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Main Community Characters Ranked By Likability

"Community" premiered on NBC in 2009, cultivated a loyal fanbase throughout the course of its six-season run despite frequently struggling in the ratings department, as observed by Salon. Though beloved by many, this community-college-based sitcom had a tumultuous production behind the scenes. Showrunner Dan Harmon was fired and replaced for Season 4, only to be brought back the following season after a notable decline in quality and a vocal outcry of support. After five seasons, NBC finally canceled "Community," but the show proved resilient.

The long-held rallying cry of "six seasons and a movie" got one step closer to becoming reality when the now-defunct Yahoo Screen revived the show for a sixth season on its short-lived streaming service (per Entertainment Weekly). Love for the show and prospects for a movie remain alive and well, with events like a virtual table read reunion demonstrating that the cast still has enthusiasm for the long-dormant show.

"Community" was such an enduring comedy thanks to its collection of lovable but flawed characters. Many cast members have gone on to superstardom in the years to follow such as Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, and Donald Glover, also known as Childish Gambino. As the series changed hands over the years, the cast changed as well. Characters like Pierce, Troy, and Shirley all departed Greendale Community College before the series drew to a close, but new characters like Elroy, Professor Hickey, and Frankie were brought in as replacements. This list will be taking a look at all of "Community's" main characters, both old and new, as they are ranked by likability.

1. Troy

Troy Barnes, played by Donald Glover, begins the first season as an arrogant jock who is selfish and clueless in equal measure. Luckily, the less likable aspects of his character are quickly stripped away as Troy evolves over the course of the show. Like some of the other "Community" characters, Troy was a work in progress as the series found its footing. For more evidence of that, one can even look back to how Troy and Pierce were often coupled up as a buddy duo in the early episodes of the series even before the dynamite chemistry between Troy and Abed was discovered.

Before long, Troy transforms into the most wholesome and likable main character in the entire series. He has a degree of childlike innocence that can sometimes land him in trouble, but that only serves to make him more endearing. While the rest of the study group are prone to moments of selfish behavior, Troy always seems to genuinely care about the best interest of his friends as the bottom line. When Troy leaves Greendale to sail around the world with LeVar Burton, it's an emotional departure, and his absence is felt throughout the remainder of the series.

2. Annie

Annie Eddison, played by Alison Brie, is tightly wound and can be controlling at times, but she is also extremely kind and caring. She frequently goes out of her way to help other people. Like Troy, Annie has an innate innocence that goes a long way toward making her likable even when she sometimes makes unsavory decisions. Other factors that earn her a great deal of sympathy are the many hardships she goes through. These include living in a dangerous apartment building after her parents cut her off financially, dealing with the consequences of a past drug addiction that earns her the derisive nickname "Little Annie Adderall," and a brief stint in rehab.

The competitive side of Annie can bring out the worst in her. At her lowest, Annie isn't above sabotaging others to ensure she gets what she wants, like when she orchestrates a way to keep the Spanish study together by making them fail, and then repeat, a class. The debate club and model UN episodes are further examples of her competitive and controlling nature getting the better of her momentarily. However, she still manages to come out on top and remain incredibly likable at the end of the day.

3. Abed

Abed Nadir, played by Danny Pudi, is a fan-favorite character. One could make a case for Abed being the most lovable character on the entire show, but he isn't always the most likable. He has a couple of negative characteristics that make him a much more complex and interesting character while also making him slightly less easy to identify with. Most prominently, Abed can be quite selfish at times, acting in his interest rather than those of his friends. He also has a bit of an inflated ego, which is tied most directly to his various filmmaking endeavors.

One documentary project sees Abed taking center stage and adopting a Christ-like persona. This leaves him at perhaps his most unlikable as his ego balloons to new heights, and he speaks down to everyone around him. Other filmmaking projects that he subjects his friends to involve Abed manipulating them to achieve the narrative he is after. An example of this is seen early in the show's run when he coerces Jeff and Britta into pretending to be his parents. 

Abed is also once caught tracking the menstrual cycles of the female study group members without their knowledge or consent. While he explains that he began doing this as an accident, it remains an egregious breach of privacy, to say the least. Abed remains sympathetic through it all, however, as his difficulty with social cues is tied directly to his Asperger's, which is obviously beyond his control. Beyond that, his friendship with Troy is genuinely sweet and can even serve as the show's emotional heart at times.

