He is a domesticated house pet with similar mannerisms to a cat, most notably his "meow," but has royal blood, as seen in the episode "Rule of Dumb." In the latter, the royal family tree proves that Gary and Patrick are cousins, as their fathers were brothers. His mannerism and affinity for the finer things in life in previous episodes foreshadows his royal blood, with the only exception being his dislike for baths.
Gary is a sea snail with a pink shell which depicts purplish-dark blue spots and a red spiral. He has eye antennas that hold together his mustard yellow eyes with orangish-red pupils. The sides of his body are light blue and his belly is green. As such, he is typically known to create trails of slime when crawling.
In many episodes, it has been indicated that Gary has great intelligence (at least for a snail). In "The Secret Box," Gary responds to SpongeBob's question with "Meow-no." SpongeBob does not think much of it and replies "Aww, what do you know? You're a snail!" SpongeBob does not recognize it as special, perhaps meaning that it was not the first time that Gary spoke. In The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, the Bikini Bottomites are chanting "All hail Plankton," while Gary chanted monotonously "Meow, Plankton." In "Jellyfish Hunter," it is revealed that he pays the electric bill. He may even be more intelligent than all the main characters (excluding Plankton and Sandy), which is hinted to in "Sleepy Time," where Gary speaks in his dream (that SpongeBob was rudely interrupting) and sounds very old and wise.
Talents and abilities
In the episode "Tutor Sauce," Gary is shown to be a good driver, as he is able to drive a Boatmobile through the most dangerous road in Bikini Bottom with no issue whatsoever (except the cops stopping the boat). He had an extensive library, which is a possible metaphor for intelligence. This is not true in early episodes, where Gary acted no more mature than a real animal, but this could perhaps be a plot device initially seeking to mollify the viewer with the basic description and behavioral traits of a simple house cat only later going on to disclose a wealth of rich cultural and intellectual traits.
Gary plays a minor role in the episode "Atlantis SquarePantis;" he appears wearing a party hat and blowing on a paper horn. Gary is also a very good musician, although he is not part of Squidward's band in the episode "Band Geeks" despite all the other main characters being in it. In "The Paper," he plays Squidward's clarinet very well, and Squidward gets confused. In "Procrastination," Gary plays the trumpet. In "Something Smells," Gary plays the violin to make SpongeBob cry while chopping onions because the latter told him to.
In "Once Bitten," Squidward makes many anti-snail wooden logs. A log somehow gets inside Gary's foot and he gets a splinter. Gary goes out of control because the splinter or log is uncontrollably painful; Squidward is the first to get bitten.
"The Thing" reveals that Gary attacked Squidward violently. When Squidward turned into the thing, Gary violently attacked Squidward again.
In "Patty Caper," when SpongeBob blames Gary for supposedly stealing the secret ingredient to the Krabby Patty, Gary describes another suspect—Squidward, and, based on the picture Patrick had drawn of him, Gary must think Squidward is very ugly. However, it is possible that Patrick is just not a good sketch artist.
In "Little Yellow Book," he bites Squidward's tentacle because he was saying the horrible words to SpongeBob, his owner.
Also to illustrate Gary's antagonism toward Squidward, in "I Was a Teenage Gary," when SpongeBob answers the door, to Squidward, holding Gary, the latter hisses at him.
Despite his disliking for Squidward, there have been several peaceful moments between the two, such as "Giant Squidward" and "Nature Pants."
Gary has arms, as seen in "Have You Seen This Snail?," "The Gift of Gum," and "Grooming Gary."
In the Croatian dub, his name is "Slavko."
According to "Gary Takes a Bath," "Rock-a-Bye Bivalve," and "Pet Sitter Pat," Gary can read because in the former he is seen reading the newspaper, and in the second of the three he is seen reading a book called Snail Jokes. He also reads a book called Snail Tails to Patrick at the end of the latter, although due to Gary's lack of English, Patrick could not understand him.
Gary has many things hidden under his shell: a house, SpongeBob's Krabby Patty T-shirt, a record player, a diamond, and many other pieces of junk.
In "A Pal for Gary," SpongeBob calls him "Gerald," meaning that Gary is likely a nickname.
In the pilot episode, "Help Wanted," Gary's pupils are small red dots and his meow is much squeakier.
In "Plankton's Pet," SpongeBob reveals he adopted Gary at an animal shelter. "Treats!" supports this, but "Have You Seen This Snail?" contradicts the continuity.
In the online game Snail Bob 2, Gary appears on a sign as a gag. It is labeled "Cousin Gary," implying that Gary and Snail Bob are related.
According to a variety of episodes, Gary may be compared to a cat. His usual way of speech is by saying "Meow." In "A Pal for Gary," in the part where the Nudibranch Seller shows a portrait of a cat near a Nudibranch and later on shows Puffy Fluffy violently reacting to Gary may be a hint to the fact that the latter has a resemblance to a cat. As first seen in "Dumped," Gary purrs like a cat.