Jerry was the Parks and Recreation Department’s punching bag, but why did the sitcom’s showrunners choose Jerry to get bullied in the first place?

After seven seasons of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, one of the biggest head-scratchers was why the show had everyone pick on Jerry. Played by Jim O’Heir, Garry “Jerry” Gergich was a kind and thoughtful man, and yet everyone at Pawnee’s Parks Department picked on him incessantly — mainly for things that were out of his control. As adults in the workplace, it was confusing why professionals who fought to make their city a better place bullied a man who had the same goals.

As the former office manager, Jerry surprisingly didn’t have much pull around the department, especially with Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler) in charge. He was soft-spoken and went with the flow, which only allowed his co-workers to take advantage of his kindness. The bullying picked up in season 2 and was in full effect by the final season, especially when the Parks and Recreation characters called Jerry other names than his own.

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Michael Schur Wasn’t Sure What To Do With Jerry’s Character Until Season 2

Jerry Gergich smiling in Parks and Rec

For a show focused on adults working in such a positive area of service within a town’s government, having the characters bully a colleague was an interesting but surprising avenue for the Park and Recreation writers to take. The decision came about because the sitcom’s creator, Michael Schur, wasn’t sure what to do with Jerry’s character. In an interview with The AV Club, Schur said, “We didn’t figure out Jerry until the episode where all the characters are digging up dirt about each other.”

The episode Schur referred to was Parks and Recreation season 2, episode 4, “Practice Date.” While Pawnee was infested with raccoons, the department did what they could to dig up dirt on each other for fun. During the dig, Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider) found out Jerry was adopted. The only problem was, Jerry didn’t. After this storyline, the writers pinned who the character was. As Schur put it, “[Jerry’s] the guy who wants to put his head down and get his pension but is asking for it all the time…it was like throwing chum into the water — every script after that had 15 slams on Jerry.”

Jerry Had The Last Laugh

Jerry and his family at the Christmas party on Parks and Rec

The other employees of Pawnee’s parks department ragged on Jerry, but Michael Schur knew there would have to be a healthy mix of jokes and respect. In regard to Jerry’s continuing storyline on Parks and Recreation, Schur said, “We can do this, but we will have to do an episode where we show they care about him.” Because of this, Jerry got the last laugh.

While Parks and Recreation season 7 nearly ruined the series, it was a big year for Jerry. After retiring from the parks department, Jerry went on to be the Mayor of Pawnee. He went from being picked on after decades of service working for the government to being the leader of the town he loved so much. On top of a dream job for Jerry, he remained happily married surrounded by his grandchildren. Characters on Parks and Recreation had fitting endings, but none lived happily ever after more than Jerry.

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