Piercinald Anastasia "Pierce" Hawthorne (portrayed by Chevy Chase) was a former moist towelette tycoon who was at one time the C.E.O of "Hawthorne Wipes". It was a company founded by his father, Cornelius Hawthorne which afforded Pierce a leisurely lifestyle. In his younger years, he lived it up, marrying seven times and accumulating over thirty step-children. However, later in life, he found himself alone and unhappy. In an attempt to cure his malaise, he started several hobbies including traveling the world, becoming a Toastmaster, performing magic, and playing the piano. In 1999 he returned to school to further expand his horizons and enrolled in Greendale Community College. He stayed for over a decade before finally graduating in 2013. In his final years at school, he joined a Spanish study group and despite a few rocky moments they became his longest lasting friendships. With their help, he coped with the death of both his parents, discovered that his father's assistant Gilbert Lawson was his half-brother and dealt with being fired as Hawthorne Wipes C.E.O by the board of directors. During this time he became an entrepreneur and invested his money in various business's. This included fellow study group member Shirley Bennet's sandwich shop in which he became a co-owner. Pierce passed away not long after he and the study group officially graduated from school. Before dying, he built a Gender Sensitivity and Sexual Potency museum on the Greendale campus and finalized his will.
Pierce's boorish and abrasive personality was a direct result of his upbringing. His life of luxury insulated him and made it hard for him to understand typical social norms. Adding to this was him being raised by his father Cornelius who passed on his racist and bigoted beliefs. This attitude he was raised on, coupled with his lack of tact, had gotten him into trouble as he constantly made outrageous statements unaware of how rude and offensive they were. His father was also emotionally abusive towards Pierce when he was a child, often undercutting him and making him feel worthless. In his adulthood, this led him to over exaggerate his abilities and competency in various areas. Pierce was also fairly gullible; this was evidenced in his participation with a religious movement known as "Reformed Neo Buddhism" that his friends and mother warned him was just a cult. As he was much older than most Greendale students, he experienced disorientation with youth culture. In order to fit in he tried to embrace it with little success, particularly technology. During his time with the study group, they attempted to change his behavior for the better with mixed results. Despite this, he would on occasion surprise his friends by offering support or some sage advice when they least expected it.
Pierce was invited to a Spanish Study group by Abed where he met Jeff, Britta, Troy, Annie, Shirley. He desperately tried to become best friends with Jeff but upon being rejected started a more adversarial relationship with him. After bragging about his musical abilities, Annie hired him to write Greendale's new school song. Pierce's "expertise" at identifying racial, ethnic and cultural stereotypes was called upon by Dean Pelton to create the school's politically correct mascot the Greendale Human Being. Over the semester, his relationship with the study group experienced some ups and downs. At one point, he humiliated Shirley after pulling a prank on her. He refused to apologize and was he kicked out of the group for it. Shirley left the group as well, feeling that she wasn't respected. Eventually he and Shirley reached an understanding after they helped Jeff and Britta deal with some obnoxious teenagers. The two returned to the group after realizing how much they were needed. Pierce also spent the semester romancing a fellow student as well as a a teacher. Despite help from Jeff, he was unable to form a familial bond with his ex-stepdaughter Amber. When Troy was kicked out of his house by his father, Pierce offered to let him stay at his mansion.
Pierce started the new year with Troy as his roommate. When Pierce's mother passed away he took her death in stride since he believed in the tenets of their religion which promised her eventual rebirth. He temporarily joined Leonard's group of Hipsters and started to become paranoid about being excluded from the study group's activities. His behavior became more erratic and unbearable after he suffered an injury and began to over medicating on pain pills. The group held a vote over whether or not to invite him back to the group next year which he accidentally walked in on. Pierce blamed Jeff for being left out of yet another group activity and took advantage of the annual paintball tournament to get revenge. He created a safe zone from the contest in the cafeteria called "Fort Hawthorne", and after reuniting with the group, secretly loaded Jeff's paintball pistol full of blanks. His friends confronted Pierce after learning of his betrayal and he quit the study group. After City College's involvement in the paintball contest is revealed, Pierce surprisingly became the savior of Greendale when he won the contest and the prize of $100,000. Afterwards he refused an offer from the study group to rejoin stating he was done with them.
