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tributes

Remembering Troy, Community’s Funniest Character

Troy "Butt Soup" Barnes

Last night was Troy's final episode of Community. It wasn't a surprise. We've known since July that Donald Glover would be leaving the show to focus more on his music or, as he put it in his hotel room notes, to be on his own. Still, it was sad. Well, as sad as a lava game episode could be. Because while Troy wasn't Community's best character, he might've been its most consistently funny. 

Troy was the dumb guy. Sitcoms need dumb guys! Because dumb guys are good for at least a few dumb-guy jokes every episode (including the classic dumb-guy-says-something-smart joke). For a show that aspired to be something unique — with characters like the aggressively postmodern Abed or the ball of contradictions Britta, both of whom feel like new additions to the catalogue of TV archetypes — Troy grounded the show in a sitcom reality, a place where people say expertly written jokes regardless of their intelligence. It's why Troy can pull off both "The only difference between Señor Chang and Stalin is that I know who Señor Chang is," and "There is a time and a place for subtlety, and that time was before Scary Movie."

It also helped that Troy was played by Donald Glover. And Community did a good job playing to his many strengths. When Jeff was making charmingly sarcastic remarks and Abed was emotionlessly meta, Troy was able to sell the show's bigger, sillier jokes. It was this comedic energy that unexpectedly created one of the great comedy duos in a long time in Troy and Abed. Watch the three "Best of Troy" videos below and see how often he yells or offers the funniest tag when everyone is yelling. Think of his most iconic moment: During "Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking," Pierce pays LeVar Burton to show up at the hospital and meet Troy, who's a giant fan of Burton's; however, Troy is stunned silent, too nervous to speak, and then they cut to Troy alone cry-screaming. It's the type of broadness that only Glover and Troy could've pulled off.

Troy's story ended last night with him, now a "clone," finally being able to talk to Burton without crying. It was a perfect encapsulation of Troy's journey. Troy started the show as an egotistical jock who wanted to be a man and the man, but was secretly a nerd. Most of the show's early seasons involved him embracing the dorky side of himself, as if he were Anakin Skywalker and Abed were Darth Sidious. So, it was fitting that it was through his commitment to nerd-dom that he became the man he always wanted to be.

Troy was always a secondary character, who was most often defined by his relationship to Abed, so it made sense that last night's episode focused more on Abed dealing with Troy leaving than Troy dealing with it. But that's why he had to leave. For Troy to truly become an individual, he had to leave the group. Sadly, for us, that also means he had to leave the show.

Photo: NBC