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Series / Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

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Gomer Pyle (played by the comedian Jim Nabors) was the bumbling gas station attendant on The Andy Griffith Show. However, Gomer became so popular, he was eventually put right in his own spin-off. The series ran on CBS from 1964 to 1969, a total of 150 episodes in 5 seasons.

Here, Pyle enlists in the U.S. Marine Corps. Every episode has Pyle doing something crazy, mostly enraging his superior, Sergeant Vince Carter (Frank Sutton), who should not be confused with the basketball player of that name.


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Tropes:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Corporal Carol (played by comedian Carol Burnett) was a downplayed version of this for Gomer.
  • Ambulance Chaser: One episode revolves around Gomer being forced to go along with one of these guys, right up until he and Carter realize that the man their "lawyer" is trying to sue ends up being a major who is moving to the base. The man then has the gall to try and bill them, only for Carter and Pyle to beat him at his own game.
  • Armed Farces
  • Artistic License – Military: This is a sitcom, after all, and follows the Rule of Funny. Getting details of military life exactly right are of ... secondary importance.
    • Especially considering this was filmed during The Vietnam War. Gomer saw about as much front line action as Beetle Bailey did. The show's opening credits were filmed with actual Marines, many of whom never made it back home.
    • Gomer seemed to be perpetually in basic training, too. In real life, basic only lasted for 9 weeks during the Vietnam War.
      • Much of this was on purpose—the writers knew that reminding the viewers of the war would not only kill the show, but depress the audience. This show was meant to be a form of escapism for the viewer.
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  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Jim Nabors' Gomer Pyle was 6'1", as compared to Frank Sutton's Sgt. Carter, the little guy who was 5'8".
  • Breakout Character: Gomer Pyle broke from The Andy Griffith Show.
  • Casanova Wannabe: Both Sgt. Carter and Duke Slater.
  • The Cast Show Off: Jim Nabors was actually a talented singer, with a rich baritone voice. He demonstrated this by singing "The Impossible Dream" (from "Man of La Mancha") in the Season 4 episode, "The Show Must Go On".
  • Catch-Phrase: Gomer Pyle has a few of them.
    • "Well Goll-eee!"
    • "Shazayam!"
    • "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!"
    • Sgt. Carter would often say "Knock it off, Pyle!" whenever Gomer's ditziness got on his nerves.
  • Clever Crows: Maxine, the thieving crow in "The Crow Ganef."
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Gomer Pyle delves into this in some episodes.
  • Compliment Backfire: Sgt. Carter does not look happy when Pyle tells him, "You made me everything I am!"
  • Declining Promotion: Gomer's unit (all privates) are to take the Corporal's test. Gomer doesn't want to at first because "the Private is the backbone of the Marines" and he likes being the backbone.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Notably subverted by Sgt. Carter, Carter does shout a lot and is angry sometimes but he is kind at heart. And the troops respect him a lot more than they let on.
  • Epic Fail: The plots frequently revolve around Pyle's ability to turn even the simplest assignments into major crises, such as the time a simple errand into town ended up as a twenty-four-hour transatlantic odyssey. Although there are instances where things end up going right regardless such as the "simple errand" in which Gomer's trip overseas nets him a box of cigars of a much higher quality than he'd been sent to purchase, which really impressed Carter's guest.
  • Everythings Smellier With Skunks: In one of the first episodes, "Private Ralph Skunk," Gomer adopts a wild (and fully loaded) skunk. Oddly enough, the skunk doesn't spray anyone. It attacks neither Gomer nor Sgt. Carter's rival squad for Gomer to help Carter pass a bunks inspection in that episode.
  • The Fool: Gomer Pyle. Pretty much all of his early antics in the show revolve around this trope.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Gomer has a wonderful way with animals, and the trope is lampshaded angrily by Sgt. Carter from time to time.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The "massaging device" that Carter's old Korean War buddy gives him as a gag gift in the episode "My Buddy: War Hero". It doesn't even pretend to be subtle, and yet it made it onto TV, in a spinoff of The Andy Griffith Show, no less! The "radar" staff must have been drunk that day...