Pierce spends the summer with his Buddhist sect and returns to the study group claiming to be a changed man. After learning that there is a market for Hawthorne Wipes products for the gay community, Pierce tries to begin marketing the product to them. This gets the attention of his father who disapproves of his decision. Jeff tries to stick up for Pierce but ends up causing Cornelius to have a heart attack, which he dies from. The Hawthorne Wipes board of directors remove Pierce as C.E.O. of the company. During a wake held in the cafeteria, he helps to incite a riot, which gets him and the study group kicked out of Greendale. He attends a reading of his father's will and learns that his father's personal assistant Gilbert Lawson is his half brother. He later takes part in an elaborate plan to save the Greendale and Dean Pelton from Ben Chang. After being reinstated at school, Pierce fights for sole ownership rights over the Sandwich shop business venture he started with Shirley. He enlists the legal aid of Alan Conner to help him while Jeff represents Shirley in the dispute. After a passionate speech, Jeff convinces Pierce to drop his case. Pierce then suggests that Jeff be named as a representative for his and Shirley's business venture.
Pierce and the study group return for their fourth year at school. While watching Jeff compete in the "Hunger Deans" he struggles to make a joke out of the contest. He attends the "Inspecticon" convention with Shirley and they end up participating in a focus group on an American version of "Inspector Spacetime". On Halloween, Pierce claims to be trapped inside his mansion's the panic room in order to lure the study group there. He tries to teach them a lesson about going to Vicki's party without him by pretending the mansion is haunted. Pierce's shenanigans ends up revealing that there actually is an unknown presence in his house in the form of his half-brother Gilbert. He is invited along with Abed, Annie and Troy to Shirley's Thanksgiving Day dinner with her in-laws. Pierce invites Jeff to an old fashioned barbershop and the two end up bonding over their mutual father issues. After 13 years at school, Pierce decides to finally graduate from Greendale in order to do so before Jeff does.
After the study group members graduated from Greendale they all went their separate ways. When Jeff returns to the school to research a case he is working on, the group shows up too. However, Pierce is conspicuously not there for the reunion although his absence is obliquely referenced. Feeling Greendale is responsible for how miserable all their lives have become, Jeff manipulates the study group into suing the school. Jeff is intent on pursuing the class action law suit until he gets a shocking surprise. He sees a hologram of Pierce which had been installed in front of the Library. It was put there as a small part of a sexual harassment lawsuit settlement Pierce was involved in. Although Pierce's prerecorded message is specifically about announcing a new campus Gender Sensitivity and Sexual Potency museum named after him, it serves to remind a Jeff about all that is good about Greendale. Jeff changes his mind and instead accepts a teaching position at school as a Law professor while the rest of the study group re-enrolls. Not long afterwards, the group learns about Pierce's death. They are then contacted by a man named Mr. Stone who is carrying out Pierce's will. Stone informs them that in order to be considered for a share of Pierce's fortune they must each submit to a polygraph test. After enduring the inquest, which exposes a few uncomfortable revelations about the study group, Stone delivers Pierce's final words to his friends. Each receives a canister of Pierce's sperm along with their personal bequeathals: He tells Britta to stop hating herself and gives her an iPod nano, Shirley is told that he always respected her and is given his time share in Florida, Annie is reminded she was always his favorite and is requeathed the tiara he tried to give her years ago, Jeff is told he is gay before receiving a fine bottle of scotch, Abed is told that he is crazy and Troy is praised as having "the heart of a hero". Troy is also awarded Pierce's share of Hawthorne Wipes valued at 14 million dollars. Troy is told in order to claim his bequeathal he must sail around the world, a task Pierce failed to do when asked by his father to earn his fortune. Later at a bar, Mr. Stone later revealed that Pierce died from dehydration from filling up those cylinders.
"Repilot": A hologram of Pierce imparts some final words of wisdom to a disillusioned Jeff.
"Cooperative Polygraphy": The instructions in Pierce's will is being carried out by a mysterious man named Mr.Stone. He gives his friends containers of his sperm, and gives Troy his remaining inheritance with the stipulation that he earn it by sailing across the world.
