Mayor Walter Gunderson (played by Bill Murray in the 7th season) is the former mayor (deceased as of Two Funerals) of Pawnee, Indiana. At the time of his death in 2017, he had been Mayor for 39 years.
Although he has been mentioned in multiple episodes of Parks and Recreation, he made his only appearance in the penultimate episode during his funeral, both as a corpse and a pre-recorded message played at his service.
The Mayor was first mentioned in "Sister City" when he was supposed to be at a photo op with delegates from the city's former sister city, Boraqua, Venezuela. He was again mentioned in "Christmas Scandal" when the Parks and Recreation Department held a satirical holiday skit full of inside jokes about Pawnee, and April Ludgate declared, "That's crazier than Mayor Gunderson's dog, Rufus." The Mayor and his dog played a major part in the episode "The Possum", when Mayor Gunderson's mayoral representative Evelyn Roushland ordered the Parks Department to capture a possum that bit Rufus on a Pawnee Municipal Golf Course. Andy Dwyer, who helps Leslie capture the possum, said at one point, "We're acting under direct orders from Mayor Gunderson's dog."
Season 7 Edit
The episode "Two Funerals" begins with the announcement that Mayor Gunderson had died. At the memorial, a video message that he had left for his mourners is played, in which he was genial but non-committal about his legacy. It is also revealed that he and Ethel Beavers had been lovers for 46 years, with Gunderson's wife Evelyn being aware of (and not bothered by) the situation.
Behind the Scenes Edit
For the funeral scene in the third season finale "Li'l Sebastian", Michael Schur said the writing staff considered killing off Mayor Gunderson, but they instead went with miniature horse Li'l Sebastian because it was decided having an animal die would be more appropriate and less morbid. Amy Poehler has stated she would love Bill Murray to play Mayor Gunderson and, during an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, jokingly announced she would pay him $250 if he played the role.
Murray eventually played the role in Season 7.