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Jeff Winger (Joel McHale)
"If I wanted to learn something, I wouldn't have come to community college."
A charming but manipulative and Amoral Attorney who was forced to attend Greendale upon the discovery that his college credentials were forged. Responsible for the formation of the group as the inadvertent result of a plot to seduce Britta, he tends to act as the leader.
- The Hero
- Decoy Protagonist: His role as the lone viewpoint character lasts maybe halfway into the first season and rapidly diminishes from there.
- Season 3 also seems to be gearing up towards a bit of a Deconstruction of him; his more negative traits, influences and effects on the group have been increasingly focused on, and the group as a whole seems to be increasingly resistant to / intolerant of his usual tactics and behaviours. He's also been revealed to be very messed up.
- Decoy Protagonist: His role as the lone viewpoint character lasts maybe halfway into the first season and rapidly diminishes from there.
- Abusive Parents: In "Home Economics," Jeff makes a throwaway reference to having a drunken and abusive dad when explaining how TV makes an excellent parent.
- Actor Allusion: Characters will often mock Jeff by calling him Ryan Seacrest. Seacrest is McHale's Real Life Sitcom Arch Nemesis.
- Aesop Amnesia: He seems to have to learn and re-learn that he either needs to start treating his friends better and / or deal with the fact that he's at Greendale and stop acting so high-and-mighty about everything very frequently.
Jeff: He doesn't like fake courses, well, he's about to get a real lesson on the fact that Jeff Winger never learns.
- Season 3 premiere seems to suggest he has finally learned how much he needs his friends (at least subconsciously) just as they are no longer reliant on him.
- Amoral Attorney: His Backstory.
- Ax Crazy: in "Biology 101" when he gets kicked out from the group he loses it and uses an actual axe to destroy their table.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: A key part of his MO. See the bit about "board certified Spanish tutor" above.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Jeff and everyone.
- Lampshaded almost word-for-word in "Paradigms of Human Memory" They've been reading the trope pages again, haven't they?
- None of that chemistry is going Shirley's way though.
- At least until Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism
- None of that chemistry is going Shirley's way though.
- Lampshaded almost word-for-word in "Paradigms of Human Memory" They've been reading the trope pages again, haven't they?
- Berserk Button: Don't play mind games with Jeff when it comes to his long-lost father.
Jeff: 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 or you in a wig, if you pull any Ferris Bueller, Parent Trap, Three's Company, FX, F/X2: the Deadly Art of Illusion bull--- I will beat you. And there will be nothing madcap or wacky about it.
- And he later makes good on his promise, chasing down the car Pierce is in, and dragging him out before proceeding to beat him until the other study group members try and pull him off.
- Better as Friends / Friends with Benefits: Jeff and Britta's relationship has zigzagged between the two; despite some romantic tension in season one, they appeared to have decided that they're Better as Friends -- except it was revealed "Paradigms of Human Memory" that they'd still been hooking up on occasion. The end of that episode, however, saw them apparently decide to call that quits as well, and it seems that they're now just platonic friends.
- Blatant Lies: The other key part of his MO.
- Break the Haughty: Much of Jeff's character arc basically involves getting him down from his high horse by any means necessary, usually through a combination of humiliation and good old-fashioned Character Development.
- Brilliant but Lazy: Played with for Jeff; he's clearly quite clever, he's very lazy, but whenever he tries to coast on this, things usually go wrong for him.
Jeff: Well, the funny thing about being smart is that you can get through most of life without ever having to do any work.
- Bully Hunter: Jeff's a curious example; on the surface, he seems thoroughly reluctant to involve himself in anything outside his own self-involved little bubble, and isn't adverse to letting rip with the odd snide and cutting comment himself, yet he consistently appears unwilling and / or unable to let bullying go unchallenged. Pretty much every time a bully / group of bullies has appeared, even if the victim isn't one of his friends Jeff's more often than not ended up confronting them; he'll usually frame it as confronting them for being a loud, obnoxious and irritating dickhead rather than a bully, but nevertheless. In "Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism" we learn Jeff himself was a victim of bullying as a child, which might explain this.
- Catch Phrase: "But here's the thing." Usually said when he's endeavoring to be the voice of reason.
- Cool Shades: Which he will usually combine with a leather jacket and a well-timed Glasses Pull for maximum effect.
- Daddy Issues
- Disappeared Dad: Apparently his father is a conman who "couldn't leave a trail if he wanted to."
- Deadpan Snarker
- Defrosting Ice King
- Depending on the Writer: How much of a douche he can be.
- Designated Villain: As Pierce was for season 2 it seems Jeff fits this role sometimes in season 3.
- Dismotivation: Played with; Jeff wants to get his degree, get out of Greendale and back into his cushy high-powered lawyer lifestyle, but is incredibly lazy, used to coasting on his wits and charm, and sees doing any more than the bare minimum amount of effort required to get by, whether it is in getting his degree or doing anything for his friends, as a personal failure. Naturally, he often falls into the trap of doing more to actually avoid doing anything (and consequently bringing on more trouble and strife to himself as a result) than would be necessary if he just sucked it up and put an honest effort in.
- The Dulcinea Effect: Jeff decides he had a crush on Britta in the very first episode and spends the rest of the season pursuing her until they hook up in the semi-finale.
- Mr. Fanservice: He has quite a few Shirtless Scenes.
- And then there's a pool match...
- Evil Counterpart: To Rich.
- Faux Fluency: Pretending to be a "board-certified Spanish tutor" from the very first episode. This is lampshaded: "What board?"
- Forehead of Doom: This feature has been brought up several times when insulting him.
Jeff: It's not really that big, is it?
Troy: It's not small.
- Freudian Excuse: Jeff drastically changed his image and attitude after a brutal lashing at foosball--a loss so bad that young Jeff actually wet himself--by a bully who turns out to be Shirley when he was 10 years old.
- Gentle Giant: When he's not being a Jerkass.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: Averted (despite his best efforts) and Lampshaded.
Jeff: The funny thing about being smart is that you can get through most of life without having to do any work.
- Jeff also often falls into the trap of putting more effort into avoiding having to do something (with usually a greater amount of trouble and strife for him) than would probably result if he just sucked it up and put an honest effort in to doing what he was supposed to be doing.
- Hipster: Jeff tends to occupy the 'vain, self-centered and obsessed with being the coolest-yet-most-aloof person in the room' part of the stereotype.
- Hot Guys Are Bastards: He's getting (a bit) better, but he still has a tendency to use his looks as an excuse for being a jerk.
- Jerkass: His default setting. While the study group has enabled him to gradually develop and display a heart of gold, he originally wasn't very nice at all, and can occasionally regress.
- Jerkass Woobie: For all his snarkiness, he does have a few moments of this. Especially whenever his father is mentioned.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Almost on every episode he is in when he has to rescue the group from their hi-jinx. Lampshaded by Britta in Modern Warfare. In fact, it can be argued that this trope is Reconstructed with Jeff.
- Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: Although it's played with, in that it's gradually revealed that as much as he might try to deny or hide it, he's just as loony as the rest of them in many ways.
- Manipulative Bastard: He's getting much worse at this over time, due to Character Development. His skills started failing him right around when he came to Greendale.
- Meaningful Name: His last name is Winger, and he's spent his adult life, well, winging it.
- Mommy Issues: His mother praised him too much and now he has trouble accepting failure.
- Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: He runs basically the entire spectrum of amorality tropes.
- Not So Above It All: He may think of himself as the Only Sane Man, but in reality he's had his share of crazy moments too.
- Not So Different: It's often made clear that Jeff and Pierce are not quite so different as Jeff would like to believe, and that Pierce is essentially what a future version of Jeff will look like if he doesn't improve his ways and character.
- One Head Taller: At 6'4", he towers over Annie and Britta.
- Only Sane Man: Jeff likes to think and act like he's this, and it's initially played more-or-less straight, but it's gradually subverted over the course of the series when it becomes apparent that he's in many ways more messed up than any of his wackier friends.
- Stop Having Fun Guy: In general, his rather snide and hipper-than-thou attitude and efforts to demonstrate a cool ironic detachment can sometimes mean that he can ruin the fun a bit (alternatively, he can seem to have it most at the expense of someone else). Seems especially the case in "Remedial Chaos Theory" where the timeline resulting in him going to get the pizza is ultimately the one were everyone ends up having the most fun.
- Team Dad: Reluctantly.
- 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.
- Pointed out in the season 2 premiere.
Abed: I know the difference between TV and reality, Jeff. TV has structure, it makes sense, there are likable leading men. In real life, we have this. We have you.
