Abed is an Example of Autistic Head-Canon I Love (2023)

Thanks to lockdown, I binge-watched all six seasons of Community. As I watched, I realized something: the character Abed Nadir is the best example of autistic representation that I’ve ever seen.

Why, though? What makes Abed’s characterization succeed when so many others stumbled into the pitfalls of stereotypes and inaccuracies? It’s not like Abed is a perfect representation. While it’s made clear that he has a developmental disorder, autism is never explicitly confirmed on the show (the closest it comes is when another character angrily tells him, “You have Asperger’s! Look it up!” So yeah, could be better).

Yet despite the imperfections, Abed still stands out.

Abed Nadir (played brilliantly by Danny Pudi) is a member of a seven-person study group at the fictional Greendale Community College. He’s an aspiring film student and pop culture connoisseur. He is “quirky” and “eccentric.” He constantly compares real life to media tropes, becoming the show’s meta guy.

He often speaks in a flat affect and has a verbal tic of saying, “Cool. Cool cool cool.” He once admitted that he can’t tell if his friends’ expressions mean they are angry or hungry. He sometimes misses social cues. In fact, Abed’s inability to pick up his classmate Jeff’s desire to hit on a girl is what leads to the formation of the study group and puts the plot into motion.

This isn’t what makes Abed good representation. After all, most media portrayals check off all the right boxes of autistic traits (or traits stereotypically associated with white cis males, but that’s a whole other issue). Abed stands out because of his heart.

Communityis a character-driven comedy and never forgets to make Abed feel like a fully fleshed-out person rather than a list of symptoms. Over the course of six seasons, Abed grows and changes, learns about himself and others, and overcomes personal flaws– all while still remaining firmly autistic.

Creator Dan Harmon (who also co-createdRick and Morty) researched autism while writing Abed. After getting positive feedback from autistic fans, he wanted to do right by them by making Abed feel as true to life as possible. Harmon’s research led him to the realization that he himself is likely autistic. Harmon originally identified with the protagonist Jeff Winger but started seeing himself more in Abed.

(Video) abed nadir moments that live in my head rent free

(It also makes sense for an autistic person to relate to Jeff. Jeff appears cool and together, but it’s a way of masking his own insecurities and emotions. Many autistic can relate to masking).

Autistic advocates often say, “Nothing about us without us.”Community was created by a potentially autistic man. But even if Harmon isn’t autistic, he still did something that neurotypical creators can learn from: he put in the research and listened to autistic feedback. The willingness to listen can make all of the difference in the world.

Being a comedy, there are plenty of jokes about Abed. But the jokes are never mean-spirited. Autism itself is never mocked, but it also isn’t taboo. In fact, Harmon is the only creator whoever made me laugh at an autism-related joke. In S3E17, “Basic Lupine Urology,” best friends Troy and Abed are playing detectives in a Law and Order parody. When they see a photo of a clock taken from a “crime scene,” they have this exchange:

Abed: Eight plus two, times five…

Troy: Ten after eight.

Abed: I’m gifted in other ways.

I died laughing, partly because it was so relatable. I can’t count the times I have struggled with something (like a sense of direction) and said almost verbatim, “I’m gifted in other ways.”

Here’s another great exchange from S5E3, “Basic Intergluteal Numismatics:”

Dean: Abed, you’re special. Can’t you just stand at the scene of the crime and see what happened?

(Video) Abed has Asperger's

Abed (moving his arms as dramatic music swells): I see a man using a social disorder as a procedural device. Wait wait wait! I see another man…mildly autistic super detectives everywhere…basic cable…broadcast networks…pain, painful writing…it hurts. (Abed pointedly glares at the Dean, then leaves).

Abed’s autistic nature is depicted in a way that feels refreshingly real. He says he has, “thoughts too fast to comprehend,” which is a lesser-known trait. His special interest in media isn’t just played for laughs but is Abed’s way of understanding the world, relating to others, and expressing himself.

In a powerful scene early in the show, Abed shows his disapproving father a short film about their relationship. His father is moved to tears and says, “My son is hard to understand. If making movies helps him be understood than I’ll pay for the class.”

Abed is never expected to “get over” being autistic. He changes over time like any well-written character, but autism is treated as a core part of himself. In S1E17, “Physical Education,” the group wants to set Abed up with a girl.

