Character of the Week: Dean Pelton

In the ADD-addled world that is the 21st century, television shows are defined by their characters. It's not enough to keep the narrative momentum of a series churning forward, superfans want their worlds filled with rich, fully realized characters. Every week, we at Blursto will take time out to identify a show that has gone the extra mile and created a secondary character that's as entertaining as any lead.

Character Profile: Dean Craig Pelton

Actor: Jim Rash

Show: Community

Occupation: Dean of Greendale Community College

Quotes: "Word of advice: If an Asian man says he's a Spanish teacher, it's not racist to ask for proof."

"Frankly my dear, I don't give a dean."

"Greendale needs a win. The best compliment our sports program gets is that our basketball team is really gay."

"I had no idea alcohol would make people horny. Makes me sleepy."

Character synopsis:

Ah, Dean Pelton. If every school administrator loved their job as much as you do, education in this country wouldn't be in the toilet. Unfortunately, if they did their job like you do, most schools would no longer exist.

Having been described as everything from a pansexual imp to a pipsqueak, it's clear Dean Pelton doesn't demand respect from his students or his colleagues. Nevertheless, the man sells his soul for his school each and every week, regardless of how creepy that soul is. 

Character background:

Pelton is played by Jim Rash, who has had a pretty successful career in Hollywood as an actor/writer (when you start hearing about George Clooney and The Descendants for the next five months, remember he was involved). Pelton was the last character cast on Community, and clearly they lucked out big time with Rash. His delivery is consistently hilarious, and the staff gives him plenty of material to work with. Week-to-week, Dean Pelton gets some of the best lines. His character is worthwhile for his awkward interactions (/flirtations?) with Jeff alone.

Why we love him:

Pelton serves as a perfect symbol of Greendale: imperfect, a little weird, possibly smelly, and most importantly, full of heart. Sure, he's put out an ad for an escort wearing a dalmation costume, but hey, everyone has their quirks. And sure, he frequently makes offensive comments, but only because he tries so hard to not be offensive. In fact, most of what he does is a result of him trying to do the right thing. Hilariously, he never quite gets it.

Most importantly, Rash is game for the outfits. Ah, the outfits. Whether it's Lady Gaga, his "sister's" Uncle Sam outfit or a backwards bee costume (stinger in the front), Dean Pelton is always ripe for a sight gag (video above), and Rash always nails it. Frequently one of the funniest characters on the show, one can only hope the Dean sees more screentime as the series progresses [1]. And hopefully he finishes the Time Desk novel. Godspeed, Dean.

--Matthew Ludtke

[1] Good news on this front: Rash has officially made the opening credit sequence! Huzzah!


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