- White Male Lead: Out of two black people, an Arabic guy, an Asian guy, and three women on the cover, the main character ends up being the young white male. Although the series has become a lot more of an ensemble piece over time.
- Worthless Foreign Degree: The reason Jeff is in community college is that his Bachelor's degree is one of these. Formerly provided the page quote for this trope.
Duncan: I thought you had a Bachelor's from Columbia.
Jeff: Well, now I have to get one from America.
Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs)
"Knock, knock. Who's there? Cancer. Oh, good, come on in. I thought it was Britta."
A passionate but inept political activist, feminist, anarchist cat owner and psychology student, who, although generally well meaning, tends to eagerly latch on to particular causes with more enthusiasm (and obnoxious self-righteousness) than ability.
- Actor Allusion: Jeff and Chang laughing about Cherry Daiquiri, and then talking to Britta. (Gillian Jacobs played Cherry Daiquiri in the movie version of Choke.)
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: She seems to have quite the thing for damaged goods, jerks and weirdos; subject to a process of mild Deconstruction in that it's made clear that this is due to a severe self-esteem issues on her part, and she initiates these relationships as a self-destructive way of validating her own lack of self worth.
Troy: What don't you get about this? Britta likes guys who are mean to her. She doesn't like herself.
- Battle Cry: "Britta for the win!"
- Berserk Button: Britta likes boys, and she DOESN'T like when they're mean to her, and she DOESN'T like when they stop kissing her and start kissing one of her friends.
- Better as Friends/Friends with Benefits: With Jeff, as mentioned above.
- Break the Haughty: Like Jeff, Britta tends to have a rather high opinion of herself. Again like Jeff, many of the plots involving her tend to involve knocking her off her high horse as humiliatingly as possible.
- Butt Monkey: She's the AT&T of people.
- Although she didn't start out this way. It came up gradually in season two and then began to dominate her character in season three. May be a result of Flanderization.
- The Cast Showoff: She shows off her dancing skills in Interpretive Dance.
- Catch Phrase: "BRITTA FOR THE WIN!" and "Duh doy!"
- The Ditz
- Does Not Like Men: A somewhat mild example. She's made it clear how her views about men are not very flattering. That doesn't stop her from being close friends with four men though.
- Dumb Blonde: Averted. Despite her hair colour, she isn't any dumber than Annie (the brunette).
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Goes from a wavy do in season one to a straighter one in season two. Then back to wavy again in season three.
- Former Teen Rebel: Used to be an activist who traveled the world and joined the Peace Corps before deciding to go Back to School, which explains her Soapbox Sadie tendencies.
- Friends with Benefits: See Better as Friends.
- Granola Girl: She was clearly one before entering the show, but snarkiness has turned her into more of a Straw Feminist.
Britta: I'm a vegetarian.
Troy: Wow. Shocker.
- The Grinch: In "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas", her rather smug and snide dismissals of the trappings of the festive season, such as Christmas songs, see her come off as a bit of a killjoy.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: Was once referred to as the girl with "the infinite supply of leather jackets".
- Hipster: Like Jeff, much as she might try to deny it Britta is totally a hipster. In particular, she tends to occupy the 'pretentious, smug and rather ill-informed left-winger' aspect of the stereotype. And she's apparently always been a hipster--for example, she deliberately tracked down VHS bootlegs of Rebop as a child.
- Hollywood Atheist
- Hypocritical Humor: Seeing as there's a bit of a gulf between Britta's views of what is appropriate and her actions, she tends to generate this kind of humor.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Britta tends towards being rather obnoxious, self-righteous, self-centred and inept, but her heart is generally in the right place and it's often made clear that she'd jump through fire for her friends.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: And her cats all seem to have an incredible range of illnesses and disabilities.
- The Lancer
- Meaningful Name: Britta is a rather brittle person, who puts on a tough, confident and self-impressed front but is really a rather unstable stew of neuroses and insecurities when you get past the surface.
- Nice Girl: Despite having her obnoxious tendencies, she and Troy are the remaining people in the study group who have never been cast into a villainous role for an episode. Jeff went batshit in season 3, Annie was villainized by Jeff for ratting out Chang, Shirley acted as Abed's personal Judas, Abed's Evil Abed persona wanted to cut off Jeff's arm, and Pierce.., where to begin with Pierce..
- Team Mom: Juggles this Shirley. Britta tends to be the group's "Buzzkill" and have become more concerned with their mental well-beings since becoming a Psyche Major.
- No Social Skills: Her reactions to certain situations tend to be inappropriate or just nonsensical. According to Word of God, this is why she plays a "malfunctioning robot" in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas".
- Phrase Catcher: "You're the worst!"
- Rape as Backstory: While it may not have been rape, it has been implied that she was molested by a man in a dinosaur costume when she was 11. With the way the show has spun it, it seems like it may also count as Black Comedy Rape.
- Really Gets Around: At least, it's frequently implied that she does.
- Soapbox Sadie: Parodied; she will latch on to any excuse to jump onto her high horse about something, especially if the something in question is something that is no longer as radical or controversial as she thinks it is. This tends to lead to her making a fool of herself.
- She's the AT&T of people!
"You don't have to yell at us! Nobody is on the other side of this issue."
- So Unfunny It's Funny
- Straight Man: She has a reputation as a buzzkill.
- Straw Feminist
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The tomboy to Annie's girly girl.
- Took a Level In Dumbass: Lampshaded by Jeff in "Course Listing Unavailable":
Jeff: You seemed smarter than me when I met you.
- Tsundere: Her actions seems to imply she's a Type B tsundere, especially towards Jeff.
- Unfortunate Names: "What is she, a water filter?" "Can you imagine living with that?"
- Weakness Turns Her On: A self-admitted example. She even falls for Troy when he makes up a story of being a molested as a child.
- Women Are Wiser: None of the characters is a flawless human being, but she tries to act this trope more than the others (who may actually have more claim to it than her). She does admit at one point that she doesn't consider herself to be so, however, and her heart is generally in the right place even if there's a gulf between her opinion of herself and the reality.
- Yaoi Fan
Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase)
"Before AIDS, sex was like shaking hands."
The oldest member of the study group; a local curmudgeon and a wealthy but lonely tycoon who attends Greendale primarily to find company and give himself something to do. Not nearly as smart and popular as he thinks, he tends to act inappropriately and thus come across as more-or-less inadvertently racist, sexist and buffoonish.
- Actor Allusion: Pierce's middle name is Cornelius, and he lives on "Cranesworth Road".
- Berserk Button: A double subversion occurs in "Accounting for Lawyers" when Pierce fails to guess another man's Berserk Button, but in fact has just mentioned his own - his hair loss.
- Black Best Friend: One thing that gets Pierce out of his suicidal funk is that he has "a young African-American friend".
- Butt Monkey: Pierce typically serves this role within the study group, as lampshaded in "The Art of Discourse."
- Casting Gag: Up until a couple of years ago, Chevy Chase was absolutely notorious for being difficult to work with. He's turned it around since then, but Pierce's status as the group's in-universe Scrappy-Doo and general Jerkassness can be seen as him essentially playing who he thinks he used to be.
- Given the recent feud between him and Dan Harmon, it seems that he's still difficult to work with.
- The Cast Showoff: Performs a couple songs accompanying himself on keyboard.
- Catch Phrase: Tries to force "Streets ahead" in Contemporary American Poultry.
- Completely Missing the Point: So much. So much.
- Designated Villain: Can be this a few times
- Dirty Old Man: To whit, after the Crack Pairing on the main page:
Pierce: (to everybody in the group) So, just to be clear, I don't have a shot with any of you?
(everybody shudders and walks away)
- Disproportionate Retribution: A specialty of his.
- "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" takes this to epic levels.
- "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking" is all about his complicated revenge.
- In "Intro to Political Science" he got into the election for student body president just to publicly humiliate Vicky in every way imaginable for not lending him a pencil.
- The Ditz: A particularly nasty example.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Pierce hates the thought of anyone pitying him for any reason. Unfortunately, he's also so desperate for attention that rather than accept people's pity, he'll instead lash out in more negative ways to the point that pity ends up being the last thing anyone feels for him, even if he genuinely warrants it.
- Dumbass Has a Point: He shows piercing and penetrating insight every once in a while.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Anastasia, according to "Advanced Gay."
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: It's revealed that he often talks to his mother about how he feels Jeff bullies him, and tells her he has a Girlfriend in Canada.