While they’re reluctant to admit it, they want Abed to change his behavior because they’re worried he’ll end up alone. At the end of the episode, Abed has this to say:

Everybody wants me to be happy. Everybody wants to help me. But usually, when they find out they can’t, they get frustrated and stop talking to me. Or they trick me into buying them ice cream and then shove me into a clothes dryer, which I didn’t want to happen with you guys, so I wanted to make sure you felt like you could help me. The truth is, lots of girls like me because, let’s face it, I’m pretty adorable.

This is a powerful statement. Many autism treatments (*cough* ABA *cough*) try to change autistic kids for “their own good.” Abed makes it clear that he goes along with it not because he can change (he explicitly says he can’t) but because he wants themto feel better.

How many autistic children learn to mask for the sake of others? It should be noted that after this exchange, Abed’s friends never try to change him again, and Abed is shown to successfully flirt and have a serious girlfriend without changing himself.

In some ways, Abed refutes common autism myths. He feels deeply and has empathy. His friend Annie accuses him of lacking empathy after Abed explains how he runs scientific scenarios about the group. However, Annie learns that Abed is really terrified that his friends will change and leave him behind. In turn, Annie helps Abed realize that change to the group doesn’t mean he’ll be forgotten.

(Video) Abed from community being Abed for 3 minutes

Abed is a student of human behavior. He often understands his friends better than they do. He makes a film series based on the study group that is so accurate it can predict the future. He is the first person in the group to figure out that two members are sleeping together.

From his intense bromance with Troy to his filming a Bible rap as a thank you to his religious friend, Abed is always portrayed as a loving and loyal member of the group.

Abed is a fan favorite who touches autistic and neurotypical fans alike. He is often in the spotlight whether it’s because he’s building an awesome school-wide blanket fort or delivering a heart-wrenching speech in the series finale.

In the beginning of Community, Abed feared that his friends would move on without, and was so afraid of change that he had meltdowns during daylight savings time.

Yet in the end, it is Abed who chooses to leave Greendale behind for an uncertain but hopeful future as an LA production assistant. It’s practically unheard of for an autistic character to have such a fulfilling character arc.

That’s why Abed is so special. He is a shining example of how to humanize autistic characters in a way that makes general audiences empathize with them. All while always being allowed to be, unapologetically, himself.

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(Video) Abed Nadir and Annie Edison from Community being a Soulmate Couple w/o Realizing for 11 mins Part 1

Jude Clee

Jude Clee is a writer, teacher, and amateur historian. She is one of autism's undiagnosed, lost girls. Like her writing? Click here to buy Jude a coffee.

Latest posts by Jude Clee (see all)

  • The Hidden Strength of Autistic Moms in a Neurotypical Mom Culture - September 13, 2021
  • What I Wish Neurotypicals Knew About Meltdowns - February 25, 2021
  • Review: The Promise and Disappointment of Everything’s Gonna Be Okay - September 21, 2020


Is Abed a good autistic character? ›

Abed represents a unique individual on the autism spectrum rather than a stereotypical bundle of symptoms because he reflects the unique character that is Dan Harmon's writing and Danny Pudi's acting. He is well rounded, unique, and a role model the autism community seems to connect with.

What type of autism does Abed have? ›

In the show Abed exhibits some classic Asperger's Syndrome signs. He is unaware of many social cues, doesn't exhibit many emotions or recognize them in others, and tends to relate more directly to movies and fiction than other people.

Is Abed Neurodivergent? ›

Although his autism isn't outright spoken about, we have lines like 'on the spectrum, none of your business' in Troy and Abed's christmas rap, and Abed also refers to his friends as 'neurotypical' at comic-con, implying that he is neurodivergent.

What are autistic coded characters? ›

For autistic fans, an “autistic-coded” character is not merely a character they would like to be autistic, or that they see a few sprinklings of autistic traits in, but one who is so obviously autistic, they must actually be autistic.

Is Abed half white? ›

Abed, like his actor, is half-Polish. Abed is half-Palestinian, however, while Danny Pudi is half-Indian.

Who did Abed end up with? ›

Abed Nadir and Rachel first met during his fourth year at Greendale Community College. They were drawn together by their mutual love of classic TV and movie tropes. Although there were a few misunderstandings at the beginning of their relationship they have since smoothed things over and are now currently dating.

