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The game first appears in Mash Off, the sixth episode of Season Three, in which the New Directions and The Troubletones play a game of after-school dodgeball in order to express their aggression towards each other, with Finn and Santana leading each team.
After The Troubletones win, they brutally throw dodgeballs at Rory causing him a severe nosebleed. Kurt is shown to be particularly horrified by the beastly events of the game and subsequently pledges to ban the sport in his bid for Senior Class President.
Kurt's comments on dodgeball imply that (at McKinley High) the game is used as a brutal weapon of torture and ostracization. He compares the game to "modern day stoning" and claims that it is both dangerous and demeaning.
The dodgeball scene was highlighted in an extra video clip released on Glee's website. The production team used mattresses to cushion the falls from some of the more outlandish stunts shown during the scene, including players throwing themselves sideways and performing flips to dodge balls. Multiple minor injuries occurred during the shoot, and close-up shots of each cast member being hit in the face or head with a ball were taken. Naya Rivera commented that she was directed to be an "animal" at the game for her portrayal of Santana, she is indeed shown during the episode to be the Troubletones' most ferocious and valuable player, in the end taking down Finn for a victory.
The sport is a recurring motive for Season Three's promotional materials, including teasers and artwork for singles. It has thus replaced slushees as the primary promotional theme, though slushees do make appearances in Season Three.
All Season Three singles include the following New Directions members being hit by or avoiding a dodgeball: Finn, Kurt, Santana, Brittany, Mike, Puck, Quinn, Rachel and Tina. Sue and Will's hands are shown throwing / catching the ball.