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Gomer Pyle was the simple-minded gas station attendant and later auto mechanic in the American TV sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, played for 27 episodes by Jim Nabors in 1962-1964.[1] After two years of portraying Gomer on The Andy Griffith Show, in 1964 Nabors continued the character in his own starring vehicle, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.,[2] which ran until 1969.

Gomer Pyle was a good-natured, naive country-boy. He originally lived in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, and worked at Wally's Filling Station (the town's service station) where he took up residence in the back room. Wide-eyed and slack jawed, Gomer provided much of the comic relief during his two-year stint on The Andy Griffith Show. He was often awestruck by the simplest of things, resulting in the exclamation of his catchphrases, "Shazam!", "Gaaw-aawl-ly" and "Surprise, surprise, surprise!".

Originally employed as little more than an attendant, Gomer knew very little about the workings of cars (in "The Great Filling Station Robbery", he thought a carburetor was a hood ornament). He later became quite a skilled mechanic with a full knowledge of automobiles, perhaps due to training from his boss, Wally, or his cousin Goober (later played by George Lindsey). Gomer was usually seen sporting a ball cap with an upturned bill and his service station uniform with an ever-present handkerchief dangling from his back pocket.

Gomer was sometimes deputized by Deputy Barney Fife when additional assistance was needed to keep law and order in Mayberry. Though always compliant, Gomer's ineptitude usually made him more of a hindrance than a help in the line of duty. However, in the eyes of his friends, especially Sheriff Andy Taylor, his shortcomings were generally outweighed by his sweet temperament.

Gomer eventually left Mayberry to join the United States Marine Corps, as seen on the spin-off series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., where his countrified, backward nature served as the keystone for the show's humor, making him a comic foil to the hard-nosed drill instructor, Sgt. Vince Carter, played by the late Frank Sutton.

On one of his dates, he said his name was Homer with a G and Pile with a Y.

Gomer eventually returned, along with most of the original cast of The Andy Griffith Show, in the 1986 television movie Return to Mayberry. Gomer and Goober Pyle end up running a gas station/car repair shop called "G & G Filling Station".

Jim Nabors briefly reprised his role in Cannonball Run II, under the name Homer Lyle.

On a episode of The Lucy Show "Lucy Gets Drafted"-Nabors has a cameo role as "Gomer Pyle".

Cultural references

Gomer Pyle is U.S.M.C. slang for a recruit who continually messes up or needs extra training.[3] However, since Gomer received his name well before the spinoff, this meaning was presumably not intended when the writers created the character. "Gomer" is also a Hebrew name meaning "standing for the whole family." As a denizen of the Bible Belt, Gomer was perhaps named after the biblical figure, the eldest son of Japheth.

The San Antonio, Texas neighborhood of Oak Hills Terrace consists of names of streets acquired from a TV Guide of the era the neighborhood was established; one of the streets in the neighborhood is named Gomer Pyle.

During the Vietnam War, North Vietnamese jet pilots were derisively referred to as Gomers by their American pilot counterparts, particularly in dogfights.

In Stanley Kubrick's film Full Metal Jacket,GySgt. Hartman calls Pvt. Lawrence "Gomer Pyle".

Sometime in the 1960s, the normally operatic Jim Nabors recorded an entire LP of songs sung in character, entitled Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

An audio clip including Gomer Pyle saying, "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" is one of the many TV samples used on the Pink Floyd album The Wall, during the song "Nobody Home".

In an episode of M*A*S*H ("Temporary Duty), George Lindsey plays a doctor that acts and talks similar to Gomer.

Jim Nabors appears in The Muppet Show (Episode Six of Season One) and references his character Gomer Pyle.[4]

In the Futurama episode "Roswell That Ends Well", Philip J. Fry's "grandfather" is a homage to Gomer Pyle, USMC, serving in Roswell, New Mexico.

On The Simpsons, in the episode "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes," Homer flashes back to watching Gomer Pyle as he mourns the loss of his couch. In "Bart Gets an Elephant", Homer is cleaning out the basement, finds an old TV Guide, and imagines Pyle and Carter repeating their respective catch phrases "Shazam!" and "PY-Y-YLE!".

In the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles episode "Goodbye to All That," at the military academy where John Connor and Derek Reese went on an undercover mission, a goofy cadet that John assists at the shooting range and who is also part of his training unit is named Pyle. The fact that the writers named this character as a tribute to Gomer Pyle was confirmed on the show's blog.[5]

In Forrest Gump Forrest is watching Gomer Pyle while recuperating from his wound in a military hospital.[6][7]

A popular Army cadence uses the line "Got me looking like Gomer Pyle" while highlighting complaints about adjusting to life in the U.S. Army.

In the 2008 video game, Call of Duty 5: World at War, A soldier in the first level is named Pvt. Pyle but has his throat slit by a Japanese Officer.

Notes

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