Tonight “Community” is running three episodes culminating in the season finale. I feel like fans of “Community” deserve a three-episode night: The year has been hard on our souls, and while it’s easy to say it’s only a TV show, there is something decidedly different about “Community.” For its biggest fans, we feel a certain ownership in the show. It’s not just something we watch on Thursday nights, it’s something we’re invested in, from the story lines to the characters to the fate of the show. Maybe no one outside of the show itself feels as invested as the folks of Community Glow. This is our show, and we have the post and comment count to prove it.
I wanted to do something big to mark the occasion, and ranking every episode of the series felt like a fun challenge. There’s only one way to rank 68 of the best episodes of television over the past three years, and that is from Awesome to Awesomest. Even the worst episode (OK, the second-to-worst episode) of “Community” is better than the best episode of almost every other show on the networks. A list like this, obviously, is subjective, and I expect there’ll be plenty of disagreement. I’ll probably be called names by anyone who feels like their favorite episode was slighted, which will probably include everyone. That’s cool. What I’ve realized about fans of “Community” over the last three years is that they take the show very seriously, and everyone has a very strong opinion. It’s the strength of those opinions, and the passion for the show that’s kept it alive as long as it has.
Still, in theory, the list is meant to work like this: As you click through it, the voice inside your head will say, “That episode was great. How is this episode so low,” but then you’ll arrive at the next number and think, “Oh, well … OK. I see.” Take away the bottom five and the top 10, and there’s probably not a lot separating the other 53. It’s the difference between an 8 and an 8.5. That’s how good and how consistent the show has been for the last three years. I wouldn’t expect anything less from the three episodes tonight.
Here are all 68 episodes of “Community” ranked from Awesome to the Awesomest.
68. (S2E5) Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples — Shirley asks Abed to make a film about Jesus, but he quickly angers Shirley by turning it into a self-indulgent mess. Meanwhile, Pierce begins blowing off the study group to hang out with the “hipsters.”
67. (S2E18) Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy — Jeff uses Shirley’s parental rights waiver against Chang as a way to get Chang out of the apartment, while Britta is afraid to tell Abed and Troy that their new friend is a war criminal.
66. (S1E1) Pilot — An ex-lawyer is forced to return to community college to get a degree. However, he tries to use the skills he learned as a lawyer to get the answers to all his tests and pick up on a sexy woman in his Spanish class.
65. (S1E14) Interpretive Dance — Jeff runs in to problems when the study group and the dean discover that he’s seeing a professor, while Troy and Britta discover each other’s secret that they are both taking dance classes.
64. (S2E20) Competitive Wine Tasting — When a beautiful woman rejects him in favor of Pierce, Jeff is convinced she must have ulterior motives. Meanwhile, Troy invents a painful childhood memory in order to attract Britta, and Abed feuds with his professor over “Who’s the Boss?”
63. (S1E2) Spanish 101 — Jeff takes steps to ensure that Brita will be his partner in Spanish class, but winds up with Pierce instead.
62. (S1E6) Football, Feminism and You — Jeff talks Troy into playing for the college’s football team, sparking Annie’s anger. Pierce helps the dean come up with a new mascot, and Britta tries to become Shirley’s bathroom friend.
61. (S3E3) Competitive Ecology — Chaos ensues when the Study Group tries to divide itself up into biology lab partners, and Chang appoints himself security “detective,” and tries to solve a mystery that is only in his head.
60. (S2E22) Applied Anthropology and Community Arts — When the Anthropology class assembles for their final exam, Shirley notices a twinge, which quickly escalates into full-blown labor. As Jeff and Britta argue about how best to help, Chang is anxious to claim this “early” labor as clear evidence that it’s a “Chang Baby!” Meanwhile, Greendale is hosting a World Food Festival in the parking lot and a riot ensues – Dean Pelton is caught in the crossfire.
59. (S2E13) Celebrity Pharmacology 212 — Pierce bribes Annie into getting him a bigger role in her anti-drug play, Jeff gets in trouble when he sends a lewd text message from Britta’s phone, and Shirley rejects Chang’s attempts to be friendly to her.
58. (S1E11) Politics of Human Sexuality — Annie helps the dean put on an “STD Fair,” but doesn’t want to perform an embarrassing demonstration. Meanwhile Jeff finds a companion for a double date with Pierce, and Troy finds out that Abed is a better athlete than him.
