Gary was a foreign exchange student from Finland who attended Greendale Community College back in the 2009-2010 semester. He was good friends with Shirley Bennett who seemed to be the only one on campus who enjoyed his company. The character of "Gary" is never seen onscreen but is discussed by the study group first in the Season One episode "Investigative Journalism" and later brought up again in "Pascal's Triangle Revisited".
In the study group's first year together at Greendale, Shirley had a classmate and friend named Gary . Raised in Finland and studying abroad, he was a humorless and boring person who preferred to wear loose-fitting jeans. Despite other people's reactions to Gary, Shirley staunchly defended him, excusing his behavior and attitude due to the fact that he came from a land without sun. When the study group was considering whether or not to let Buddy into the group, Shirley eagerly volunteered Gary as another possible candidate. However, he was loathed by the group and (ironically) was called by Britta a "buzz-kill". After the everyone agreed to allow Buddy to join them, he immediately quit and joined a more cooler study group. Annie expressed her disappointment at not having another study group member and Shirley quickly said that she would contact Gary ("Investigative Journalism").
At the end of the school year, a dance was held in honor of students who had completed their credits at Greendale and were moving on to other universities. Jeff and Annie were informed of the event by Dean Pelton and learned from him that Britta was been nominated as "Tranny Queen". They went to their study session in Group Study Room F and encouraged the rest of study group to attend. Shirley was excited about it and informed the everyone that Gary was one of those students who was transferring and would be attending the transfer formal. Upon hearing this news, the study group celebrates much to Shirley's chagrin. Annie was thought it was good to hear, Abed echoed that sentiment stating it was about time, Britta (who is an athiest) thanked God for this while Troy punctuated evryone's extreme dislike for Gary by stating that he wishes he was transferring to Hell. Shirley was stung by their reaction and hasn't said anything else about Gary since then ("Pascal's Triangle Revisited").
Gary exists on "Community" as an example of the popular trope the "Unseen character". This is someone referenced to and known by the main characters on the show but never actually seen onscreen. In other televison shows Norm's wife Vera in "Cheer's and Nile's wife Marris in "Frasier" were examples of this. On Community, Pierce's mom is another example. A few other characters on the show were mentioned often before they were properly introduced onscreen include:
- Pierce's father, Cornelius Hawthorne, was referenced first in the Season One episode "Introduction to Statistics", seen in a old Hawthorne Wipes commercial in the Season Two episode "Celebrity Pharmacology 212" and then properly introduced in the Season Three episode "Advanced Gay".
- Fat Neil was first mentioned by Jeff in the Season Two episode "Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design" and was properly introduced a few episodes later in "Asian Population Studies"
- Jeff's father, William Winger, was often mentioned by Jeff over the last few Seasons and is set to finally make an appearance in the Season Four episode "Cooperative Escapism in Familial Relations".