The series follows a group of students at a community college in the fictional locale of Greendale, Colorado. The series heavily uses meta-humor and pop culture references, often parodying film and television clichés and tropes.
When his law firm discovers Jeff Winger lied about having a bachelor's degree, he's suspended and has no choice but to enroll at Greendale Community College to get one. Jeff quickly becomes attracted to Britta, a former political activist from his Spanish class, and pretends he runs a study group in order to spend time with her. But his plans go awry when Britta invites five other classmates along: Abed, Annie, Shirley, Pierce, and Troy.
Despite being seven very different people, the group quickly become close friends. They're often roped into helping the flamboyant Dean Pelton in his schemes to make the school seem more reputable, as well as having to deal with the antics of their unhinged teacher/classmate Ben Chang.