57. (S1E5) Advanced Criminal Law — Señor Chang is on the hunt for a cheater and threatens to fail the entire class if the culprit doesn’t come forward. When someone confesses, Jeff comes to their defense. Meanwhile, Annie recruits Pierce to write the new school song.
56. (S3E11) Urban Matrimony and Sandwich Arts — Pierce comes to Shirley with a business proposal just as she’s about to get married to Andre. Meanwhile, Troy and Abed try to act “normal” for the wedding, Britta discovers a new skill, and Jeff struggles with his toast.
55. (S1E3) Introduction to Film — Brita comes between Abed and his father when she signs him up for a film class, and Jeff risks failing a class unless he “seizes the day.”
54. (S3E6) Advanced Gay — Pierce gets a visit from his bigoted father after his wipes become a hit in the gay community, and the dean of the School of Refrigeration recruits Troy to become his student.
53. (S1E4) Social Psychology — Jeff and Shirley bond by making fun of Britta’s new hippie boyfriend, which doesn’t go well for any involved. Meanwhile, Troy and Abed become pawns in Annie’s psychology experiment.
52. (S1E8) Home Economics — When Jeff loses his home and his car, he is forced to move into Abed’s dorm room. Troy has a big date, but why is a jealous Annie trying to help? Meanwhile, Pierce becomes the keyboardist for Vaughn’s band.
51. (S3E18) Course Listing Unavailable — A classmate suddenly dies, and Britta counsels the group using skills from her psychology class. When this fails and the group find out their biology credit is useless, their attendance of their fallen classmate’s wake quickly goes awry. Meanwhile, Chang continues to attempt to take over campus security.
50. (S1E13) Investigative Journalism — The gang decides not to let an obnoxious student from their Spanish class into the study group. The dean appoints Jeff as editor of the student paper, where Annie is working on a story that could expose the dean as a racist.
49. (S1E18) Basic Genealogy — It’s Family Day at Greendale. Pierce’s tries to build a relationship with his stepdaughter, but she has eyes for Jeff instead. Britta gets in trouble with Troy’s Nana, and Shirley’s kids cause problems for Abed’s father.
48. (S1E15) Romantic Expressionism — When Annie starts hanging out with Britta’s ex-boyfriend Vaughn, Britta and Jeff vow to protect her. Meanwhile, Pierce feels left out at Troy and Abed’s movie night.
47. (S3E12) Contemporary Impressionists — The members of the Study Group take jobs as celebrity impersonators to pay off Abed’s debt to a celebrity impersonator business, but can Jeff be Ryan Seacrest without his fragile ego spiral out of control?
46. (S1E24) English as a Second Language — Annie uses inside information about Señor Chang to get him fired so that the study group will be forced to stay together and take Spanish again. Meanwhile, Troy discovers that he has a natural skill for plumbing.
45. (S1E10) Environmental Science — Jeff hangs out with Senor Chang to get out of an essay, angering the rest of the group. Meanwhile, Abed and Troy search for their missing lab mouse, and Pierce helps Shirley out with a presentation.
44. (S3E1) Biology 101 — Jeff’s plan to keep Pierce out of the Study Group backfires when he gets kicked out instead, Abed copes with bad news about Cougar Town, and Dean Pelton’s authority is challenged by another Greendale dean.
43. (S2E3) The Psychology of Letting Go — Pierce’s religion convinces him that the spirit of his dead mother is captured in a cheap lava lamp, Jeff has a crisis of faith when he learns he has high cholesterol, and Britta and Annie try to raise money for the oil spill.
42. (S3E2) Geography of Global Conflict — When another over-achieving student steals Annie’s idea for a Model U.N. club, the Study Group comes to her rescue. Meanwhile, new security cop Chang tries to stop Britta’s last-ditch efforts to create a campus disturbance.
41. (S1E12) Comparative Religion — Shirley throws a Christmas party for the gang and much to her surprise learns her classmates come from various religious backgrounds. Meanwhile, Jeff is challenged by the school bully and faces the reality that he may fail Spanish 101.
40. (S1E24) Pascal’s Triange Revisited — Jealousy runs rampant at Greendale as Britta and Professor Slater fight for the affection of Jeff. Meanwhile, Troy is confused when his best friend, Abed, doesn’t invite him to move into his dorm room.
