.
- Church of Happyology: Apparently, Pierce is in a variation of this.
- 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.
- Done a LOT. Everyone seems to have a bunch of crumpled balls of paper on hand on this show.
- Completely 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...
- 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.
- 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.
- Conversational Troping
- 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. (verb that changes with 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."
- Crack Pairing: In-Universe. "Romantic Expressionism" parodies this with a long sequence of Ship Tease suggestive glances between all of the characters. In order, it goes: Pierce / Shirley/Jeff / Britta/Abed/Britta / Annie / Britta (gasp!) / Annie (gasp!)/Troy / Shirley/Troy / Annie/Pierce / Annie/Jeff / Annie/Jeff / Abed.
- "Epidemiology" gave us Shirley/Chang. It's canon. Or, affects canon at least.
- "Paradigms of Human Memory" brings us a romantic montage set to "Gravity" between Pierce and Abed.
- "Geography of Global Conflict". Britta and Chang.
- Creator Thumbprint: All the '80s references from Abed. He doesn't seem to make many from either earlier or later than the '80s, which is a little strange when he's in his early twenties and would've grown up during the '90s and '00s.
- It's justified given Abed's tendencies to watch old TV shows and movies. He also does make occasional references to more recent material.
- A Day in the Limelight: The group sets up a D&D game to make Fat Neil feel better in "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons".
- Deadpan Snarker: Jeff. Britta is every bit his equal, however.
Jeff: (referring to school mascot the Greendale Human Being, which wears a full-face mask with no eyeholes and is playing Cupid for Valentine's Day) Oh, now it has arrows. That's safe.
Britta: (walking in hungover) Oh, now it has arrows. That's safe.
- Debut Queue: Variation. A conscious effort was made in the first six episodes to focus on each character of the study group in turn for an episode. In the order they aired, after the first episode introduces Jeff: Jeff partners with Pierce on a class project, Abed enters a film class, Jeff and Shirley bond over gossip, Jeff defends Britta on a cheating charge, Jeff reintroduces Troy to his football past, and Jeff helps Annie with her Halloween party.
- In "Studies in Modern Movement", the show points out that Troy and Abed are the funnest 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 Ambiguous Disorder has been put under a spotlight to reveal him to be not just a cool, in-control Meta Guy but an inconsiderate and controlling person to be around sometimes.
- 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.
- Disney Death: See Dropped a Bridge on Him below.
- Documentary Episode: "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" and "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux". "Pillows and Blankets" is more of a Mockumentary, by contrast.
- 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 1 has Jeff torn between Brita and Prof. Slater. He essentially chooses this option when he decides to leave as opposed to making any decisions.
- Dysfunction Junction
- Early Installment Weirdness: Or, rather, early installment un-weirdness.
- Ear Worm: "Gettin' Ridda Britta" and "Pierce You're a B", in-universe.
- Easter Egg: The Study Group, with help of Slater, summons Beetlejuice. In a way.
- 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.
- Evil Counterpart: City College, complete with a pretty gay dean.
- Fake Real Turn: The study group, after the pilot episode.
- Faking the Dead: Starburns.
- Fan Fiction: Alison Brie admits to reading Jeff/Annie fanfics.
- Fan Service:
- Jeff completely bare-assed naked at the pool table. Dayum. Granted, it was combined with total Fan Disservice, but it was easy to bypass that for Jeff's abs.
- "Cooperative Calligraphy" has everyone strip down to their underwear. No matter which sex you're attracted to, you will be pleased. Though, notably, the guys were more objectified than the girls.
- Parodied in "Investigative Journalism" and "The Psychology of Letting Go" with Annie and Britta's wrestling while covered in soap suds (wearing cheerleader outfits)and while covered in oil, respectively.
- Annie's Sexy Santa Dress in "Regional Holiday Music".
- Food Slap:
- 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.
- 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 note also 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.
- 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."
- Starburns' death and Chang's rise to power foreshadow Evil Abed's appearance in the main timeline.
- 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.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Two of each type:
- Sanguine: Shirley and Pierce.
