The world of high-powered attorney Jeff Winger (Joel McHale) is turned upside down when he receives word that his Bachelor's degree is not official. Despite the fact that he has already gone to law school and had a successful career as a lawyer, he is forced to go back to college to complete his missing undergraduate credits. Like many adults who decide (or, as in this case, are forced) to go back to college, Jeff chooses to matriculate at his local community college, Greendale Community College. He enters his education with a too-cool-for-school attitude coupled with a weakness for attractive students and teachers alike.
Jeff's first scheme to win the attention of the lovely Britta (Gillian Jacobs) accidentally lands him in the center of a Spanish study group that forms the core group of friends with whom Jeff engages. The study group is made up of Jeff, the aforementioned Britta, the naively innocent Annie (Alison Brie), the fourth-wall-breaking Abed (Danny Pudi), newly single mother Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown), ex-high school football star Troy (Donald Glover) and the retired Pierce (Chevy Chase). Jeff is embraced as the leader of the group. For Annie, Abed, and Troy, Jeff usually assumes the role of the experienced father figure. To Pierce, Jeff is an idealized version of his younger self and therefore a bit of jealousy toward Jeff comes through in Pierce's character from time to time.
Jeff is a part of a continuing will they or won't they love interest plot arc with Britta. Staying true to the classical formula, Britta is very different from Jeff. Where the outward manifestation of his personality suggests Jeff cares about no one other than himself, Britta is, at first, almost a caricature of the consummate do-gooder activist. This duality is presented as the two models of coolness for the other characters to look up to and follow and it visibly heightens the sexual tension between the two characters. Both Jeff and Britta usually take great strides to deny any of the obvious tension exists when it is brought the forefront by other members of the Spanish study group.
Each episode is loosely centered on a specific course that some or all of the characters are taking together. Jeff's main motivation in every episode is to get through college as quickly as possible. Whether it is weighing the benefits of cheating on a Spanish test at the beginning of Season 1 or participating in a paint ball challenge to obtain preferred registration at the end of the first season, Jeff is always looking for an angle to exploit that could shorten his tenure as a student at Greendale.
With each episodic plot arc, Jeff moves further away from his original personality, characterized by narcissism and shamed at being at a community college and more toward becoming someone who is at peace with his circumstances. Over the course of "Community's" two seasons, he helps Pierce reconnect with his daughter in law, Shirley spend more time with her children by giving her the top registration spot and a number of other good deeds that show his growth. He manages to widen his definition of self-interest to include the well-being of his friends from the Spanish study group.
"Yeah, well you have Asperger's."
"I could never deprive the world of the portion of my chest the strap would cover."
"Can we just take a mental step backwards and realize we're simply in a Winnebago?"