(né Garry Gergich)
|Parks and Recreation character|
|Last appearance||"One Last Ride"|
|Portrayed by||Jim O'Heir|
Mayor for the City of Pawnee|
National Park Service Midwest Region
Employee in the Department of Parks and Recreation (Former)
Millicent Gergich (daughter)|
Miriam Gergich (daughter)
Gladys Gergich (daughter)
Garry Gergich is a fictional character in the TV series Parks and Recreation, portrayed by Jim O'Heir. From season 1 to season 6 he is referred to as Jerry (even suggesting his mother called him "Gerald"), for which reason the character is usually referred to by this name in external media; for most of season 6 he is called Larry; from the end of season 6 through much of season 7 he is called Terry; and only near the end of the series is his true name restored: Garry.
Jerry has appeared in every episode of the series, with the exception of the first-season episode "Canvassing". He was credited as a recurring character for the first two seasons, but was promoted to the main cast beginning with season three. He first appeared in the opening credits/theme in the season six episode "Anniversaries", following the departures of cast members Rashida Jones and Rob Lowe.
Garry Gergich, born February 29, 1948 (S4: E16), works for the Department of Parks and Recreation and is a married father of three girls. His surname was first mentioned in the episode "Park Safety". He is often the butt of jokes due to his embarrassing history, a collection of awkward moments including plastic surgery after being hit by a fire truck, routinely spilling his cup of soup, and being adopted by a woman arrested for selling marijuana (he did not know that he was adopted until Mark Brendanawicz told him in "Practice Date" when the members of the Parks department decide to find scandalous information on one another). Despite this, he is overwhelmingly kind and warm-hearted toward his friends in the Parks Department. He has heart problems; he mentions he has a pacemaker in Season 2 Episode 17, and had a heart attack in Season 5 Episode 5. He seems to have a normal family life and excellent artistic talent. In the episode "The Camel", he paints a pointillist mural of the Pawnee City Hall composed of minuscule pictures of the town's citizens. In the episode "Telethon", he is shown to be a skilled pianist, and in the episode "Go Big or Go Home" he is shown to be an exquisite painter of natural scenes. His opinions and talents often go unnoticed due to a total lack of respect from his co-workers. For example, on one occasion he stumbled over his words saying "murinal" rather than "mural", causing an abundance of teasing rather than a reaction to the aforementioned (and beautiful) mural he had created and led to the submission of a group-accepted (and horrendous) mural that wasn't selected. Although he never joins in the teasing, Ron Swanson describes Jerry as someone who "shrivels up when you shine a light on him," insisting Jerry does his best work alone. Ron also describes Jerry as both the "schlemiel," and the "schlemazel," of the office, meaning he is both the person who spills the soup and is the person upon whom the soup is spilled.
His approach to his job is straightforward, to the point where he is not only thrilled to spend hours stuffing envelopes but is fine with re-doing the entire assignment because he screwed it up. He reveals to Leslie in 'Jerry's Retirement' that his lackluster government life was fine with him because he placed more importance on getting home to his happy family. Jerry does have some competence issues, as Donna Meagle revealed in the Season 4 finale that she keeps all of the office's computer records on backup files because Jerry accidentally erases them on a regular basis. For his part, Jerry mainly tolerates the mocking of his coworkers, since he's been looking ahead to a peaceful retirement with his full pension. However, he does feel intimidated by his colleagues. For example, in the episode "Park Safety", he claimed to have been mugged by teenagers rather than owning up to falling into a stream. It is revealed in "Pawnee Rangers" that one of Jerry's daughters' name is Millicent, and Chris is very surprised to find out she is very attractive. Chris asks Jerry if it is okay for him to date her and he agrees. Chris, in an attempt to be completely open about their relationship, continuously tells Jerry intimate details about their dates despite Jerry's discomfort; Jerry was told by Millicent that she would be breaking up with Chris and made no efforts to either talk her out of it or warn Chris, though he seems sympathetic when Chris is upset over the breakup. Jerry is also one of the few characters in the series to have a healthy and long-lasting relationship with a significant other, as he has been married for almost thirty years. This contrasts with the fact that his coworkers have not fared so well as he has when it comes to relationships (i.e. Ron's two ex-wives, Tom's green-card marriage with Wendy, Donna's preference for casual dating, April's previous gay boyfriend who also had a boyfriend, Andy's rocky relationship with Ann, etc.).
In the season four premiere, Jerry is revealed to have an enormous penis during office-wide screenings for mumps. Jerry is apparently Roman Catholic; he has performed the sign of the cross when he wanted Leslie to win the city council election that he neglected to vote in; during her debate with Bobby Newport, he is seen with several nuns watching her on television. In "Practice Date", it is revealed that Jerry has a Facebook page. In Season 5's "Ron and Diane," the gang are amazed to find that Jerry's wife is a gorgeous woman named Gayle (played by Christie Brinkley) who helps him throw lavish parties every Christmas. Ben Wyatt has become somewhat obsessed over how a woman as stunning as Gayle is married to someone like Jerry, posing such insulting theories as how her father owed Jerry's father a huge debt and that Gayle has visual agnosia and thinks Jerry is a friendly hat. At the party, the already-seen Millicent is joined by Jerry's two other daughters, who are equally gorgeous. Tom, April and Andy are barred from the party for being jerks to Jerry (Donna, who backed out of a planned dinner with the group using funds pooled every time Jerry did something stupid in his workday, is allowed in by Ann) and Tom is chastened to realize that he missed years of kind and supportive messages on his email and other platforms when he blocked Jerry for being boring. Leslie notices in "Jerry's Retirement" that Jerry, when he is at home and surrounded by his adoring family, is beloved, jovial and so quick that he catches a falling mug. When Tom is despondent over becoming the office's new Jerry (i.e. the brunt of insults), Ron Swanson sympathizes and they bring the real Jerry back to serve as both an intern and the renewed target of their rudeness. When he returns, April says that his name has been changed to Larry Gengurch, and the remainder of the characters (including Jerry himself) adopt the new name wholeheartedly and without question. In the episode "One in 8,000", Leslie can't remember why Jerry's name was changed to Larry, and attributes the decision to him. In a flash-forward at the end of the season 6 finale, he is now called Terry. In the season seven episode, "Donna & Joe", Donna "accidentally" misspells the nameplace for Terry's seat as "Garry", leading the group to jokingly say his new name is Garry (which he mentions in a side interview is his real name, with Donna knowingly smiling at him).