- Choleric: Annie and Chang (when he has power, at least).
- Melancholic: Britta and Abed.
- Phlegmatic: Jeff and Troy.
- Friends with Benefits: This eventually becomes the arrangement between Jeff and Britta.
- Funny Background Event: Usually provided by Abed.
- 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.
- Genre Savvy: Abed, who frequently points out what's about to happen based on the way the story is progressing so far. He is also the only one that can tell that the Christmas episode is stop-motion animated. Or maybe he's just being delusional.
- The Ghost: Shirley's friend Gary, who no one likes.
Troy: I hope he transfers to hell!
- 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.
- Annie's graphic sex scene while Cross Playing in "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" -- though this is actually Boy!Annie on Girl!Abed.
- In "Early 21st Century Romanticism", Britta kisses Paige (very awkwardly) and nearly kisses 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.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Shirley's husband Andre plays with this trope; the negative consequences of his adultery and leaving Shirley prior to the first season are not glossed over, but when we finally meet him and they get back together in the second season, he comes across as a decent person who made a mistake, genuinely regrets it and is making a sincere effort to turn his life around and fix things with Shirley. It's also suggested in "Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy" that while Andre's actions were the catalyst for the breakdown of their marriage, Shirley herself was not entirely without fault either.
- Group Hug: The study groups does this every few episodes.
Jeff: Bring it in here you knucklehead!
- Halloween Episode: "Introduction to Statistics" (Season 1), "Epidemiology" (Season 2), "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps" (Season 3).
- Happily Married:
- Averted a lot. Jeff, Abed, Annie, and Troy's parents are all divorced. Also, Shirley's husband divorced her for a stripper though they're back together and have another child now, and Pierce has burned through seven wives.
- Played straight with Shirley and Andre after they get back together in Season 2.
- Her Codename 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.
- Remember when they all took that fishing trip on St. Patrick's Day?
- 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
- Hilarious Outtakes: Almost 40 MINUTES worth of outtakes from Season 1 alone.
- 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").
- 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!
- "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: Almost every episode has a name like a community college course (Intro to ______, _______ 101, etc). Really started stretching credibility in Season 2, possibly as a joke ("Aerodynamics of Gender", "Cooperative Calligraphy", "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design"). The absurdity is definitely intentional, seeing as Season 3 gives us "Advanced Gay" when something like "Gay/Lesbian Studies" would have been a more realistic class name.
- Averted with "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" and the two-part Season 2 finale "A Fistful of Paintballs"/"For a Few Paintballs More".
- 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.
- Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Done repeatedly with Dean Pelton.
- Incredibly Lame 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."
- I Think You Broke Me:
- 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 Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": In "Advanced Gay", Pierce talks about looking something up on "the Wackapah-DIE-ah".
- Ivy League for Everyone: The premise for the show is the inversion.
- Reaching near-Moral Event Horizon levels in "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking".
- Jerkass/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 by Troy, who missed the point of the term entirely and thought that the trope naming episode of happy days was the best one.
- Just Friends: Annie and Jeff as of Season 2.
- Killed Off for Real: Starburns is killed off-screen in a car accident/meth lab explosion in "Basic Lupine Urology". Totally not faked.
- Lampshade Hanging: Everywhere.
- 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.
- One episode, Paradigms of Human Memory, lampshades the act of lampshading things.
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", a couple of background characters mention how everything at Greendale seems to revolve around the study group.
- Large Ham:
- Jack Black as Buddy.
- Señor Chang's defining character-trait.
- Last-Second Word Swap:
- 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--
Annie: --someone who... likes him.
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) ...to 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 2 DVD packaging reveals the (admittedly minor) spoiler that for much of the season, Shirley is pregnant.
- 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."
- Le Film Artistique: Abed's films.
- 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...
- Love Dodecahedron: 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 Geneaology". 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 Season 1, Slater and Britta both declare their love for Jeff, but he leaves and kisses Annie.
