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The "Duncan Principle" is simple, namely that the more control-I better write this down too, actually- that's a good point. The more control lost by the "Ego" the more gained by the "Id" resulting in a surprisingly predictable emotional eruption, or "breaking point". Known to Ma and Pa as a good old fashioned tantrum!
Professor Ian Duncan
Jeff avoids walking to his next class with Shirley and accompanies Britta instead. He explains he can only stand Shirley's overly cheerful personality in small doses. Along the way they pass a student named Vaughn who cordially greets Britta. In the cafeteria, Annie joins Professor Duncan's psych lab on the condition she brings him volunteers to participate. Meanwhile, Jeff is annoyed when he sees Vaughn chatting to Britta at the coffee shop. He joins the rest of the study group at a table where Pierce is showing off his hearing enhancing "Ear-Noculars".

SP There's the awkward pause
...And there's the awkward pause.
Annie asks if any of them are interested in test subjects for Duncan's lab experiment. Troy agrees but Abed says he's going to attend a local screening of the Indiana Jones movies. Annie convinces him to reconsider in the name of friendship. A jealous Jeff then goes to interrupt Britta and Vaughn's conversation. Later at Duncan's lab study, he explains to his students "The Duncan Principle". When a subject has no control in a situation they eventually have an emotional eruption. Duncan plans to intentionally cause this by having the volunteers wait for the experiment to start.

SP The triangle
Jeff interrupts Britta and Vaughn.
Duncan sends Annie to tell the volunteers about delay in the experiment which causes explosive reaction from Ben Chang who leaves. Meanwhile, Shirley and Jeff are walking together and actually start to bond when they make fun of Pierce and Vaughn. Back at the experiment, only Troy and Abed remain as the rest of the test subjects reached their breaking point. When Annie tells them of yet another delay Troy finally loses it and leaves. Duncan theorizes that since Abed stayed the longest this will cause the last test subject to have the biggest meltdown. On the campus quad, Jeff and Shirley catch Vaughn and Britta making out.

SP Houston we have an idiot
"Houston, we have an idiot."
Later, Britta finds a devastated Jeff in the student lounge. She didn’t tell him about Vaughn because she thought Jeff would mock her new boyfriend. Jeff promises he would never do that and Britta suggests the three of them all hang out together. The next day, Jeff keeps his word and refuses to say anything bad about Vaughn with Shirley. Back at the lab study, Abed still hasn't had an emotional breakdown after 26 hours which frustrates Duncan. A student named Garrett leaves feeling that Abed proved Duncan’s theory wrong. The professor himself then has a meltdown and blames Annie for having ruined his experiment by bringing Abed.

SP Troy snaps
"The Soul Train Awards were tonight!"
At the cafeteria, Shirley amuses Jeff by mocking Vaughn behind his back. Afterwards, Britta shows Jeff a poem Vaughn wrote for her which he secretly takes a photo of. He later laughs at the poem alongside Shirley unaware that Pierce is eavesdropping with his Ear-Noculars. In the study room, Annie angrily reveals to Troy and Abed the truth about the experiment. Abed explains internally he was furious about the delays and only stayed because Annie said they were friends. Pierce arrives and denounces Jeff and Shirley having completely misinterpreted their conversation. They reveal it was actually Vaughn's poem they were ridiculing which Shirley shows off to everyone. Britta walks in with Vaughn who notices the poem and tearfully runs out of the room.

SP Jeff takes a photo of the poem
Jeff takes a photo of Vaughn's poem.
Afterwards, Shirley and Jeff decide to stop gossiping together but she does reveal Britta had a sex dream about him. In the cafeteria, Abed accepts Annie's apology for what happened. Meanwhile, Britta tells Jeff that Vaughn dumped her and he admits seeing her in a relationship was hard. On the quad, Vaughn's bad experience with the group has left him less carefree. Jeff sees that Shirley is now gossiping with Britta and asks a nearby Pierce to borrow his Ear-Noculars. He says he got rid of them and Jeff suspects the reason was Pierce overheard the rest of the group making fun of him.

1x04-Jeff Shirley
Shirley's gossip problems earned her the nickname "Tattlelina".

End tag[]

Troy and Abed sit on the couch in the the study room, mocking everyone who walks by the window. They target Jeff as he appears, but he looks through the window and tells them that everyone outside can easily hear what they are saying.

Recurring themes[]


Continuity lists
Recurring or debuting plot points in this episode:
  • Googly eyes: Jeff is jealous of Britta's relationship with Vaughn.
  • History lesson: Shirley tells Jeff she used to have other study groups before the Spanish one but they all kicked her out for being a gossiping too much.
  • Discontinuity: The statue of actor and Greendale alum Luis Guzman is visible in the background during this episode even though its official unveiling does not take place until the next episode, "Advanced Criminal Law".
Recurring or debuting characters in this episode:
Recurring or debuting places in this episode:
Recurring or debuting items in this episode:

Running gags[]

List of Running gags
Recurring or debuting running gags in this episode:
  • Awww!: Shirley coos when Abed agrees to participate in Annie's lab experiment in the name of friendship.
  • Butt stuff: Troy's obsession with butt stuff is introduced in this episode as he makes it clear he is not opposed to lab experiments in that particular area of his anatomy.
  • Come sail away!: Troy starts to cry after spending hours as a lab rat in Duncan's experiment.
  • E-vasive: Jeff admits to Britta that he carefully times his exit from Spanish class to avoid walking with Shirley. He later stops to tie his shoe when he sees Shirley walking just behind him.
  • Fan service: Vaughn appears without his shirt on a lot and is mocked by Jeff and Shirley for having tiny nipples.
  • Zzzzz: Troy's "pretend like you asleep" excuse is introduced in this episode after realizing the people he and Abed are making fun of can hear them.