- The Friend Nobody Likes
- Genius Ditz: He's actually a competent businessman and a skilled orator.
- Hidden Depths: In the season 2 finale:
Pierce: You know I've been coming to this school for twelve years? I--I've never been friends with anyone here for more than a semester. Probably for the same reason I've been married seven times. I guess I assume eventually I'll get rejected, so I, you know, test people, push them until they prove me right. It's a sickness, I admit it. But, this place has always accepted me, sickness and all. This place accepted all of you. Sickness and all. It's worth thinking about.
- Innocent Bigot: Regularly says things the other characters find offensive. Generational differences play a role.
- Jerkass: more and more.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A very minor example; there are occasionally glimpses of someone more likeable, decent and sympathetic within Pierce, but they're buried almost impenetrably deep within a crust and outer core of insufferable Jerkass. In general, if anyone's going to reveal Pierce's nicer side, it's Annie.
- Jerkass Woobie: Steadily reaching this point after "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons."
- Kavorka Man: He's been divorced seven times. This means seven different women agreed to marry him in the first place.
- The Klutz: He manages to fall out of Jeff's chair just by sitting in it, as well as getting the most laughs at Abed's bad movie night by tripping and knocking over Chang's popcorn.
- The Load: Whenever the group does a group activity.
- Manipulative Bastard: Best showed in "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking", where he makes the rest of the group paranoid for ostracizing him.
- Man Child: Bordering on Psychopathic Manchild.
- Mistaken for Racist: Despite his obvious lack of sensitivity, there are times when he genuinely doesn't intend to be offensive.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Pierce routinely mispronounces Abed's name as "Ay-bed".
- Odd Friendship: Pierce and... anyone, really.
- Out of Focus / Satellite Character: As time has gone on, Pierce has gotten less and less focus to the point of being a point of contention for Chevy Chase in real life.
- The Obi-Wannabe: Fortunately, it's pretty obvious to the rest of the study group from the beginning.
- Playing Against Type: Most of Chevy Chase's more popular characters have tended to be smooth, suave and the smartest (or at least wittiest) guy in the room. Pierce Hawthorne? Not so much.
- Racist Grandpa: Naturally.
- Token Evil Teammate: From time to time.
- Took a Level In Jerkass: In season 2, he starts engaging in self-alienating behavior while simultaneously castigating the others for alienating him; this culminates in the events of "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking," "A Fistful of Paintballs," and "For a Few Paintballs More." In season 3, that level of jerkass seems to have receded, returning him to the sympathetic bumbler of season 1.
- Totally Radical: His attempt to coin the phrase "streets ahead".
- Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Can across as this. Pierce's inappropriateness, overzealous creativity, and pathological need to be accepted at all costs are all rooted in frustrations getting attention from his father and his fear that his age is now isolating himself from the rest of the study group.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Revealed as one in "Celebrity Pharmacology."
- Yuri Fan: Or at least he thinks Girl-On-Girl Is Hot.
- May be a Subversion, as despite his tendency toward perversion, in "Advanced Gay" he says that he hates lesbians.
- Although he did have that oddly supportive letter for Britta after she "came out" for "dating a lesbian".
Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi)
"Six seasons and a movie!"
A media-aware and pop-culture obsessed film student who is either suffering from an unspecific personality disorder or is just very eccentric. He tends to view the world around him as if he and his friends were the main characters in a weekly television sitcom about a group of oddball students. As such, he tends to make frequent references, comparisons and ‘homages’ to various TV shows and movies.
- Actor Shared Background: Abed is half-Polish, as is his actor, Danny Pudi.
- Adult Child: Jeff outright asks him if there's anything more important to him than eating cereal and watching television.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: Lovable Nerd Woobie who just has problems reading peoples emotions, or Manipulative Bastard whose main goal is purposely influencing people around him so they get into all kinds of trouble resembling his favourite movies? For example, if true, the whole plot of "Accounting for Lawyers" is kicked off by Abed Obfuscating Stupidity. He even got called out on it in "Cooperative Calligraphy":
- Ambiguous Disorder: He is incredibly fascinated with films and television and is a bit obsessed with projecting their tropes onto real life. He also has a strange, somewhat sterile demeanor, doesn't seem to know (or even when corrected, care about) how to go about certain social situations, and is face-blind. The characters seem to be unsure of whether or not Abed is showing symptoms of some kind of mental disorder, or is just really quirky. His parents have attempted treatment, if the syringe clipart in his student film is anything to go by.
- Awesomeness By Analysis: He's so Genre Savvy that he can predict, word for word, how anyone in the group will respond to a given situation.
- In Cooperative Calligraphy, it was revealed that in this fashion he figured out the menstrual cycles of the women in the group.
- Prophecies Are Always Right: Any prophecy he makes in this fashion will be accurate.
- Bollywood Nerd: Spoofed. One of his nicknames is "Slumdog".
- Breakout Character
- Teased a few times:
Troy: Do you just constantly have your own little side adventures?
Troy: ...Me too.
- Brutal Honesty: Abed tends to deliver cutting analyses of people without any sort of sugary coat. It becomes a plot point in "Aerodynamics of Gender."
- Cannot Convey Sarcasm: Abed. He has to announce whenever he's being sarcastic as well as announce when he's finished.
- Catch Phrase: (points)"Cool." (beat). "Coolcoolcool."
- Chick Magnet: Abed has no problem attracting girls because he's Adorkable and his aloofness reminds them of their Daddy Issues.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: His encyclopedic command of tropes gives him the full-on power of prophecy. He shot a video where the study group bands together to stop Jeff from living out of his car... the week before it happened to the characters themselves.
- Dawson Casting: Abed's exact age is never specified, but he's probably in his early twenties. Danny Pudi is 32.
- Does Not Understand Sarcasm: Lampshaded in "Advanced Criminal Law."
Abed: Troy invented rap music, and he's related to Danny Glover, and President Obama.
Troy: Hey man, that stuff I said this morning wasn't true, I was just messing with you.
Abed: You were lying?
Troy: Yeah, as a joke. You've never had somebody mess with you before?
Abed: Yes, just kidding, no. Like that? ...This isn't a table. (Laughs) ...That's funny.
- Fake Nationality: Abed and his dad as Palestinians, or as any kind of Arab: Danny Pudi (Abed) is half-Indian and half-Polish (and grew up speaking Polish), while Iqbal Theba (Abed's dad) is Pakistani. The Arabic they speak in "Introduction to Film," however, is real.
- Fourth Wall Observer: At one point he looks directly at the camera and says "this is the movie!" while someone sings "Abed!" in the background.
- Genre Savvy: His defining characteristic.
- As he says, talking about people like they're in a TV show is his gimmick and that they "leaned pretty hard on that last week." He then says that he "can lay low for an episode." As mentioned above, this becomes Dangerously Genre Savvy at times (oddly enough it is relatively rare that he is victim to Wrong Genre Savvy).
- He's even Genre Savvy about having an Ambiguous Disorder - he got out of a conversation with Chang where he was caught in a lie by pretending to 'glitch' in "Asian Population Studies", making Chang go away in frustration.
Abed: Works every time.
- Heroic Blue Screen of Death
- Heterosexual Life Partners: With Troy.
- Hyper Awareness: See Awesome By Analysis.
- Informed Islam: Abed's religion doesn't really come up, except at Christmas or when Pierce wants to be Pierce.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Pierce routinely gets his name wrong, calling him "Ay-bed" (as in, "the Ay-rab").
- Lost in Character: For his walk-on role in Cougar Town.
- Loves My Alter Ego: Annie shows increase interest when Abed cosplayed as Han Solo or Batman.
- Meta Guy: Abed's Medium Awareness and Genre Savvy Leaning on the Fourth Wall (if not outright breaking it) is justified as him being a Cloudcuckoolander (or at least a Genius Ditz) with some degree of Obfuscating Stupidity or Insanity - Britta worries in an early episode that he doesn't know the difference between real life and television. In fact, he has transcended normal Genre Savvy into the realms of prophesy now that he is taking film classes. Wild Mass Guessing has postulated that he is either a patron of this site or knows that he's fictional. Examples can be found on the Quotes page.
- Lampshaded in the first episode of season two. Abed asks Shirley if she would "spin off with him" and she responds with "I don't understand, is this you being meta?".
- Word of God from this interview with creator Dan Harmon states that Abed will never directly break the Fourth Wall.
- That being said, there are a few times when it's arguable he's done so already. He sung a variation of the theme song in "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas." It's almost like Abed can see the fourth wall out of the corner of his eye, and the only thing he can't do is look into the camera and address the audience.