- Going into Season 2, Jeff and Annie experience ongoing UST. Meanwhile, Troy and Britta take and drama class together, which leads Britta kissing Troy. Then, it is revealed that Jeff and Britta had been sleeping together all year. In the final episode, Abed (playing the part of Han Solo) and Annie share a passionate kiss in the midst of an intense paintball game.
Jeff: All right, all right, maybe we're not a family. Maybe it's more complicated, because unlike a real family, there's nothing to stop any one of us from looking at any of the others as a... sexual... prospect... (everybody starts glancing around the table, leading to the entry under Crack Pairing)
- Loves My Alter Ego: Annie when Abed cosplayed as Han Solo or Batman.
- Lyrical Dissonance: The lyrics to the theme song are surprisingly dark.
[brightly] We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year~!
- May-December Romance:
- The UST between Jeff and Annie. Annie is 20, and Jeff is around 33.  It would be less so with Britta who is supposed to have been out of high school for some time.
- In "Romantic Expressionism", Jeff says (or at least VERY strongly implies) that Britta's 28; Abed also gave this as Britta's age in the pilot, so she must have told him that number, which would make her 30 now.
- The DVD commentaries heavily imply that this is the ultimate ship of the show, with the first seeds laid in the subtle moment of dance at the end of Introduction to Statistics, nurtured throughout Jeff and Annie's strong chemistry from Debate 109 and beyond to the finale. Almost every second season episode features a Jeff/Annie moment - the blanket of "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design", the love duet of "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas". Word of God from Dan Harmon indicates that the impossibility of such a May-December Romance is what attracted him to the idea, and it seems to be the current direction of the show, with groundwork laid from the early days.
- Starting with Season 2, in the first episode of every semester, one of them makes specific comments about Jeff's feelings toward Annie:
Jeff: Look, we agreed that you and I kissing was a mistake. And if anyone were to find out about it, I would be tarred, feathered, and put on one of those websites people check when they're buying a house. ("Anthropology 101")
Annie: I'm sick of this. One minute, I'm too young to date. The next, you're trying to get rid of guys I like. Either you want me or you don't. What's it going to be? ("Asian Population Studies")
Jeff/Annie: And we're going to sleep together! (in Jeff's daydream, "Biology 101")
- And there is also Britta and Troy. She is roughly ten years older than him, but this isn't used against them to the extent of Jeff and Annie. Double Standard?
- 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.
- Memetic Badass: In-universe, Jeff Winger and the study group - at least according to the Dean.
- Mommy Issues: It has been reveal that Dr. Rich has an abusive mother who blames him for his brother's death.
- 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.
- 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. Some particularly notable examples:
- 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.
- In "Environmental Science", Jeff is asked to approach Señor Chang on behalf of the group and get him to call off some of the ridiculously harsh amounts of homework he's been setting. Chang, bonding with Jeff over his recent separation from his wife, agrees to call it off -- but only for Jeff. Jeff goes along with this, and when the other members of the group learn this and angrily call him out over it he acts as if he's the one who's being wronged.
- 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 2 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. Plus the Santa suit.
- 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).
- 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 Shame: Jeff's Real World audition tape.
- Omake: Usually non-related to the plot of that episode.
- One Head Taller: Jeff is a head taller than both Britta and Annie.
- 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.
- In a bit of possible Fridge Brilliance, Jeff may be sane after all, since he did fill out his answers at random. However, Season 3 as a whole seems to be suggesting otherwise.
- 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.
- 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: Chang seems to be going this route in Season 3 only having small parts or cameos in all but 2 episodes so far.
- This seems to have befallen much of the supporting cast in Season 3 sans the dean who even gets A Day in the Limelight.
- Outrun 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.
- Persona Non Grata: Pierce in Season 4. First he gets Put on a Bus with a Hollywood Restraining Order, then they Dropped a Bridge on Him. And when they get the study group back together, "This feels wrong doing it without... Magnitude." The cause seems to be cast infighting -- and that Chevy Chase may have been playing to type.
- Pillow Fight:
- In "Physical Education", Dirty Old Man Pierce thinks Britta knows all about this.