Is Community in Abeds head? ›

Community literally revolves around Abed. But the most revealing moment that shows how Community is Abed's show is again in Season 6. As the series draws to a close in its final season, Abed seems to rely on his gimmick more heavily, especially in the RV episode.

Does Dan Harmon have Asperger's? ›

Dan Harmon

“I started looking up these symptoms [of Asperger's], just to know what they are,” Harmon told Wired magazine. “And the more I looked them up, the more familiar they started to seem.” Following more research into the syndrome, Harmon self-diagnosed as having Asperger's.

Does Morty have autism? ›

It is stated in the show that Morty has a learning disability and he is known for having no friends or social relationships in the show. This implies that he suffers from FAS, which would not be a huge surprise due to Beth's drinking problem.

What personality type is Abed? ›


The pop-culture obsessed, genre savvy, and adorkable Abed Nadir is pretty much the poster child for INTPs. Abed's mind is constantly buzzing with ideas, which makes him seem detached.

Is Luna Lovegood a neurodivergent? ›

It seems she's the only character who is neurodiverse at birth, with the possible exception of Voldemort and Snape.

Is neurodivergent only autism? ›

Neurodivergent is a non-medical umbrella term that describes people with variation in their mental functions, and can include conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or other neurological or developmental conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Why are autistic people so good at coding? ›

Since Autistic children typically have a more dominant left side of the brain, they are naturally drawn to computer science, specifically writing code. As a result, Autistic students have a higher chance at excelling in jobs that require precision and repetition – such as updating databases, coding, and analytics.

What is masked autism? ›

Autism masking, also known as Autism camouflaging, follows the same lines….. Masking is a word used to describe something seen in many children with ASD – when they learn, practice, and perform certain behaviours and suppress others in order to be more like the people around them.

Is Bones autistic? ›

Hart Hansen, the creator of the Fox TV series Bones, has admitted in interviews that the show's main character, Dr. Temperance Brennan, was based on a friend of his who has Asperger's. The show never formally labeled Brennan, fearing that an autism diagnosis would not appeal to audiences.

Is Danny Pudi like Abed? ›

And with that, he's a bit of an outcast, even within the study group on "Community" (8 p.m. Thursdays on NBC). He's a lonely guy with a dark side. Abed is a man-child. Pudi is his own man: a marathon runner, a husband and, like Abed, curious.

How old is Abed meant to be? ›

Abed Nadir

Based on his experiences, he was older than Troy and younger than Britta, putting him in the middle of the age pack among the study group. By the end of Community season 6, Abed was probably in his late 20s.

Is Abed a Filipino? ›

Abed "Abed" Yusop (born August 2, 2000) is a Filipino Dota 2 player who is currently playing for Shopify Rebellion.

What is Jeff and Annie's age gap? ›

They have also teamed up effectively on a number of different occasions and have shown to complement each other quite well in each instance. The age difference, which was originally hinted to be 12 years and now has been retconned to 17, has been something that clearly bothers Jeff.

Who does Britta end up with? ›

In the season 5 finale, in an act of desperation, Jeff and Britta decide to get married because they feel they will have not accomplished anything if they don't do this.

Does Abed marry Rachel? ›

Abed and Rachel never explicitly broke up; they merely never got together again.

What is the darkest episode of Community? ›

"Remedial Chaos Theory" is a concept episode, with each timeline showing how the group is affected by the absence of one of its members. "The Darkest Timeline" ensues when Troy leaves, causing Pierce to be shot and a fire to break out.

What is Abed the darkest timeline? ›

The Darkest Timeline is an alternate world envisioned by Abed Nadir which was created by the roll of a die. Created alongside six other timelines it was considered the worst due to a series of unfortunate events which resulted in tragedy within the study group.

Who is the smartest autistic person? ›

Albert Einstein - Scientist & Mathematician

There's no way to know for sure, but many people believe that Albert Einstein would qualify as having autism spectrum disorder today.

Who is the famous Asperger? ›

One of the most famous people with Asperger's Syndrome is popular comedic actor Dan Aykroyd. He had already been expelled from two different schools by the time a doctor diagnosed him with mild Asperger's as a child. Since then, Aykroyd has been pretty honest and up-front about his experiences with the autism spectrum.

