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Western Animation / Gary and Mike

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Gary and Mike is a 2001 Stop Motion animated comedy that aired on UPN, though has also been seen on MTV, Comedy Central, and Adult Swim. Interestingly, it was made by the same people who would later found the Laika company, who would go on to make the Coraline film adaptation, ParaNorman, and The Box Trolls among other works.

The story follows Gary, a rather nerdy fellow who's setting out on a roadtrip to follow the "Lewis and Clark trail", an apparent tradition in his family as they are descendants from Lewis himself. A fact his military-retired father makes very clear the importance of the trip and what would happen to Gary if something should happen to the SUV he's loaning him for the trip. Just as Gary is starting out of the neighborhood, his friend, Mike, a slacker and a playboy, is trying to avoid the wrath of Officer Dick, the father of a girl he just slept with. Gary picks him up and Mike decides to join him on the trip. However thanks to Mike's actions, the SUV gets stolen and stripped, along with their provisions. To apologize, Mike uses some of his money to buy a crappy but barely working convertible and they decide to blaze their own trail rather than face Gary's father. What follows is oddball misadventures as the duo make their way across the country with no particular destination, all the while being chased by Officer Dick.


Only 13 episodes were made of the series and it ended on a Cliffhanger.

Gary and Mike has the following tropes

  • Abusive Parents: Gary's father is somewhat stated to be one, his idea of celebrating Gary's 8th birthday was to take him to a pizza restaurant and re-enact The Deer Hunter.
  • The Alleged Car: The convertible the two buy. It's an old rust-bucket but surprisingly durable.
  • As You Know: Parodied in "Road Rage" when Mike keeps recapping events during the interview segments that viewers had just seen.
  • Badass Driver: Mike whose surprisingly good behind the wheel. Case in point,he managed to drive from Settle and Miami and back again within 48 hours.
  • Benevolent Boss: The manager of Corn Diggity Dog so much that Gary begins to regard him as a Parental Substitute.
  • Blatant Lies: Seeing how badly Gary fared in "New York, New York" alone, Mike deliberately lies about all the good times he had without him. He just says he got screwed.
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  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Mike has no idea who Officer Dick is. When confronted in "Phish Phry" and told what he's done (slept with his daughter, ruined his life and career, etc.), Mike says that doesn't remotely narrow it down.
  • Butt-Monkey: Gary often gets the worst of it. "New York, New York" might be the apex; he suffers various injuries and indignities, largely because of Mike. When they split up, Mike enjoys all sorts of success on his own, while Gary winds up in the sewer with the mole people.
  • Cliffhanger / Left Hanging: The final episode "Crisscross" ends on this note with the duo framed for murder and cornered by the police, Officer Dick and Gary's father. Having nothing left to lose, the duo drive off an incomplete highway ala Thelma & Louise.
  • Cult: Mike winds up joining one in the eighth episode.
  • The Drifter: Gary expresses annoyance in "Washington D.C." about actually not doing this. He says he and Mike just drive around aimlessly and never accomplish anything; he wonders if they'll be doing this when they're elderly seniors. They end up becoming staffers for Senator Bilson and end up accidentally ruining his career, as well as his chief of staff's.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Gary's father, no wonder he's afraid of him.
  • Evil Laugh: Parodied in "Corn Ugly Dog" with the Corrupt Corporate Executive.
  • Flashback:
    • "Phish Phry" features some of Mike's "greatest hits": convincing young Gary not to call the fire department about a house fire (on the grounds they'll be heroes for putting it out themselves), taking a ride to a cabin from a stranger offering him candy and video games, and suggesting the road trip in the first episode. The episode also features Gary recalling his father reenacting The Deer Hunter during his eighth birthday party.
    • Mike remembers in "Road Rage" the last time he saw his brother: fighting and threatening to kill each other. Mike then says it was Christmas.
  • Freudian Excuse: Mike's parents are shown to be passed out drunks and stoners, even when he was in high school. It explains why he's always been getting into trouble and slacking off.
  • Generation Xerox: Gary tries to be a Nice Guy parent and husband to the family from "Phish Phry" and fails miserably. In the face of mockery, he starts asserting himself in a crazy, loud fashion. After a while, he realizes he's acting exactly like his father and is horrified. He wonders if this means he's too damaged to ever have a normal family life; Mike reassures him that's not the case and that this particular family would make anyone crazy.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: "New York, New York" starts off as a How We Got Here covering the misadventures in the city. Then, after catching up to the opening scene, it becomes a Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure, as the duo splits up.
  • Hate Sink: Gary's father. Gary hates him, but at least feels some loyalty to his dad, so he gets him a birthday gift and tries to save his life. That's as good as it gets, though. When the old man is targeted for murder, Mike says he doesn't think that would be the worst outcome. It's also made pretty clear that Gary's mom has been secretly poisoning the guy for years.