- A non-literal example: 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."
- 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.
- Pop Cultural Osmosis Failure: Occasionally pops up due to the age gap within the study group (Pierce and Shirley versus 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.
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 they didn't insult anyone.
- 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 Pinocle, 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."
- Post Modern: The show repeatedly takes dialogue, scenes, shots, premises, and songs directly from other works (about higher education or otherwise) and notes it.
- Interestingly, David Foster Wallace predicted that just this show would appear... in 1990. Had he lived to see Community, his reaction would have been a mixture of horror, fascination, and amusement.
- The Power of Friendship
- 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, FX, FX 2: The Deadly Art of Illusion bullshit, I will beat you. And there will be nothing madcap or wacky about it."
- 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, the upcoming pillow vs. blanket fight episode is airing on National Pillow Fight Day.
- 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"?
- Psychologist Teacher: The accounting teacher who insists that he will fail Jeff if he doesn't seize the day.
- Ironically, despite being a psychology teacher Duncan doesn't solve all of Jeff's problems and makes him actually work while he's at Greendale. Which may in fact be exactly what Jeff needs.
- Puppy Dog Eyes: Annie's not-so-secret weapon.
- 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.
- Real Song Theme Tune: "At Least It Was Here" by The 88.
- Reference Overdosed: The whole series, especially where Abed is concerned. "Modern Warfare" deserves special mention, though.
- Refuge in Audacity: The show in general runs on this, but "Contemporary American Poultry" (the chicken-Mafia one) and "Modern Warfare" stand out.
- Remember the New Guy?: Mocked with both Buddy and Paradox.
- Fridge Brilliance: "Remember the New Guy" is, itself, a paradox.
- Rousing Speech: This has become something of a Jeff Winger trademark.
- RPG Episode: "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons".
- Running Gag:
- "Shut up, Leonard!"
- Also, no one likes Shirley's (off-screen) friend Gary.
- 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".
- 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!"
- Troy and his propensity for "butt-stuff."
- People like to comment on the size of Jeff's forehead. By the end of Season 2 he starts getting insecure about it.
- The first season commentaries continuously allude to 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.
- TROY AND ABED IN THE MOOOOOORNING!
- The study group's habit of saying something aggressive, then rhyming it with a famous person's name.
"Well, well, well, Harvey Keitel."
"Well, what do you know, Henry David Thoreau?"
"My, oh, my, Mike Ty... son. DAMMIT."
"Nice try, Stephen Fry." "Stephen Fry!"
"Bring it on, Ponce de Leon."
"I'm gonna, Greg Muldona... that's a real guy, he owns a furniture store downtown, you can look it up."
"No prob-lo, Rob Lowe."
Pierce spins a variation on this when, after Abed questions whether he's the "Magnum" portrayed in his Halloween story, he responds with "Still am, Pakistan."
- This trend has extended to people outside of the study group:
Chang: Peachy keen, Avril Lavigne.
Alan: Scouts honor, Sinead O'Connor.
- 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.
- Season 3 seems to have a theme of new characters not 'getting' the show mechanics.
- Various people (even a priest) telling Britta "You're the worst!"
- The Dean walking in and seeing Jeff in a compromising position, and then proceeding to check him out.
- Also everytime the Dean leaves the study room, he touches Jeff.
- Annie delivering a Big No gets almost to the point of Once an Episode in Season 1.
- The racist and anti-racist jokes.
- Chang's inability to recognize backhanded compliments.
- Pierce getting mistaken for dead.
- On random occasions, a character would be humming Michael Haggins' "Daybreak".
- Jeff's "blow off" class always becoming more important than he thought.
- Seemingly mundane, innocent and everyday things being blown up to Serious Business levels by either the study group or Greendale as a whole.
- Sanity Slippage: Chang in Seasons 2 and 3.
- 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.
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.
- The Scrappy: Vaughn, in-universe example. Another in-universe example is Shirley's friend, Gary. (Troy: "I hope he transfers to HELL!")
