Rachel is a student at Greendale Community College who has a work/study student job on the event staff. She was once responsible for the yogurt machine in the cafeteria until an elderly student broke it. Her current gig is as a coat check girl where she tags party goers coats and other miscellaneous items they brought to school functions and give them tickets to claim their possessions later when they leave. She and Abed have a mutual attraction to each other due to their love of television and movie tropes. Her first appearance was in the Season Four episode "Herstory of Dance". She is portrayed by actress Brie Larson.
I think it's awesome, it one of my favorite bits like when a dog acts embarrassed or when a guy chases after a girl and does that big declaration of love.
–Rachel, "History of Dance"
School year synopsis
In the 2012 semester at Greendale, Rachel was working as a coat check girl for two separate dances being held simultaneously in the cafeteria. As she was lackadaisically carrying out her duties she met Abed Nadir. He was constantly going to the coat check room and changing outfits repeatedly. Rachel figured out he was doing a classic TV trope of taking two different girls to a dance without them knowing. When she mentioned this to him, Abed invited her to participate which she eagerly agreed. Together they continued to carry out his charade on Abed's dates to keep them distracted. When Rachel and him returned to the coat room to discuss further strategy they shared a brief intimate moment. However, Abed ignored this and decided to instead come clean to his dates and continue his date by choose one of them to romance for real. Saddened at his reaction Rachel left the dance and Abed found another coat check girl in her place when he returned later. Realizing his mistake, Abed interrupted a Sophie B. Hawkins performance and got on the microphone. He issued a public apology and pleaded with Rachel to return. Once he got off the stage, Rachel came back amused that he would go that far for her and forgave him. She asked Abed out on a date and together they finished watching Sophie B. Hawkins performance.
In the study group's fourth year at Greendale, Annie and Shirley each picked two different girls to ask Abed to a Sadie Hawkins dance being held at school. Abed immediately saw the opportunity to do the classic sitcom trope of having two dates to a dance. He accepted both dates and kept it a secret from each girl in order to let the hijinks ensue. The night of the dance as he carried out his deception, he ran into an event attendant named Rachel while changing outfits in the coat check room. He asked her to check two gifts he had brought for his dates, a kaleidoscope for Annie's choice Kat and a bible for Shirley's choice Jessica. Having observed how he had been switching between his two different outfits, Rachel told him she knew what he was doing a trope homage. She even corrected him when he was about to step out wearing a hat for the wrong girl. Impressed she figured it out, they discussed specific tropes.
She mentioned her favorite tropes were embarrassed dog" and the "public declaration of love". Abed asked if she would be willing to assist him and Rachel enthusiastically agreed. The two of them set out to keep the charade going; at one point Rachel blew bubbles to keep Kat distracted and delivered a fake telegram to Abed so he could excuse himself from Jessica. They returned to the coat check room together to check off some more antics off the list which they hadn't done yet. When the list accidentally fell to the ground, an awkward moment occurred when they both reached for it. Rachel jokingly replied that if this were a classic movie trope they would be kissing at this point. Abed, unaware they were sharing a genuine moment, replied that wouldn't be the case since they were doing a TV trope and not a movie one.
He then announced that despite the fun they had together he needed to bring the charade to an end. He decided to contritely tell his dates everything and make an impassioned plea to continue the night with the "crowd favorite" Jessica. He departed leaving Rachel saddened by his obliviousness to her attraction to him. When Abed returned minutes later to further update her on the situation, he was told by her coat check replacement she left early. Her co-worker added Rachel was visibly upset which made Abed realize how he had taken her for granted. After he apologized to Annie and Shirley for his shenanigans, he is encouraged by them to go after Rachel. When he is unable to find her, Abed is inspired to do one more trope after seeing Sophie B. Hawkins perform at Britta's dance. He jumped on stage, grabbed the mike and made a public declaration of his feelings for Rachel and pleaded for her forgiveness.
After he left the stage, Rachel appeared amused at how how embarrassing that must have been for him. She teased she was doing the "embarrassed dog" trope the entire time but Abed told her he was glad he did it. Rachel then asked Abed if he would like to go out and even offered it could be an homage to the trope where the date is actually for a bet. Abed admitted he would like to do that but suggested that they should just have a regular date the first time, which Rachel agrees to. Shirley and Annie, who had been watching from the sidelines, cooed their approval. Rachel and Abed joined the rest of the crowd watching Sophie B. Hawkins perform "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover". Rachel told Abed she actually preferred the song "As I Lay Me Down" to which he smiled and agreed ("Herstory of Dance").
Abed, I do not like this side of you and I don't like this side of VCR technology. I'm glad it's a dead medium.
–Rachel, "VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing"
School year synopsis
During the Fall 2013 semester at Greendale, Rachel was again serving as a coat check girl for the mid-term dance. She reconnected with Abed who had just been the victim of a prank pulled on him by Britta and Carol. Although annoyed that Abed never called her for a date last year, she accepted his apology. She joined him at his apartment to watch TV and afterwards the two officially started dating. At their one month anniversary Rachel gave Abed a novelty VCR board game as a present which he proudly showed off to his friends on the committee. She was later invited to dinner with Abed and they were joined by his roommate Annie and her brother Anthony. The evening became a disaster when the hosts forced the guests to play the board game she had given Abed. After several hours trying to make sense of the rules, she learned Abed was only playing on a bet. If he won, Annie would agree that he could invite Rachel to move into the apartment with them. Furious that Abed did this without her permission and wasted her time, she stormed out. The next day at school Abed apologized to her with his friend Pavel's help. Rachel forgave him but told him that from now on he needed to be honest and not try to control her.
