In an era of lazy adaptations and slapped-together reality shows, it's cool to see creators go above and beyond, inserting Easter eggs into their work that they know 99 percent of viewers won't even notice. We've made it our mission to stop and appreciate these hidden little nuggets -- we've covered movie Easter eggs, video game Easter eggs, and even Easter eggs in famous literary publications.
With television, though, you almost have to admire it more when creators make the effort, considering the vast majority of TV viewers are barely paying attention, leaving the TV on in the background while they eat, masturbate, or wrestle with the dog (or all three at once). So for all of you who missed them the first time ...
6 Community's Hidden Jokes Span Across Years, and Networks
There is a reason shows like Arrested Development (yes, it makes the list later) and NBC's Community cultivate fan bases so loyal that they virtually go door to door demanding strangers watch: These shows are filled with in-jokes and callbacks that reward the most obsessive viewers. In a world where so much entertainment can feel like it was created to be therapy for people with traumatic head injuries, it's a great feeling to be rewarded for using your brain.
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But your brain will be damned if it remembers anything for your history finals.
And Community has some of these that are so well-hidden, they apparently don't care if more than a dozen people actually catch them the first time around -- to the point that some of these bits span across seasons, and even shows on other networks.
So, for instance, in one episode the character Abed has an entire storyline that plays out in the deep background of several scenes. At the beginning you see (through a window, behind the character who is talking) Abed befriending a pregnant woman. Later, while the main characters are having a discussion outside, you see Abed behind them, on the sidewalk, fending off the girl's jealous boyfriend. Finally, near the end of the episode, you see him delivering the baby itself in the parking lot behind the "real" scene that's going on in the foreground:
OK, so any viewer would have caught that on a second viewing, even if they missed it the first time around. But if you noticed this next one the first time around, there's probably some kind of medication you should be on: It's a "blink and you'll miss it" moment that took three seasons to set up:
In one episode of each of the first three seasons, the word "Beetlejuice" was used off-handedly in a joke. If you've seen the movie Beetlejuice, the titular mischievous ghost (played by Michael "holy shit this guy used to be the biggest star in Hollywood?" Keaton) would appear in the world of the living if anyone said his name three times. So, sure enough, on the third mention by a Community character, this guy appears in the background for exactly two seconds:
It could also just be that Michael Keaton was lost.
It's a random person dressed as either Beetlejuice or Gary Busey. That they patiently waited three years to reach that punchline is staggering A) because it looked like the show was going to get canceled several times before that, and B) when you consider that some shows can last eight seasons and the only punchline is "Look! Nerds!"
So how do you top that? How about by requiring the viewer to go chasing after the joke on a completely different show, on a completely different network? In a Season 2 episode, Abed tells a seemingly throwaway anecdote about getting work as an extra on the show Cougar Town (yes, that's a real show, on ABC) where he pooped his pants due to the stress. If fans had decided to switch over and actually watch Cougar Town, they'd sure enough have seen Abed showing up as an extra in the background, only to dash off at the end of the scene. You know, as if he had an urgent gastrointestinal emergency.
We haven't seen the show, but we're assuming everyone at that restaurant was attacked by cougars at the end of the scene.