After the death of Mayor Gunderson, Ben and April begin a search for an interim mayor. Ben realizes the ideal candidate is Jerry. Leslie quickly organizes a celebration for his inauguration, officially appointing him as mayor. In a series of flash-forwards in the final episode, it is shown that Jerry is then elected as mayor in earnest and serves ten terms in office. Jerry eventually dies in 2048 on his 100th birthday as a happy man with a large happy family (though his name is misspelled "Garry Girgich" on his tombstone).
Although Jerry Gergich has been a regular character since the pilot episode of Parks and Recreation, O'Heir having originally read for the role of Ron Swanson, the character's personality was not fully developed until the second season. Series co-creator Michael Schur said they liked actor Jim O'Heir so much that he cast him immediately and "figured we'd work it out later". Jerry's personality traits began to become established after the episode "Practice Date" when, during a contest to see who could find the most dirt on each other, city planner Mark Brendanawicz inadvertently reveals that Jerry was adopted. O'Heir was thrilled by this development because, if the show was writing for Jerry, it meant they had found out who he was. Schur said after that script, "We realized that’s who he is: He’s the guy who wants to put his head down and get his pension, but is asking for it all the time. In the next three scripts, it was like throwing chum into the water. Every script after that had 15 slams on Jerry." Once this personality was established, the writers felt it important to establish that the other characters liked Jerry, despite their constant mockery of him. O'Heir said in an interview that whenever his co-stars apologize for being mean to him during a scene, he tells them "You're not doing it to Jim. We're all actors". The episode "Park Safety" was written as a result. In season 4, it is suggested that Jerry's actual name is Garry Gergich, and that he only goes by Jerry because one of his first superiors mistakenly called him as such, and "Jerry" thought it rude to correct him. This seems to contradict, however, season 3 episode 3, "Time Capsule," in which it is suggested that Jerry's proper name is Gerald. In that episode, while reading from Jerry's mother's journal, April reveals that in January 1964, "Gerald starred in a school production of Peter Pan...he was a beautiful Tinkerbell." In episode 8 of season 4, "Smallest Park", Jerry shows Tom his old ID badge from when he first started at the parks department. It can be seen that the ID card says "Garry Gergich".
Several critics have praised both the writing of the character, as well as O'Heir's performance. Hitfix writer Daniel Fienberg praised Jim O'Heir, saying, "Even the background players have begun to shine, including Jim O'Heir's hard-luck Jerry, who I've crowned my favorite tertiary character on TV." O'Heir received particularly positive reviews after the episode "Park Safety."
The character has received negative criticism too. Kona Gallagher of TV Squad said the constant mocking of Jerry makes him feel uncomfortable.
The character's name has been a running joke over the course of the series. For most of the series run he is known as "Jerry Gergich". In season four, it is twice stated that Jerry's real name is Garry, but since his first boss misheard him, he goes by Jerry. From the season 6 episode "Doppelgängers" everyone starts calling him "Larry Gengurch" at the encouragement of April, a situation "Larry" meekly accepts with little protest. In "Ann and Chris", the men of the department give Chris a gift with their initials on it. Jerry signed it GJLGG which he said stood for "Garry Jerry Larry Gergich Gengurch" as he wasn't sure what names to use.
Following the time jump to 2017 at the end of "Moving Up", he goes by the name of "Terry" - an explanation is given during the season 7 episode "2017" that a new employee that works in the National Park Service also goes by Larry and the group changes his name to Terry. In the season 7 episode "Donna and Joe", Donna puts his name down as "Garry" on a seating placard at her wedding, which prompts April to begin calling him Garry, his actual name. Throughout season 7, he also appears on Andy's television show The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show, playing a character named Mailman Barry.
- Fog, Henning (October 9, 2009). ""Parks and Recreation" recap: Dirty little secrets". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on February 1, 2011. Retrieved October 23, 2009.
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- Fowler, Matt (November 13, 2009). "Parks and Recreation: "The Camel" Review". IGN. Archived from the original on February 2, 2011. Retrieved November 14, 2009.
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- Lehman, Daniel (March 8, 2012). "John Lutz and Jim O'Heir Play the Punching Bags on NBC Sitcoms". Backstage. Retrieved Aug 17, 2012.
- Heisler, Steve (March 24, 2011). "Interview: Michael Schur". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved May 22, 2011.
- Muharrar, Aisha (March 24, 2010). "Exclusive: Aisha Muharrar answers your 'Park Safety' questions". Knope Knows. Archived from the original on March 15, 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
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- Gonzalez, Sandra (March 19, 2010). "'Parks and Recreation' recap: Let's hear it for the schlemiel and schlemazel". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 1, 2015.
- Gallagher, Kona (March 19, 2010). "'Parks and Recreation' - 'Park Safety' Recap". TV Squad. Retrieved July 26, 2016.
- Jim O'Heir biography at official Parks and Recreation site at NBC.com
- Jerry Gergich at the Internet Movie Database