- Secret Handshake: Troy and Abed's secret handshake is not particularly secret, it's just their usual handshake followed by both of them whispering "SECRET".
- Separated by a Common Language:
- Duncan refers to leaving his wallet "in the back of my lorry", presumably because someone heard that 'lorry' is British English for 'truck'. In fact it suggests that the psych professor mysteriously owns an 18-wheeler - pickup trucks are hardly ever seen in the UK, and when they are they're called 'pickup trucks'.
- In-universe example: "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."
- 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:
- Debate Class.
- Chicken fingers are so important that the gang starts a mini-Mafia to control them.
- 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".
- Air conditioner repair.
- Picking lab partners.
- 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"/"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".
- Sexy Shirt Switch: Parodied/referenced/somethinged during Troy's and Abed's "supercool elevator" mime act.
- Shameless Self Promoter: Joel McHale spends a lot of time on his E! Network show The Soup urging people to watch Community.
- 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.
- Ship-to-Ship Combat: In-universe and out, Team Britta versus Team Annie. Also versus Team Slater in-universe.
- Shipper on Deck: Shirley, during around half of the first season, really wanted Britta and Jeff to get together.
- Ship Tease:
- Also, see Crack Pairing.
- Annie and Jeff, as predicted by Abed. Quite a bit of it in Season 2, and Season 3 seems to be headed the same direction or further.
- Ship Tease: In "English as a Second Language", when Annie reveals that she's been dressing in a way that she hopes make her look like a professor (Jeff dated a professor earlier in the season).
- In "English as a Second Language", Britta and Abed sleep on each other and walk arm in arm behind the rest of the group at least twice once with a spotlight zeroing in on them.
- Britta and Troy fall on each other during "Basic Rocket Science", do a dance scene together in "Interpretive Dance", and exchange both a kiss and a meaningful moment in "Competitive Wine Tasting". Troy also gives her a looooooong speculative look in "Mixology Certification" after Jeff calls her a hurricane - Jeff then points out that being a hurricane is a BAD thing, at which point Troy snaps out of it. Season 3 really amps up the Britta/Troy teasing; in "Remedial Chaos Theory", one of the split-timelines sees them bond very closely. In "Competitive Ecology", Troy and Britta really want to be partners. In "Documentary Making Redux", the two of them share a lot of hugs; partly because their roles in the Dean's commercial require them to, but in one notable case they get very giggly and sheepish afterwards, and in another a group hug between everyone ends with them still in each other's arms, having completely failed to notice everyone else leave the hug.
- Troy and Abed like whoa. They are probably just very comfortable with each other, which is why Abed has no problem reaching under Troy's clothes to procure an unreachable cell phone and why they can share a very long and close hug after a romantic failure. But it is extremely teasing to any slash fan watching.
- Abed/Annie in "For a Few Paintballs More". Annie was also very enthusiastic about his Don Draper seduction style in "Physical Education". Season 3 teased Abed/Annie a few more times: In "Competitive Ecology", Annie and Abed try to hide the fact that they were going to be lab partners; In "Remedial Chaos Theory", Abed invites Annie to live at Apartment 303; In "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism", Batman!Abed caresses Annie's cheek, causing her to swoon; and in "Regional Holiday Music", the two are seen sitting together, holding hands and sharing a smile.
- Occasionally Shirley/Pierce, most notably during "The Art of Discourse".
- 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 tropeoligy 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 Cougar Town and Downton Abbey, and the fan-favorite Inspector Spacetime, an affectionate Doctor Who parody (although Cougar Town and Doctor Who both exist in Community's universe--it's just that the former is a Trans-Atlantic Equivalent and the latter is a more popular rip-off).
- 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".
- 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, many.
- Rich, for Jeff.
- Leonard seems to have taken on this role for Jeff in Season 3.
- 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.
- Rich, for Jeff.
- Six-Student Clique:
- The Head: Jeff.
- The Muscle: Troy.
- The Quirk: Abed.
- The Pretty One: Britta.
- The Smart One: Annie.
- The Wild One: Pierce.