In the study group's fifth year at Greendale, Rachel met Abed again after he had a disastrous date with Carol at the Mid-Term dance. He was just leaving the cafeteria when he noticed her in the coat check room reading a book. Abed asked her what happened to her and she coolly replied that he never called her back. Abed apologized for his behavior and admitted he could be inconsiderate at times. Rachel accepted his apology and let him off the hook by saying she could have tried harder to keep in touch. She then asked him if he would like to go to lunch but he refused saying he would rather take her to dinner right now and Rachel happily accepted. She confessed that she wasn't working in an official capacity anyway and had started coat checking without anyone's permission. Abed took her back to his apartment and the two enjoyed popcorn while watching "Rick and Morty" ("Analysis of Cork-Based Networking").
She and Abed began to date and Jeff started calling the "Aww couple" due to the fact that everyone found them adorable. On their (one month) anniversary they went to the study room after a meeting of the Save Greendale Committee concluded. Abed proudly showed off the gift Rachel had given him for the occasion, a VCR game called "Pile of Bullets". After introducing herself to Buzz Hickey she gave Abed a kiss on the cheek and left. Abed later invited her to dinner at his apartment with him and Annie's brother Anthony. Once dinner was finished, the four played the VCR game Rachel got. Rachel and Anthony had to endure hours of them competing without a clear victor. After it's revealed Annie and Abed were playing to determine if Rachel or Anthony would be their next roommate, Rachel was furious. She stormed out of the apartment angry that the evening had been ruined.
The next day, Rachel was at her locker when Abed approached her looking to do a "third act" apology. With the help of Pavel, Abed pretended that he was at her doorstep with rain pouring down on him (Pavel was above him dousing him with a watering can). Abed explained he had been accelerating their relationship intentionally hoping to avoid making any mistakes. Rachel told him that she only needed for him to be honest and not manipulate her. After Abed agreed, Pavel stopped "raining" down on him and held a cardboard rainbow above his head and a student walking by slipped on the puddle of water which had accumulated. Rachel was at first impressed thinking it was a stuntman hired for the apology until she learned from Abed it was an actual student ("VCR Maintenance and Educational Publishing").
Rachel is the only character introduced in Season Four (the only season to be produced without creator Dan Harmon) to later appear in Season Five. Rachel was one of the few positive elements Harmon singled out as he had made very negative comments about his dislike of Season Four on his podcast. During a discussion on Reddit, Harmon shared his thoughts on the character:
“I thought Rachel was adorable. She was the first season 4 conversation we wanted to have and she was one of the most recent. I don't know how much we want to see Abed-the-boyfriend; I don't mean "I don't know" as in "I don't think," I really mean I don't know, and romance has to be played very carefully and organically. For instance, in the episode with Abed's secret service fling...the scene was longer and we shot Abed kissing her, but it felt a bit forced in the edit bay so we pulled back. But I agree Rachel was a good thing. More on this story as it develops.”— Dan Harmon on Reddit
In an interview with Hitflix, Harmon further elaborated on why he decided to bring Rachel back for Season Five:
"You said before that there were really only two things from the fourth season you needed to carry through. But you chose to bring back Brie Larson. I don't know if she comes back at any point later in the season or if that was just it. But you clearly saw something there that you wanted to have come back."
Dan Harmon: Well I’ll break your heart by telling you that, I mean, she’s in demand and did us a favor probably financially by coming back. She comes back in this next episode, the Vince Gilligan one, but there’s no closure with that. The idea is that Abed’s in a relationship and we’re not making a big deal out of it. We tell a story about what it might be like to be in a relationship with Abed for this episode but we didn’t have the Brie Larson availability to have her there at the curtain call and the finale or anything like that. But she was magical in her appearance in the fourth season. She doesn't even say anything. She might as well be a pair of glasses and a wig on a mop handle, but it's Brie Larson so she has this humanity, this energy coming off. I never wanted to go the Latka route (from "Taxi") and pair Abed with a female Abed. Maybe at one point I thought, "Let's have Parker Posey come on and be a film professor that Mrs. Robinson's Abed," where she can’t keep her hands off of him because of his genius and also soils him with classic education about film that starts to pollute his pop cultural purity. I think that would have been cool. I like pairing out of the passionate people. We did that Secret Service agent and that was as close as we got to a female Abed. We lifted a lot from that story and one of the biggest things we lift was that they actually kissed. And it just didn’t feel right. It felt actually more powerful that they passed in the night and that they intellectually acknowledged their compatibility and couldn’t be together. The idea of a healthy or semi-healthy but clearly quirky in her own regard woman being able to recognize Abed’s value and strike an emotional connection with him on a more intimate level than we’ve seen – that’s a story in and of itself and I think that was the iceberg tip that we saw laid out in season 4 that I think is deserving of further exploration. So we did what we could with the time with Brie Larson that we had to examine that in a very funny way and she’s just great. And it was just verified on set. Most of our cast is of this species but it’s weird, too, when a new person come on to set that they just get it. They read the script and they inflect the lines in the way that makes them the most funny and the most human and if we were to do a sixth season, it would be great to see her come back."