Like a lot of people, I spent part of the last 18 months in a sporadic Community rewatch. The show gave us two excellent Halloween episodes, one perfect Halloween episode… and that one from Season Four. I spent some quality time ranking the Study Group’s costumes, along with a few others I thought needed attention.
A caveat: I didn’t really dig the fourth, non-Harmon season of the show—but whatever. Overall the series is a miraculous piece of storytelling and character development, and I still want a movie.
Also, apologies for this aside, but Joel McHale’s gleeful read on “Look! It’s our friend who we used to pick on for being Christian!” from “Horror Fiction in 7 Spooky Steps” is the thing I think about when I wake up panicking at 4am and can’t get back to sleep. I just…if I ever was to marry a line reading? It’d be that one. And it leads into our first entry, an honorable mention that I could not leave off.
On with the list!
Honorable Mention: Dean Craig Pelton as Satan
This isn’t a costume, just Shirley imagining the End of Days, as one does, inspiring the aforementioned Greatest Line Reading Ever. But I thought the Dean’s look here was simply too good to ignore.
28. Troy as a Sexy Dracula, “Epidemiology”
Not only is this a bad costume, it’s a betrayal of Abed! Although I do love that when Troy decides to be “sexy” his idea is to festoon himself with a toilet seat cover and strategically-placed toilet paper?
27. Troy and Abed as Constable Reggie and Inspector Spacetime, respectively, “Horror Fiction in 7 Spooky Steps”
Don’t get me wrong, these are good Inspector Spacetime and Constable Reggie costumes! But these aren’t Halloween-specific—the guys just happened to be wearing them when Britta invited them to a pre-Halloween-party Halloween party.
Per Abed: “When we dress up, you’ll know it.”
26. Jeff as a Cowboy, “Introduction to Statistics”
Sure, he’s just wearing jeans and a button-down shirt, but Jeff gets a tiny fraction of a point for being a decent friend and showing up to Annie’s Dia de Los Muertos party. (Of course he isn’t a costume guy.) Until it turns out that he had a cowboy hat, toy gun, and holster the entire time—he was just holding them in reserve so he could get into the faculty party and woo Professor Slater!
It’s a lazy costume to start with, but worse than that—Annie’s party doesn’t rate the cowboy hat??? Clearly Jeff Winger has a lot to learn about Halloween parties and friendship.
25. Jeff as a Boxer, “Paranormal Parentage”
First, I like that this continues Jeff’s tradition of using Halloween as a way to attract women. Given that Britta actively rejects skimpy costumes, and Annie’s and Shirley’s are always based in whimsy, I like the subtle throughline that it’s Jeff Winger who embraces the spirit of Slut-o-Ween.
BUT. He’s wearing a boxer outfit to coordinate with Annie’s “Ring Girl” which, ew.
AND ALSO, the end of the episode reveals that the gloves belonged to Jeff’s dad, and I am mightily against Season 4’s decision to have Jeff work out his dad issues. Plus, this costume is just kind of easy compared to a bunch of the ones higher up.
24. Shirley as Leia, “Paranormal Parentage”
This is a lazy take on Leia, but worse, it doesn’t continue Shirley’s tradition of wearing hilariously ambiguous costumes—we all know she’s Leia right away, and it feels like a lost opportunity to keep that gag running. Maybe if we saw Andre as Han I’d rank it higher, but even then, this costume doesn’t really feel like Shirley to me? She’d either go for Return of the Jedi, Friend-to-Wicket Leia, or maybe softer Bespin Leia, and either of those would have been more in line with her earlier costume choices.
23. Leonard as a Pumpkin, “Epidemiology”
Come on, Leonard. This is pretty basic.
But I’m including it because how often do you get to see a zombie pumpkin going for someone’s jugular?
22. Annie as a Skeleton, “Introduction to Statistics”
In Season One’s “Introduction to Statistics”, Annie hosts a Dia de los Muertos party (which she incorrectly calls “Mexican Halloween”), and then shows up wearing a fairly simple skeleton costume and mask.
I’m of two minds here—the skeleton onesie is probably the least bad option, given the possibilities for appropriation here, but it’s also really simple. She has better costumes later on.
21. Jeff, as “One of the Fast and Furious Guys”, “Horror Fiction in 7 Spooky Steps”
Abed: Which one?
Jeff: “I don’t know—I don’t watch that shallow crap. I just pick a costume girls will like.”
Jeff says he put no effort into this, and openly admits that he’s only doing this to attract female eyeballs. BUT he put enough time into his research to find a hilariously over-the-top Dom Toretto-esque cross, and that jacket is great? I think Winger is protesting too much as usual.
20. Britta as a Squirrel, “Introduction to Statistics”
As I mentioned, I respect Britta’s commitment to non-sexy Halloween costumes. I also respect her decision to carry a giant acorn around, and to paint adorable whiskers on her face to complete the look. But—why a squirrel?
19. Annie as Samara, “Paranormal Parentage”
Annie, of course, misreads Jeff’s suggestion of “ring girl” as Ring girl, i.e. Samara. The initial crawl into the Study Room is good, but after that Annie, who does not watch scary movies, doesn’t really do much with the costume. She should at least have the hair in front of her face more.
18. Chang as a Matador, “Introduction to Statistics”
He doesn’t want to be at Annie’s party, he wants to be at the far superior faculty party, and he’s only here ’cause the Dean makes him attend extra credit events. He’s not happy about this and he makes that very clear.
But! He still took the time to put a great sparkly matador outfit together, complete with dapper painted-on mustache.
17. Pierce as Captain Kirk, “Epidemiology”
When Pierce bothers to dress up he goes for some nice nerd references! In “Epidemiology” he unwittingly plays according to type, wearing a Captain Kirk costume that, in his mind, makes him look commanding and virile.