"Geothermal Escapism": In accordance with the instructions in Pierce's will, a sailboat called "The Childish Tycoon" arrive on campus for Troy's journey around the world. Already on board is Troy's co-captain LeVar Burton.
Pierce's place within the study group was best described by Abed as being the scapegoat. Much like Britta, he was a common target for the group to make fun of. In Pierce's case this was due to advanced age and his offensive opinions on race, religion and sex. These made him the perfect lightning rod for criticism and also diverted attention away from any other study group being mocked. Pierce himself believed his role in the group was to be the person willing to say or do what the others won't. His somewhat antagonistic role caused him to often be excluded from a number of group activities.
Pierce initially was as in awe of Jeff as the rest of the study group and tried repeatedly to become his best friend. He later became envious of Jeff's status in the group. He often claimed Jeff was gay and made many remarks about this. Despite this, Pierce showed that he did care about Jeff on several occasions when he would actually provide some useful insight or helpful advice. Pierce stipulated in his will that Jeff receive a bottle of Glencallan scotch, possibly as a reminder of the first class assignment they worked in together.
When Pierce first met Shirley he made unwanted advances towards her but eventually lost interest. They have had a strained relationship since then, with Shirley doing her best to ignore his inadvertently racist and sexist behavior. As the oldest members of the group they often found themselves left out of the younger members activities. In the study group's third year at school, Pierce and Shirley formed a business partnership and opened a Sandwich shop at Greendale.
Annie has a higher tolerance for Pierce's behavior than the rest of the study group. She does her best to look past his flaws to see the good person inside. Pierce appreciates this and has stated several times he considers her his favorite in the study group. He once helped her out financially, although he used the favor to guilt her into expanding a part he had in a play she wrote. Annie defended Pierce's increasingly antagonistic behavior in their second year. She is the only member of the group Pierce gave a legitimate bequeathal to when he faked that he was on his deathbed. When a vote was held on Pierce's membership in the group, Annie was the lone dissenter voting to keep him in.
Cornelius Hawthorne was Pierce's father. His emotional abuse of his son coupled with the racist dogma he instilled in him shaped the man Pierce would eventually become. Pierce continually tried to make his father proud throughout the years, trying desperately to win his affections. However, Cornelius refused to see any good in Pierce, cruelly mocking all his efforts. This even continued after his death when his will stipulated that his son compete in a video game to win his own inheritance. He programmed an avatar with his own personality to be as cruel and taunting to Pierce as he was in real life.
In the study groups first year together, Dr. Escodera was a Spanish professor hired to replace Ben Chang who had been fired for faking his teaching credentials. She was a strict and by-the-books educator who intended to administer a Spanish final exam that the class clearly was not prepared to take. Pierce somehow managed to woo Escodera before the exam and the two spent the night together. He convinced her to replace the original exam with a far easier one allowing everyone in the study group to pass the finals with no problems. Pierce later ran into her in the hallways and thanked her.
In the study groups second year together, Pierce met a fellow student at a Wine tasting class named Wu Mei. Pierce was immediately smitten and quickly proposed for the seventh time to Wu Mei. Jeff was convinced she had ulterior motives and investigated her background. He discovered she was really the heir to a moist towelette company who was the Chinese rival to Hawthorne Wipes. Jeff exposes her as a fraud during her and Pierce's engagement dinner ruining the celebration. However, Pierce informs Jeff he already knew this and was okay with her duplicity since he was just using her as well. Jeff makes amends by arranging her to go out with Pierce on an actual date so they could get to know each other for real.
Pierce had been going to Greendale for 13 years. Until the study group, he had never previously remained friends with any of his classmates for more than one semester.
Pierce represented Somalia in Annie's Model UN and considers it to be a "tropical paradise" based on its severely limited government, loose regulations, free trade policies, and lack of gun control.
Pierce liked gay jokes.
In the episode "Pillows and Blankets", a copy of his medical records says that his middle name was Cornelius instead of Anastasia, which is Chevy's birth first name. It also says he was born in 1943 which is the same year Chevy Chase was born in, making him 68 or 69.
Pierce followed the Barenaked Ladies (or BNL, as they are referred to in the show) for a period of time. This is shown in his politician bio in the season two episode "Intro to Political Science".