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Gopher is the only character in the original shorts that is an original character and not based on someone from the A.A. Milne books, a fact he notes in his first appearance when he says "I'm not in the book, you know!" Instead, he was initially developed by Disney as a replacement for Piglet. Apparently, the proposed character of Gopher was thought to have a more "folksy, all-American, grass-roots image" than Piglet. While American audiences loved the character, British audiences were less than pleased. Like most Pooh Bear characters, he's named after his own species.
Gopher is also known for his unique voice characterization. He tends to whistle his consonants, particularly his S's. This is lampshaded in his debut; when Pooh mimics Gopher while asking for honey, Gopher tells Pooh he should do something about his speech impediment.
Gopher has a very plain personality; he is rarely seen outside his burrow, so not much is known about him socially. He is generally a hard-worker, especially in his mine shafts (tunnels) and spends most of his time tediously working on them. Despite his low social life, Gopher is not a silent character, while talking to the other animals he has a habit of whistling out his sibilant consonants.
Gopher first appears in the featurette Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree. When Owl discovers that Pooh has become stuck in Rabbit's door, he asks Gopher, who is a self-proclaimed expert in excavation, to assist in removing Pooh. Gopher introduces himself, explaining that he "is not in the book." Gopher notes that the project is dangerous, and could take a few days. He offers to use dynamite but is refused, and so Gopher leaves, but falls down his own hole.
Later on that night, Gopher reappears, intent on eating his midnight snack. Gopher notes that he goes home for lunch, and produces his lunch box. He reveals that the contents include summer squash, salmon salad, succotash, spiced custard, and finally, honey. Pooh asks Gopher for a taste of the honey, to which Gopher agrees. But before Pooh can help himself, Rabbit interferes and confiscates the honey and places a sign on the ground that says, "Don't feed the bear." Gopher goes angry, and leaves in a huff, resulting in him falling down his own hole again.
When Pooh finally gets thin enough to be pulled out, Gopher joins all the other characters on helping to pull Pooh out by taking one of Roo's arms (who was in front of him), but he and Roo were pulling too hard, and cause Eeyore's tail (which Roo was pulling on) to fall off, resulting in Gopher falling down his own hole for the third time. He later emerges again, noting that Pooh, who was finally shot out from Rabbit's role, is about to fly out of the book, and urges the book to turn the page, which it does, resulting in Pooh landing in the Honey Tree's hole.
In Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, Gopher makes a minor appearance at the beginning. He notes to Pooh that it is "Winds-Day", inspiring Pooh to go and wish all his friends a Happy Winds-Day. He appears again at the end, when the main characters are cheering for Pooh and Piglet by bouncing them up and down with a sheet, above Gopher's hole. Gopher pops out, wondering what the commotion was about, when Pooh and Piglet accidentally land on him, sending him down his hole (again).
In The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Gopher's character has a very prominent role, appearing in over half the episodes. He is shown to be a bit of a workaholic and is obsessed with dynamite. His various conflicts often Rabbit, as Gopher's various plans often take place underneath Rabbit's garden.
In the episode "Fish Out of Water", Gopher is forced to move in with Rabbit temporarily after a fish migration takes over his tunnels.
In the episode "Lights Out", Rabbit secretly borrows Gopher's helmet. Gopher becomes scared of the dark, and whenever someone says 'Dark', he freaks out, but he soon conquers his fear and helps Piglet find the others in the tunnel.
One of Gopher's most notable episodes was "Pooh Skies", in which Pooh has "broken" the sky. Pooh and the others move in with Gopher to protect themselves from the fallen sky. Gopher, unhappy with the idea, helps Pooh to go up to the sky and successfully "fix" it.
In the episode "Sham Pooh", Pooh lost his appetite and Owl thinks that Pooh is missing. So, Gopher switched places with Owl after Owl switches places with Pooh. Although, when he tries to fly, he ended up falling down.