- Shirley doesn't really fall into a slot as she's Team Mom.
- Slut Shaming: Jeff is a shallow manwhore and the ladies love to call him on it. Annie subverts 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."
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Jeff and Britta excel at this.
- Something Completely Different: 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 movis, conspiracy movies, claymation, mockumentary, and westerns.
- Special Edition Title:
- The Season 2 Halloween episode "Epidemiology" replaces the normal origami 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 & 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 and Order, right down to an instrumental version of "At Least It Was Here" In the Style Of Mike Post.
- Special Guest:
- Stepford Smiler: Annie's parents, who would've covered up her drug addiction rather than support her in her decision to go to rehab.
- 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.
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.
- After Pierce draws a swastika in Pictionary (intending it to be a windmill) and accidentally starts a fight with Rabbi Chang over it, a cop implies that this is a common occurrence ("it won't stop until Pictionary gets rid of the windmill").
- 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.
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix: Commissioned by NBC by DJ Steve Porter, also known for his "Rap Chop" and "Jam Wow" Vince Offer remixes. There is a second mix, and a third.
- Stylistic Suck: Abed's student film.
- Subject 101: "Spanish 101" and "Debate 109" have both been episode titles.
- Sure Why Not: The overwhelming fan response to the semi-accidental Jeff/Annie pairing seems to have influenced writers to have Jeff/Annie make out in the Season 1 finale.
- Suspiciously Similar Song: Subverted. At first, it appears that Pierce is going to have slightly changed Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is", for the new school song (the intro notes are indeed slightly different from the original). Subverted when it turns out the rest of the song is exactly the same.
Abed: Can they sue us?
Jeff: Don't know. (listens to the chorus) Yeah, they got us.
- The Tag: Typically where Troy and Abed get to shine, often assisted by Jeff.
- 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 Take That Me:
Pierce: [[[Sincerity Mode|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 Glee club dies in a bus crash as of "Paradigms of Human Memory")
- "The Art of Discourse": Abed explains how the absence of Pierce has left the status of group Butt Monkey up for grabs:
- "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?
- "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.
- "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 Parks and Recreation: "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.
- Talk Show: "Troy and Abed in the Morning!"
- Team Dad: Jeff frequently ends up falling into this role against his will.
- Team Mom:
(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.
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.
- The Teaser
- There's No B in Movie: The movies that Abed and co. watch, such as Kickpuncher. They watch them to riff on how bad they are.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch:
- The Three Faces of Eve: Shirley as the mother, Britta as the seductress, Annie as the child. Increasingly subverted as the series goes on with Annie, who is stepping into more of a grown up role.
- 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?!
- Trope Overdosed: No surprise here.
- 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: ...am I Black Boobs?
- Tsundere: The Secret Service girl for Abed in Season 2 Episode 17.
- Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Happens with both Britta and Slater for Jeff.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension:
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist:
- Valentines Day Episode: Two so far.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?:
- Jeff and Pierce's multi-costumed, multi-propped Spanish presentation, which gets horrified looks from the students and F/F- grades.
- "Somewhere Out There"/Shirley's Public Speaking Speech/Chang's Irish Dancing Montage.
- The entire episode "Modern Warfare" does this for paintball.
- The sailing course from "Basic Pottery" which is treated like a high seas adventure.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Professor Slater vanished into the ether after Season 1 and Agent Vohlers hasn't been seen since her initial appearance.
- Whole-Plot Reference: The full-episode Affectionate Parodies:
- "Contemporary American Poultry" is Goodfellas, including the narration and even using Layla when showing Abed's control measures.
- Troy's subplot in "English as a Second Language" is Good Will Hunting with faucets. So really, just in reverse. Word of God, this was intended as a Take That. This is made clear by the fact that rather than going along with the movie parody, Troy resists it. When Abed uses the same line as Ben Affleck - "the best part of my day is when I think you're not going to be there", Troy rightfully takes offence at it.
- "Basic Rocket Science" is Apollo 13 and Space Camp.
- 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 "Intro to Political Science", we find out he was 19 in 1997