Dr. Rich Stephenson was a student in pottery class whose impressive skills working the pottery wheel were praised by everyone and envied by Jeff. An accomplished doctor who is friendly and pleasantly outgoing, he is a stark contrast to Jeff's cynical attitude and emotional aloofness. His first appearance was in the Season One episode "Beginner Pottery". He makes two more appearances in Season Two in "Epidemiology" and "Asian Population Studies". He is portrayed by Greg Cromer.
I just take pottery to unwind. Haven't lost a patient in five years. Puts a lot of pressure on me.
–Rich, "Beginner Pottery"
School year synopsis
During the 2010 Spring semester at Greendale, Dr. Rich Stephenson enrolled at Greendale Community College to take a pottery class. He impressed not only Professor Marion Holly but also the other students with his natural pottery skills. Coupled with his friendly and charismatic personality this made him very popular in class. This earned him the enmity of his fellow student Jeff Winger who looked on him as a rival and was jealous of his talent. Rich tried to be friends with him and even looked at an injury Jeff purportedly had. Jeff was still hostile and even unexpectedly confronted Rich after class in the parking lot. He was there trying to dig up any information on Rich that he had done pottery before. At the next pottery class Rich performed what Jeff thought was a expert pottery maneuver. They got into a physical altercation with Jeff trying to force Rich to repeat the move he had just done. Professor Holly took Rich's side and had Jeff ejected from class. Jeff returned the next day and apologized to Rich for his behavior. As Rich returned to working on his pottery project his thoughts turned to the dark and troubled childhood he had.
In the study group's first year at Greendale, Rich Stephenson made a name for himself on campus with his seemingly natural talent for molding clay in a Beginner Pottery class. Jeff Winger was also enrolled in the same class and became jealous with seeing Rich get showered with praise by the teacher and his classmates. Jeff realized he couldn't out sculpt Rich so he faked an injury to avoid having to make pottery. Rich who offered to take a look and nonchalantly told Jeff he was a doctor. Rich diagnosed Jeff's finger as not being sprained which earns him even more enmity from Jeff. Rich was later confronted by Jeff in the school parking lot after class was over. After being grilled about his past in New Mexico, Rich felt he was being interrogated and left. The next day, Rich finished another project by slapping the sides of the vase.
Jeff pointed out that move Rich just did was called "Throwing off the hump", an advanced technique a supposed beginner like Rich shouldn't know. Jeff tried to force Rich to do the move again by sitting behind him while manipulating his hands on the pottery wheel. Unfortunately, this act resembled "Ghosting", a move banned in the classroom by the professor. Jeff was kicked out of class but not before he smashed Rich's vase. The following day, Jeff apologized to Rich for his actions. Rich told him not to worry about it and wished him good luck at keeping his emotions in check. He settled back into working on his vase and recalled his mother speaking harsh words to him as a kid. In his mind she berates him for wasting his time doing pottery rather than studying to be a doctor, and wishes he had died in the roller coaster accident instead of his brother ("Beginner Pottery").
In the study group's second year at Greendale, Rich attended a Halloween party held in the library dressed in a banana costume. When a mysterious epidemic spread at the event he volunteered to look at a few of the infected. He overheard someone asking for a doctor and was surprised to see Pierce and Annie. Rich noticed Pierce wasn't looking well and after asking him to sit down complimented Annie's costume. When the Dean brought more students who are sick Rich suggested it could be food poisoning but Pelton refuses to believe it. As they argued, Star-Burns got bitten in the arm by Pierce who ran off. Startled by the extreme development of Pierce's condition Rich remarked that the infection was definitively not food poisoning. Rich noted that Star-Burns started to develop the same symptoms Pierce displayed.
What is he even talking about?
Rich agreed with Annie's suggestion that he was infected through the bite since he hadn't eaten the taco meat. Rich and Annie were forced to flee after Star-Burns tried to bite them. They reached Group Study Room F and tried to warn Jeff, Britta and Shirley what was happening. However, it was too late as Leonard and other infected students started to attack all the party goers. Rich and the others made it to the exit only to find that Dean Pelton locked the doors. He told them a quarantine had been imposed by the government and the in six hours the army will show up to deal with the situation. Rich and the study group fought their way through infected students back to the study room. Rich theorized what happened was a rabies related pathogen affecting the pre-frontal cortex of the brain causing hyper aggression.
A waking nightmare.
When Shirley proclaimed it was "End of Days" Rich corrected her saying such a thing would take years to infect the rest of the world. Rich then praised a vertical fold Jeff did when he laid it down his jacket. An annoyed Jeff replied how much he hated Rich. Before they started barricading the room, Rich asked that they all had come clean if they have been bitten. To his shock, Rich discovered he himself had been bitten but chose to not say anything. After describing the symptoms of the virus, he revealed himself to be infected when he slurred his words. Britta revealed herself to be infected as well and they both attacked the others. Sometime later, Rich managed to put Jeff's suit jacket on and pursued him to the basement. Later, he and the other infected students were cured after Troy managed to lower the temperature of the building ("Epidemiology").
Kind of a dick move.
After spending winter break volunteering with Annie, he joins Duncan's Anthropology class and unsuccessfully competes against Chang for a spot in the study group. When he turns down a date with Annie due to her young age, Jeff begins to admire his ethics and seeks life-advice from him, although he only wants to abuse the power Rich gets from everyone loving him.