Who was the first autistic person? ›

Donald Triplett, in full Donald Gray Triplett, (born September 1933, Forest, Mississippi, U.S.), American male who was the first person diagnosed with autism.

Is Rick from Rick and Morty pansexual? ›

One of the show's creators and executive producers and voice actor Justin Roiland revealed Sanchez was pansexual.

What is Rick and Morty's IQ? ›

He is over 300. "And considering his advancements in Science Fiction technology. His IQ would be well over 500. "Rick is the smartest man on earth.

Is there a Morty smarter than Rick? ›

Rick's natural logical-mathematical and verbal-linguistic intelligences are preternaturally higher than Morty's by leaps and bounds. There's no dispute there. But Morty, while less naturally capable than Rick in these departments, is able to learn the ins and outs of both.

Who is Abed based on? ›

Abed Nadir from Community, based on Abed Gheith

Gheith, a friend of Community showrunner Dan Harmon, has worked on many series for Channel 101, a monthly film festival in Los Angeles that puts out serialized five-minute television shows.

Is Abed a savant? ›

Despite Abed's in-depth knowledge of pop culture, the show doesn't portray him as a savant – an autistic person who has “extraordinary” abilities in a specific category, a trope that is present in most portrayals of autism in the media, but that represents less than ten per cent of the autistic population.

How smart is Abed? ›

Abed (Danny Pudi) is the most intelligent character on Community. He's someone who enjoys observing and watching others since he likes to live his life according to his favorite popular culture references. He's also interested in filmmaking, and sometimes makes his own movies.

Are any Harry Potter characters autistic? ›

In one story, for instance, the writer creates a new character, Albus Potter, the son of Harry Potter, who is autistic and newly enrolled in Hogwarts. In the story, Albus initially has difficulty forming relationships. But he ultimately finds friends in houses as diverse as Gryffindor and Slytherin.

Is Newt Scamander autistic? ›

The writer of the Fantastic Beasts series, J.K. Rowling has never publicly stated that Newt has autism or was written to be autistic.

Which Harry Potter characters are neurodivergent? ›

Brown mentioned Luna Lovegood and Hermione Granger as characters in “Harry Potter” who could be read as autistic or otherwise neurodivergent.

What do all neurodivergent people have in common? ›

Being neurodivergent means having a brain that works differently from the average or “neurotypical” person. This may be differences in social preferences, ways of learning, ways of communicating and/or ways of perceiving the environment.

How can you tell if you're neurodivergent? ›

How to know if you're neurodivergent: what are the signs &...
  • Struggling with reading and writing.
  • Clumsiness.
  • Finding it hard to cope with crowds, bright lights, loud, sudden noises, or social situations.
  • Difficulty with focusing or keeping still.
  • No smiling or social responsiveness.
Jun 18, 2020

Is autism is Hereditary? ›

If someone in your family has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), you may be more likely to have a child with ASD. ASD can look very different from person to person, so taking a careful family health history can be important for early diagnosis.

What skills are autistic people good at? ›

Autistic children are often strong in areas like visual, rule-based and interest-based thinking. A developmental assessment or an IQ test can identify autistic children's thinking and learning strengths. You can develop autistic children's skills by working with their strengths.

What do autistic kids excel at? ›

Research indicates that people with autism excel at auditory and visual tasks. In fact, many with autism outperform others at tasks that require these skills. This explains why individuals with autism do better on nonverbal intelligence tests.

Why is autism so popular? ›

Advances in diagnostic capabilities and greater understanding and awareness of autism spectrum disorder seem to be largely driving the increase, the Rutgers researchers said. But there's probably more to the story: Genetic factors, and perhaps some environmental ones, too, might also be contributing to the trend.

What is the coke bottle effect ADHD? ›

This is known as the coke bottle effect. Schools might hear parents speaking of challenging behaviour or emotional outbursts at home, anxiety over coming into school, difficulty getting the child into school, and may see a child that is clinging onto the parent crying or refusing to come into school.

Why do autistic children run? ›

Children with autism may elope for a variety of reasons: Some children elope to get to desired items or places. For example, a child might elope to get to a favorite toy in a store. Children with autism may find it hard to cope with certain everyday situations and may elope to get away from stresses.

