29 ‘Community’ Jokes You May Have Missed
Last Friday, NBC canceled Community after five seasons and, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the cult hit sitcom will be brought back for more episodes on another network or streaming service. It is amazing, though, that Community did manage to stay on the air so long, having been on the verge of cancellation every year, and fans can take comfort in the fact that they at least did get five seasons (four of them with creator Dan Harmon) and 97 episodes (86 with Harmon) of the show.
Like Arrested Development before it, Community stands apart from other network sitcoms because its writers delight in packing the show with in-jokes and references to past and future episodes as a reward for fans who watch and rewatch episodes. In honor of Community‘s unfortunate demise, we’ve rounded up a whole slew of subtle jokes, references, and secret stuff from the show that you may have missed (and other stuff you’ve probably already seen and will be upset to see on this list) in the handy guide below.
1. The song Pierce writes in “Advanced Criminal Law,” a ripoff of Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is” called “The Way It Goes,” features a line about taking air conditioner repair classes at Greendale, which foreshadows Troy’s air conditioner repair studies in season three.
2. In season one, Shirley makes frequent references to her Swedish friend Gary, a student at Greendale whom everybody else in the study group inexplicably hates. Gary ends up transferring out of the school in a later episode.
3. In “Football, Feminism and You,” Troy tells Jeff he should take a pottery class. 13 episodes later, in “Beginner Pottery,” he does.
4. Played out over the course of three seasons, Dan Harmon and his writers referenced Beetlejuice three times (once a season in episodes “Communication Studies,” “Cooperative Calligraphy,” and “Horror Fiction”), with Beetlejuice appearing in the background the third time.
5. Jeff’s underwear in “Physical Education” is the same design as Dean Pelton’s two seasons later in “Documentary Filmmaking: Redux.”
6. The phrase “Streets Ahead” actually comes from a viewer who tweeted at Dan Harmon “both Modern Family and Glee are streets ahead of your meta bullshit.” Harmon responded by making fun of the person and the phrase relentlessly on Twitter and then incorporated it into the episode “Contemporary American Poultry” with Pierce Hawthorne trying to popularize the phrase.
7. In “The Art of Discourse,” Abed’s Robocop-esque screen is shown, with many of the info referencing future/past episodes.
8. In “English as a Second Language,” Jeff says he has an “unmovable appointment” on May 23, 2013. in ep 24 of first season, Winger says he has an “unmovable appointment” on May 23, 2013, at Morty’s Steakhouse to celebrate becoming a lawyer again. May 23, 2013, was a potential date for the show’s fourth season finale, which Dan Harmon had planned to have Jeff graduate from Greendale. The fourth season ended up wrapping up before May 23 that year and without Harmon, but it was still something Harmon and company attempted to telegraph years earlier.
9. In “Pascal’s Triangle Revisited,” the school’s Transfer Dance is renamed the Tranny Dance. Dean Pelton reads some names of students who were runners up to be voted Tranny Queen, and one of the names is “Danielle Harmon,” the female version of Dan Harmon’s name.
10. In “The Psychology of Letting Go,” Annie and Britta’s diorama during their gulf spill awareness campaign features barrels from Wilde Oil, a reference to Mitch Hurwitz and Will Arnett’s short-lived Fox sitcom which was airing at the time. Hurwitz and Dan Harmon became friends, trading appearances on each other’s shows a little later, and now they’re working on a mysterious project together.
11. Also in “The Psychology of Letting Go,” Abed has a storyline that occurs entirely within the background of the episode, across several scenes. We see him befriend a pregnant woman, get into a fight with her man, and help her give birth. At the end of the episode, when Shirley says she hasn’t seen Abed much that week and asks what he’s been up to, he responds, “Not much.”
12. In “Basic Rocket Science,” Pierce hallucinates that Colonel Sanders is trying to kill him when the gang is inside the KFC space simulator. He shouts, “Get off my mommy, I’m her man” when wrecking the simulator, and a season later, when we see his father in “Advanced Gay,” he bears a striking resemblance to Colonel Sanders.
13. In “Epidemiology,” Dean Pelton holds a package with a QR bar code on the back, and if you scan it with a QR reader, it displays “Greetings from Greendale Community College.”
14. In “Cooperative Calligraphy,” Annie and the group spend the entire episode searching for her missing pen. At the end of the episode, it’s revealed that the monkey, Annie’s Boobs, stole her pen, and if you watch closely at the top of the episode, you can see the monkey actually grab the pen:
15. Also in “Cooperative Calligraphy,” Jeff talks to a woman named Gwynnifer on the phone and tells her to “suck it.” The name was chosen because Dan Harmon got into a Twitter argument with somebody named Gwynnifer.
16. In “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design,” a Latvian Independence Parade marches through the blanket fort. The episode aired on November 18th, 2010, which really is Latvian Independence Day.
17. When Troy and Abed are hosting a campus televison show on GCTV in “Intro to Political Science,” the scroll features references to the plots of future episodes.
18. In season two, Community did a subtle, elaborate crossover with Cougar Town. In the Community episode, “Critical Film Studies,” Abed tells Jeff about being an extra on Cougar Town and shitting his pants while they were filming. Danny Pudi, as Abed, did actually turn up in the background during an episode of Cougar Town and ran off in the middle of the scene, presumably having shit his pants:
Community returned the favor by having Busy Philipps and Dan Byrd, who acted in the Cougar Town scene with Abed, in a quick crowd scene in Community‘s “For a Few Paintballs More”:
19. In the faux-clip show episode, “Paradigms of Human Memory,” the shipper video about Abed and Pierce is an homage to this real fan video about Annie and Jeff:
20. In “A Fistful of Paintballs,” Britta wears a sweatshirt that reads, “It’s all downhill from here,” a reference to fans complaining about the show jumping the shark that was intentionally added into an episode that was a sequel to a popular episode of the show.
21. The first and last shot of Season 3 is Chang in Greendale’s air ducts.
22. Here’s a clip from the episode “Remedial Chaos Theory,” which was supposed to be episode 3 of the third season (hence Troy and Abed’s apartment number 303), but the episode was switched to be air fourth that season and writers added in this exchange between Annie and Britta: “Didn’t they say 304? No, 303. I wrote it down twice.”
23. Starting with the episode “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps,” multiple characters throughout the show hum the smooth jazz song “Daybreak” by Michael Haggis in different episodes.
24. In “Introduction to Teaching,” Jeff’s office number is “D-502,” a reference to the episode’s production number, 502.
25. In “Cooperative Polygraphy,” Troy accidentally opens Pierce’s Energon pod and swallows some of Pierce’s vapors, a callback to the season two episode “The Psychology of Letting Go” where Troy at one point says, “I want to eat a ghost!”
26. In “Geothermal Escapism,” Magnitude mentions that he’s British, a reference to the actor who plays him, Luke Youngblood, being British in real life.
27. At the end of “Cork-Based Networking,” Abed and Rachel watch Dan Harmon’s other show, Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty.
28. In “Bondage and Male Sexuality,” a chalkboard gives a hint about Troy being in the Bermuda Triangle:
The rest of the season is loaded with background chalkboard/whiteboard jokes.
29. Those isn’t actually from the show, but Dan Harmon was late turning in the script for the episode “G.I. Jeff,” and his longtime collaborator and buddy Rob Schrab, who was directing the episode, started teasing Harmon on Twitter about taking too long with the script. Harmon had Jon Kimmel, who sang the G.I. Joe theme for the episode to make a song called “Schrab Asshole” to send to Schrab: