Death is Coming to Community: Who's Getting Killed Off?

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Yep, it's Thursday. Still no Community on the air. We don't care, we're still covering the show until NBC puts it back on the schedule. Well, I guess "until" isn't the right word because it's not like we're going to stop when it comes back on the air, you know? Semantics, po-TAH-to.


Community is about to get serious, you guys. Someone is dying. And not just dying inside like what's going on in Pierce's soul, I'm talking six-feet-under sleeping-with-the-fishes pushing-up-daisies off-to-the-great-community-college-in-the-sky dying.

While talking to TVGuide.com (pretty cool URL except for that "Guide" part), star Joel McHale said, "A character from the show will die." OMG please don't let it be Annie's Boobs OR Annie's boobs! McHale continued, "Someone you've seen a lot. And he dies in the mid-afternoon."

We should probably put our heads together and try to figure out who's going to be the stiff who passes on. First, let's examine the clues. According to Joel, it's a character. Oh right, we covered that part. Next clue: It's someone we've seen a lot. Well, that depends on your definition of "a lot," and Joel's perspective on the whole thing is skewed since he sees everyone from the show "a lot." A mid-afternoon death? Not sure there's anything there. All we got to go with is... "he," which narrows it down to about 50.00001 percent of the student body.

Let's take a look at the candidates, calculate their chances of death, and predict how each one might be killed:


Jeff Winger (Joel McHale)
Look, Community does some weird shit, but no way is this going to happen. This isn't Game of Thrones. (Note to self: Pitch Game of Thrones parody episode to Dan Harmon where all the main characters die, but it turns into a Dallas homage when it's discovered it was all a dream of Fat Neil's.)
Death Probability: Less than zero.
How We See It Happening: Allergic reaction to super expensive hair product causes his hair to fall out, kicking off a downward spiral of hair plugs that drill so deep into his brain they trigger involuntary muscle movements, thus forcing him to inadvertently flop into heavy traffic. Leonard has a senior moment behind the steering wheel of his pickup truck and crushes Jeff like a raspberry-jam-filled crepe.


Troy Barnes (Donald Glover), Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi)

Not gonna happen. Even though Childish Gambino is blowing up like the Death Star. Not gonna happen. If Abed dies, so does Community.
Death Probability: Zilch.
How We See It Happening: The final Kickpuncher movie is announced. Abed straps dynamite to his chest in protest and goes to the movie studio. They think he's bluffing. Abed, bluff? No way. Doesn't even know what the word means. Troy is with him. It's sad. They do their handshake and BOOM. Security footage of the explosion is used in the next Kickpuncher movie after their suicide brings attention to the film franchise and audiences demand more.


Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase)
The only "main" character with a chance to go. He's had the most problems finding his groove in the show, particularly in Season 2 when he had that arc as a villain that was perceived by many to be confusing and unnecessary. Offing him would alleviate trying to force him to fit into the group. But let's not kid ourselves here. Chevy Chase is the legend in the cast, and diversity is the key to Community's success. He may just be the old guy, but he contrasts with the rest of the group very well. I'm not sick of Pierce as a bumbling, racist, elderly fool, and I doubt Dan Harmon is either. The only way Pierce goes is if Chevy wants off the show or has one of his noted problems with the cast or crew. But that's the old Chevy, and if there really was a problem on the set, there's no way Joel McHale would be blabbering about it.
Death Probability: Two percent.
How We See It Happening: Something to do with racism, obviously.


Ben Chang (Ken Jeong)

After a big start to Season 3, Chang has been mostly absent from the series. He's still in high demand and let's face it, there are going to be Hangover sequels until Bradley Cooper is 70. But Community would be bonkers for letting Jeong go. He just makes everything funnier. He's like MSG for comedy! And yes, I'm aware that's vaguely racist but I swear to you I didn't mean it that way. Me so sorry. Ugh! I didn't mean that to be racist either!
Death Probability: Half of one percent.
How We See It Happening: In the series' most meta episode yet, one of those weird haters from the audience that complains about Senor Chang murders him.


Dean Craig Pelton (Jim Rash)
Dean Pelton's come a long way since the show's pilot and is now one of the series' most loved characters. Rash is getting props for other work (he wrote The Descendants, for which he is nominated for an Oscar), so there's always the outside chance that he's looking to move on to become a big-time Hollywood scribe, but we doubt it. Unless budget cuts force Community to slash its wardrobe department (and therefore Dean's livelihood), he's not going anywhere.
Death Probability: Zero chance.
How We See It Happening: Trampled to death at a Michael Buble concert.


Robert Laybourne (John Goodman)

Vice Dean Laybourne hasn't even done anything yet. They can't kill him! However, Goodman has a pilot in the works (NBC's Downwardly Mobile with Roseanne Barr) and it's almost guaranteed to get picked up. The Goodman hire was a big deal, and his character has barely been used. There have to be plans for Laybourne coming. Could dying be one of them?
Death Probability: 14. 14 what? I dunno, 14... out of 15? Percent? Whatever comes to mind first.
How We See It Happening: He gets stuck in one of the air ducts in the school over spring break. Annie's Boobs feeds off his corpse until all the evidence is gone. Troy becomes president of the Air Conditioning Repair School and it burns to the ground under his watch.