- From the same episode, as they walk through the valley where the plants sing Christmas carols, Pierce asks if it will be "expensive to walk though here," to which Abed answers "no, these songs are all public domain." That joke doesn't even make sense out of the context of them knowing they're in a TV show. Suffice to say, Community plays pretty fast and loose with the fourth wall.
- But that's the beauty of Abed - the joke does make sense if you believe Abed is such a Cloudcookoolander that he sometimes believes he's a character in a TV series, and talks in a manner consistent with being one, when he isn't (even though he is). Abed is a TV character who often has delusions that he is a TV character; this is part of his characterisation and it is possible for him to comment on it without breaking the fourth wall.
- In the "Twittersode" before the Season Two finale, Abed is the only one able to see that every character ends their tweets with a hashtag referencing the show itself.
AbedsTweets: Why do we keep typing "// #NBCCommunity?"
JeffWingerAtLaw: @AbedsTweets Nobody knows what you’re talking about. AGAIN.=]
- In "Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples" he looks at the camera saying "This is the movie"
- Missing Mom: Sadly he has one.
- Motor Mouth
- The Movie Buff: And how!
- Nerds Are Sexy: Despite a clear lack of social skills, he seems to have little difficulty attracting women (he's Adorkable and his aloofness subconsciously reminds them of their fathers). He has also made out with the hottest girl in school.
- One of Us: It's never explicitly stated, but Abed is obviously a troper, even citing tropes by name at certain points. At times it goes so far that he sounds as if he's reading the TV Tropes article for his own show.
- Only Sane Man: Literally. When Britta has the entire group take a psychological test, all of them are revealed to be extremely unstable, except for Abed.
- Pass the Popcorn: Part of his Meta Guy shtick. He goes as far as giving cues to the players so they know how to proceed cinematically.
- The Rainman:
- In his own words, "I know you guys all so well I can predict your behavior."
- There's a throwaway joke in "Physical Education" when Jeff spills a bag of bagels on the floor and Abed glances down at them briefly before saying, "Thirteen."
- Pierce and Duncan have both referred to him as such.
- In "Pillows and Blankets", the opening narration describes him as "unable to pay parking tickets or know left from right without mouthing the Pledge of Allegiance."
- In "Virtual Systems Analysis", Abed has a voiceover, "I am Abed Nadir, and I don't know a lot of things everyone else knows," while an analog clock (confirmed in "Basic Lupine Urology"), a restaurant check, shoes with untied laces, and a pile of papers (possibly tax forms) float around.
- Reference Overdosed: References are basically how he communicates with the world.
- In "Communication Studies," he gets drunk and is horrified to discover he can't recall any shows or movies to reference. At one point, to keep up appearances, he just says "movie reference."
- Sarcasm Blind: Early Season 1. He gets better.
- He does tend to need to announce to everyone when he's planning to or using sarcasm, however.
- Stat-O-Vision: How Abed sees the world.
- The Stoic: Easily the most patient of the group and least likely to get upset. He's even unfazed by sitting through twenty-six hours of Duncan's psychology experiment.
- Twofer Token Minority: Half-Polish, half-Arab.
- Tagalong Kid: Although Annie and Troy are technically younger than he is.
- The Un-Smile: Averted. His most common expression is a dead pokerface, but on the couple of occasions when he does smile... it's pretty adorable.
- Played enormously straight in "Remedial Chaos Theory."
- Vague Age: He's somewhere in his twenties, but where?
Jeff: Abed is an adult and a U.S. citizen... right?
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: At first his traditionalist father is disappointed that he wants to study film instead of taking over the family falafel restaurant. He later changes his mind after seeing one of his son's films.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Occasionally. It's the closest he ever gets to being Genre Blind.
Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown)
"There were no rules in that first battle. You hit someone, they went down, and you stopped hitting them. We call that common courtesy. But then what if they get up? Maybe keep hitting them till they learn to stay down. We call that common sense."
A divorced housewife and mother who started attending business classes at the school following her divorce. A devout Christian, she tends to see herself as the group’s moral and spiritual compass and conscience -- whether the group wants her to or not.
- Actor Allusion: Subverted by Yvette Nicole Brown in Real Life. On Mother's Day, she tweeted "Thanks for all the sweet Mother's Day wishes - but I'm not a mom, I just play one on television."
- The Alcoholic: Started drinking a lot after her divorce.
- All Love Is Unrequited: All of her attempts toward romance after her divorce fail, including her memorable fling with the sexy dreadlocks guy in the chickenfinger-mafia episode. Abed proved to her that the only reason he hung around Shirley was because she fed him chicken fingers.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Shirley in general appears to have deep-seated rage issues underneath her saccharine-sweet exterior, as noted by Jeff in the pilot:
Jeff: Shirley has earned our respect. Not as a wife, not as a mother, but as a woman. And don't test her on that, because that thing about the jukebox was way too specific to be improvised.
- Shirley also threatens Jeff with a pizza slicer at one point.
- She humiliated foosball competitors as a child.
- She also takes to Video Game Cruelty Potential disconcertingly quickly.
- Anti-Villain: Becomes a type I in the episode where Abed makes a Jesus movie. She knowingly destroys Abed's movie after she overhears him praying to God to take it away from him. Abed even catches on to it.
Abed: They think I'm a genius, and you're a villain. [beat] You heard me praying.
Shirley: I don't know what you mean.
- Badass Preacher: Shirley is both the most religious member of the study group and the most prone to violence. She's absolutely terrifying in Pillows and Blankets
- She was literally this during the second paintball game.
- Black Best Friend: Mostly to Annie but sometimes to Britta, and in one episode, to Jeff.
- Catch Phrase: "Oh, that's nice!"
- Shirley and Annie's dual "Awwwwww!"
- The Cast Showoff: Her singing talents have been put to use more than once.
- Deadpan Snarker: "Oh look, Britta brought what she believes in - nothing."
- Designated Villain: Whenever religion comes up, she tends to fall towards this.
The group: (names their various beliefs, including judaism, atheism, buddhism and islam)
Shirley: (in a soft voice) The lord is testing me.
- Feminine Women Can Cook: One of her talents is baking, and she hopes to use her business degree to sell her brownies online.
- The Fundamentalist
- Glurge Addict
- Heel Face Turn: Did one as an 12-year old girl, after making 10-year old Jeff pee his pants.
- Holier Than Thou: Shirley is both the most passionately religious member of the study group and the most insufferably self-righteous and judgmental about it.
- Hypocritical Humor: Shirley tends to produce this kind of humour, usually by comparing various beliefs / ideas / practices unfavourably to her religious beliefs only to then either engage in the same things herself or by inadvertently suggesting that her particular beliefs are Not So Different to those she condemns in condemning them.
- Innocent Bigot: What she tries to pull off toward the members of the study group. It doesn't go so well.
Shirley: (to Annie) I didn't know you were a.. jew?
- Ironic Echo: "That's not nice.." in the first season paintball episode.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Although she can be a self-righteous dick to people especially in her younger years towards kids like Jeff, she does insist on being kind and is genuinely happy for anyone in the group when something "nice" happens to them.
- Large Ham: "Ooh! Troy made God mad!"
- Manipulative Bastard: She often uses religion, her Team Mom tendencies or, really, any predicament that befalls her as an excuse to get people to do as she wants.
Jeff: Let me guess. I'm not going to make a pregnant woman storm off?
- Not So Above It All: When Jeff gets into a fight. At first, she is insistent on considering Jeff "dead to her" if he goes to his fight, but later on she admits the bullies Jeff was facing deserved a nice whooping and gets into it herself. Along with the entire study group.
Bully: What would Shirley do?
Jeff: She would shake your hand and wish you a merry Christmas.
(Bully slams Jeff down) Shirley: Jeffrey! Kick his ass.
- This comes back brilliantly in the video game episode, where at first she is appalled at Annie killing a (virtual) blacksmith...but when his pregnant wife comes down, Shirley sets her on fire and smashes her to death and quickly goes on to make sure the whole family is dead and that the house is completely destroyed once they leave.
- Politeness Judo: Her status as Team Mom gives her this ability. Case in point, the WWBJD bracelets.
- Sassy Black Woman: When she's not being a Glurge Addict.