39. (S2E12) Asian Population Studies — Annie lobbies for her new crush, who is also Jeff’s rival, to join the study group, but a jealous Jeff counters with Chang. Meanwhile, Shirley announces that she’s pregnant, but she doesn’t know that it could be Chang’s.
38. (S1E22) The Art of Discourse — Shirley gets Pierce kicked out the study group, Jeff and Britta plot revenge on a group of high schoolers who make fun of them for attending community college, and Troy helps Abed accomplish some of his movie-clichéd social goals.
37. (S1E20) The Science of Illusion — Britta’s April Fool’s Day prank has disastrous consequences, but she refuses to confess that she was responsible. Annie and Shirley temporarily work as security guards, but both of them want to be the “bad cop.”
36. (S1E19) Beginner Pottery — Jeff signs up for a pottery class for an easy credit, but winds up failing the class when his jealousy of another student gets the best of him. Meanwhile, Pierce’s incompetence could ruin his group’s grade in boating class.
35. (S217) Intro to Political Science — Anticipating a visit from the vice president, dean Pelton holds an election for student body president. An idealistic Annie decides to run, but Jeff decides to run against her to spite her and show how stupid politics can be.
34. (S2E15) Early 21st Century Romanticism — Jeff hangs out with Professor Duncan after a fight with the study group, but Chang tags along and starts a party. Meanwhile, Abed and Troy fight for a librarian’s affection, and Britta goes to a dance with a girl she thinks is a lesbian.
33. (S2E10) Mixology Certification — The study group takes Troy out to a bar to celebrate his 21st birthday. While there, Annie assumes a new identity, Abed is propositioned by a man, one of Shirley’s secrets is discovered, and Britta and Jeff fight over the “cool” bars.
32. (S3E13) Digital Exploration of Interior Design — A new Subway shop opens in the cafeteria, and Shirley, Pierce, and Britta attempt to sabotage it. Vice Dean Laybourne returns to try to win Troy over. Troy and Abed build competing blanket forts.
31. (S2E2) Accounting for Lawyers — Jeff blows off the study group and their break-dancing competition to hang out with his old co-workers at the law firm, but Annie tries to prove that one of them is the person who turned him in and got him fired.
30. (S3E16) Virtual Systems Analysis — When a final exam is postponed, Annie talks Abed into letting her spend some time in the dreamatorium, where an innocent simulation turns into an examination of the study group.
29. (S1E16) Communication Studies — Jeff sets out to fix his relationship with Britta after things get awkward with a drunken phone call. Meanwhile, Annie and Shirley make plans to humiliate Señor Chang in order to defend Troy and Pierce’s dignity.
28. (S1E9) Debate 109 — Jeff reluctantly agrees to be Annie’s debate partner, Britta humors Pierce by letting him try hypnotherapy on her to get her to stop smoking, and the gang begins to think that Abed’s films may predict their future.
27. (S2E1) Anthropology 101 — Jeff and Britta engage in a dangerous game of relationship one-upsmanship in response to Britta’s embarrassing moment at the end of the previous school year, which could cause the entire study group to fall apart.
26. (S3E15) Origins of Vampire Mythology — The carnival comes into town and Britta enlists the help of the study group to keep her away from her ex. Vice Dean Laybourne and Dean Pelton band together to try to woo Troy to the Air Conditioning Repair Annex.
25. (S3E7) Studies in Modern Movement — The study group helps Annie move in with Troy and Abed – except for Jeff, who lies to get out of it but is busted by dean Pelton.
24. (S3E8) Documentary Filmmaking Redux — Dean Pelton is given the task to make an updated Greendale television commercial, but the shoot soon goes over budget and spirals out of control, descending the dean into madness–with Abed documenting the entire experience.
23. (S3E9) Foosball and Nocturnal Vigilantism — Shirley teaches Jeff foosball so that he can beat a team of cocky, obnoxious Germans, while Annie creates an overly elaborate ruse so that she doesn’t have to tell Abed that she broke his special edition The Dark Knight DVD.
22. (S2E4) Basic Rocket Science — Everyone in the study group except Abed is stuck in a crude 1980s space simulator as it is towed off campus, and Abed leads the team given the difficult assignment of bringing them home.
