'Community' Character Study: The Backstory of Star-Burns
'Community' Character Study: The Backstory of Star-Burns
Jenn Lee
Jenn Lee
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
SPOILER alert: If you haven't seen last week's episode of Community, you may want to stop reading.

During last week's Law & Order parody episode, we abruptly learned of the loss of Alex "Star-Burns" Osbourne, the minor character on the show known for his shady demeanor and inexplicably shaped facial hair. Though his unexpected death fit the nature of the original NBC crime drama, there is apparently a deeper backstory to Star-Burns' demise -- a plot point which helps propel the stories for the rest of the season.

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According to EW, it was the actor who portrays the top-hatted creeper, Dino Stamatopoulos, who requested his character be written off the show. Stamatopoulos, who is also a consulting producer and writer on Community, told EW he is "not an actor," and disliked having to wait around set and getting his make-up done for scenes.

The origin of Star-Burns was actually quite accidental: creator Dan Harmon needed someone to sit in for the hair and make-up department at the start of season 1, and to help save on costs, he asked writer Stamatopoulos for the favor. After the writer donned the odd sideburns, Harmon decided to put Stamatopoulos in front of the camera and Star-Burns quickly became one of Community's funny minor roles (including the likes of Magnitude and Leonard).

Though Harmon was sad to let Star-Burns go, he claims part of the joy of creating a TV show is rolling with the punches, saying, "I keep finding on this show that plans are the antithesis of good TV." Stamatopoulos, meanwhile, is disappointed his character's death (from a meth lab explosion in his car) wasn't captured on screen, but is happy to focus on his writing/producing responsibilities. He simply asks that fans remember his character in any way, believing the one-dimensional man will most likely be forgotten.

But Star-Burns seems to have a greater impact than the actor realizes: his spin-off clips with Abed (Spanish class assignments entitled El Starprince Pt. 1 and 2) were enjoyed by fans, and Harmon says "his legacy in season 3 will be gigantic." In tonight's episode, for example, a funeral for Star-Burns gone awry will spur a "strange daisy of events" for the season's final episodes. For a preview of Abed's farewell video to Star-Burns, watch the clip below:


(Image and video courtesy of NBC)

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