  • Heroic BSoD: In "Gomer Minds His Sergeant's Car," it's what Gomer experiences after he loses Sgt. Carter's car & finds it...only to see it under a wrecking ball that drops. Don't worry. The demolition company was kind enough to replace the automobile.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: In "Just Move Your Lips, Sergeant", Sgt. Carter insists on singing along with the other Marines whom he picked for a vocal ensemble. Unfortunately, their voices go sour when he starts to sing in their rehearsals, leading them to rehearse in secret, because his voice is too raspy. Sgt. Carter believes that one of the group is off-key, failing to recognize that his voice is the lemon. When Gomer suggests that he's not as good a singer as he thinks he is, he becomes so angry that he gets laryngitis from yelling at him, and the other Marines find a way for him to lip-sync without actually singing to cover for his hoarse voice.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Thanks to this, Gomer is often the target of very unscrupulous folks from time to time. Such folks include a mother-daughter bandit team, an owner of a Chinese food restaurant which is actually the leader of a gambling den, "Friendly Freddy" and more.
  • The Ingenue: Gomer Pyle is a male example, and Lou Ann Poovie is also one to a lesser extent.
  • Jewish Mother: In "A Little Chicken Soup Wouldn't Hurt," Molly Gordon befriends Gomer when she sees him eating a bag of peanuts and brings him over to her apartment, where he manages to sing a song in Yiddish with Molly who plays the piano. She urges him to sit down and eat, and offers him some of her leftovers, which he brings to the base, and the other Marines actually enjoy her food.
  • Large Ham: Carter, Again.
  • Loud Last Name: "PYYYYYLLEEEEE!!"
  • Love at First Sight: Subverted with Gomer in regards to Lou Ann. When they first met at the nightclub, Sgt. Carter and Duke Slater fell for her, but Gomer couldn't get past how awful a singer she was. Later in the series Gomer and Lou Ann become a couple.
  • Magic Feather: In "Grandpa Pyle's Good Luck Charm", Gomer participates in a tryout to see if any of the troops would have potential to be future sergeants or corporals, and his first attempt doesn't turn out too well. Gomer's Grandpa Otis, who is in town with his travel trailer, gives Gomer a chrome-plated "Excelsior" to help boost his confidence. Grandpa Pyle sees that Sgt. Carter is a little flabby and out of shape, so he convinces Sgt. Carter to give him another chance. Gomer is more successful the second time around; after Gomer gives the chrome-plated "Excelsior" back, his grandpa reveals that the "Excelsior" came from his refrigerator door, and Gomer's new-found confidence came from the heart with a little assertive encouragement.
  • The Masochism Tango: Though not married yet, Sgt. Carter and his girlfriend Bunny frequently have elements of this. They fight fairly often, but Sgt. Carter does believe Bunny may be the one for him.
  • The Napoleon: Carter is shorter than most of his men and is very easily angered, not to mention loud.
  • Noodle Incident: So how the heck did Gomer escape capture & end up in a dress at the end of "Gomer Pyle, POW"?
  • Oblivious to Love:
    • Gomer gets a lot of female admirers throughout the series (especially the first half), but most of the time his intentions with them are purely platonic.
    • In fact, this trope helps him greatly with the "Dragon Lady". Whereas the other Marines try to make a pass at her, Gomer treats her with respect.
  • On Second Thought: A frequent gag involves Sgt. Carter trying to get rid of Pyle only to find out the alternative is even worse:
    Carter: "Everyone not participating in the war games will be loading ammunition. This will require care and precision, because you will be working with bullets and high explosives and Pyle, I think you'd better come with me after all."
  • Peeling Potatoes: Weeks of K.P. were the very first punishment inflicted by Sergeant Carter on the laid-back Pyle, all the way back in the pilot episode. Which is totally lost on Pyle: "Goollee, Sarge, you're right! This IS fun!"
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The show's premise was established in an episode of The Andy Griffith Show itself, also titled "Gomer Pyle, USMC."
  • Required Spinoff Crossover:
    • Opie and Andy Taylor turn up in "Opie Joins the Marines," as do Aunt Bee in "A Visit from Aunt Bee" and Goober in "A Visit from Cousin Goober."
    • "Gomer Goes Home" has Gomer visiting Mayberry on furlough, only to find that the Taylors and Goober have gone out of town on a camping trip. (They do finally turn up... just as Gomer's returning bus is leaving town in the very last scene.)
  • Retcon: The first episode appears to ignore the events of the Andy Griffith Show pilot, as Sgt. Carter doesn't know who Gomer is despite becoming VERY familiar with him in that pilot episode.
  • Shout-Out: Gomer makes frequent reference to his friends from Mayberry, and characters from the earlier series make crossover appearances about once a season.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Gomer Pyle and Lou Ann Poovie can come off this way sometimes. This may be due to them both being suckers for the sentimental, Gomer moreso than Lou Ann.
  • The Slacker: Duke Slater as Sgt. Carter angrily points out.
  • Southern-Fried Private: Gomer, of course, is a quintessential example.
  • Spinoff
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Phil Silvers Show, with more antics and less zany schemes.
  • Tranquil Fury: Sgt. Carter usually got extra loud when he was angry, but if he got quiet, it meant he was really angry.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sgt. Carter and Gomer Pyle, with one-way vitriol from Carter.

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