The cult comedy TV series Community wouldn’t be what it is without its ensemble of beloved characters. Their relational dynamics and character quirks are what brought the show’s ingenuity to life.
Even the ones outside the study group (or the “Greendale Seven,” as they’re sometimes referred to) got their own moments to shine.
Creator Dan Harmon doesn’t simply create his characters based on people he knows; he cleverly designs them to pull off the show’s take on sitcom tropes. And they’re so beloved that it’s hard to pick a favorite.
But we gave it a shot anyway. Here are our picks for the best Community characters, ranked all the way to our favorite. Needless to say, all of these characters are “streets ahead.”
15. Dr. Marshall Kane
Dr. Marshall Kane first appeared in Season 3 as Greendale’s biology teacher. He’s a no-nonsense lecturer who restricts Jeff from using his phone during class and chastises the group for quarreling over lab partner assignments.
Indeed, you can tell that he’s an offshoot of The Wire’s Omar Little (who was also played by Michael K. Williams) in how he follows a “code.”
14. Alex “Star-Burns” Osbourne
Star-Burns is known for his blazer, his top hat, his star-shaped sideburns, the fact that he’s a drug dealer, and his catchphrase: “My name is Alex.” But he’s more than all those things.
Alex has a colorful taste in music. He owns a pet lizard. And in Seasons 3 and 5, he faked his death to start a new identity, which led him to be suspected as the “Ass Crack Bandit.” He lives on!
13. Leonard Rodriguez
If there’s one character that all the characters hate, it would be Leonard. Leonard pesters Jeff, making him and others grunt, “Shut up, Leonard!” And despite his age, he acts more juvenile than the younger students.
As revealed in Season 6, Leonard has been a Greendale student since the 70s. Between then and now, he’s changed his surname to Rodriguez, launched his own YouTube channel where he reviews junk food, and nearly became valedictorian. What a colorful life.
12. Professor Ian Duncan
Professor Ian Duncan first appeared in the pilot episode, where Jeff coerces him to cheat his way in his classes. It didn’t work, of course. Duncan served as Greendale’s psychology professor and therapist, who takes any opportunity for greater gains.
But during Seasons 2 and 5, Duncan grew more likable as he was forced to teach anthropology, deal with his rivalry against Chang, and learn to care for Britta. Thanks to John Oliver’s performance, Duncan is a winner.
11. Professor Buzz Hickey
After Chevy Chase left the cast, we all knew someone needed to fill the void left in his wake. In comes Jonathan Banks’ Professor Buzz Hickey, a criminology professor who guides Jeff in his life as a teacher and Greendale faculty member.
Hickey’s gruff demeanor serves as the perfect foil for the study group’s antics, as seen when he reacts to Abed’s passion for Kickpuncher and Annie’s denial of her criminology grade. Regardless, he stands out greatly with his crustiness and wisdom.
10. Frankie Dart
Frankie Dart is an underrated character. Much like Hickey, she serves as a foil for the study group. She enters Greendale as a consultant to improve Greendale’s quality and spending, which initially angers the group. But they soon accept her to their “Save Greendale” committee.
While she questions the group’s dynamic, Frankie finds her way to appeal to them and reach their soft spots, thanks to Abed being accepting. (A good example of that is belittling the Dean for selling out to Honda.) And her Season 7 pitch is hysterical!
9. Dean Craig Pelton
The character of a college dean is typically a hardnosed type, but Dean Pelton is anything but. He’s the most optimistic presence at Greendale, despite the passivity of the students. He frequently bursts into the study room to give announcements to the study group.
The Dean has many running gags like his “Dean” puns, his colorful costumes, and his flirting with Jeff. But his most outrageous moment is in “Documentary Filmmaking: Redux” when he goes full Apocalypse Now while filming a TV commercial.
8. Ben Chang
Ben Chang has several incredible turns in Community. He starts out as Greendale’s Spanish teacher, then gets cornered for being a fraud. Over the remaining seasons, he becomes a student, a security guard, a dictator, a posing amnesiac, a math teacher, and a Mr. Miyagi.
