Community may have started out as a fairly typical comedy about an unlikely group of friends, but it quickly grew into something much more interesting. The unique brand of humor provided plenty of laughs, but the best part of the show was its bold, high-concept episodes. And no episode did it better than Season 1's "Modern Warfare."
In the iconic episode, Greendale is torn apart after a campus-wide game of paintball gets totally out of control. The episode, directed by Justin Lin, was a funny, thrilling adventure unlike anything seen in another sitcom. With plenty of clever and small references, there is plenty to enjoy on multiple viewings. Here are 10 of the hidden details from Community's "Modern Warfare" episode.
10 Entering The Matrix
The episode has so much fun piling in nods to some great action movies as it builds its own action-packed story. The fun kicks-off right away as Jeff comes across the paint-spattered battlefield and quickly runs into Abed who is obviously fully embracing the situation.
As Leonard attacks Jeff, Abed shows up in a futuristic outfit and does an impressive run up the wall before taking out his target. The move is a pretty clear nod to The Matrix and there is even a similar music cue from that film in that quick moment.
9 Dalmatian Obsession
Part of what makes Community such a great show to revisit again and again are the small jokes that build to something bigger over time. One of the funniest long-running gags in the first season was Dean Pelton's growing obsession with dalmatians.
We first see this "awakening" in him when he watches a rather odd video, then later when he orders a dalmatian costume for himself. This episode continues the bizarre trend with various dalmatian items seen littered throughout his office.
It is quite obvious that "Modern Warfare" was not created by people who have simply seen a few action movies. This is a labor of love by people who are hardcore fans of the genre and as a result, there are some small additions that other fans will immediately recognize.
Anyone who spent hours watching action films on network television knows the creative and hilarious ways they censor some of the more colorful language. So in this episode, when Annie pops out of the garbage can and screams "Freeze mamma-jammas!" it is a lovely small tidbit for true fans to enjoy.
7 28 Days Later Opening
While it is mostly classic action films that "Modern Warfare" references, there are some great shout-outs to something genre films in the episode. One of the best comes when Jeff wakes up from a nap in his car to find the campus turned into a post-apocalyptic warzone thanks to the paintball mayhem.
As we see Jeff wander around the eerily abandoned area, it is very reminiscent of the opening scene in 28 Days Later. In that film, the main character wakes up from a coma to find the streets of London deserted after a zombie outbreak.
6 Shirley's Prayer
Some aspects of the episode are not so much a reference to one specific action film, but rather to a well-known cliché within the entire action genre. One such example is when Shirley recites a bible verse as she opens fire on her enemies.
Shirley has always been seen as a religious character in the show so this moment might not seem unusual to fans. However, the way she says the prayer while taking out targets is very similar to movies like The Book of Eli and Saving Private Ryan where characters pray and kill at the same time.
5 Play Time
Despite being a modern comedy that very much appeals to a younger demographic, Community is never afraid to throw in some older references. It's safe to say not many of the show's regular audience would be familiar with the 1979 action-thriller The Warriors, but this episode drops a fun nod to that film.
As the main characters are bunkered down in the cafeteria, they hear a taunting voice call "Study group, come out and plaaaaay." The moment comes from the iconic scene in The Warriors as the titular gang is called out with "Warriors, come out and plaaaaay."
4 John Woo Homage
Though he might not be known to all movie fans, few filmmakers have had as big an impact on the action movie genre as John Woo. His Hong Kong action films like Hard Boiled and The Killer helped pave the way for the resurgence of the genre in the 90s and they are still a huge influence on action films to this day.
Appropriately, Woo's work is given tribute in this episode in hilarious fashion. As Chang enters the competition, he walks into the room with a white suit, sunglass and a matchstick in this mouth. This, accompanied by the distinct music is straight out of Woo's filmography.
Predator is considered one of the most iconic action films, and with a cast of some of the toughest dudes in the world, it's not hard to see why. Not surprisingly, the movie gets some great shout outs in this episode, although you might not have caught them all.
The first comes after Jeff is reunited with his friends (after only an hour) and Troy greets him enthusiastically by saying, "Jeff Winger, you son of a bitch," just as like the greeting between Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers. Another hilarious reference comes as Chang laughs maniacally as he sets off his paint bomb, similar to the Predator's last stand.
2 Glee Diss
The minds behind Community have never been shy to use the show as a venue to call out their dislike for other pop culture features. One show that has particularly been a target for Community is the Fox musical-drama Glee.
Given that show's popularity, Community has taken some rather blatant shots at them. The trend continues here with the characters taking of Greendale's Glee Club and repeatedly expressing annoyance with their laziness and lack of creativity for just singing other people's songs.
1 Die Hard
If you're going to parody action films, you can't avoid a few solid Die Hard references. That beloved film is clearly a favorite of the Community team as it gets more than a few nods throughout the episode. Some of them are quite clear, like Jeff's gun taped to his back, while others might have been missed.
As Britta and Jeff face off and Britta finds her gun empty, Jeff mocks "No paintballs, Hans," directly referencing the similar exchange between John McClane and Hans Gruber. Also, Jeff's grime-strained tank top is a pretty dead-on recreation of McClane's memorable outfit.