For what? For a little bit of money. There's more to life than a little money, you know. Don'tchya know that? And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day. Well, I just don't understand it.
~ Marge Gunderson to Gaear Grimsrud.

Marge Gunderson was the Chief of Police in Brainerd, Minnesota in 1987 and the main protagonist of the critically acclaimed 1996 movie "Fargo".

She is portrayed by Frances McDormand, (wife of the film's director Joel Coen) who won an Oscar for her performance.


Little is known about Marge's early life. She was born Marge Olmstead in 1963 and attended high school with Mike Yanagita. Marge is married to Norm Gunderson and became pregnant with her first child in 1986. In early 1987, Marge investigated a triple homicide outside of Brainerd, Minnesota and later discovered that car salesman Jerry Lundegaard is behind it, having hired hitmen Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsrud to kidnap his wife, but the plan went horribly awry. Marge later uses a tip to track their stolen car down on Moose Lake. She arrives only to find that Gaear has killed Carl and is shredding up his body in a woodchipper. Gaear tries to run away onto the frozen lake, forcing Marge to shoot him in the leg and arrest him, having gotten too greedy.  Jerry tries to flee town and is later arrested by the state police at a motel outside Bismarck, North Dakota. When it's all said and done, seven people are dead as a result of Lundegaard's recklessness. That night, Marge and her husband, Norm sit in bed together discussing Norm's mallard artwork, which has been selected as the design for a postage stamp. Norm is disappointed that it will appear on the 3¢ stamp instead of the more prestigious 29¢ stamp, but Marge is very proud of his achievement. The two hold each other close while expressing excitement for the birth of their child in two months.


  • Marge Gunderson is often ranked among the greatest movie characters.
  • In contrast to most cops, Marge is a very nice woman who is not very hostile at all. She is also six months pregnant.
  • Frances McDormand wore a "pregnancy pillow" filled with birdseed to simulate her pregnant belly. She says that she didn't deliberately try to move in a "pregnant" way, it simply came as a natural response to keeping the extra weight balanced. At one point the pregnancy pillow froze after it was left outside one night.
  • Director Joel Coen had Frances McDormand and John Carroll Lynch conceive a back-story for their characters to get the feel of them. They decided that Norm and Marge met while working on the police force, and when they were married, they had to choose which one had to quit. Since Marge was a better officer, Norm quit and took up painting.
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