Ten Best Community Episodes of All Time

This list will break down the ten best Community episodes of all of time. As a series, Community will always be a masterpiece. Like with any show however, some episodes will always be better than others. With its very own movie fast approaching, now is a better time than ever to reflect on the series as a whole.

This life has given me many precious things. I have family, friends, a roof over my head, and an adorable border collie that knows twenty different tricks. I’m also very thankful to live in a universe where the video game Stray exists. But whenever I find myself reflecting on all of the things I have to be grateful for, one thing always stands at the top of the pile: Community.

I have no words to describe my love for this show. No matter what mood I’m in, I can always count on this remarkable series to make me smile. But don’t take my word for it – look anywhere online. Its millions of fans will tell you that its humour and characters distinguish it as one of the greatest comedy series ever made. In this list I’m going to go through what are, in my opinion, the ten best Community episodes of all time (gasleak season excluded, of course).

10 – Environmental Science (S1 Ep10)

I feel this episode has been grossly overlooked. In my opinion, “Environmental Science” is the first example of Community truly distinguishing itself among a sea of mediocre comedy series.

This episode balances three interesting subplots very well. The main arc sees Jeff and Chang form an unlikely friendship which serves to help Jeff further shed his self-centred tendencies. We also get development of both Shirley and Pierce’s characters, and more of Troy and Abed’s relationship. (As a side note, any episode with a focus on Troy and Abed is automatically in a great place.)

What really gives this episode the signature Community flair however is its finale. Troy and Abed’s make-up duet of “Somewhere Out There plays over each subplot as they conclude. Not only is this a really clever way to tie the episode together, but it is executed brilliantly. Seeing Shirley, Jeff and Pierce all triumph while hearing a beautiful harmony from the show’s best duo isn’t just “engaging”. In its own way, it’s epic. For this alone, this episode absolutely earns its place as one of the ten best Community episodes.

Troy And Abed's Duet "Somewhere Out There" | Community

9 – Horror Fiction in 7 Spooky Steps (S3 Ep5)

Ah, a Halloween episode. While pretty much all of Community‘s horror-based entries are pretty good, for me this one takes the cake. This episode is the first example we get of Britta flaunting her new-found passion for psychology. A little experiment she conducts on the group results in each of them giving their own takes on a properly scary story. The results are amazing.

“Horror Fiction” really stands out to me because, like many of Community‘s greatest episodes, it lets the personality of its characters shine through. From Abed’s story of hyper-cautious protagonists, all the way to Pierce’s highly offensive tale of a home invasion. Every story reflects the unique comedic value that each study group member adds to the show. This instalment is basically just a bunch of mini-episodes where every protagonist gets an equal share of the gags, and it works perfectly.

Pierce's Home Invasion Story | Community

8 – G.I. Jeff (S5 Ep11)

Community has many strengths as a show. One of the greatest of these however is its self-awareness – both of its own formulas, and of common media tropes. “G.I. Jeff” is yet another episode that demonstrates this show’s natural talent at playing off genre clichés.

Taking a swing at old fashioned animation, this episode works as both a parody and an homage to retro cartoons. All of our main characters are thrown into the world of the 1980s hit TV series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Not 30 seconds goes by without Community’s writers poking fun at old-time animation and the unwritten rules of kids TV – and it’s great. Our protagonists are charged with war crimes for carrying out the classic action sequences, which is top notch comedy. It’s also a nice touch that the whole episode develops Jeff’s character a bit more by showing his fear of growing old. Getting to see the study group open up to each other is always sweet and wholesome, so an ending incorporating that will never miss the mark.

Study Group Vs. Cobra Elites | Community

7 – Documentary Making Redux (S3 Ep8)

This episode was Community’s second attempt to take its meta-nature to the world of documentary making. While its first mockumentary was great (“Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking”, S2 Ep11 ) this instalment is a thing of beauty. Documentary Making Redux is a screening of a film Abed made documenting the production of a new Greendale commercial. It covers a simple production project drastically spiralling out of control, pushing every character to their breaking point (in a funny way.)

This episode is particularly striking because it’s pretty much the only time we see a darker side of the Dean. It’s pretty funny to see his typical bubbly persona be reduced to that of a controlling maniac. But this episode really shines in the impact the Dean’s actions have on the other characters. Jeff is forced to act like the Dean for so long that he literally starts to become him. Annie becomes a crazed and obsessive producer as she tries to cater to the Dean’s madness. My favourite example though has to be Troy and Britta’s breakdowns after being forced to repeatedly hug for twelve hours straight. This episode captures Greendale’s collective descent into insanity – and every second of it is brilliant.

To Meet Different People - Community

6 – Modern Warfare (S1 Ep23)

Community’s characters are often ones to take things too far. The lengths its protagonists are willing to go to get their way frequently provides some of the best humour that the show has to offer. There are a few great examples of this, but none of them make as strong an impression as what we see in the series’ first paintball episode.

“Modern Warfare” shows Greendale’s students turn their entire campus into a dishevelled battlefield during a simple paintball tournament. The viewer sees Jeff’s perspective as he enters what looks like a post-apocalyptic Greendale and gets immersed in the chaos of the game. This episode is great for a number of reasons. It brings out the self-awareness that the show is famous for once more by making our protagonists out to be parody versions of apocalypse survivors. The scene where they are all huddled around a campfire in the college cafeteria is a hilarious example of this. What I really like though is how badass it is to see our protagonists dominate the tournament. There’s quite a few well choreographed action scenes to go along with the comedic value of this episode. So with all that taken into account, of course it had to make into the ten best Community episodes.