- Actually, Shirley is largely an aversion of this trope, as Yvette Nicole Brown points out in this roundtable interview that she and the show's other female regulars conducted during their last day of shooting for season 3:
"As a black actor, it’s refreshing that I’m not playing the 'sassy black woman.' It’s something that Dan Harmon was cognizant of from the beginning. It is something that I’m always cognizant of. Every woman on the planet has sass and smart-ass qualities in them, but it seems sometimes only black women are defined by it. Shirley is a fully formed woman that had a sassy moment. Her natural set point, if anything, is rage. That’s her natural set point, suppressed rage, which comes out as kindness and trying to keep everything tight."
- Shipper on Deck: For Jeff and Britta, initially.
- Stepford Smiler: On the mild side of the trope, but she has "thinly veiled rage issues" under her cheer.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: Obviously.
- Surprise Pregnancy: And it works out as a bit of Fridge Brilliance - as a devout Christian, would Shirley use contraception?
- Team Mom
- Third Option Love Interest: What she wants to be for Jeff, besides Annie and Britta. In fact, she makes no secret of it that she finds Jeff physically attractive.
- Took a Level In Badass: The season two paintball finale.
- Tsundere: Frequently enough.
- Younger Than She Looks: The same age as Jeff but her fussiness doesn't help.
Annie Edison (Alison Brie)
"I'm not looking down on this school at all, but I'm only here because of a brief addiction to pills that I was told will help me focus, but they actually made me lose my scholarship and virginity."
An insecure and neurotic ‘over-achiever’ attending Greendale following an addiction to prescription medication which ruined her previously flawless high-school record. Intelligent and driven, she's usually perky and cheerful but tends to get tightly-wound and uptight when things fail to go to plan.
- Actor Shared Background: Both Annie's Informed Judaism and sexual encounter with a homosexual man are drawn from Allison Brie's life.
- Affectionate Nickname: Vaughn calls her "mountain flower" when they're dating. She and Jeff sometimes call each other "milady" and "milord."
- All Love Is Unrequited: Her crush on Troy that she's had since high school. When he remains totally oblivious to her, she decides to let him go, although she still has a minor breakdown over it.
- Badass Adorable: In the Paintball Episode. There are other instances though.
- Beautiful All Along:
Word of God: Annie's pretty young. we try not to sexualize her.
- In another odd example, Troy is actually unaware that Annie is attractive until Jeff points it out to him. Then again Troy is not exactly the brains of the operation. And he did say that that his high school memories with her blurred out her current beauty.
- Berserk Button: Being called "Little Annie Adderall", or taking her pen.
- Don't kiss her, disappear for the summer without contact, and then swear you're just friends. (Note, this was part of a fake confrontation with Jeff, but she admitted that it started getting a little real. So... acting?)
- Beware the Nice Ones: As "The Science of Illusion", "Anthropology 101", "Accounting For Lawyers" and "A Fistful of Paintballs" / "For a Few Paintballs More" demonstrate, pissing off Annie Edison is not recommended. She can get... aggressive.
- Annie has no issues taking down a man twice her size with chloroform... twice. And she seems totally prepared to do it to Jeff, too.
- She has also punched Jeff in the face and slammed his head into a table. Ouch.
- Brainy Brunette
- Catch Phrase: Shirley and Annie's dual "Awwwwww!"
- Clingy Jealous Girl: She does this to Jeff at the start of season 2.
- Covert Pervert: Many instances, but most noticeably in her stint as Hector, the Well Endowed.
- She also suggests that Jeff change his shirt because "it's not working", but really it's just to sneak a peek of his chest.
- Cry Cute: Her "Disney face".
- Cute and Psycho: A benign variety, but Annie has been shown to be one failing grade, lousy party, or bad round of model United Nations from a complete mental breakdown.
- The Cutie: Annie is the living, breathing embodiment of this trope.
- Dawson Casting
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: She is a veritable machine for this trope. See the main page for many, many examples.
- Hollywood Nerd and Hollywood Homely: She was unpopular in high school.
- Justified with the revelation that in high school Annie was overweight, wore braces and had terrible acne. It was only after she went into rehab for her Adderall addiction (after screaming "Everyone's a robot!" while running through a plate glass door) that she became attractive. That, and she's clearly neurotic. Not that this is necessarily a turn-off.
- Lampshaded in "English as a Second Language" when Jeff scolds her.
Jeff: You are insecure, because you didn't get hot until after high school.
Troy: That's true!
- I Just Want to Be Badass: Her reason for trying to be the Cowboy Cop to Shirley's By-The-Book Cop when both become security guards at the school. Shirley seems to think it should be the other way around.
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: She used to wear back braces so she sticks her chest out a lot.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Annie can come off as being overly-competitive, nagging and judgemental, but it's mostly a front for her own neuroses, and she's a very nice and caring person underneath it all.
- Jewish and Nerdy
- Morality Pet: She's Pierce's favorite.
- Ms. Fanservice: For a series that tries not to sexualize her, Annie certainly does seem to get wet, dirty, endure clothing damage and get undressed quite a bit.
- Moe: She could give Mikuru a run for her money.
- The Ophelia: Especially back in her Adderall days.
- Parental Abandonment: Annie going to rehab for her Adderall addiction resulted in her being estranged from her family, who would've rather pretend the whole ordeal never happened.
- The Pollyana: This trope could just as easily be called "The Annie."
- Puppy Dog Eyes: And she knows how to use them, too.
Jeff: You're becoming dangerous, Annie. It's those doe-eyes. Disappointing you is like choking The Little Mermaid with a bike chain.
- Schedule Fanatic: Demonstrated in the "Study Break" shorts.
- Sweater Girl: Cardigans appear to make up about half of her wardrobe.
- Teacher's Pet: For instance, in "Physical Education", instead of putting his binder back, Señor Chang drops it on the floor and orders Annie to pick it up.
- Technical Virgin: Some have speculated she's one, based on A) being high on Adderall, B) having never seen her boyfriend's (or any man's) penis, and C) her boyfriend crying throughout the act (Britta theorizes he was gay), leading some fans to (wishfully) think sex never actually occurred.
Shirley: Annie, being a virgin in this day and age is something to be proud of. You're like a unicorn!
- Teens Are Short: She is the youngest and shortest member of the group.
- Third Option Love Interest: She's this for Jeff in Pascal's Triangle Revisited.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The girly girl to Britta's tomboy.
- Took a Level In Jerkass: Hilariously every episode that includes Todd,poor guy.
- Verbal Tic: Her little half-gasp half-squeak of indignant horror whenever she's shocked or offended.
- Vocal Evolution: Her voice is getting noticeably less high-pitched and little girl-ish as the series goes on.
- When She Smiles
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: She calls Herself "Irony Free Annie" for a very good reason.
Troy Barnes (Donald Glover)
"Whoa, you just wrinkled my brain."
- Actor Shared Background: Donald Glover was raised as a Jehovah's Witness.
- Ambiguously Gay: Due to copious Ho Yay.
Troy:(to Abed) "Alright, let's do the sex scene."
- Black Best Friend: To Abed (although as a Token Minority himself, it's divorced of its Unfortunate Implications).
- Pierce invokes this trope by pointing out that his life has meaning now that he has a young African-American friend.
- Breakout Character
- The Cast Showoff: Glover, who has released an Alternative Rap record under the name Childish Gambino, finally gets a chance to rap in "Regional Holiday Music"
- Also, his dancing skills in Interpretive Dance.
- Dawson Casting
- The Ditz/Dumb Muscle/Popular Is Dumb: A classic example. God bless him, he is not the brightest bulb in the box.
Jeff: I want you to clear your mind.
Troy: (immediately) Done.
- The Gift: He's a plumbing and air conditioner repairing prodigy. Not that he wants to do either of those things.
- The end of Season 3 ultimately sees him embrace his gift for air-conditioning repair.
- The Heart: Later seasons have gradually suggested that Troy might be this for the study group; it's quite notable that on the few occasions it's suggested or looked like he's about to leave, things have fallen apart for everyone very quickly.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: With Abed.
- Hidden Depths: Has a talent for mechanical maintenance and is a phenomenal (interpretive) dancer.
- Hollywood Jehovah's Witness: Averted. He is a Jehovah's Witness and this is often referenced and demonstrated in that he doesn't celebrate Christmas or birthdays. However, you otherwise couldn't tell that he was a Jehovah's Witness if he didn't say so.
"Yeah, but we don't celebrate birthdays or Christmas and we can't drink. But it helps."
- I Want to Be a Real Man
- Jerk Jock/Dumb Jock: He's more lovable now but apparently in high school, and to a degree in the early episodes of the show, Troy wasn't without his Jerkass side, as demonstrated in "Football, Feminism and You" when a chance to join the Greendale football team ends up with him strutting around in a self-obsessed manner lambasting people at random with his "politically conservative high school's shamefully outdated fight rap(s)."
