Why the ‘Community’ Pilot Episode on Netflix Differs From Hulu

Why Netflix's version of Community has a much shorter runtime.

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community pilot episode differs on netflix to hulu

Picture: Sony Pictures Television / NBC

A new viral video on YouTube suggests that Netflix is showing a much shorter version of the first episode of the first season of Community

Throughout the course of the video, you’re taken through various cut scenes from the pilot, which ultimately brings the runtime down from 24 minutes 28 seconds to 21 minutes 48 seconds (Netflix lists it within the app as 22 minutes).

The episode titles are different too. On Hulu, the pilot episode is called, well, Pilot”, whereas, on Netflix, it’s labeled “Community.”

Scenes adjusted include the opening scene where Dean Craig Pelton is struggling to get his speaker working, whereas the “Netflix version” opens up with an establishing shot and text that says “Greendale Community Colledge – three blocks from your home” before the opening gag comes to a close.

Other changes include:

  • The logo changed from a jumping letter version to the unfolding paper logo drawn in pen that we grew accustomed to throughout the rest of the series.
  • Extended scene of Jeff introducing himself to Britta.
  • Jeff’s conversation with the cafeteria lady.
  • A shot of Jeff looking for Duncan and reacting with disgust when he sees his car.
  • Troy asks Jeff whether he should keep wearing his letter jacket.

You can see a visual breakdown of the changes in the full video from Sam McGee below:

Andy Heriaud, a screenwriter and someone who worked on the show, took to the comment section of the viral video to give some added context surrounding why the episode differs.

In his comment, he states:

“The Netflix version is the cut made for syndication packages. The version on other platforms and the DVD are in fact the broadcast version of the pilot as it aired on NBC in 2009.

It’s common practice to trim longer episodes to a syndication safe 22 minute runtime so that purchasers can maximize their ad time. This is the same reason many basic cable networks do things like turbocharged credits or, in the case of NickatNite, straight up cutting out entire scenes arbitrarily.

I brought this issue to Netflix’s attention when Community launched on the platform and they just replied with a shrug. More accurately they said that they just put on what the distributor gave them, in this instance it seems Sony gave them the syndication cut and Netflix is content with that.”


Of course, this wasn’t the only significant change Netflix’s version of Community has with the original. As was well covered throughout the summer of 2020, just a few months after Netflix licensed the show, they removed the “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons” episode that feature Blackface.

That removal is still controversial and subject to debate, given the context and intention of the trope in the episode.

As you may know, Community is actually making a grand triumphant return to our screens in the months and years to come with the long-awaited Community movie in the works at Peacock.

As for Community’s future on Netflix, as we revealed last year, Netflix currently holds the rights until 2024.

Author What's on Netflix avatar

Founder of What's on Netflix and based in Norwich in the United Kingdom, Kasey has been tracking the comings and goings of the Netflix library for a decade having started the site in 2013. Kasey maintains the what's new library, keeps the coming soon lists up-to-date and writes about new and upcoming Netflix movies, series and games.