Dan Harmon's Community is a show simultaneously ahead of the curve and stuck in the past. As a show dependent on pop-culture references and knowledge of current events, there will eventually come a time when the show's once-relevant humor quickly becomes outdated.
But in looking back on Community as it stands now, it's clear that there was still so much we gained from the show. The loved-by-fans, hated-by-network show was smart, quick, and far ahead of its time comedically. So many jokes from the show have crossed the cultural barrier and managed to become part of pop culture vernacular. Here are just a few of the pop culture jokes and references created by Greendale's favorite study group.
10 You're The Worst
Actress Gillian Jacobs is far from the worst, but the same could not be said about her character Britta Perry. Britta was a social activist, environmentalist, and while her heart was always in the right place, her vanity and hypocrisy tended to get in the way of her goals.
This double standard and lack of commitment would cause many to remark on her being "the worst." The gag surpassed the show, with it being revived as a more common way to rib friends and mock opponents.
9 Journey To The Center Of Hawkthorne
One of Community's hallmark episodes, "Digital Estate Planning" took the study group inside a game world developed by Pierce's father as a sort of last will and testament.
The episode delved into typical video game and RPG humor, and was one of the show's most popular episodes. The concept of the game proved so popular that it outlived the show; fans went to work and created "Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne," the game showcased in the episode.
8 Streets Ahead
"Cool" was never the best adjective to describe Chevy Chase's character Pierce Hawthorne. The curmudgeonly, out-of-touch and offensive student would have even made Archie Bunker raise an eyebrow. In an attempt to boost his social profile and sound cool, Pierce began referring to cool things as "streets ahead."
While the catchphrase never truly took off in-universe, it had the opposite effect in real life. It's now commonly used as both legitimate praise and to mock things that are trying too hard to be cool. Given that the phrase comes from a Twitter user's attempt to insult Dan Harmon and the show, it's a miracle that the phrase has managed to stay streets ahead for so long.
7 Recurring Themed Episodes
Most shows and sitcoms have recurring holiday episodes, to which Community was no exception. Community set the bar one higher by having multiple themed episodes appear throughout the series. The biggest of these was the paintball episodes, shown in episodes like "Modern Warfare", "For a Few Paintballs More" and "A Fistful of Paintballs".
The recurring use of themed episodes across multiple seasons has echoed in shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which has a similar concept in their Halloween heist episodes.
6 Gas Leak Year
While the show gained notoriety for its humor and outlandish episodes, it's also known for behind the scenes drama. Show writer and creator Dan Harmon constantly battled with NBC executives, resulting in his removal from the show in Season Four. The show's quality suffered immensely, with significantly decreased ratings and poor writing.
Harmon was subsequently brought back for season five, and explained the prior poor season in-show with a comment about a gas leak affecting everyone that year. The joke was a stroke of brilliance, and has been used by critics and fans to describe one-off bad seasons from otherwise remarkable shows.
5 Dungeons & Dragons
Before shows like Stranger Things devoted entire episodes to D&D concepts, Community did it first. The show had two such episodes, "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons" and "Advanced Advanced Dungeons & Dragons." Both episodes dealt entirely with the group playing the popular TTRPG as a fun and cool thing to do. Whereas other shows had featured brief scenes of the game, typically treating it as a joke, Community showcased more of what the game could do.
We now see D&D featured everywhere, from shows like Stranger Things and Voltron: Legendary Defender to enormously popular web shows like Critical Role and Harmontown, created by show creator Dan Harmon. Given that the network infamously didn't want to air the initial Dungeons & Dragons-themed episode, it's clear that attitudes have shifted significantly surrounding the game, which Community helped foster somewhat.
4 Pop! Pop!
How does one explain recurring character Magnitude, played by actor Luke Youngblood? With two simple words; "Pop, pop!" The catchphrase-driven character first appeared in season two's "Early 21st Century Romanticism" and became a hit on and off the show.
Despite the fact that the character was mocking characters who are only known for being cool and having a catchphrase they repeat incessantly, Magnitude managed to win over the hearts and minds of America with that simple but catchy catchphrase.
3 Troy And Abed In The Morning
Roommates, best friends, and talk show hosts are just a few ways to describe Troy and Abed (played by Donald Glover and Danny Pudi, respectively). The duo's talk show was typically used as an end-credit gag, and was always preempted by a catchy jingle of "Troy and Abed in the moooooooorning."
The simple jingle (and concept) proved catchy, with variations on it appearing throughout Community's run. Mugs styled after the "Troy and Abed in the Morning" mugs remain some of the best-selling merchandise from the show to date. Both the jingle and the gag have remained a lasting legacy of the show's humor since its cancellation.
2 Six Seasons And A Movie
Often a rallying cry to save the show anytime it teetered on the edge of cancellation, "Six Seasons and a Movie" became synonymous with the show. Used initially as a quick line of defense from Abed to Jeff about how long he expected the show The Cape to last, it was used frequently both in and out of the show.
While the show managed to hit the first part, so far there have been no official plans to bring a Community film to life, although the cast has expressed interest. Still, the phrase has been used multiple times during and after the show's tenure, mostly as a way to project interest for other television projects that lack network support.
1 The Darkest Timeline
In what might be the shows biggest contribution to pop culture, we have the "Darkest Timeline." Season three's "Remedial Chaos Theory" presented multiple outcomes from one changed variable in a simple scenario. Among one of them was "The Darkest Timeline," where gunshot wounds, fires, loss of limbs, and more affected the study group.
The phrase and concept has since gained massive popularity from fans and non-fans alike. Used to describe disappointing outcomes in sports, politics, or even one's personal life, it manages to encapsulate the frustration, disparity, and ridiculousness seen in Community's own Darkest Timeline. While the lack of anyone walking around wearing fake evil beards means we're probably not in the darkest timeline, it still makes you wonder about the level of absurdity that's waiting just a little bit around the corner.