All ‘Community’ Paintball Episodes, Ranked


With its long lineup of funny, quirky, zany, and occasionally action-packed episodes, Community specializes in one stand-out type of themed episode that is both original to the show and, at the same time, parodies other stories in fun and clever ways. The paintball episodes tend to be the highlight of the season, often combining the exciting shoot-out style of paintball games with the personal struggles of its prominent characters and even shifting character focus in interesting ways.

Community’s five paintball episodes each have their own brand of fun and meta humor. Without further ado, here is the list of Community’s top-tier paintball episodes.

5. “Modern Espionage”


Community’s sixth season, while maintaining some of the original humor of the show when it aired on NBC, nevertheless lost much of its charm due to the absence of Troy (Donald Glover), Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), and Pierce (Chevy Chase), as well as strange pacing as a result of having more time per episode due to its new platform on Yahoo!. Not even its paintball episode, a mainstay series of themed episodes that became one of Community’s most prominent signatures, escaped the change unscathed.

While the execution lacks the character-based conflicts and the occasional emotional beats that placed the previous paintball episodes higher on this list, “Modern Espionage” starts off with a creative concept. Due to Frankie’s (Paget Brewster) strict no-shenanigans policy at Greendale, paintball has been banned. But Frankie’s rules only spark an underground game of paintball, complete with secret assassins, a diabolical conspiracy, and a “one last job” characterization for Jeff (Joel McHale) as he struggles to make Greendale a more respectable school despite being continuously dragged into his friends’ and classmates’ goofiness.

One highlight is that the Dean (Jim Rash) has a larger role to play and even gets involved in the action, something that hasn’t been seen in previous installments (with the exception of a short scene in a clipshow episode). Abed (Danny Pudi) and Annie (Alison Brie) also become engrossed in the game completely, which is fun to watch. However, the episode doesn’t feel as well-rounded as the others, and despite a pretty good twist in the storyline, the ending doesn’t land and feels very unlike the Greendale of previous seasons. Maybe that’s the point.


4. “Advanced Introduction to Finality”


With its fourth season coming to a close, it was uncertain whether Community would get a renewal on NBC. That, paired with the fact that four-year degrees aren’t commonly offered in community colleges, spelled out Community’s possible end. With that in mind, the fourth season kept some storylines open while working toward a heartfelt and positive ending just in case.

As the study group members near the end of their time together, Jeff is approached by his old work nemesis, who offers him a job after graduation. Anxious about leaving the study group, Jeff tries to get a rise out of Abed by rolling a die and creating different timelines. Abed isn’t affected, but Greendale is soon infiltrated by evil doppelgangers of the study group from the Darkest Timeline, led by Evil Jeff and Evil Annie and armed with special paintball guns that can transport people to the Darkest Timeline when shot. Little by little, Jeff is forced to overcome Evil Jeff’s attacks on his relationships with his friends so that he can finally graduate from Greendale and decide what his future will be, all while the study group face their look-alikes in a game of magical/sci-fi paintball.

What better way to potentially end Community than with a special paintball episode? Though it is an ambitious and multiverse-traversing sendoff, the doppelgängers’ existence and the Darkest Timeline are explained away a little too easily. Ending the show with the Community equivalent of “it was all a dream” is pretty anticlimactic; it’s a relief that the show got renewed for a fifth season, which featured a floor-is-lava game instead of paintball.

3. “Modern Warfare”


The one that started it all. When the Dean announces a friendly game of paintball as a fun campus activity, he has no idea the chaos that’s about to be unleashed. Even the indifferent and selfish Jeff is pulled into the war when Troy and Abed tell him about the prize: priority registration. With the entire student body turning against each other for a chance at prime class scheduling (which would give Shirley a chance to spend more time at home with her sons), the study group forms a shaky alliance that’s strained already due to the problematic sexual tension between Jeff and Britta (Gillian Jacobs). Together, the group faces the several-days-long conflict with warring factions of student clubs, betrayals, and their slightly unhinged Spanish teacher, Senior Chang (Ken Jeong).

As the first paintball episode of the show, “Modern Warfare” introduced a fresh way to incorporate themed episodes into their Season 1 lineup, complete with exciting action scenes, satisfying character arcs for Jeff and Britta, and creative ways to include action tropes in its community college campus setting, such as the chess club using some of their members as pawns to draw out the enemy, and the glee club luring unsuspecting players out into the open with annoying cover songs.

The one aspect that would have improved the episode would have been a bit more characterization for the characters who aren’t as prominent as Jeff and Britta; Troy, Annie, and Pierce didn’t get much to do this time around, seeing as there are seven main characters in the show and only so much time to explore each one in a single episode while incorporating everything they needed to for their first paintball themed episode. But season two would change that.

RELATED: Every Season of ‘Community’, Ranked

2. “Fistful of Paintballs”


Possibly due to the resounding success of “Modern Warfare” and fans’ overwhelmingly positive response to it, season two gave double the dose of paintball with its two-parter, “Fistful of Paintballs” and “For a Few Paintballs More.”

Having learned his lesson from the previous year, the Dean surprises his students at the wild west-themed school fair with another game of paintball, this time leaving the choosing of the prize up to the fair’s sponsor, Pistol Patty – who immediately offers a $100,000 cash prize to the winner. In an effort to get as far in the game as possible, Annie teams up with the study group (minus Pierce), who have formed a steadier alliance than last time. But their solid chance at winning the cash is put in jeopardy by a mysterious professional paintball player called the Black Rider, as well as their tenuous relationship with Pierce.

“Fistful of Paintballs” learned from its predecessor and included more of the study group’s personal struggles and infused them into the game of paintball seamlessly. The game follows the study group’s vote about whether or not to kick Pierce out of the group because of his recent toxic behavior. With Annie being the only one who voted to keep Pierce in the group, it makes sense that the episode would focus on her and Pierce as he continues to betray his friends. The episode features even more creative action scenes, complete with slow-motion shots, deeper paintball worldbuilding lore, and even a late-night showdown.

1. “For a Few Paintballs More”


As part two of season two’s finale, “For a Few Paintballs More” outruns the story’s wild west theme and jumps straight into Star Wars parody. When City College reveals itself as the evil force behind the $100,000 prize that prompted Greendale students to destroy their own campus, the study group bands together, gathers their fellow students, and forms a rebel alliance with the goal of beating City College’s leagues of professional paintballers; as long as one Greendale student wins, they can still use the prize money to repair the school. With the good guys outnumbered and Pierce working against them, Jeff and Troy butt heads over the leadership role in the group, while Abed jumps at the chance to play a Han Solo character, much to Annie’s delight. Even Shirley, who is annoyed to…

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