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Herbert Garrison (formerly known as Janet Garrison between his two sex changes), voiced by Trey Parker, is a recurring character in the South Park cartoon series. For the first eight seasons of the series, the character was known as Mr. Garrison but in season 9 underwent sex reassignment surgery. The character was thereafter known to the other characters as Mrs. Garrison, despite being unmarried. In the season 12 episode, "Eek, A Penis!", he undergoes yet another sex change operation. Garrison is particularly cynical, especially in comparison with the rest of South Park's adults, and he is one of the few characters to ever break the fourth wall on the show. He is also left handed.

Character history

Garrison grew up in Arkansas,[1] speaks with a Southern accent, and has a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Denver Community College (as seen in the episode "The Entity"). Mr. Garrison's sexuality is complex. During the entirety of the show he has had heterosexual and same-sex relationships, both as a man and woman. Across the series he displays a myriad of somewhat conflicting and ambiguous sexual identities, which he clings to exclusively for long periods of time. This may have some relation to the multiple personality disorder, which Mr. Garrison manifested in earlier seasons through Mr. Hat and Mr. Twig.

Garrison also revealed racist tendencies in many episodes. In the episode "Chef Goes Nanners", Mr. Hat, his puppet, was a member of the local Ku Klux Klan, which Mr. Garrison resented and insisted to Chef that he wanted nothing to do with. However, in the later episode "Here Comes the Neighborhood", he tries to get rid of the "richers" (who were all black) using Klan techniques, such as wearing their robes or burning crosses and reveals in his last line of the episode that his intentions were purely racist. On "Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo" and "It's Christmas in Canada", he suggests that the town get rid of all the Mexicans, but Mayor McDaniels repeatedly declines to do so. Exactly why he wishes to do this has not yet been explained. These are two examples of the many instances throughout the show's history where Mr Garrison has expressed contempt for the Mexicans.

In the early seasons, Garrison was portrayed as a closeted gay man and was ashamed and afraid to be open about it as a result of this. Mr. Garrison constantly held a puppet known as "Mr. Hat", which he used as a sort of second, more aggressive personality, as well as for emoting his internal conflicts. It was suggested that Mr. Hat (and subsequently Mr. Twig) were manners through which Mr. Garrison could express his repressed gay feelings. Though Garrison staunchly denied he was gay and tried to completely keep it a secret, he acknowledged that Mr. Hat and Mr. Twig had homosexual fantasies. It has been established that Garrison has had heterosexual relationships as a male, as with Liane Cartman (though Ms. Cartman is actually an intersex), with whom most of the town has had sex at some point.

For the first three seasons, Mr. Garrison was the third-grade teacher at South Park Elementary School. In the fourth season episode "Cartman Joins NAMBLA", Garrison solicited sex from a minor in an online chat room, and after meeting him near at South Park docks for sex (only then discovering then that it was his student, Eric Cartman), he was charged with soliciting and subsequently told by the school to take time off from his job. In his sabbatical, Garrison wrote a romance novel that he intended to be purely heterosexual in nature; entitled In the Valley of Penises, it contained 6,083 instances of the word "penis". Along with his other works, it sold well until he learned that it won the Gay Pulitzer Prize and was deemed to be "the best work of homo-erotic literature since Huckleberry Finn". At some point after that, Garrison had a nervous breakdown and fled South Park to become a hermit, where he eventually came to terms with his gay tendencies. At this point, he openly embraced his homosexuality, and informed everyone of this fact. He even went so far as to cheerfully proclaim himself a "fag" repeatedly to anyone he encountered. He was re-hired by South Park elementary, but as the kindergarten teacher, as his old job was then held by Ms. Choksondik. By the end of the sixth season, in the episode "The Death Camp of Tolerance", he was promoted to the fourth grade after the death of Ms. Choksondik. This was a move on the principal's part to avoid any semblance of sexual-orientation discrimination against him. However, when Garrison found that he could sue the school for substantial compensation if he were discriminated against, he attempted to be so offensive he would be fired. To that end, he abandoned his puppet counterpart in favor of a human assistant, "Mr. Slave", his personal BDSM slave and lover. He then proceeded to perform several sexually explicit homosexual acts in front of his students, including putting the class gerbil into Mr. Slave's rectum. His plan, however, did not succeed, and he was instead praised for being "courageous".

His changing sexual identities are a continual source of problems. Despite having come out, Garrison continued to be ashamed of it as part of his continual emotional and psychological problems. In "World Wide Recorder Concert", he also was in despair over the fact that his father had not sexually molested him as a boy, believing that he didn't love his son. Garrison Sr. considered having sex with his son in order to save his life, but he instead had recording artist Kenny G., whom Mr. Garrison thought was his father, sexually assault him. In "An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig" as well as "Jakovasaurs", it was implied that Mr. Garrison has practiced bestiality with Cartman's pig and a pigeon, respectively.