16. Britta as a T-Rex, “Epidemiology”
This costume is freaking adorable, and since it renders Britta unable to use her hands, it gives us the running gag of Jeff having to feed her and hold paper cups of liquor up to her lips, and I love it.
15. Annie as Little Red Riding Hood, “Epidemiology”
Another entry in “Annie is still pretty immature but is trying to sneak adult sexuality into her persona”, her costume is cute, but I guess I want it to tell more of a story.
14. Troy as Hobbes, “Paranormal Parentage”
This entry is this high because Calvin and Hobbes are a natural fit for Abed and Troy. This entry is this low because these are clearly store-bought costumes. Sure, Troy would probably have to go with a tiger onesie—but you’re telling me that Troy (TROY!) didn’t take the time to draw a nose and whiskers on? Britta drew whiskers on her face when she was a squirrel. A SQUIRREL! Not a beloved icon of the power of the human imagination!!!
Troy would have drawn whiskers.
13. Abed as Calvin, “Paranormal Parentage”
You’re telling me Abed doesn’t own Calvin’s outfit on its own merits? You’re telling me he doesn’t own a Goku wig?? That he had to go to a store (a store!) and buy this pre-fab, try-hard…costume???
Look, it’s possible I have some unresolved stuff about Season Four. Moving on.
12. Dean Pelton as an Adorable Witch, “Horror Fiction in 7 Spooky Steps”
We only see this one for a second, as Dean Pelton reminds the Study Group about the Halloween party, and insists the overhead lights are only flickering to create a festive atmosphere.
11. Jeff as David Beckham, “Epidemiology”
OK, he’s wearing it to look hot, and all he’s really added is the soccer ball, but anyone who’ll wear a $6,000 suit as a Halloween costume wins my respect. Extra points for using the soccer ball to fend off a zombie.
10. Shirley as Harry Potter (but everyone thinks she’s Urkel), “Introduction to Statistics”
Shirley’s Harry Potter costume is excellent, her accent’s a little off, and it’s annoying that everyone assumes she’s gone for Urkel. Maybe if she’d drawn a lightning bolt on her forehead?
9. Britta as Ham, “Paranormal Parentage”
OK why am I putting Britta’s absurd ham costume so high up? Two things: first, I respect that even though she and Troy are dating, she recognizes the importance of his coordination with Abed, and does her own thing. Second: I’m choosing to read this as a reference to Scout’s costume in To Kill a Mockingbird, and that makes me laugh and laugh.
8. Shirley as Glinda the Good Witch (but everyone thinks she’s Miss Piggy) “Epidemiology”
Building on Season One’s Harry-Potter-but-everyone-thinks-it’s-Urkel” costume, Shirley dresses as “a beloved figure from your childhood” but doesn’t realize that her sing-song voice and princess-y look could be one of our finest Muppets, or Glinda, or really any number of Disney characters? Only Chang sees the truth.
7. Dean as Ring Girl, “Paranormal Parentage”
Yet again the Dean attempts to catch Jeff’s eye, and yet again the attempt fails. But his commitment is inspiring as always.
6. Troy as Delirious-era Eddie Murphy, “Introduction to Statistics”
Beautiful. Especially when he asks Abed’s Batman whether Batman would find Troy-as-Eddie-Murphy attractive.
5. Abed as Batman, “Introduction to Statistics”
Abed’s Batman suit is fine, but it’s the fact that he commits to the Bale Voice, stays in character as Nolan Batman the entire night, and actually rescues Jeff and Pierce from Pierce’s rickety chair fortress, that earns this a higher place on the list than the costume alone would have warranted.
4. Dean Craig Pelton as Lady Gaga, “Epidemiology”
In the first season, Dean Pelton appears briefly in the faculty party holding a nice-but-basic Venetian mask. In Season 2, Dean Pelton’s personality has blossomed, which is why we get the incredible gift of Dean Lady Gaga. In fact, here, behold Dean Gaga contemplating Army Surplus Zombie Meat:
3. Chang as Peggy Fleming, “Epidemiology”
Seeing Ken Jeong flounce through the school with his ice skates banging into his chest destroys me every time I watch this episode.
2. Pierce as The Beastmaster, “Introduction to Statistics”
“I never saw Beastmaster! I just wanted to be cool!”
Pierce in a muscle suit/mullet combo is excellent. Pierce with a floppy, ridiculous stuffed falcon attached to the arm, flopping haphazardly every time he moves? Even better. Pierce tripping balls as Beastmaster?? Perfection. Pierce admitting that he’s never ever seen Beastmaster??? Reader, I just lost the ability to breathe.
And see, this is why Community has only gotten better with age. Most shows would have settled for Conan, or maybe He-Man, and called it a day. Not Community. Community’s going to give you The Beastmaster, and assume you know who that is. The only note I have is that it should be a ferret instead of a falcon, and even that’s just me being a jerk.
1. Troy and Abed as Ripley and the Alien, “Epidemiology”
Abed as the Alien is already so beautiful and pure, but then Troy shows up not as Ripley-in-a-tank-top-with-a-flamethrower—which would have been fine!—but as Ripley-in-the-Exo-Suit, which is so much better. And! It’s all homemade! Troy has boxes strapped to his feet! Abed’s wearing a bunch of black Spandex and a motorcycle helmet and weird plastic tubing!
And the way the show made this couples costume the crux of their first real fight? The way they fold zombie tropes and an Empire Strikes Back reference into the show, only to bring the exo-suit back later?
The fact that it doesn’t work because of course it doesn’t, it’s flimsy as hell, and not even the power of Troy’s imagination can change that???
All right, I have to stop writing this now so I can watch the episode again.
But in the meantime, feel free to tell me if this list is streets ahead.