- Black and Nerdy: Hanging out with Abed has had an effect on him, in that he's gradually lost interest in his former jock pursuits and has embraced his inner geek more.
- Lovable Jock: If he didn't start out as this, then he's certainly grown into it.
- Man Child
- Nice Guy: As mentioned above, there's a reason he and Britta are the only two members of the study group who haven't taken a villainous role in the group at some point.
- The Messiah: He's apparently this for the air-conditioning repair school. Much to his bemusement.
- Real Men Don't Cry: Averted, he cries often.
- Then lampshaded by Troy himself in "Mixology Certification" by his reaction to getting a birthday cake with Jehovah's Witness-appropriate language.
Troy: (reading) "Hello during a random dessert, the month and day of which coincide numerically with your expulsion from a uterus." You guys, I never cry, but...
- Real Men Wear Pink
- Screams Like a Little Girl: his usual reaction to any crisis is to start screaming and crying like a six-year-old girl. Usually accompanied with a jumpy little tantrum.
- Twofer Token Minority: African-American Jehovah's Witness.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Has a deathly fear of rats.
Benjamin Chang (Ken Jeong)
"My knowledge will bite her face off!"
In Season 1, the group's sadistic, mean-spirited and inept Spanish teacher. Took up classes at Greendale in Season 2 following the loss of his job when it was revealed he had no Spanish credentials or knowledge whatsoever. Is largely detested by the rest of the group, but often tries to be included by them.
- Berserk Button: Señor Chang has several, but upon being informed in "Social Psychology" that the experiment was going to start late immediately exploded in a violent, childish temper tantrum, involving throwing furniture and screaming "MOMMY!" Since the purpose of the experiment was to test how long people would put up with being delayed before exploding, Professor Duncan was quite pleased:
Duncan: Houston, we have an idiot.
- The Blind Leading the Blind: as it turns out he does not actually know Spanish. At one point, he was teaching them Klingon.
- Breakout Character
- Butt Monkey
- Camp Straight
- Catch Phrase: Has taken to replacing words that rhyme with Chang and the word "change" (which, in practice, mostly ends up being just the word "change") with "Chang," much to everyone's disgust.
Jeff: It's not even clever! You keep using it as the word 'change'!
Jeff: It makes me so CHANGRY! Oh God, now I'm doing it too.
- Even the advertising gets in on it.
- Drunk with Power: Putting Ben Chang in a position of authority (however trivial) is not a good idea, as it tends to lead to this trope. In Season 1, he basically abuses and flaunts his power and authority over his students in bullying, sadistic and at-times creepy ways. In Season 3, after spending the previous season as the Butt Monkey, he's made a campus security guard, which has gradually seen him become, in the words of Jeff, "a psychotic wanna-be warlord."
- Everything Is Racist: Chang is rather sensitive to racism and tends to see it even if it's not there.
- Evil Laugh / Laughing Mad
- Hair-Trigger Temper
- Hidden Depths: "Modern Warfare" reveals that he enjoys arts and crafts and apparently paints watercolours.
- I Just Want To Be In Your Study Group
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Antagonist: In season 2. While still an asshat, there are numerous scenes showing him as lonely and pathetic.
- Insane Troll Logic: When we get to hear his thoughts things go from bizzare to outright surreal.
- Large Ham
- Last-Name Basis: Pretty much everyone just calls him Chang.
- Out of Focus: In season 3 big time. Almost to Demoted to Extra levels.
- Panicky Expectant Father: At least till it turns out the child wasn't his. And in his case, interestingly enough, the issue was not that he was having a child, it was if he would get to be the child's father.
- Completely subverted when Shirley gives birth, where he becomes rather soothing and very helpful in calming Shirley down.
- Psychopathic Manchild: There's a reason that, in the third season, Chang's army was made up entirely of twelve-year-old boys.
- Sadist Teacher: In the episode "Environmental Science", he drags Annie out of his classroom for failing to put her pencil down at the end of a test, assigns an essay to the rest of the class as punishment, extends the length of the essay every time a student says something (eventually coming to "TWENTY PAGES, EN ESPANOL, ON ASS KISSING!"), makes it worth thirty percent of the students' overall grade for the class, sets it due the following Monday (despite the class being an introductory Spanish class), and promises to follow it immediately with "a big ass quiz." He also openly insults nearly every student in the class on a regular basis (see his explanation of "Usted" on the Quotes page). Apparently, the school's been trying to fire him for years, but couldn't because nobody wanted his job. (He was eventually fired when it was discovered that he didn't have any teaching credentials. Or Spanish credentials.)
- Most of the scenes involving him appearing in a teaching capacity generally tended to involve him abusing, insulting, ranting at or on some occasions even borderline molesting his students.
- Sanity Slippage: In seasons two and three. Not that he was very sane to begin with.
- Sixth Ranger
- The Team Wannabe: Recognized by the group: when making a diorama of themselves making a diorama, the group portrayed Chang as outside the room looking in.
- Ted Baxter
- Twofer Token Minority: He's Chinese and considering his brother is a Rabbi he's probably also Jewish.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Lampshaded by Jeff.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: His relationship with Duncan following "The Psychology of Letting Go" has elements of this.
Alex "Star-Burns" Osbourne (Dino Stamatopoulos)
- Actor Allusion: "Seems Greek."
- Butt Monkey: He's the first person bitten by the zombies in "Epidemiology", gets fired from his job thanks to the study group in "Contemporary American Poultry", gets a poisonous dart in the face from Professor Bauer in "Anthropology 101", just for starters. AND no one calls him by his real name.
- In "Modern Warfare", he gets shot point-blank by Pierce while they're looting the vending machines.
- Catch Phrase: "My name is Alex!"
- Dropped a Bridge on Him
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Star-Burns.
- Technically averted, since the character gives his name early in the series ("My name is Alex, dude!") but no one's ever called him that. By the end of season 2, he seems to have all but given up on people using his real name.
- Faking the Dead: He is revealed to be still alive at the end of the season 3 finale.
- Hidden Depths: Subverted; despite his frustration about people only noticing his surface appearances, he appears to have little actually going on beyond that:
Annie: Star-Burns doesn't do much. I guess interesting people don't resort to growing shapes on their faces.
- Hypocritical Humor: It's a source of some frustration to him that no one seems to look under the surface appearance he presents and notice the true person he is underneath. His frequent attempts to solve this problem, however, are equally superficial things like adding a hat or a lizard to his ensemble.
- Jerkass: He's a self-admitted drug dealer, and it's rare for him to say anything that doesn't immediately earn douchebag points.
- Kavorka Man: He has inexplicably little trouble attracting female attention. Jeff seems to think bribery has something to do with it:
Jeff: [Referring to chicken fingers] He gives them away so that people will act like he isn't Starburns.
- Nice Hat: Starting in season 2, he starts wearing a top hat all the time, to try and stop being known solely for his starburns. It fails magnificently.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Don't call him Star-Burns, his name is Alex. Dude.
Chang: Well then, maybe you should spend five hours every morning carving that into your face.
- Sacrificial Lion: his "death" kicks off the conflict leading to the season three finale arc.
- Spell My Name with an "S": His nickname appears with a hyphen just as much as it does without.
Leonard Rodriquez, né Briggs (Richard Erdman)
"Where the white women at?"
- Pandering to the Base: Invoked for parody; in "Intro To Political Science" he changed his last name to 'Rodriquez' while running for school president to "court the Hispanic vote." The name change appears to have stuck.
- Phrase Catcher: "Shut up, Leonard!" Usually followed by "I know about your [seemingly embarrassing secret]!"
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: He claims to have participated in several wars, and this may be an explanation for his current wild and coarse nature.
- Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Seems to have this relationship going on with Jeff.
Vaughn Miller (Eric Christian Olsen)
- The Cast Showoff: Performs several songs in a reggae band.
- Creator Breakdown/Take That: After a breakup, he writes a song called "Getting Rid of Britta".
- The Ditz
- Does Not Like Shoes: No shirt, no shoes, no service.
- Granola Guy
- New Age Retro Hippie
- Put on a Bus: Transfers to Delaware for a hackysack scholarship.
- Rule of Three: Always says hello and good-bye three ways. Lampshaded by the study group, who start to count his greetings on their fingers whenever they see him and respond in kind.