The First Paintball War | Community

5 – Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas (S2 Ep11)

This episode was done with stop animation. Need I say any more? If you have ever tried to make anything in this style, you know just how painstaking it can be. That alone made it worthy of being one of my ten best Community episodes. But actual the subject matter of this episode is equally deserving of praise.

“Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas” is all about Abed and why he has suddenly started seeing the world as a clay stop-animation set. The study group undergoes a deep exploration of his psyche, which sees them journeying across a pseudo Winter wonderland  to find the true meaning of Christmas. It’s just as crazy as it sounds, believe me. In this bizarre setting however, we get probably the most heart-warming narrative arc in the whole show. The study group helps Abed overcome a traumatic family experience, all while they band together to act as his new family. It’s one of those episodes that really shows how much the group care about each other. Whatsmore, it serves as an important reminder for the viewer. Your real family isn’t necessarily the one you’re born with: it’s the people that love you and will always lend a hand when you need it.

That's What Christmas Is For! - Community

4 – Pillows and Blankets (S3 Ep14)

Everyone loves it when Community does parodies. When I first saw this mock episode however, I must say it caught me a bit off guard. This instalment is edited in the style of a war documentary, and tells the story of a college-wide pillow fight between two factions. If it wasn’t for the gags, this episode would seem right at home on the History Channel. The production quality of “Pillows and Blankets” is something else entirely, clearly showing it deserves a place in the ten best Community episodes.

Everything from the episode’s stoic narrator to the war’s crazy timeline of events make this episode a masterpiece. We see ceasefires to watch reality TV series, Troy deploying the teenage “Changlorious Bastards”, and Pierce forging pillow armour reminiscent of Iron Man’s Hulk-Smasher suit. All of it is crazy, but the characters dealing with the war in a serious, formal manner just makes the whole thing a comedic goldmine.

Pillows & Blankets | Community

3 – Digital Estate Planning (S3 Ep20)

By this point in the series, Community had proven that it was the best show out there at making fun of TV and movies. Not content with that though, it had to show us that it could do video games really well too – and thus “Digital Estate Planning” was born. Both gamers and non-gamers can really enjoy this episode. In a quest to claim Pierce’s inheritance, the study group find themselves challenging the late Cornelius Hawthorn’s butler Gilbert in a racially insensitive video game. Besides Troy and Abed however, most of the group clearly have absolutely no video game literacy whatsoever.

There’s quite a lot of scenes with our protagonists struggling a bit with the game’s controls in a way that any gamer could relate to. Shirley and Annie accidentally robbing and murdering the town’s blacksmith is a perfect example of the type of hilarious things that can happen with just a few misclicks. I also really liked how they parodied video game min-maxing elements with Abed using his hundred of children to farm resources. Standard screen media typically doesn’t represent video games that well. So seeing a genuinely funny gaming based episode of Community in the classic old-school graphic style is pretty awesome.

Annie Kills The Blacksmith | Community

2 – Regional Holiday Music (S3 Ep10)

I must admit that I am a hardcore musical fan, so that may have biased where I ranked this episode. Objectively however, “Regional Holiday Music” has a hell of a lot going for it. Like “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas”, this episode does carry a bit of narrative weight. It depicts Abed in his struggles to get the gang together for Christmas celebrations. This episode does lean a lot harder on the comedic side of things though, and that  makes it a clear winner for me.

“Regional Holiday Music” is essentially a series of humorous songs, each one coming from a different music genre. They’re catchy, funny and they really give the episode the type of cheeriness you’d expect from a holiday special. I have to point out the elephant in the room though – Troy and Abed’s rap goes hard. Everything from the concept, to the lyrics, to the track; all of it is amazing. The fact that this episode is able to keep up such a great level of comedy all while providing a heartwarming musical storyline easily makes it deserve its ranking at number two.

Troy and Abed's Christmas Rap "Christmas Infiltration" - Community (Episode Highlight)

1 – Remedial Chaos Theory (S3 Ep4)

I’ve done my research, and I know that this episode is basically at the top of every Community tier list. So why copy them and rank it as number 1 you ask? Firstly, because it’s the best Community episode. Secondly, because if I didn’t I’m afraid the Community fandom would get angry with me.

You could write a thesis on this episode and everything it does amazingly well from a storytelling standpoint. Exploring each of the six created “alternate timelines” that happen when a dice rolls is a genius idea. The audience is given what are basically a bunch of Community styled short films that are a lot of fun to watch in succession. What really impresses me though is how much the alternate timeline short stories feed into each other.

Only after seeing a few sub-timelines can the audience truly start to understand the episode’s greater context. For example, viewers seeing a gun in Annie’s bag in timeline two makes sense when you hear her story about someone being stabbed outside her apartment in timeline six. This episode has tons of tiny details that you’d only pick-up after a few re-watches. The fact that it has the smash hit “Roxanne” by The Police on loop is pretty great too. This episode is a gift to comedy lovers everywhere, and it showcases the comedic and storytelling brilliance that the show is known for perfectly.

The Darkest Timeline: The '1' Timeline | Community

There you have my personal rankings of the ten best Community episodes of all time. What do you think of my list? Does another episode deserve to be ranked at no.1? Please don’t hesitate to share your opinions in the comment section below or on Twitter. Thank you very much for reading, and remember – stay cool. Cool cool cool!

-Credit to the official and unofficial Community Youtube channels for all Youtube clips

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