Professor Ian Duncan (John Oliver)
Oh god I hope it's not Duncan. But it can't be easy for Oliver to be a regular contributor to The Daily Show in New York and also film Community in Los Angeles. And when you think about it, killing off his character in spectacular fashion is just the kind of thing the twisted Oliver would find very funny.
Death Probability: 10 percent.
How We See It Happening: Soccer ball to the groin.


Dr. Marshall Kane (Michael K. Williams)
As the professor of Biology who's recently sprung from the joint, Kane had his moments early. But it's painfully obvious that Williams, who is a regular on HBO's Boardwalk Empire, doesn't have the comedy chops to hang with the rest of the cast. Just as Betty White was around just for Season 2, it's all but definite that Kane is just a Season 3 character until the gang enrolls in a new class together for Season 4 (fingers crossed!). Plus (The Wire spoiler alert!), we all know what happened to Omar Little, so this wouldn't be a first for Williams.
Death Probability: 5 to 1. 20 percent.
How We See It Happening: Kane's history behind bars catches up with him. Drive-by at Greendale, with Annie and Shirley chasing off the perps in a golf cart!


Alex "Star-Burns" Osbourne (Dino Stamatopoulos)

Well, he's a druggie, a drug dealer, and a background character. That's three strikes against his Death Clock. Dino is also a producer on the show, so it's not like he'd totally leave the program.
Death Probability: 4.20 percent.
How We See It Happening: When Britta's weed dealer is unavailable, she goes to Star-Burns for some dank. But Britta's weed dealer finds out, targets Star-Burns as some major competition, and runs up on him with a 12-gauge. For kicks, he shaves off Star-Burns' trademark sideburns and wears 'em as a necklace.


Leonard Briggs (Richard Erdman)
I think the old man is the obvious choice. Which is why it isn't going to happen. It's way too easy. Community doesn't work that way.
Death Probability: Little-known fact... Leonard is immortal.
How We See It Happening: Choking on frozen pizza during a video review. It goes on to becomes his most-watched YouTube video.


Rich Stephenson (Greg Cromer)
The much-liked doctor and occasional wearer of banana costumes, Rich makes a good target from a sitcom standpoint. If you kill someone off, you want them to have an impact. Rich is popular, good-looking, and a doctor! In other words, he's a dead man.
Death Probability: One in three.
How We See It Happening: Even in death, Rich has it good. During a Greendale basketball game, Rich, the starting point guard, becomes a posthumous hero after saving Britta's life by shoving her out the way of Leonard's pickup truck just in the nick of time. Unfortunately, Leonard clips him, shooting his body into the Greendale Gymnasium and through the hoop for three points just as time expires for a win. Troy tries to revive him, and asks, "Is anyone here a doctor!?!?" Rich, in his last action as a living person, raises his hand.


Fat Neil (Charley Koontz)

Fat Neil already had his brush with death in "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons." He's too much of a necessary punching bag to really be considered for death. Plus, killing off the fat guy isn't Community's style. Fat is celebrated in this show. Just ask creator Dan Harmon. Just kidding, Dan!
Death Probability: Low. Some low number. Make one up.
How We See It Happening: After pounding several quick weight-loss magic capsules to impress Vicky, Fat Neil is finally skinny enough to get on the very crowded early commuter bus. That bus drives off a cliff, killing everyone inside, after Leonard 's pickup truck runs it off the road.


Andre Bennett (Malcolm-Jamal Warner)
Wow. If he died, leaving Shirley a single mom, that would just be plain sad. But you know what? A Community episode that was just REALLY sad would also be kind of funny.
Death Probability: [random number]
How We See It Happening: Shirley dries his sweater on hot, shrinking it so much it chokes him to death. I know what you're saying. "But if it's so tight, how would he be able to get it on?" Cosby kids always find a way. Or Leonard runs over him in his pickup truck. Look, I just want Leonard to kill someone with his truck, okay?


Magnitude (Luke Youngblood)
Normally, I can't see someone as bizarre and funny getting killed off. But creative types get restless with one-note characters, and Harmon might opt to kill Magnitude off just because he's sick of "Pop pop!" or too bored to give the guy any more depth.
Death Probabilty: Two out of five pops.
How We See Him Going Out: Too much popcorn. Or maybe his hot-air balloon pops. Or his water bed pops, drowning him. Or his Pops shoots him. Maybe the Boston Pops murder him? You get the pop. I mean point.


Garrett Lambert (Erik Charles Nielsen)
No way. No way would they kill Garrett "Crisis Alert!" Lambert. No way. Don't. Just don't.
Death Probability: Somewhere between zero and 100 percent.
How We See It Happening: Auto-erotic asphyxiation. Go on, get the mental image in your brain. You're welcome.


Why can't it just be Vicky?


Which character do you think Community will kill off? And more importantly, HOW?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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