- The Scrappy
- Walking Shirtless Scene: To the chagrin of everyone. As Jeff points out, as he never wears a shirt and he never wears shoes, it's a wonder he doesn't die from lack of service. Later in that episode, Vaughn states that it took so long for him to get ice cream because they made him find a shirt.
Dr. Rich Stephenson (Greg Cromer)
"Doc Pottery-wood". I like it.
- Abusive Parents: Apparently Rich's mother blamed him for his brother's death, driving him into becoming a doctor and a Stepford Smiler.
- Always Someone Better
- Broken Ace
- Mommy Issues: His mother does not like him at all.
- Nice Guy
- Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Of Jeff (one-sided). To the rest of the group, the most nicest and most awesome guy ever.
- Stepford Smiler
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Actually, more of a mother-son type, revealed in the last few seconds of Beginner Pottery.
- Unknown Rival
Buddy Austen (Jack Black)
"I know that you're scared that adding a new member might throw everything out of its natural--(opening credits)--rhythm."
- Acrofatic: He tries to invoke this, but it results in him accidentally kicking Jeff in the face.
- Her Codename Was Mary Sue: In-universe, but the show is so meta, it's hard to tell how obnoxious he is in the show's universe.
- Large Ham
- Remember the New Guy?: Subverted. Except for Abed, they don't.
- Shoo Out the New Guy: Trope mocked mercilessly. He's allegedly been in the gang's Spanish 101 class this entire time. The entire main cast is either weirded out by his sudden, unexplained appearance in their lives or convinced he's a murderous psycho. "Investigative Journalism" ends with Owen Wilson suddenly appearing and offering Buddy a spot in the "cool" clique.
- Sixth Ranger: Attempts to be this ... then promptly leaves for the "cooler" group when given a chance.
Magnitude (Luke Youngblood)
- Awesome McCoolname: Both the character and the actor.
- Breakout Character: Parodied. Has his own catchphrase not unlike many breakout characters from 70's sitcoms. Time will tell if "Pop Pop!" will join "Ayy!" and "Dyno-Mite!" in the sitcom Hall of Fame. The working name for his character was even Poochie.
- Hidden Depths: "He's awake who thinks himself asleep." (Yes, he quoted Keats.)
- Only Known by Their Nickname: It's short for "Magnetic Attitude."
- Remember the New Guy?: Prior to his first appearance in season 2, Jeff is the only one in Greendale to have never met Magnitude.
- So Unfunny It's Funny: In the commentary, Donald Glover describes "Pop Pop" as "so not a catchphrase, it becomes a catchphrase again."
- Teen Genius: Listed as 16 years old.
Neil (Charley Koontz)
- Chekhov's Gunman: Fat Neil is mentioned in "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design" and "Asian Population Studies" before his main appearance in "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons."
- Embarrassing Nickname: Fat Neil.
- One Steve Limit: The aversion of this trope, a handful of students named "Neil," causes Jeff to come up with the Embarrassing Nickname.
Garrett Lambert (Erik Charles Nielsen)
"I may be stuck in this vent. It is too early to tell".
- Butt Monkey: "That guy's just a mess. It's like God spilled a person."
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: "Go kill John Lennon again, you loser."
Vicki (Danielle Kaplowitz)
Quendra (Marcy McCusker)
- Ditzy Genius / Genius Ditz: Her self-penned bio on the Greendale paints her as intelligent and articulate (save for the insistence on spelling things with "Q-U").
- Dumb Blonde
- My Nayme Is: Her name is pronounced 'Kendra'
- Psmith Psyndrome: "I spell kettle corn with a 'Q-U'!"
Annie Kim (Irene Choi)
- Asian and Nerdy
- Development Gag: Before Alison Brie was cast as Annie, the character was written as Asian.
- Jerkass Twin: to Annie.
- Nerd Glasses
- Sitcom Arch Nemesis: to Annie.
"He grew up in a land without sunshine!"
- The Ghost: Transfer student from Finland. Shirley's friend, who no one else likes.
Troy: I hope he transfers to hell!
Mike (Anthony Michael Hall)
"Dude, my life is a gym!"
- Actor Allusion: According to Pierce, Mike was a nerd now he's a meathead.
- Badass Moustache
- Jerk Jock
- Would Not Hit a Girl
(To Annie) "If you were a dude, I'd have my fist up your balls!"
Todd Jacobson (David Neher)
"We have to find a way to settle this Todd problem."
- Berserk Button: What sent him over the edge was Britta almost setting his new pet turtle on fire.
- Break the Cutie
- Butt Monkey
- Hidden Depths
- Phrase Catcher: "No Offense." to which Todd usually replies, "None taken."
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech
- What the Hell, Hero?
A friend of Abed's and his freshman year roommate.
Subway (Travis Schuldt [first], Patrick Bobbitt [second])
"Please don't think of me as any less human than yourselves. I'm here to hang out, take weird classes and party as hardy as my morality clause allows."
- The Nth Doctor
- Product Placement
- Put a Face on The Company: Literally thanks to the process of Corpohumanization.
Craig Pelton (Jim Rash)
"This is my sister's outfit."
Dean of Greendale Community College.
- Bi the Way
- Camp Bisexual
- Catch Phrase: Uses "Dean" in everything.
- Creepy Crossdresser or Wholesome Crossdresser: Especially from season 2 onwards.
- Drop in Character:
Jeff: We were debating how many times a year a man can drop in a study room in a dumb costume with irrelevant news.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Most of the time he is referred to as Dean Pelton, or just Dean.
- He's basically Tobias Funke, but much less self-centered and slightly more self-aware.
Dean Pelton: Can I be perfectly honest with you guys? I think I went too far with this one. I have to go to the bank today. What am I supposed to tell people in line? (to himself after the others leave) ...Come on, Craig. Get your life together.
- He's also distressingly similar to Andrew, the actor's character in Reno911.
- Extracurricular Enthusiast: Dean Pelton fits this to a T. There is no school activity/event that he can't get excited about.
- And wear a ridiculous costume to promote.
- Furry Fandom: He's got this thing for Dalmatians...
- Inadvertent Entrance Cue: A particular specialty of his.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Antagonist: Probably the best way to describe his interaction with Jeff and company.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Has a tendency to slip into this, causing the creation of the "Greendale Human Being" (Jeff: "I think not being racist is the new racism") and the non-denominational Mr. Winter ("Merry Happy!"). This habit of his is also apparently the reason the degreeless Chang got the Spanish teaching position--Pelton was afraid of being called a racist for asking an Asian man for Spanish credentials.
- Promoted to Opening Titles: For season three.
- Stalker with a Crush: Quite a few plots are instigated by the Dean wanting to get... closer to Jeff.
- Stepford Smiler: We see in Documentary Filmmaking Redux that organizing events is the only way that he can make Greendale and himself feel less like a failure.
- Tempting Fate: He can be summoned when other characters tempt fate.
- Took a Level In Jerkass: In episode "Documentary Filmmaking: Redux" and also took a level in crazy.
Ian Duncan (John Oliver)
"Sorry I'm late, I overslept. The sidewalk is surprisingly comfortable."
Professor of Psychology.
- The Alcoholic: He likes his booze a little too much.
- Apathetic Teacher: Certainly as an anthropology teacher, he very visibly cannot give two whole shits about the subject or teaching anything worthwhile about it, to the extent that he spends entire weeks playing YouTube videos, improvises a class of anaesthesiology at one point simply because a pretty student got the room number wrong and sets the final exam as simply an excuse for everyone to drink. It's possible that he improves when he's actually teaching psychology, but considering he once expressed his astonishment at learning what anthropology actually was by exclaiming he'd "thought psychology was a dodge", it's very unlikely.
- British Accents: Naturally.
- British Teeth: A go-to insult by others.
- Demoted to Extra: The character was initially featured in early promotional material as the main professor character in the show, but after a handful of episodes he disappeared, with Señor Chang (Ken Jeong) essentially taking his place. Oliver returned in the first season finale and was the professor for their anthropology class as a Recurring Character in season two. This was the result of Oliver's decision to not become a regular cast member because he didn't want to leave The Daily Show (the two programs are filmed on opposite sides of the country) and Ken Jeong's breakout role in The Hangover in the interim between pilot and broadcast.
- And as of season three, he appears to have quietly disappeared from Greendale.
- Dr. Jerk: Well, amoral psychologist.
- Hidden Depths: Apparently plays piano - and plays it well - for the Glee Club.
- Jerkass: In between his alcoholism, his rather amoral and inept approach to psychiatry and his overall pompous, self-serving nature, Duncan is all in all a bit of a prick, although not entirely with out his woobie or decent sides.
