- “Life has gone to hell, Abed! This is real! Look at us! Look at me!”— Evil Britta
- “Britta, you put one wash-away blue streak in your hair, and I lost an arm!”— Evil Jeff
- “Exactly! Life got dark!”— Evil Britta
In the Season Three episode "Remedial Chaos Theory", six different timelines are presented. They all branch off from the "prime" timeline based on the roll of a die that determines which study group member has to get the pizza from the delivery boy. After a series of unfortunate events, Troy's timeline is referenced by Abed as "the darkest timeline" in the episode's end tag. Echos of the timeline are featured throughout the rest of the season and eventually Evil Abed "crosses over" into the "Prime Timeline" in the season finale.
Chain of events
In this particular timeline, Troy races out to get the pizza, shutting the front door very hard on his way out. The force of that causes a part of Abed's Indiana Jones diorama, the boulder, to roll off onto the floor. Shirley leaves the table to check on her pies in the kitchen. Jeff stops Britta from singing, and she goes to the bathroom to smoke a joint. Pierce asks Jeff about his father, causing Jeff to get up from the table to get a drink. Jeff hits his head on the ceiling fan, and Annie offers to take a look at his injury in the bathroom. On the way there, Annie trips on the still rolling boulder and falls onto the coffee table. Pierce's bottle of Serbian rum, which was resting on top of it, goes flying. It crashes, spilling rum all over the floor. After seeing Annie's fall, Pierce quickly stands up to offer assistance and kicks his housewarming present, the Norwegian Troll doll, across the floor. Annie's purse lands on the ground, and the jolt causes the gun inside to discharge and shoot Pierce in the leg. Britta hears the commotion and stumbles out of the bathroom, dropping the joint she was smoking onto the floor. The lighted joint lands on the floor where the Serbian rum is, igniting it and causing a fire to break out. Annie goes to help Pierce as blood sprays out of his wound. The blood covers Shirley who had just exited the kitchen with her finished pies. Jeff tries to put out the fire while a disoriented Britta runs to the kitchen to get water to help him. Troy then returns with the pizzas. Shocked at the scene in front of him, he notices the Norwegian Troll staring at him, surrounded by flames and the remnants of its burnt box. The aftermath of these events are shown in the episode's end tag:
- Pierce has died from his leg wound.
- Annie is now under psychiatric care due to her guilt over what happened to Pierce.
- Jeff has lost an arm after trying to put out the fire.
- Troy severely injured his larynx trying to destroy the Norwegian Troll doll by eating it while it was on fire.
- Shirley has become an alcoholic due to the above events.
- Britta dyed a streak of blue in her hair (Which Jeff angrily points out is something she did, not something she experienced).
The Abed of that timeline suggests that they somehow find a way to return to the "prime" timeline and replace the study group there. Out of black felt he cuts out black Van Dyke shaped beards and passes them out to the other members. He refers to them as goatees and asks them to wear it as a symbol of their evilness until they can grow a real one. Most of the group rejects this idea, too traumatized by their own fates. However, Troy puts on his felt beard, and he and Abed perform their signature handshake saying, "Evil Troy and Evil Abed".
Crossing into the Prime Timeline
In the episode "Contemporary Impressionists", Abed and Troy are shown to be growing distant. When Abed goes into The Dreamatorium by himself, Evil Abed appears to him. Evil Abed begins to subtly influence Abed to further his own agenda. The Darkest Timeline was referenced again in "Course Listing Unavailable". A lawyer missing his right arm delivered Star-Burns' video will to Abed, possibly alluding to Evil Jeff. After being expelled from Greendale, the study group gathers in Troy and Abed's apartment to commiserate which ends up mirroring the events in "Remedial Chaos Theory". Because of the gloomy atmosphere, Shirley contemplates drinking again. When the pizza they ordered arrives, Jeff suggests rolling a die to choose who will get it. Britta volunteers and is smitten when she sees Toby the pizza guy. Abed wonders if the timeline they are in now is the Darkest Timeline since they have all been kicked out of school. Troy rejects the idea, insisting that they will all survive their expulsion since they're all alive, and they still have each other. Troy's speech raises the spirits of the group, causing Shirley not to drink. After he compliments Britta, she quickly loses interest in Toby and avoids the fate from her timeline. In the Season Three finale, "Introduction to Finality," Abed's distress at Troy having left the study group to join the Air Conditioning Repair School causes him to begin seeing Evil Abed. He appears to be taken over by Evil Abed when he dons a black felt Van Dyke beard and attempts to recreate The Darkest Timeline. He takes control of the therapy session Britta scheduled with Abed and causes her to become depressed, inducing her to later remark to Annie that she's thinking of dying her hair. Evil Abed gets a bone saw, intending to make the Prime timeline Jeff just like his own one armed Jeff. However, when he encounters Jeff in the courtroom, he finds himself moved by the speech he is giving about friendship and selflessness. Evil Abed's felt beard falls off, and he "leaves Abed's body". The Darkest Timeline is avoided.
Each separate timeline represents the study group's interactions based on the absence of one of its members. When Troy leaves to get the pizza, the worst possible scenario occurs, suggesting that without him in the group, chaos erupts. Jeff's timeline is the complete opposite of this. His controlling nature, in addition to his inability to completely open himself up to the group, means that the best possible scenario occurs in his absence. It can be inferred that Troy is a more passive and calming influence on the group than Jeff whose presence unknowingly stirs up conflict.
HiatusWhen NBC announced their mid-season schedule for 2012, it was revealed that "Community" would not immediately return and was instead put on hiatus to come back sometime at a later date. This was done to make room for the returning "30 Rock" to take its 8:00PM EST time slot and to also move the new show "Up All Night" to Thursday from its Wednesday slot. Fans of Community immediately began to refer to the hiatus as "The Darkest Timeline". Many of them began internet campaigns championing the show and demonstrating their support on social network sites with the rallying cry being #sixseasonsandamovie. On February 21, 2012, NBC made the announcement that "Community" would be returning March 15th to its regular time slot at 8:00PM. When it returned, it had a 2.2/7 ratings among the 18-49 demographic, its highest ratings since Season One.
Meta referencesThe Darkest Timeline is symbolized by black Van Dyke shaped beards which is a direct reference to the "Mirror Universe" concept in Star Trek first introduced in the episode "Mirror, Mirror" . In the story, evil versions of the main characters exist in an alternate reality and that version of Spock is sporting a Van Dyke beard, often colloquially referred to as a goatee.