Can autistics mask meltdowns? ›

On Meltdowns and Masking. Meltdowns and shutdowns are extremely common, especially in the autistic and neurodivergent community. Masking is something that a lot of the community has learned to do since childhood, and it can take a huge toll on someone's psyche long term.

What cartoon has autism? ›

The world of Thomas the Tank Engine is welcoming its first character with autism to the island of Sodor. Bruno the brake car will make his debut on the season 26 premiere of “Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go” on September 12 on Cartoon Network's Cartoonito.

Is there any autistic actors? ›

Famous actors with autism

Mickey Rowe (the first openly autistic actor to play Christopher Boone in Simon Stephens' Tony Award–winning play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”) Dan Aykroyd. Daryl Hannah. Anthony Hopkins.

Is Sheldon autistic? ›

The producers of The Big Bang Theory say Sheldon Cooper isn't actually autistic.

Is Abed the best character in Community? ›

Of course, we reach one of the most loved characters in the series– Abed. Abed is an extremely interesting and charming character, and most fans of the show fell in love with him within the first couple of episodes. He's an adorable and awkward character with a passion for film and storytelling.

Are any overwatch characters autistic? ›

In Overwatch lore, Symmetra is a character with Autism, but it was rarely reflected in-game despite comics and other story pieces indicating that she is on the spectrum.

Does Abed have empathy? ›

In some ways, Abed refutes common autism myths. He feels deeply and has empathy. His friend Annie accuses him of lacking empathy after Abed explains how he runs scientific scenarios about the group. However, Annie learns that Abed is really terrified that his friends will change and leave him behind.

Who is the least liked character in Community? ›

9 'Community' Characters Who Are Just The Worst, Ranked
  • 8) Troy Barnes. While Community found its footing, Troy (Donald Glover) was initially a kind of dumb, jock bully. ...
  • 7) Abed Nadir. ...
  • 6) Shirley Bennett. ...
  • 5) Dean Craig Pelton. ...
  • 4) Ben Chang. ...
  • 3) Annie Edison. ...
  • 2) Jeff Winger. ...
  • 1) Pierce Hawthorne.
Mar 31, 2022

What does Abed suffer from in Community? ›

Abed's unusual social behavior and special interests insinuate that he is on the autism spectrum, as suggested by Dan Harmon and stated by other characters on the show.

Is wattson autistic? ›

Respawn writer Tom Casiello speaking about Wattson being on the spectrum. She is on the spectrum. I listened to too many people who told me to say too many different things, and in the end, I was the jackass. That's the character we conceived and the character we write every month.

Is Symmetra canonically autistic? ›

Symmetra mains have countered that the game is not designed to highlight their contributions to team objectives and that their teammates misunderstand the value she brings to a team composition. Symmetra is one of the first playable video game characters explicitly stated as being autistic.

Does Disney have any autistic characters? ›

Renee is Pixar's first nonspeaking autistic character. Her voice actress, Madison Bandy, is also autistic and non-verbal. Renee is hypersensitive to sound. She covers her ears and becomes overwhelmed by loud noises.

Is Community just in Abed's head? ›

Community literally revolves around Abed. But the most revealing moment that shows how Community is Abed's show is again in Season 6. As the series draws to a close in its final season, Abed seems to rely on his gimmick more heavily, especially in the RV episode.

Who has low empathy? ›

Someone with low empathy may have trouble connecting to other people's circumstances. They may believe that a certain event would never happen to them, or that they could handle the situation “much better.” Because they feel this is the case, they won't be able to understand or feel the other person's distress.

Who has high empathy? ›

An empath is someone who feels more empathy than the average person. These people are usually more accurate in recognizing emotions by looking at another person's face. They are also more likely to recognize emotions earlier than other people and rate those emotions as being more intense.


1. Autism in Comedy
(The Austistic Codes)
2. Autism Representation in the Media
(Toon Ruins)
3. troy and abed acting like a couple for 16 (not so straight) minutes
4. Autism Tropes in Media [CC]
(Jessica Kellgren-Fozard)
5. Are They Gay? - Troy and Abed from Community (Trobed)
(Alexander Avila)
6. Jeff Winger being the token bisexual for 14 minutes
(faberge egg)
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