By season nine, Garrison transitioned from being a man to being a woman in "Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina", taking the identity of "Mrs. Janet Garrison." She was then rejected by Mr. Slave, who no longer found Mrs. Garrison appealing to him, as he is gay. During this period, Mrs. Garrison remains attracted to men, just as Mr. Garrison had been, although the attraction had technically become heterosexual because Mrs. Garrison was now a woman. However, in the season eleven episode D-Yikes, fed up with rejection by men, Garrison comes out as lesbian, and begins having relationships with women.

By Season 12 Garrison is frustrated with the sex change - seeing it as a bad mistake - and was suspended from teaching until she had learned how to cope with her situation without bothering her fourth graders with it continuously. Utilizing a penis grown on the back of a mouse, Garrison underwent surgery again and became, once again Mr. Garrison. Immediately following surgery, Garrison displayed the contempt for homosexuality that was one of his trademarks in the early shows.

As a teacher, Mr. Garrison is almost completely inept, regularly teaching bizarre and pointless lessons, such as showing Barnaby Jones videos to the class for eight days, asking the class why Chubby Checker left The Beatles in 1972 and teaching the students how to tell the difference between a prostitute and a police officer. On the other hand, he will occasionally teach the children advanced subjects such as theories on evolution, Stalin and Communism. Despite his cynical nature he appears to genuinely enjoy his job.

Garrison is occasionally used as the voice of the South Park creators. For instance, in the episode Trapper Keeper, a subplot involving electing class president in a kindergarten class that has obvious parallels to the United States Presidential Election of 2000 has a flustered Garrison accusing a team of kindergarteners led by Rosie O'Donnell of selective tolerance and disrespect for the will of the class in continually asking for the votes to be recount when clearly they had lost. In South Park is Gay, he voices his distress over the way gay culture has become mainstream, a sentiment the creators had picked up from fellow Team America: World Police producer Scott Rudin.[2]

Mrs. Garrison

In the ninth season premiere, "Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina", Garrison, unhappy with being a gay man, decides to become a transsexual woman. Following a vaginoplasty, Mr. Garrison becomes Mrs. Garrison. In the episode "D-Yikes!" it is revealed that she had adopted the first name "Janet". Despite also receiving breast implants, she continues to have male-pattern baldness and a masculine voice. She often asserts her femininity, though in a somewhat unfeminine manner, including male-bashing and open proclamations about her sexuality.

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Mrs. Garrison arguing with Mr. Slave and Big Gay Al

The gender transition leads to the end of her relationship with Mr. Slave, who had not been consulted before the operation, declines Mrs. Garrison's sexual overtures because of her current gender. Mrs. Garrison also realizes that there have been no menstrual periods after the sex change, leading her to believe that she is pregnant. While attempting to have an Abortion, Mrs. Garrison is told that a vaginoplasty does not result in the ability to have periods, pregnancies, or abortions, because sexual reassignment surgery does not include the creation of reproductive organs. She finally accepts his new gender after Kyle causes her testicles to explode during a basketball game, when they were used as kneecap implants that he put too much stress on. Like many veteran characters, she has appeared with less frequency following "Mr. Garrison's Fancy New Vagina", but was given an important role. In the episode "Follow That Egg!", he attempts to prevent legislation granting gay citizens the right to marry after discovering that her ex-lover, Mr. Slave, is planning to marry Big Gay Al.

In the episode "Go God Go", Mrs. Garrison was ordered by the school district to teach evolution to her class. Due to her personal aversion to the concept of evolution, she deliberately presents the theory in an extremely skewed light, and is subsequently replaced by another teacher, Richard Dawkins. Although Mrs. Garrison continues to inject snide and insulting remarks into Dawkins' lecture, Dawkins becomes drawn to Mrs. Garrison's masculine boldness and directness. He doesn't find out about Mrs. Garrison's gender history until later. They start to date and are even shown having sexual intercourse. Dawkins converts Mrs. Garrison to atheism, and they subsequently decide to eradicate all religion from the world. However, due to Mrs. Garrison's influence, there is also the belief that mere logic won't work, but one must be a "dick" about it, leading to wars about the answer to "The Great Question". During that same episode Cartman cryogenically freezes himself so he can skip the wait to purchase a Nintendo Wii in the future. When he finally wakes he discovers that he actually slept for 500 years, and that the entire world now embraces atheism.

In the following episode, "Go God Go XII", Cartman calls Mrs. Garrison's home from the future. Dawkins answers the phone while he and Mrs. Garrison are in the process of having relations, and in the course of asking to talk to Mrs. Garrison, Cartman reveals that she was previously a man. Dawkins flees from Mrs. Garrison's home in shock and disgust, effectively ending the relationship, and Mrs. Garrison returns to her own religion. It just so happens that Mrs. Garrison was the motivation that convinced Dawkins to teach atheism to the world, and now that they had broken up, the future changed again.