Pop culture references[]

List of Pop culture references
References to popular culture in this episode:
  • IMDb: Abed mentions wanting to marathon the "Indiana Jones" franchise with the exception of the last one when Annie asks him to be in her psych experiment.
  • Shoutout: When Garrett leaves the study, Proffesor Duncan tells him to go kill John Lennon again. Duncan is actually referencing John Lennon's murderer Mark David Chapman, whom Garrett looks very similar to.
  • TV Guide: Abed mentions the show "Friends" and compares his relationship to Annie to that of Chandler and Phoebe. Shirely compares Pierce's fascination with gadgets to "Inspector Gadget". Jeff complains that his life now just like the popular Canadian teen drama "Degrassi High".


DVD differences[]

The DVD release has a slightly different opening from the original broadcast version. Both episodes remain virtually the same after Jeff leaves the Spanish classroom, save for two scenes involving Professor Duncan. The version of the episode released on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video uses the scenes from the original broadcast version.

Intro with Chang[]

Chang differences
Broadcast version: Chang thanks his students for filling out anonymous teacher evaluation cards. However, he pointed out one evaluation he considered too hurtful. He checked the writing style on the evaluation against old exams and figured out it was Annie. He got in her face and asked "Who is erratic and unstable now, gringa?" before kissing her on her forehead.

DVD version: Chang's latest Spanish lesson confuses the entire class who can't quite understand the things he is saying nor can they figure out the notes he quickly scrawls on the blackboard. He ends the class by saying, "Hasta luego".

First Duncan scene[]

The first Duncan scene is the one where Annie approaches him to ask to be a volunteer in his psych experiment. The dialogue is shortened in the DVD version as shown below:

First Duncan scene
Broadcast version:
Duncan: OK, I've actually been in this situation many times, so I'm just gonna be upfront: I'm not allowed to date students. 
Annie: Oh, I wasn't...
Duncan: Even though you're an eight.
Annie (upset) : Oh!
Duncan: Which is a British ten.
Annie (smiling) : Oh.
Duncan: I'm angry. But if in spite of that, you are still interested, then you may join the lab.
Annie: (squees)
Duncan (pulls away): Ah... OK, you need to bring two human subjects. And it wouldn't hurt your chances one bit if you could lend me a fiver. I seem to have left my purse in my duffel, and my duffel in the boot of my lorry, so...
Annie (very confused) : Oh?

DVD version:

Duncan: OK, I've actually been in this situation many times, so I'm just gonna be upfront: I'm not allowed to date students. 
Annie: Oh...
Duncan: But if in spite of that, you are still interested, then you may join the lab.
Annie: (squees)
Duncan (pulls away): Ah... OK, you need to bring two human subjects.

Second Duncan scene[]

Second Duncan scene
The second Duncan scene is the one of him reacting to Chang's freak out during his psych lab experiment: his comment varies between versions.
  • Broadcast version: "Houston, we have an idiot!"
  • DVD version "And we're off..."


You need to bring two human subjects and it would not hurt your chances one bit if you could lend me a fiver. I seem to have left my purse in my duffel and my duffel in the boot of my lorry.Professor Duncan
We're just running a little bit behind, so we'll probably start in about five minutes.Annie
NO!NO!NO!NONONONONO! It's unacceptable, alright! You LIED to me! When you say something starts at nine, it starts at nueve! NO!NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!Chang
Houston, we have an idiot!Professor Duncan
This is the least tight thing that's ever happened to me.Vaughn
Jeff, what are we going to talk about? My kids? Your doctor career?Shirley
I was a lawyer.Jeff
See, I'm already bored.Shirley
It's you! It's your fault!Ian Duncan
But you told me to bring subjects!Annie
Yeah, subjects, not "Rain Man"! I should never have let you into this lab, Miss Annie-fanny-panties-in-a-bunch!Ian Duncan
Oh! Oh, that's so hilarious! Did you think of that the last time you skipped a trip to the dentist?Annie
Oh! Let me answer that question with another question![blows a raspberry]Ian Duncan

Duncan's scathing retort

Season One Episodes

1. "Pilot"
2. "Spanish 101"
3. "Introduction to Film"
4. "Social Psychology"
5. "Advanced Criminal Law"
6. "Football, Feminism and You"
7. "Introduction to Statistics"
8. "Home Economics"
9. "Debate 109"
10. "Environmental Science"
11. "The Politics of Human Sexuality"
12. "Comparative Religion"
13. "Investigative Journalism"

14. "Interpretive Dance"
15. "Romantic Expressionism"
16. "Communication Studies"
17. "Physical Education"
18. "Basic Genealogy"
19. "Beginner Pottery"
20. "The Science of Illusion"
21. "Contemporary American Poultry"
22. "The Art of Discourse"
23. "Modern Warfare"
24. "English as a Second Language"
25. "Pascal's Triangle Revisited"


Season OneSeason TwoSeason ThreeSeason FourSeason FiveSeason Six