4. Shirley

Shirley Bennett, played by Yvette Nicole-Brown, is a woman with two distinct and opposing sides of her personality. One side of Shirley is kind and sweet, while the other can be viciously mean. Luckily, the kind side of her usually wins out, but the mean side can really cut those around her down to size when her ire is rankled. These two sides of Shirley are exemplified by the two distinct tones of voice she uses depending on her mood and intentions.

The voice-switching aspect of the character was an unwritten choice that Yvette Nicole-Brown decided to try. The voice had an immediate impact and, with showrunner Dan Harmon's blessing, it became an integral part of the character, as she revealed in an interview with Daily Actor. The duality of Shirley is explored and played with throughout the entirety of her time on "Community." 

That said, there is one decidedly unlikable aspect of Shirley that typically manifests from her "good side" as opposed to her "mean side." This aspect of her personality comes from her deeply held religious beliefs and how she uses her Christianity to harshly judge others. There are several points throughout the series where Shirley goes as far as to ridicule and condemn those of other faiths, including the other study group members such as Annie, who is Jewish, and Abed, who is Muslim.

5. Dean Pelton

Craig Pelton, played by Jim Rash, is the Dean of Greendale Community College. He begins the series as a supporting character but eventually grows to inhabit a larger role as the series continues — much to Rash's surprise, as he revealed in an interview with Daily Actor. While not a member of the study group that resides at the heart of "Community," Dean Pelton feels like a member of the gang as he either serves as a catalyst for or gets involved with many of their comedic escapades.

The Dean is a mostly lovable character who is a big softie at heart and usually wants what is best for everyone around him, although he isn't always in the right. Dean Pelton is undeniably awful at his job as the head of the community college. His incompetence leads to all kinds of broader issues that are either suffered by the students or solved by the study group. He occasionally crosses some boundaries or makes questionable choices to achieve whatever it is he's after, but he always has good intentions. The Dean might be misguided, but he isn't malevolent.

6. Elroy

Elroy Patashnik, played by Keith David, joined the cast of "Community" for the show's sixth and final season, although Keith David's voice could be heard earlier as the narrator of the episode "Pillows and Blankets." He is without a doubt one of the smartest characters on the series, and his tech gadgets and "weirdly fragile RV" serve to make him distinctive. Elroy serves as somewhat of a replacement for Pierce as the character that the other study group members could make "old jokes" about, but he has a unique voice of his own and lacks the bigoted characteristics that made Pierce less likable.

Even though he joins the series late in the game, Elroy manages to fit right in with the rest of the study group. Some might even wish the character had been around from the beginning. He is certainly grumpy and prone to angry ranting, which keeps him from ranking higher, but this grumpiness adds to his comedic voice and charm more than it takes away any likability.

7. Jeff

If "Community" has a singular lead character, it's Jeff Winger, played by Joel McHale. In the pilot episode, Jeff is the clear protagonist, though the series does eventually widen its scope and begin to feel more like an ensemble comedy, with each main character receiving a relatively equal amount of time and attention. Jeff is a charismatic leading man, but he is also a deeply flawed person, making him a more complex and interesting character.

Jeff is an egomaniacal, selfish, manipulative, and morally dubious former lawyer who ends up at Greendale Community College after his employer finds out that he does not, in fact, have a law degree. However, all of these negative traits are things that Jeff works on and improves throughout the course of the show. His bountiful flaws give him room to grow with the help of his kind-natured friends. On the plus side, Jeff is charming, has clear leadership qualities that often come in handy, and he has his heart in the right place when it matters the most, even if it would pain him to admit it.

8. Britta

Britta Perry, played by Gillian Jacobs, is another character who changes drastically as the show goes on, though it takes longer for her to become fully formed than it does the others. The saying "Britta's the worst" became a running joke on "Community" in the show's typical meta fashion. During the early stages of the series, Britta was somewhat of a less fully formed character than the others, especially Jeff Winger, who she was paired up with from the beginning as a possible love interest.

