For a community college in Colorado, Greendale certainly had a number of stars pass through its doors. Granted, many of the celebrity guest stars on Community were either there to infiltrate the school (like Josh Holloway), pretend they went there (like Luis Guzman), or satirize it (like Travis Schuldt). But still, the NBC comedy managed to find some room over the course of its six seasons (and, hopefully, a forthcoming movie) for some truly fun guest spots.
In many ways, the later stages of some of these actors’ careers have become well-connected to Community, and many fans only exclusively know some of them from the show. Others managed to jump from Community to an even bigger break. No matter what, though, Community had its fair share of stellar guest appearances and a few squandered celebrity cameos, just like every show.
10 Best: LeVar Burton
LeVar Burton was one of the many, low-key celebrities who played themselves on Community. No doubt, an appearance from George Clooney would’ve been too far-fetched, but it was more plausible that Pierce (Chevy Chase) was friends with LeVar Burton.
His first appearance is an entertaining one, as he unwittingly torments Troy (Donald Glover), who is afraid to meet and disappoint his childhood hero. But his next turn is heartwarming, as he accompanies Troy on a boat trip around the world. A world with pirates, but the world, all the same.
9 Squandered: Jason Alexander
The celebrity appearance from Seinfeld‘s own Jason Alexander came in a season four episode of Community. As such, it should be no surprise that it was a squandered spot for the iconic character actor.
Alexander’s appearance comes in the infamous puppet episode of season four. Therefore, not only was his role squandered, but so was the entire concept of a Community puppet installment.
8 Best: Giancarlo Esposito
Giancarlo Esposito, who portrayed Pierce’s half-brother, Gilbert, also turns up in season four, in the episode “Paranormal Parentage.” Yet, this episode is not the one that earns Esposito the accolade of one of the best Community guest stars.
That honor belongs to his role in the episode “Digital Estate Planning,” the eight-bit video game episode of Community. Situated at the end of season three, the installment is a superb one and Esposito’s comedic turn is most welcome. He gels with the Greendale Seven almost instantly.
7 Squandered: Jack Black
While it’s easier to criticize season four of Community, Jack Black’s appearance comes in the first season of the show. Black is always super fun, which is why his Community role left a lot to be desired.
As the pathetic Buddy character, Black relies on some of his old tricks of physical comedy and animated facial gestures. It just doesn’t quite click with the specific tone of Community and it leaves fans wishing Black had been saved for a better role later on.
6 Best: John Goodman
It has almost been 10 years since the third season of Community began and launched many stellar season-long arcs. One of these great arcs centered around Troy and his recruitment to the air conditioner repair school by Vice Dean Laybourne (John Goodman).
Laybourne has some funny moments, like when he tears Troy and Abed apart in their respective forts while sitting in his pajamas. However, Goodman also managed to bring menace when needed. He’s one of the greats for a reason.
5 Squandered: Matt Berry
Roger DeSalvo (Matt Berry), the professor of Grifting at Greendale, seemed to hold the promise of an ingeniously inventive homage to The Sting in Community‘s final season. Instead, the episode just felt slightly awkward and slow-paced.
Granted, Berry elevates the material, along with the rest of the cast of Community, and they are always dynamite. But one just couldn’t help but feel like Berry deserved better.
4 Best: Betty White
It’s easy to say that Betty White is one of the greats. But on Community, she was truly brilliant and managed to prove that she’s a comedy legend for a reason.
As anthropology professor June Bauer, White brought a more chaotic energy than the sweet wholesomeness many are accustomed to when thinking of her. Throw in a Toto-laden rap with Troy and Abed (Danny Pudi) and White is one of the best guests in Community history.
3 Squandered: Brie Larson
Don’t misconstrue this entry. Brie Larson is an exceptional actor who has done fine work across several mediums and genres. However, she was so electrifying during her short stint as Abed’s girlfriend, Rachel, on Community, that one could not help but feel that her arc was ultimately squandered.
She’s far and away the best part of season four and Larson had superb chemistry with Pudi. Unfortunately, she’s dispatched with nary a ceremonial send-off. Larson could’ve been a big pillar of late-stage Community, but that chance was definitely squandered.
2 Best: Walton Goggins
After Pierce’s death in season five of Community, many wondered what sort of episode the show’s creative staff would deliver in the wake of the loss. “Cooperative Polygraphy” was quite possibly the final A+-tier episode of the show, as a result.
A lot of that is owed to Goggins. Yes, the Greendale Seven holds the line, but it’s Goggins who steps in to essentially play the role of a stoic, robotic version of Pierce. Not to mention, he’s hysterical in the end tag. Goggins is always an MVP character actor and he is the shimmering pinnacle of Community‘s ringers.
1 Squandered: James Brolin
William Winger (James Brolin) is a name that has immense weight behind it in the annals of Community. It’s not Brolin’s fault that his appearance as Jeff’s (Joel McHale) father is the worst instance of celebrities turning up in the Greendale universe.
One has to assume that Dan Harmon had grander plans for the arc between Jeff and his father. Yet, many fans felt that season four completely botched it and left the storyline feeling hackneyed and somewhat cliched. Brolin delivers his lines fine enough, but there was just nothing special about the moment that should have been seminal. Most felt it was the series’ most squandered opportunity and guest star, by far.
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About The Author
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David Mello is a writer, journalist, and editor from Boston, Massachusetts. He is obsessed with pop culture and sports and loves to expand his cultural knowledge of film, television, music, literature, and more. He currently writes for ScreenRant as a member of the Valnet, Inc. team. David has also written for OneClass, Moms Who Think, Up to Boston, the Boston Herald, and more. He spends just as much time watching classic movies as he does setting his fantasy football lineup.
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