In the episode "D-Yikes", Mrs. Garrison starts to have lesbian relationships. After being dumped by an unnamed boyfriend, Garrison goes to the local "Curves" in a huff. It is there that she meets Allison, a lesbian who is quickly attracted to Garrison's "strong-woman" attitude. Garrison, unaware of Allison's sexual orientation or growing affection, unwittingly joins her at a lesbian bar. When Garrison discovers the truth, he is initially shocked and repulsed, but quickly becomes attracted to Allison and begins a sexual relationship with her. By the end of the episode, Garrison has had sexual relationships with at least two women as a woman himself, and is now openly lesbian.

In the episode "Eek! A Penis!", Janet becomes tired of being a woman and wants to become a man again. After seeing a news report on TV about genetically enhancing human body parts on mice, she pays all of her money to the laboratory to grow a penis on a mouse. The mouse escapes, and throughout the episode Janet looks around various places. But the penis eventually comes to him and Janet becomes a man again. He then proclaims that anyone who can't make babies is a dude, including infertile women. His sexuality has thus far been undefined- though in the following episode Over Logging he can be seen smoking a pipe and parading around in a red smoking jacket; ala Hugh Hefner, and this could indicate an attitude of 'straightness.'

Name history

Mr. Garrison was commonly known as "Mr. Garrison" without a first name until the episode "The Entity" where it was revealed as 'Herbert Garrison'. However, in the episode "Cherokee Hair Tampons" when he wrote his book "The Valley of the Penises", his name on the cover read as 'Ethan Garrison'. Beginning with the episode "D-Yikes!", Garrison goes by the name 'Janet Garrison'. In the episode "Eek, A Penis!" he receives a sex change and becomes a man again, re-introduced by Principal Victoria as "Mr. Garrison", but whether or not he has taken back the name "Herbert Garrison" is unknown.

Mr. Hat

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Mr. Hat initially appeared to be simply a puppet used by Mr. Garrison as a teaching aide; however it was soon apparent that Mr. Hat was actually somewhat different. Mr. Hat later appears to perform activities not possible if he were merely a puppet, and it is not entirely clear how much autonomy Mr. Hat and Mr. Garrison have from each other. In the episode "Chef Aid", Mr. Hat is able to drive a car through a prison wall to rescue Mr. Garrison and Chef (To which Chef replies, "How the Hell did he reach the gas pedal?"). Mr. Hat has been able to move his eyes at Mr. Garrison, and in a fictional crossover psychotherapy session with Dr. Katz (from another Comedy Central series) in "Summer Sucks", Katz suggests that Mr. Hat was a personification of Mr. Garrison's gay side. Garrison rejected this, and Katz was never able to counterpoint because he was killed shortly afterwards by a gigantic novelty firework. Further evidence of Hat's autonomy is in "Worldwide Recorder Concert", where Mr. Hat beats up Mr. Mackey, but also in the self-titled game where Mr. Hat owns, and runs, a robot factory by himself, or in "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut" when Satan picks up Mr. Hat as a companion to replace Saddam Hussein. Satan speaks Mr. Hat's lines in a voice very similar to Mr. Garrison's.

Mr. Hat is also a racist, as seen in "Chef Goes Nanners", where he is a member of the South Park branch of the Ku Klux Klan. Mr. Hat also appears to be somewhat psychotic; in "Weight Gain 4000", furious at Kathy Lee Gifford for a talent show he and Mr. Garrison had lost years ago, convinces Mr. Garrison to kill her, which he attempts to do. Again, whether this indicates that Mr. Hat is independent or if Mr. Garrison's own psychosis is simply projected to his puppet is impossible to say.

In the episode "Summer Sucks", we see Mr. Hat in the steam room, and when he is spoken to, he looks and blinks even though he is by himself.

Even though Mr. Hat was often used as a character device for Mr. Garrison's "gay side", Mr. Garrison retained use of Mr. Hat even after coming out as gay, during the period when both were seen to be teaching kindergarten. Mr. Hat is permanently abandoned in favor of Mr. Slave once Mr. Garrison begins teaching fourth grade, and has not been seen since except in the show's intro sequence (which employs a rapid amalgam of clips from previous episodes and seasons).

Mr. Hat is a parody of the character High Hat, a character used to teach children the alphabet and beginner's grammar. He appears in puppet form for teachers to use to illustrate the stories he appears in.[citation needed]

Mr. Twig

Template:South Park character Mr. Garrison temporarily replaced Mr. Hat with "Mr. Twig" (starting in the episode "Summer Sucks"), who consisted of a twig wearing a purple shirt with a pink triangle symbol. His voice was identical to Mr. Hat's until his final scene in "Chef Aid", where he spoke with a French accent. Mr. Twig was not well received by the children in Garrison's third grade class, who repeatedly called for the return of Mr. Hat and suggesting Mr. Twig would be better used as a coat rack, which Garrison took much offense to. Though Garrison constantly assured himself that Mr. Twig was a better choice than Mr. Hat, he came to terms with his attachment to Mr. Hat in "Chef Aid", upon being broken out of jail by him. Garrison got back with Mr. Hat after Mr. Twig advised him to follow his heart.


  1. Established in the episode "World Wide Recorder Concert".
  2. Commentary,South Park is Gay,

External links

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