  • Hope Spot: In the final episode "Crisscross", Officer Dick appears to have let go of his pursuit for Mike and succeed in getting back together with his wife. But near the end of the episode, when they drive pass Mike, Dick's obsession come back up again, and chase after him. Leaving his wife angry and leave him again.
  • How We Got Here: "New York, New York" opens with the guys hiding out in a dumpster from people looking to beat them up. We then flash back to earlier in the day to see how they got to this point.
  • Jerkass: Damn near everyone Gary and Mike run into who either try to take advantage of them or at worse, try to kill them.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude: At the end of "Washington D.C.", Senator Bilson's chief of staff is mistaken for a man due to her short hair, and that Bilson is in a gay relationship with "him".
  • Ladykiller in Love: Mike has an affair with a Supreme Court justice and becomes lovesick. She's embarrassed by what happened and tells a Secret Service agent to keep Mike away from her.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Gary's father does this in the final episode when he see Gary and Mike driving along a Gay Pride Parade waving a flag that's sporting his unit. In truth, the flag was meant as a birthday gift and Gary was trying to dry the flag out after Mike spilled some slushie on it. They just wound up on the parade route by accident. Didn't help that Gary had taken off his shirt while trying to dry it out.
  • Mushroom Samba: Gary has one in the third episode after rejecting a pot-brownie only to subsequently drink from a flask of "Electric Punch" spiked with acid. Likewise with Officer Dick.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Gary's attempt to return a dropped purse in "New York, New York" gets him accused of being a mugger and much worse. Conversely, Mike returns a blind man's wallet and is rewarded with $100 as thanks.
  • Only Sane Man: Gary
  • Police Are Useless: In New York, the car is stolen, and Mike suggests getting help from the city's finest. The police proceed to interrogate them about why they stole the car. Gary has to remind the officers that they're reporting their car stolen, not confessing to stealing one.
    Officer: Go ahead, boys. Pull your pants back up.
  • Raging Stiffie: Gary gets one while forced to sleep between two male cult members.
    Gary: God, I hope that's my inhaler.
  • Really Gets Around: Mike
  • Road Trip Plot: Pretty much the main premise of the series.
  • Secret Test of Character: Integral part of the secondary plot in "The Furry Duffel", the second episode.
  • Serious Business: The subplot of "The Furry Duffel" is Mike competing in a hands on a car contest. His main rival is a local celebrity for winning these contests and devotes his life to them; a woman also endured serious health problems just to have a shot at winning. Gary gets progressively more intense about possibly winning, yelling at and insulting everyone around him (even Gary). When he thinks he could become just as obsessive and intense as his main rival, he forfeits. He admits in his narration that he gets into these contests to get Gary off his back about getting a job, but this time clearly scared him.
  • Shout-Out: The mole people chant "One of us! One of us!"
  • Sibling Rivalry: Mike has a big brother, Ben, and they've always had a rocky relationship. Mike has always overshadowed him, to the point of Ben being known only as "Mike Bonner's brother." Ben lied to his new friends on Road Rage, taking credit for Mike's various escapades and attributing his own faults (such as a fear of flying) to him. When Mike finds out, he decides to steal Ben's new friends as payback, but he ends up feeling guilty and tries to make him look like the big hero.
  • Stern Chase: Officer Dick, though he always falls short of catching the duo.
  • Til Murder Do Us Part: In the last episode, Gary's father is poisoned with a massive doss of strychnine but survives. A doctor is amazed and says it's as if he somehow built up a tolerance from being slowly poisoned by the stuff for years.
    Gary's mom: [eyes darting around] Well, I wonder who would do such a thing. [hums insincerely]
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: The third episode sees Gary getting married to a hippie with three kids after swallowing 4 hits of acid.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Corn Ugly Dog" is book-ended by the Barenaked Ladies telling the story of how Gary and Mike saved Corn Diggity Dog from going out of business.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: "Crisscross" to (of course) Strangers on a Train. With the car in need of repairs, Gary and Mike get a ride from Jared Wexler (voiced by Tim Curry). While sharing drinks, Gary gets drunk and talks about how much he dislikes his father, sometimes to the point of wanting to kill him. Jared says he feels the same about his wife, Vanessa, and suggests they take care of the other's problem. Gary doesn't remember any of this after sobering up, but then Jared's wife dies in an accident. After attending the funeral and figuring out what Jared meant, Gary realizes he has to protect his father.
  • With Friends Like These...: A recurring theme is Mike constantly getting Gary into all kinds of trouble and frustration. They are lifelong friends, but Mike's antics easily get on Gary's nerves, and they've fought over it. For what it's worth, Mike protected Gary from bullies when they were in school. And Mike has show time and time again that he truly does care for Gary.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Gary spends "Shotgun Wedding" investigating Beth's would-be groom, as if this were an old detective show. Everything he finds suggests the guy is a drug dealer who faked his death, so Gary exposes him at the wedding. It turns out the guy is an undercover federal agent working on an eight-year assignment, and Gary just botched it.