Fargo Wiki
Carl Showalter
Vital statistics

Small time crook


Jerry Lundegaard (formerly)
Gaear Grimsrud (partner in crime)






January 1987




Killed with an axe; Ground up in a wood chipper


Steve Buscemi

Carl Showalter Gallery

Carl Showalter was a hired criminal from Fargo, North Dakota.

Early life

Nothing is known about Carl's life prior to 1987 except hinting that he had possibly been to Brainerd, Minnesota and Minneapolis before the kidnapping plot. He at one point met Gaear Grimsrud and became friends with him. He also at one point met former jailbird Shep Proudfoot, hinting that Carl might have been to jail at least once.


In January of 1987, Carl Showalter and Gaear Grimsrud were contacted by Shep Proudfoot who told them about Jerry Lundegaard, a car salesman was looking for a couple of shady characters to kidnap his wife and demand a ransom. Showalter and Grimsrud agreed to meet Lundegaard at the King of Clubs in Fargo, North Dakota. Due to Lundegaard being late, Showalter begins the interaction annoyed but accepts the job in exchange for half the ransom ($40K) and a new Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera.

The next morning Showalter and Grimsrud depart from Fargo to Minneapolis. While on the road the two have their first dispute over where to eat, and stop at a motel in Brainerd, Minnesota. There they hire two escorts for the night and share a motel room.

In Minneapolis the next day, Showalter and Grimsrud have another dispute about Grimsrud's smoking and poor conversation skills. Soon after, they break into the Lundgaard's home and kidnap Jean Lundegaard with minor complications. On the road to their cabin hideout they are stopped by a state trooper due to missing tags on the rear window of their stolen Ciera. Showalter unsuccessfully attempts to bribe the trooper resulting in Grimsrud shooting the trooper and a couple who witnessed the incident while driving by.

Showalter and Grimsrud arrive at their cabin hideout the next morning with Jean Lundegaard. After Jean attempts a pathetic escape, blindfolded and handcuffed. As she runs frantically into the woods she trips and lands in the snow multiple times amusing Showalter and prompting him to mock her. Once inside Showalter tries to fix the television but loses his patience and begins hitting it.

At least a day later Showalter, still haunted by the incident on the road calls Lundegaard demanding the entire eighty thousand dollar ransom the following day. He argues with Jerry who refuses to pay the money. Showalter presumably calls Gustafson Motors and Shep Proudfoot's residence looking for Proudfoot soon after but gets no answer. Showalter pulls into a parking lot later that day and changes the Ciera's DLR plates for Minnesota ones. On his way out he is forced to pay four dollars begrudgingly to the attendant at the gate.

That night, Showalter hires another escort girl. He takes her to a concert at the local theater where she asks him a few questions about his business. He avoids straight answers and takes her to an apartment where they have sex. Shep Proudfoot arrives at the apartment and chases the girl off, steals Showalter's belt and whips him mercilessly with it because Carl unintentionally implicated him in the kidnapping. An agitated Showalter phones Lundegaard immediately after and threatens his entire family if he doesn't drop off the $80K in half an hour.

At the drop off Showalter is surprised to see Wade Gustafson instead of Lundegaard. Now furious, Carl demands Gustafson drop the money but he refuses. Losing his patience again, Showalter shoots Gustafson dead though he grazes Showalter's jaw with a concealed pistol. Showalter grabs the money and drives away bleeding severely. When Showalter reaches the gate he is asked to pay the fee again. Instead Showalter shoots the attendant and opens the gate himself.

Showalter drives to an empty field and changes his bandages. When he checks the money he finds 1 million dollars inside the bag, much to his surprise and excitement. He stashes all but the $80K and marks the ground with a small red ice scraper. He returns to the cabin afterwards to give Grimsrud half of the original ransom.

At the cabin he finds Grimsrud has beaten Jean to death. After explaining his heavily wounded face he tells Grimsrud he wants the Ciera along with half of the ransom. When Grimsrud tells him he wants to be paid for half of the car Showalter threatens him with a gun and storms out also threatening Shep Proudfoot on his way. As he walks towards the car he turns just in time to see Grimsrud run up behind him and strike him with a axe, killing him instantly. His body was later grinded up in a wood chipper by Grimsrud.

Murders Committed

  • Wade Gustafson (January 1987) - Shot seven times. (Fargo)
  • Parking garage attendant (January 1987) - Shot in the head. (Fargo)


  • Showalter is the seventh and final character to die in the film, and third leading character to die.
  • Joel and Ethan Coen wrote the role of Carl Showalter with Buscemi in mind.
  • Showalter was referenced in the 2001 film Monsters, Inc., when Randall Boggs (who was also portrayed by Steve Buscemi) threatens to put Fungus through the shredder.
  • Showalter is also referenced in the Fargo episode "Who Shaves the Barber?" on the outside of the Fargo Mob headquarters, which reads "The Showalter Block."
  • It is a running joke throughout the film that Carl is "funny looking", and nobody can describe him in more detail than that, except the girls who said he wasn't circumsized.


  • "You know, it's proven that second-hand smoke is, uh, carcin-... uh, you know, a cancer agent."
  • "Just in town on business. Just in and out. Just a little of the old in-and-out."
  • "How the fuck do you split a fuckin' car, ya dummy!? With a fucking chainsaw!?"