‘Parks and Recreation’: Fans Are Convinced Jerry Gergich Is a Cult Leader

Parks and Recreation is a quirky sitcom with memorable characters portrayed by a great cast. Since the show has ended, fans have a few theories about the workers in the parks department.

Some of these theories are far-fetched, but some could likely be true. Mental Floss has gathered some of these speculations, one of which being that Jerry Gergich, the bumbling worker who is the butt of everyone’s jokes, was once a cult leader. This theory may be one of the more realistic ones, and here’s why. 

What is ‘Parks and Recreation’ about?

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The show Parks and Recreation, created by Michael Schur and Greg Daniels, creator of The Office, aired on NBC in 2009 and ran for seven seasons. The award-winning show is about a variety of characters working in the parks department in Pawnee, Indiana, and their everyday antics.

It mostly centers around Leslie Knope, portrayed by Amy Poehler. Leslie is an optimistic and perky mid-level bureaucrat in the parks department and her co-workers, who are also her friends. Leslie often struggles with making the town a better place.

In the first episode, viewers see how much Leslie loves her city and what her job entails. During a town meeting, Leslie listens to the disgruntled townspeople and their sometimes obnoxious issues.

However, Leslie’s smile never falters. When nurse Anne Perkins steps up to the mic to complain about a construction pit behind her house, Leslie makes it her mission to fill in the pit and have a park built. Throughout the show, Leslie works to keep her promise.

Who is Jerry Gergich?

The character of Jerry Gergich, portrayed by Jim O’Heir, is a calm mannered man who is often ridiculed by his co-workers. They always make fun of him and are dismissive of Jerry.

In the first few seasons, this mistreatment frustrates Jerry, however, as the show progresses, he becomes more forgiving and accepting of it. While at work, Jerry is clumsy and airheaded.

Throughout the show, the other characters change his name a few times, calling him Larry, Barry, and Garry. Season four reveals that his real name is Gerald.

On his first day of work, the old director got Jerry’s name wrong, and he never corrected the director. However, He is also a lovable oaf who has a gorgeous wife and three daughters.

Nonetheless, his co-workers are often baffled at how Jerry was able to convince Gayle, his wife, to marry him. In season five, when Jerry retires, Leslie visits him at home. Leslie witnesses the real Jerry, a family man who is adored by his wife and daughters. Jerry isn’t clumsy at all and is agile, as he catches a falling mug. He can also play the piano and is a fantastic painter.

In the final season, Jerry becomes mayor and is such a great mayor, that he was elected several more times.

Why fans think Jerry was a cult leader

Jim O'Heir and Christie Brinkley
Christie Brinkley as Gayle, and Jim O’Heir as Jerry Gergich on NBC’s Parks and Recreation. | Danny Feld/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

One fan on Reddit posted why Jerry may have been the original leader of the local cult, the Reasonabilists. They believe that “Zorp,” a lizard god that is coming to destroy the world.

The cult is introduced in season four, episode six, and every year they hold a vigil in a park for the end of the world. The cult was founded in the 1970s. During this time, Jerry would have been in his 20s and looking to start his government career.

Fans point out that in the episode in which Jerry retires, he mentions all the career goals he had in mind. Some of which include becoming friends with influential people and leaving a lasting impression on the town by having a building named after him. Perhaps Jerry thought the cult would help him achieve some of these goals.

Also, Jerry’s clumsiness only happens while he is at work. Some speculate that this is to distract his co-workers from finding out who Jerry actually is. He has a way with people and is loved by the town since he is re-elected to be mayor multiple times. So, it is possible he was a cult leader.