Why did Brooklyn Nine-Nine protagonist Jake Peralta lose his affectionate nickname “JP” after the pilot episode? Like a lot of sitcoms, the NBC hit Brooklyn Nine-Nine has changed massively since its uneven 2013 pilot. The series looks likely to undergo a lot more transformation soon, thanks to a cultural shift in perceptions of the police. But despite trafficking in the cozy consistency most viewers expect from sitcoms, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been undergoing constant revisions since as far back as its pilot episode.
As seen in Boyle’s transformation from a lovelorn loser to a happily married family man (if still a bit of loser), Brooklyn Nine-Nine has revamped the image of many figures central on the show throughout its seven-season run. It is this consistent character development across the show’s history which has kept viewers returning and helped the series avoid staleness. But a glimpse back at the show’s pilot proves that the writer’s room has been busy switching up character details since the very first episode. Brooklyn Nine-Nine made a lot of changes between its initial pilot episode and the series proper including dropping detective Daniels, the third character from Hitchcock and Sully’s not-so-dynamic duo.
In the pilot, Terry refers to Jake Peralta as “JP,” the only time he has done so in the entire series so far despite the initials being an easy, believable nickname. So why was this detail dropped? The answers comes in how different the nickname is to Peralta’s other nicknames and how he fits in with the rest of the show’s cast. Essentially, it was a mistake that was corrected to help sell who Jake really was.
The show uses nicknames to reinforce character dynamics. Holt’s nicknames, be they “Dad”, “Captain Dad”, or “Dadtain” are all based on re-affirming the importance of his role as captain of the Brooklyn Nine-Nine precinct and crucially, a mentor figure to the team. Santiago has Hall Monitor, which firmly contextualizes her loveably nerdy do-gooder attitude, whilst Boyle’s many monikers are all relatively derogatory since – try though he might to avoid this fate- the Joe Lo Truglio character is usually the butt of the joke. Rosa’s Halloween heist nickname “Dagger” couldn’t be a better encapsulation of her character’s sharp, hard-edged demeanor, and despite how derogatory it appears at first glance even Terry’s Terry Titties is a mark of respect to the character’s frankly frightening bodybuilding acumen. They’re all either slightly mean-spirited gags or a sign of respect amongst friends and co-workers, but the pilot’s informal “JP”, in contrast, doesn’t fit either of these functions.
Andy Samberg nearly opted out of starring Brooklyn Nine-Nine but the Hot Rod star’s lovably immature interpretation of the Jake Peralta character is central to the workplace ensemble the sitcom’s fans know and love. The rapport between cast members evolved but some of the character’s earliest aspects remain in place since the pilot, like Santiago’s wicked competitive streak. Jake Peralta, however, became a sillier character after the show’s first episode and that fits with the loss of his nickname “JP”. The majority of Jake’s later nicknames have been mean-spirited gags at his expanse, from Joke Peralta to the Tattler. His countless aliases over the seasons, meanwhile, have been pretty hilariously transparent attempts to project a cooler image for himself, and the only other nicknames he’s been granted have been a few cringe-worthy “Jake in the box” style puns courtesy of season one Boyle.
As evidenced by the show’s Die Hard homage, Brooklyn Nine-Nine loves borrowing from action movie traditions. The sight of loner cops whose stellar arrest records provoke the annoyance of their colleagues is a staple of action movies ranging from Beverly Hills Cop to Hot Fuzz. But in the show’s sitcom subversion of this dynamic, it’s not Jake’s policing or icy stand-offishness which earns the ire of his co-workers. Instead, it’s his immaturity and constant clowning around that meant using a more friendly “JP” nickname made no sense. Giving Peralta such an affectionate nickname in the first episode would have too readily established Terry as his respectful co-worker, who valued him enough to have given him a nickname that didn’t in any belittle him, a dynamic which never carried over into the series proper. It wouldn’t be until halfway through season one that Jake showed any signs of emotional maturity or growth (in “Sal’s Pizza” and via pizza, of all things) and thus the pilot jumped the gun in giving Terry such a mature and stable dynamic with a character who should, at this point, have still been a thorn in his side.
For the rest of the show’s run, most members of the team refer to him as “Peralta” to make it clear that Jake’s insufferable (if hilarious) antics leave his coworkers too annoyed for affectionate nicknames. He is something to be endured, not adored. Of course, Boyle still tries to establish a nickname with his Jake puns, since he is the only character enamored with his ne’er-do-well co-worker, but his lack of judgment is as much of a joke. Establishing Peralta as a character so irreverent and unfocused that even his co-workers couldn’t take him seriously soon made him a perfect foil for Captain Holt, who embodies the badass action movie heroics Peralta strives for but which couldn’t be further from his goofy demeanor.
The show’s pilot features the lone appearance of “JP” because the creation of maximum conflict (and thus comedic potential) between Holt’s team and Peralta depended on the latter being outlandishly unprofessional and the latter being hilariously committed to their duty (in the image of their leader). Calling Peralta “JP” acknowledged that this relatively well-adjusted, if somewhat sloppy, protagonist was the kind of guy whose co-workers get on fine with him. It minimizes his silliness and also undermines their often comical dismay or frustrations at him. But in comparison, the often-barked or sighed missive “Peralta” fits way better with the goofy layabout whose co-workers can’t stand his immaturity. This small change helped convince of a different and better dynamic between Jake and the team. “JP” didn’t work for a gifted but self-sabotaging moron and the sort of feckless cop who would clash completely with Holt’s by-the-book approach. Brooklyn Nine-Nine very cleverly helped influence how Jake’s buffoonery came across to the audience with a subtle change that said everything about his relationships at work.
More: What To Expect From Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season Eight