In "Winnie the Pooh and Christmas Too", Gopher helps Rabbit, Tigger, and Eeyore in choosing a Christmas Tree. He does so reluctantly, as he apparently hibernates during the winter (and so Tigger has to wake him up using a loud alarm clock).
Gopher, with a similar design to his portrayal in the New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, makes a cameo appearance in the episode "Terminal Pete". He plays a prominent role as a destructive pest that Pete's daughter, Pistol adopts as a pet. In this appearance, Gopher does not speak and only makes animal noises as an actual gopher does. The cameo appearance was subtly acknowledged by the writers as the character is referred to as "Gopher" throughout the episode.
Gopher makes an appearance and one of the last in Thanksgiving Special Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving. Gopher is first seen peeking out of his home-hole to see Pooh sing his Thanksgiving song. He later is seen bringing a barrel of lemonade for Thanksgiving dinner along with Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, and Owl. Gopher is also seen later on following Rabbit's "proper" plans for Thanksgiving dinner. He makes the pumpkin pie (utilizing dynamite).
Gopher makes minor appearances in the 2002 Christmas special-feature A Very Merry Pooh Year. He only has three lines. To date, this is Gopher's last appearance in the Winnie the Pooh films and specials as he only appears in flashbacks in the was-coming movies (Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie).
Gopher has sometimes made cameo appearances as one of the guests at the club. He helps Mickey by stopping Goofy ruining Max's date in the episode "Max's Embarrassing Date". He digs underneath the club, so Goofy falls in it. Mickey jokingly says that there are probably termites in the club to which Gopher jokingly replies: "Well, I'm an awfully big termite."
Gopher is a resident of the 100 Acre Wood and a friend of Pooh. Though the 100 Acre Wood appears in previous games, Gopher does not appear until Kingdom Hearts II. This makes him one of only two Pooh characters in Kingdom Hearts II that do not appear in the first Kingdom Hearts game, the other being Kanga.
Gopher has a minor role in the 100 Acre Wood's storyline. He appears three times, the first at Piglet's House warning Pooh of "Windsday" (as he did in Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day). His second appearance is at the Spooky Cave helping Sora search for Pooh. His final appearance is at Starry Hill saying goodbye to Sora.
He is also part of the Hunny Slider mini-game, serving as a buffer between Pooh and various obstacles.
Gopher appears as an audio-animatronic in the dark attraction. He can be seen during the Blustery Day section telling Pooh that it's Windsday. In the Magic Kingdom version, Gopher can be seen in Rabbit's garden popping out of his holes.
Gopher's lack of roles in future films such as the 2011 film could be due to Disney's intention to adapt A.A. Milne's stories more closely (Gopher was to appear in the stories but was turned down, hence his "I'm not in the book" comment in Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree).
Kingdom Hearts III ended the 13-year-long absence of Gopher since Pooh's Heffalump Halloween. Notably, the character appears alongside Lumpy, marking the first time that the two have been seen together within the Pooh franchise.
Gopher's design is actually a modified Mr. Busy the beaver from Lady and the Tramp, and he even has the same accent. When Gopher talks about the possibility of using dynamite in Honey Tree, some animation of the Beaver is reused for this.
In My Friends Tigger and Pooh, Tigger asked Beaver (who was designed after both Gopher and Mr. Busy) to guess a password believing he wouldn't know. He guessed it correctly and Tigger responded by sadly saying, "I miss Gopher."
According to the Little Golden Book Winnie the Pooh Meets Gopher, his full name is Samuel J. Gopher. Also in the book, Gopher is colored brown rather than gray.
Gopher didn't make an appearance in Christopher Robin, despite being a sequel to the animated franchise. This could be due to his hard-working nature, which would be against the film's message of spending more time with family and friends instead of working, to stay more true to the books, or because gophers aren't native to England.
On May 14, 2019, there was a rumor that made fans think that Gopher would star in a live-action film of the same name.