Beyond being less dimensional, there was also a general sense of Britta being untrustworthy and even a little annoying in her preachy morals throughout the beginning of the show. Dan Harmon and the other "Community" writers decided to lean into Britta being considered "unlikable" and make it a part of the show, as explained in an interview with Den of Geek. By embracing the unlikability of Britta, the character was able to own her faults and become exponentially more likable as the show went on while also getting plenty of great comedic mileage out of "Britta's the worst" as a catchphrase. Britta's likability is a real story of redemption.

9. Frankie

Frankie Dart, played by Paget Brewster, was another late addition to the cast who arrives around the same time as Elroy, in the sixth and final season of "Community." She is straight-laced and a little bit of a killjoy due to her position of authority. After all, Frankie comes to Greendale to help repair the school's reputation and get it into better shape, which is no easy feat.

Her broader goals keep her from meshing completely with the core of the study group and their frequently chaotic misadventures. Frankie never quite feels like a real member of the gang, and that is what holds her likability back the most. She has the disadvantage of joining a beloved group of characters at the very end and doesn't have a ton of time to grow. Who knows, if more seasons had followed, Frankie might have eventually become as beloved as the other main characters.

10. Professor Hickey

Professor Buzz Hickey, played by Jonathan Banks fresh off of his "Breaking Bad" role as Mike Ehrmantraut, was a new addition to the cast in Season 5 of "Community." As Pierce and Troy were on their way out, Professor Hickey was on his way in. Unfortunately, Professor Hickey didn't stick around for very long. The character did not return for the show's sixth season, possibly due to scheduling conflicts with Season 1 of "Better Call Saul."

Professor Hickey never quite meshes with the rest of the study group, seemingly by design. He is a tough, cranky professor who only works with the rest of the gang begrudgingly. His callous nature doesn't lend itself well to likability, but that doesn't mean he isn't funny, and he plays well off the others during their frequent heated banter. Beneath his coarse exterior, it was clear that Professor Hickey had some warmth in his heart, though he didn't like to show it.

11. Chang

Ben Chang, played by Ken Jeong, is a volatile character who wears many hats throughout the six seasons of "Community." He begins the series as Señor Chang, the study group's Spanish teacher, despite not actually knowing how to speak Spanish. He transitions from being a Spanish teacher to being a student and then a tyrannical security guard. Eventually, Chang fakes amnesia for an entire season before becoming a teacher again in Season 5 as part of a work-release program, this time in the subject of math. He even had a brief stint as an actor in the show's final season.

Chang's likability fluctuates wildly from season to season. He's at his most likable while he's a student vying for the acceptance of the members of the study group. Deep down, he wants to be their friend, even though he does plenty of awful things to them. Chang is at worst when he becomes Greendale's head of security in Season 3. His actions go far beyond antagonistic and veer into outright criminal territory. He amasses an army of child security guards and abuses his power to become the dictator of Greendale. He even goes so far as to kidnap Dean Pelton and hold him hostage for an extended period of time while replacing him with a Moby impersonator.

At his worst, Chang can be straight-up evil. However, he isn't always so bad. There is a sense that Chang lashes out because he is broken and sad, often earning sympathy by being more pathetic than straight-up hostile.

12. Pierce

Pierce Hawthorne, played by Chevy Chase, is the least likable member of the study group, and none of the other central characters even come close. Behind the scenes of "Community," Chevy Chase and showrunner Dan Harmon notoriously butted heads in the public spotlight, as detailed by The Hollywood Reporter. The Pierce character was killed off between Season 4 and Season 5, which marked Harmon's return and Chase's departure. 

Pierce is openly racist, homophobic, antisemitic, and sexist. These negative traits are frequently mined for comedy, and Pierce is typically the butt of everyone's jokes. He is constantly in the wrong and serves as a target of ridicule. Pierce even jumps the line and serves as an antagonist rather than a protagonist at times, especially during the period of time when he uses a wheelchair after breaking both his legs. However, even the least likable character on "Community" isn't entirely contemptible.

Pierce is a pretty terrible person, but he has his fair share of redemptive moments throughout the show. This side of Pierce is seen when he offers Troy a place to stay for the summer in his gigantic home or whenever he shows a soft spot for Annie, who he often refers to as his favorite and even helps her out financially when times are tough. Pierce's father, Cornelius Hawthorne, is infinitely worse, however. The terrible treatment Pierce receives from his father both helps to explain why he ended up the way that he did and engenders a degree of sympathy for him.