Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Character You Likely Forgot Community's Joel McHale Played On The Rookie

"The Rookie” boasts a unique premise for a police procedural, making it a hit for ABC. The series follows John Nolan (Nathan Fillion), a divorced man in his 40s who moves to Los Angeles to become a police officer after he helps thwart a bank robbery. The series shows Nolan as he juggles his personal life, expectations from his new career, and the pushback he receives from society and co-workers. While the premise may seem outlandish and unrealistic, "The Rookie" is based on a true story.

The series first hit ABC in 2018, drawing over 5 million viewers when it first debuted. Reception for the police procedural has been good, with the 1st season receiving a positive 68% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Fans are clearly eating up the unique procedural as it boasts an impressive 92% audience score on the site. Seeing as how successful "The Rookie" has been for ABC, it's no surprise the network is working on an FBI-focused spinoff (via Deadline).

Throughout its reign on ABC, the series has managed to tap a large number of high-profile guest stars to appear in the show. Celebrities like chef Mario Lopez, musician will.i.am, and entrepreneur Mark Cuban have appeared as themselves on "The Rookie." Even noted comedians like "The Office" star Rainn Wilson and "SNL" funnyman Pete Davidson have popped up on the show in memorable guest roles. However, fans of NBC's cult sitcom "Community" might have forgotten that Joel McHale also appeared in "The Rookie" in a brief but pivotal role.

Joel McHale gets protection from The Rookie

"Community" star Joel McHale joined "The Rookie" during its debut season for Episode 17, titled "The Shake Up." The episode's title is a reference to an earthquake that hits Los Angeles, much to the detriment of the city and its police department. In the midst of all the instability, officer John Nolan (Fillion) is tasked with protecting McHale's Brad Hayes, a dirty border patrol agent. The character's dealings have made him a prime target for nefarious enemies, which forces Nolan to protect him — no matter the cost.

The "Community" star's guest episode notably followed Episode 16, "Green Light," one of the most memorable episodes of the show. In "Green Light," fan-favorite character Captain Zoe Anderson (Mercedes Mason) is killed — a "The Rookie" moment that fans think went too far.

"The Shake Up" naturally showcased the main cast, including Nolan, reeling from the Captain's tragic death. The episode mostly received positive feedback from audiences, with Reddit user u/WheelJack83 praising the "Community" lead's performance and character. "Also, enjoyed seeing Joel McHale, and even got a fight scene in with Nathan Fillion. Liked it," they wrote. 

It turns out "The Rookie" isn't the first time McHale and Fillion have worked together. They both shared the screen together in "Community," when Fillion appeared as a custodian at Greendale Community College alongside Kumail Nanjiani in Season 5, Episode 6, "Analysis of Cork-Based Networking." Talk about a crossover episode!