Though he’s the black sheep of the gang—who would often act as ally or enemy—Chang has his moments. Consider his bond with the monkey Annie’s Boobs, the burnt mannequin leg, and his “Bear Down for Midterms” moments. Comedy gold.
7. Shirley Bennett
Shirley may look like the “mother hen” of the group, but there’s more to her. On paper, she’s basically described as a single mother, a devout Christian, and an aspiring business owner—but beneath all that are her attempts to cope and fit in.
There are great moments with Shirley to appreciate, like her buddy cop tandem with Annie, her sudden pregnancy in Season 2, and her hidden link with Jeff and foosball. She can be gentle, but she can go berserk when needed. Who wouldn’t appreciate her pies?
6. Pierce Hawthorne
Pierce Hawthorne is an enigma of a character. The millionaire behind Hawthorne Wipes, he enrolled in Greendale a decade prior to the series simply for a change of pace. Within the group, he comes off as insensitive, clueless, and arrogant.
Despite his ignorance and desperation to fit in, Pierce sometimes lends words of wisdom and common sense to the group. Occasionally, he even brings out human moments—like helping Abed during Christmas, aiding Britta out of embarrassment, and acting fatherly towards Jeff.
5. Britta Perry
In the pilot, Britta starts off as the hard-to-get love interest for Jeff, but that’s all crushed in due time.
Britta is an outspoken person who’s passionate about environmental causes and social justice issues, but her personality makes it so that she isn’t always the best messenger.
Britta comes off as noble on the surface but insincere or ignorant deep down—and her mistakes are a common punchline for the group. Still, you can’t help but root for her.
4. Jeff Winger
As the study group’s de facto leader, Jeff Winger calls the shots (eventually, after putting it off for a while) as far as how the gang thrives at their community college.
A disgraced lawyer, he enters Greendale with an elevated sense of ego and cynicism. However, over time, Jeff softens up to his study group in ways he’d never expect. In every episode, he stands out with his straight-man shtick.
Dan Harmon inserted his arrogant tendencies into Jeff’s character. From there, he grows from manipulative lawyer to Greendale law professor. Couple that with Joel McHale’s brand of dry humor and you have a great anti-alpha male lead.
3. Annie Edison
Annie is the group’s archetypal A-type overachiever. After graduating high school as valedictorian but with a bad reputation (thanks to her Adderall addiction and crush on Troy), she arrives at Greendale with a fresh start. But her neurotic habits return to her in new, funny ways.
But Annie is kindhearted in her intentions. Throughout the show, she develops a familial bond with the study group and an attraction to Jeff. Thanks to Alison Brie’s charm, Annie is a bubbly presence.
Her best moments include her as Hector the Well-Endowed in D&D, her own Model UN council, her apartment move, and her investigation into the Ass Crack Bandit.
2. Troy Barnes
Troy has had an interesting run at Greendale. He gives an unkindly first impression as a football jock, but his bond with the study group—mostly with Abed—brings his playful side to life.
His friendship with Abed is one of the best aspects of Community. Who could forget the iconic “Troy & Abed in the Morning” segments”? Their love for Inspector Spacetime? Their attempts to do an Animal House kind of college life? Their evolution from foes to friends is phenomenal.
1. Abed Nadir
The best character in Community will always be its mascot, Abed Nadir. Abed first appears as Jeff’s guide to Greendale. As time goes on, the two set up a strong mentor-apprentice bond, and Abed himself is able to come out of his shell and care deeply for his friends.
Like Jeff, Harmon used Abed as a channel for his own personal tastes in media and as a gateway to pull off the show’s more unique stories.
As a character, Abed’s geek wisdom is not a one-joke gimmick but a way to portray those “on the spectrum.” And with Danny Pudi’s performance, he remains a lovable presence. Abed Nadir proves that nerdy characters are more than just their stereotype; they’re human.