21. (S3E5) Horror Fiction in 7 Spooky Steps — During her pre-Halloween party, Britta gets everyone to tell a spooky story so that she can find out which member of the study group scored out as a psychopath on their psychology profiles.
20. (S3E19) Curriculum Unavailable — When Abed becomes convinced that Dean Pelton is an impostor, he is required to see a therapist.
19. (S2E19) Critical Film Studies — Jeff’s “Pulp Fiction”-themed surprise party for Abed is spoiled when Abed tells him over dinner that he’s done with pop culture. But is this confession actually just part of another movie homage?
18. (S2E8) Cooperative Calligraphy — Chaos and mistrust tear the study group apart as they try to figure out who stole Annie’s pen, causing them to miss the Greendale Puppy Parade.
17. (S1E7) Introduction to Statistics — Will Jeff blow off Annie’s Halloween party and sell out his other classmates in order to get a chance to score with a sexy professor?
16. (S2E7) Aerodynamics of Gender — Britta, Annie and Shirley discover that Abed is skilled at insulting the mean girls, so they use him to their advantage. Meanwhile, Troy and Jeff find a secret garden with a trampoline, which they use for relaxation.
15. (S2E16) Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking — Pierce pretends to be dying so that he can bequeath a series of cryptic and sometimes mean-spirited gifts to his study partners, and Abed decides to shoot a documentary film of the situation.
14. (S3E10) Regional Holiday Music — A holiday-themed parody of “Glee” in which Abed tries to persuade each member of the Study Group to join the glee club so that they can qualify for regionals.
13. (S2E11) Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas — When Abed wakes up to discover that everything is in stop motion animation, Professor Duncan and the study group help him try to discover the true meaning of Christmas.
12. (S1E21) Contemporary American Poultry — Jeff’s plan to get chicken fingers from the school cafeteria for the study group quickly evolves into a mafia movie-style endeavor with Abed calling all the shots.
11. (S2E21) Paradigms of Human Memory — As the study group gathers to assemble their 20th and final Anthropology diorama of the year, they begin reminiscing about their favorite times together – including a trip they made to a western ghost town, a last minute glee club performance and the array of costumes that Dean Pelton has managed to wear over the year. Meanwhile, Troy’s pet monkey returns, only to disappear back into the school’s ventilation system.
10. (S1E18) Physical Education — Jeff refuses to participate in a pool class because the teacher forces him to play in gym shorts, and the study group discovers a white version of Abed at the college.
9. (S2E6) Epidemiology — The study group is left to fend for themselves by Dean Pelton during a rabies outbreak due to tainted food at Greendale’s Halloween party.
8. (S2E24) For a Few Paintballs More — When the study group learns that there’s a sinister plot behind the paintball tournament, they unite the remaining players to defeat the enemy.
7. (S2E14) Advanced Dungeons and Dragons — The study group plays Dungeons & Dragons with another classmate to improve his spirits, but Pierce’s jealousies cause their good intentions to backfire.
6. (S2E9) Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design — Dean Pelton tries to bust Jeff for a phony night school credit, which only unveils a series of conspiracies, plots, and double-crosses between Jeff, Annie, and the dean.
5. (S3E17) Basic Lupine Urology — In a homage to Law & Order, the study group investigate a crime when someone sabotages their science experiment. When they discover the perp, Annie plans on prosecuting them to the fullest extent of Greendale’s Code of Conduct.
4. (S3E14) Pillows and Blankets — Presented in the style of Ken Burns’ documentary, The Civil War: What starts as a casual disagreement over pillows and blankets soon blossoms into all-out war on the Greendale campus. While insults are hurled and the study group choose loyalties, Jeff tries desperately to negotiate a truce, but with neither Abed nor Troy budging on their principles or real estate, the future looks grim for the duo’s friendship.
3. (S2E23) Fistful of Paintballs — In a “spaghetti western” parody, Pierce tries to get revenge on the rest of the study group during this year’s paintball tournament.
2. (S3E4) Remedial Chaos Theory — At Abed and Troy’s housewarming party, Jeff decides to let the decision on who gets the pizza rest on the roll of the dice, leaving Abed to contemplate six alternate realities.
1. (S1E23) Modern Warfare — Greendale Comunity College is transformed into an apocalyptic war zone when the dean promises the winner of a paintball competition priority registration, and it could fan the flames of sexual tension between Jeff and Britta.