There are a lot of things we already know about the sitcom featuring a study group who’d rather re-enact movies and build blanket forts than do any actual studying. We know that the show is Dan Harmon’s semi-autobiographical creation, and we know all of the sitcom’s best Easter eggs and background jokes, from the Beetlejuice gag to the hidden Amy Poehler stock photo. Did you know, however, that Parker Posey could’ve been a professor, or that Ben Chang would likely not have existed as a character if it wasn’t for Knocked Up?
Here are some trivia tidbits that may or may not surprise you, depending on how much you’re into blanket forts...
Dan Harmon Wanted More John Oliver
In an interview with Uproxx, Harmon said that, following Donald Glover’s departure from the show in Season Five, he initially envisioned turning Joel McHale and John Oliver’s characters into Harold Ramis and Bill Murray's duo in Stripes. Unfortunately, Oliver couldn’t do every episode, and that’s how Jonathan Banks’ character Buzz Hickey became tight with the study group instead.
Parker Posey Almost Featured as a Professor
Harmon once said that he’d floated an idea of getting the hilarious Posey to guest star as a film professor who pulls a Mrs. Robinson on Abed. He did not elaborate on why such a glorious idea didn’t pan out.
Harmon Called Pierce Hawthorne the Eric Cartman of ‘Community’
During an interview with OnMilwaukee, Harmon said that he always wanted to make Chevy Chase’s character more complex and antagonistic but that the network didn’t like to hear the word “dark.” “I got more confident as we got more laissez-faire treatment from the network,” Harmon said following Season Two. “Now, he (Pierce) is our Eric Cartman from South Park or our Archie Bunker. The writers need that. I know some people are put off by that, but we like to make sure every episode of Community is its own single entity, a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Villains are really important to that.”
Troy Barnes Wrote a Comic Book
As part of the first season's DVD set, Harmon created a six-page Kickpuncher comic book from the mind of Troy. It features the whole gang, as well as Troy and Abed’s beloved Kickpuncher, obviously.
The Actors Geeked Out Over the ‘Law & Order’ Episode
Not only did Yvette Nicole Brown and Jim Rash tell Collider that it was their favorite episode of Season Three, but Brown also elaborated on the entire cast’s excitement during the table read: “When we were doing the table read, ‘cause all of us are nerds who all love Lost and Law & Order, every time the ‘chung, chung’ was said, everybody in the room wanted to be the first one to get it out because we were all so geeked.”
The Sweet Scene Between Pierce and Abed We Didn’ t Get
At the end of the “Digital Estate Planning” episode — where they all turn into video game characters to help Pierce get his inheritance — there was supposed to be a very special tag. In it, we would’ve seen Abed give Pierce a thumb drive featuring Pierce’s avatar throwing a baseball at his dad’s head, to which his dad replies, “Great job, son!” After watching the mini-game, Pierce would’ve turned to Abed and hugged him. Unfortunately, the difficult Chevy Chase didn’t want to shoot the scene that day and left the set. It was the last day of the shoot, resulting in the emotional scene being lost.
‘Knocked Up’ Inspired Dan Harmon to Write Ben Chang
Actor Ken Jeong said in the show’s oral history that Judd Apatow put an outtake of his character being particularly wild in Knocked Up online, and it went viral. “Dan loved that scene and wrote Señor Chang with me in mind,” Jeong explained. “I signed on for at least five episodes, then The Hangover came out, and my profile was instantly raised. NBC asked if I’d like to be a series regular.”
Ray Liotta Almost Starred in the Show
Yep, it turns out that the late actor was up for the role of Buzz Hickey from Season Five on out. Harmon reportedly wanted Liotta to play the role that was inspired by the Goodfellas actor himself, but Liotta ultimately turned it down.
Harmon Learned About His Own Place on the Neurodevelopment Spectrum While Creating Abed
Harmon said that after learning that folks with Asperger’s were relating to Abed and loving his character, he wanted to know more about the autism spectrum because, in his own words, he “didn’t want to let these people down, ever.” Through his research, he discovered that he had a lot in common with people who’ve been diagnosed with Asperger’s, realizing that he was more like Abed Nadir than Jeff Winger (who he originally thought was a mirror of him).
The ‘Election’ Connection
Annie Edison was based on Tracy Flick from the 1999 black comedy Election. Harmon straight up called Annie a "rip-off" of Flick but said that throughout the show’s run, Alison Brie turned the character into something more, making Annie her own.
One of the Show’ s Best Episodes Was Nominated for a Hugo Award
Writer Chris McKenna received nominations for an Emmy and a coveted Hugo Award for one of the show’s best (if not the best) episodes, “Remedial Chaos Theory.” It’s the one where the study group throws a die, creating multiple alternate timelines and the famous "Donald Glover walking into an apartment on fire" meme.
Harmon Wanted Richard Ayoade for a Guest Character
Ayoade directed the episode modeled after My Dinner with Andre, and Harmon revealed during a Reddit AMA that he really wanted to bring Ayoade back as Abed’s new friend in the Inspector Spacetime convention episode. However, the role was ultimately portrayed by Matt Lucas because the episode happened in Season Four — the one where Harmon wasn’t there.
Harmon’s Favorite Episode
When asked, the creator has said that his favorite Community episode was the Dungeons & Dragons episode in Season Two, “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.” It’s the episode that both Netflix and Hulu removed due to its use of elvish blackface.
Yvette Nicole Brown Came Up With Her Catchphrase
Shirley Bennett’s oft-said line, “That’s nice,” wasn’t in the script. As Brown told The Independent: “In the pilot, Joel did something I liked, I happened to say it, and it ended up in the show. We just started throwing it in whenever I felt like Shirley would think something was nice.”
The Final Season Was Filmed in a Basement
For Season Six, the show moved from Paramount to CBS Radford Studios, where they shot the sitcom in the basement underneath the set of Parks and Recreation. Alison Brie told Dax Shepard on his podcast that pillars were going through the set from above and that they had to write in the whole “Greendale’s under construction” bit into the scripts because of it.