- Laser-Guided Karma: In "Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts", he sets the final exam as an excuse for everyone to drink, orders Annie bullied down when she queries the fairness of automatically passing everyone regardless of merit, and gleefully revels in keeping the fact that Anthropology has been a complete dodge of a class all year from the Dean. So, of course, the Dean chooses the exact moment when he's happily toasting this to walk in and completely scuttle his plans.
- Professor Guinea Pig: An inadvertent example; every time he tries plying his trade on Abed, Abed somehow manages to turn it back on him.
- Psycho Psychologist: Non-lethal version, but Duncan has been shown to run ethically questionable experiments and lure patients into therapy for ulterior motives (hitting on them and getting publication material for a case.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: His interaction with Chang following "The Psychology of Letting Go" has elements of this.
Michelle Slater (Lauren Stamile)
"The secrecy makes the sex 38% more exciting."
Professor of Statistics.
- Brainy Brunette
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After playing an important role in Season 1 and helping drive the plot of the season finale, Slater is mentioned once in passing in the Season 2 premiere and never again (thus far). In "Introduction to Political Science", the news crawl on Abed and Troy's election coverage has the headline "Professor Slater still missing". May be an example of Shoo Out the New Guy.
- Hot Teacher
June Bauer (Betty White)
"I'm going to use this to hurt you and you use respect to defend yourself."
Professor of Anthropology.
- Obfuscating Insanity: Near-fatally assaulted Jeff in class, which was apparently her way of getting leave to go to Africa.
- Special Guest for the Season 2 premiere.
Eustice Whitman (John Michael Higgins)
"Only when we stop stopping our lives can we begin to start starting them."
Professor of Accounting and coach of the Debate Team.
- Beware the Nice Ones: While usually nice and carefree, Professor Whitman can tell when you're just taking his class for an easy A and will call you out on it, which he does to Jeff.
- Blithe Spirit: Thinks he's Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society.
- Psychologist Teacher
- Serious Business: His "seize the day" philosophy is no joke.
Sean Garrity (Kevin Corrigan)
"The only thing that matters is our time... in the spotlight."
Professor of Drama.
Cory "Mr. Rad" Radison (Taran Killam)
"Glee club is what we are. It's all we are."
Professor of Music and Glee Club director.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Despite smiling all the time and appearing to be rather friendly, he is actually a manipulative psychopath who killed the last Glee Club.
- Expy: Of Glee's Will Schuster.
- Glurge Addict
- The Music Meister
- Serious Business: Glee Club is a matter of life and death to him. Quite literally; he killed the last club.
- Stepford Smiler
Marshall Kane (Michael K. Williams)
"What's happened with Lego's?"
Professor of Biology.
- The Comically Serious: very serious in all his delivery, and sometimes all the more funny for it.
- Genius Bruiser: Hinted at; he got his biology Ph.D while serving a 25 year sentence for murder with only one hour's access to the prison library a day.
- Psychologist Teacher: Played with; Kane doesn't show much active interest in or desire to mentor Jeff, but in "Biology 101" and "Basic Lupine Urology" several of his chance remarks are things that Jeff later comes to take to heart, and he's probably been more successful in helping Jeff get over himself than any of the teachers we've seen thus far, albeit inadvertently.
- Put on a Bus: Resigns as a result of Starburns' death.
- Scary Black Man
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules
Robert Laybourne (John Goodman)
"Our ancestors were slaves. It became our business to make the Pharaohs comfortable. In time we learned to make ourselves comfortable. Now we are the Pharaohs."
Vice Dean of Greendale's AC Repair Annex.
- Actor Allusion: John Goodman once again plays an alleged second-in-command at a college who pushes around the main authority figure.
- Ancient Conspiracy: Laybourne is the equivalent of a 33rd degree Mason in the ancient conspiracy of air conditioners.
- Anti-Villain: Out of all the villains of season 3, he's the most sympathetic (with maybe the exception of Todd, who's hardly a villain to begin with).
- Badass Baritone: Laybourne makes sure Dean Pelton knows, in no uncertain terms, who really has the power at Greendale.
- Evil Is Hammy
- Large Ham
- The Man Behind the Man: Reveals to Pelton that the AC Repair School is responsible for 80% of Greendale's revenue.
- Serious Business: Air conditioner repair is a very big deal to him.
Professor Cligoris (Martin Starr)
"Ready, set, peace!"
Professor of Political Science and Model United Nations aficionado.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: You may recognize Martin Starr from Freaks and Geeks or Party Down.
- Geek / Otaku: Has worn a pendant with a picture of the originator of Model UNs on his neck since high school, and claimed to be known as "Model UN Guy" in college.
- Unfortunate Name: Cligoris.
Cligoris: Either pronunciation is fine.
Troy's pet monkey.
Jeff: Why do you have a monkey?
Troy: Uh, it's an animal that looks like a dude. Why don't I have ten of them?
- Hello, Insert Name Here: In a rare non-video game example, Troy abuses this trope by naming his monkey "Annie's Boobs."
Annie: Please rename that thing. And this time not with a contest on Twitter.
Troy: It's HIS Twitter account. He can do what he wants.
Annie: They are MY body parts.
Greendale Human Being
- Samus Is a Girl: Revealed in on-line video Office Hours: Pamphlet Serious.
- Slasher Smile
- Uncanny Valley: Invoked. Designed to bear no resemblance to any race, he/she/it falls deep in the valley. Several characters, upon encountering it, are either noticeably terrified or at least visibly discomforted.
- White Mask of Doom
Officer Cackowski (Craig Cackowski)
- The Danza
- Hidden Depths: An Inspector Spacetime and Antiques Roadshow fan who's working on a cop opera.
- Field Promotion: In his first appearance, he's a mere Greendale security guard. Soon after (and in all subsequent appearances), he's a local police officer.
- One-Scene Wonder
Dean of City College.
"You don't know how mean this dean can be-en".
- Evil Counterpart: to Dean Pelton
- Foe Yay: Pelton loves it when Dean Spreck whispers threats in his ear.
- Sitcom Arch Nemesis
- Transparent Closet
- Beware the Nice Ones
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
- Pure Is Not Good: He wants to ensure a place of tranquility is not disturbed, but it turns out for racist reasons.
- Those Wacky Nazis
"We have to talk, boy."
- Abusive Parents: To Pierce and Gilbert Lawson.
- Big Bad: For "The Journey To The Center Of Hawkthorne" and arguably to Pierce his entire life. Gilbert Lawson, Cornelius' assistant, evidently had a pretty hard time of it as well and that's before he learn that Lawson was Cornelius' unacknowledged son.
- Jerkass: Ridiculously prejudiced against everyone.
- Also spent thirty years developing a video game to force Pierce to play upon Cornelius' death, risking his entire inheritance in the process. Just because Pierce once suggested investing in video games.
- Light Is Not Good / Pure Is Not Good: Never wears any other color other than white. Wears an ivory toupee instead of a normal wig because he believes the hair comes from Asians.
- Southern Gentleman
Evil Abed (Danny Pudi)
An evil version of Abed from an Alternate Timeline.
- Catch Phrase: "Hot. Hothothot."
- Also: "Cruel. Cruelcruelcruel."
- Beard of Evil: Makes himself a fake goatee made of felt in "Remedial Chaos Theory" and a has a real one in "Contemporary Impressionists".
- The Corrupter: Appears to be that to "Good Abed" when they're alone in the Dreamatorium.
- Dark Is Evil: Wears a black shirt.
- Evil Counterpart
- Evil Plan: To go to the "Prime timeline" and take over that Abed's place. He appears to have somehow found a way to do the first part in "Contemporary Impressionists".
- Evil Twin
- Good Is Dumb: Refers to our universe's Abed and Jeff as 'Lame!Abed' and 'Lame!Jeff' respectively.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Engages in some after escaping the Dreamatorium.
- Hannibal Lecture: Gives one to Britta.
- It's All My Fault: Abed thinks if he had caught the die Jeff rolled to choose who would get the pizza, none of the terrible things that happened to the group in his timeline: Pierce is dead from a gunshot from Annie's gun, Annie went insane from guilt, Shirley becomes a drunk, Jeff loses his arm in the apartment fire and Troy had to get his layrnx removed after trying to swallow a flaming troll doll, would have occurred(he's right).
- Super-Powered Evil Side: Is one and wants to unleash the evil sides of the others.
- Start of Darkness: In the end tag of "Remedial Chaos Theory" realizing they are in the "darkest timeline" Abed along with Troy commits to being evil.