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Gary Francis Canning, played by Damien Richardson, made his first screen appearance on 7 November 2014. The character and casting was announced on 15 October 2014. Daniel Kilkelly from Digital Spy reported that the character's guest stint had already been filmed. In October 2015, it was confirmed that Richardson had returned to filming and Gary returned in early 2016. He returned again from 14 June 2016, this time as a regular character.
Gary is the estranged father of Kyle Canning (Chris Milligan). Prior to his reappearance, he had not seen his son for sixteen years, having walked out on him when he was eight years old. Milligan said Kyle was unsure whether "to hit him or hug him" when they were reunited. He explained, "Kyle has really wanted his dad to come back and be part of his life for so long, but when he does, he doesn't know how he is feeling or how to react with his emotions. It's going to be a bit of a shake-up, but hopefully it works out for them!" Gary was also reunited with his mother Sheila (Colette Mann) and his sister Naomi (Morgana O'Reilly) during his time in Erinsborough. Milligan called the episodes featuring Gary "very interesting" and added that Richardson was "so funny and with the way that he portrays Kyle's dad, you can really tell where Kyle gets his bogan and larrikin attitude from!"
Gary contacts his mother, Sheila, asking for her help. He later meets her in the park and she hands him some money. Sheila asks Gary to see his son, Kyle, but Gary refuses. Kyle's wife, Georgia (Saskia Hampele), then meets with Gary and persuades him to see Kyle. Gary and Kyle make small talk, but when Gary sees Kyle playing with his dog, Bossy, he suddenly leaves, as it brings back memories of Kyle's childhood. Gary tells Kyle that he cannot make up for his absence. He later visits Kyle to apologise and to see if they can make up for lost time. Gary tells Sheila and Kyle that he left Frankston after witnessing a crime by the McKenzie brothers, and has been on the run to protect his family. Gary begins helping Kyle out with his business and is reunited with his sister Naomi. Gary and Naomi agree that they should not tell Kyle that they have been meeting up over the years. Gary leaves Kyle's toolbox unlocked and someone takes the tools. Gary tries to buy some second-hand tools, before getting a job to compensate his son. He also asks Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) for some work and Paul pays him to beat up Ezra Hanley (Steve Nation). Sheila sees Gary taking payment from Paul and confronts him. She then urges Gary to turn himself in, but he leaves instead. Gary turns up at the hospital when he learns that Sheila had a heart attack. When Gary confesses that it was his fault as Sheila had just found out about Ezra, Naomi tells Kyle that Gary walked out on him the first time as he was actually the getaway driver for the McKenzie's. Kyle then reports Gary to the police and Gary tells them that Paul paid him to assault Ezra. After Paul is questioned, he pays Gary to change his story. Gary offers the money to Kyle and Naomi, but they refuse to take it and he leaves. Before Gary is taken to jail, he meets with his family one last time.
Gary's teenage daughter Xanthe Canning (Lily Van der Meer) comes looking for him, after her mother skips the country. Sheila takes Xanthe in, after confirming with Gary who she is. Gary sends Kyle a birthday card and mentions that he is eligible for parole. Xanthe and Sheila visit Gary in prison, followed by Kyle, who tells Gary not to let Xanthe down when he gets out. Gary deliberately gets into a fight and tells Sheila that his parole has been revoked. Months later, Gary encounters Paul in prison, after Paul is wrongly accused of causing an explosion at Lassiter's Hotel. Paul asks Gary for protection and offers to give him information about his family. Paul later calls Sheila, who comes to visit Gary. Just as the other inmates are about to beat Paul up, he begs Gary for help, but Gary refuses and tells him he has just been granted parole. Gary turns up in Erinsborough and learns Xanthe is missing, having gone hitchhiking with Angus Beaumont-Hannay (Jai Waetford). He soon finds them and brings them home. Gary talks with Xanthe about her actions and she also admits to stealing $10,000 from Tom Quill (Kane Felsinger). Gary tells Tom that Xanthe will not be paying back anymore of the money, as he believes it was probably illegal to begin with, since Tom did not report the theft to the police. Gary apologises to Paul for leaving him to get beaten in prison and Paul gives him a cleaning job at his motel. Gary pays Ben Kirk (Felix Mallard) to take Xanthe to the school formal. After agreeing to buy Xanthe her dream dress, Gary struggles financially and asks Kevin McNally (Troy Davis), a former prison inmate, for work. Kevin offers him a job delivering illegal goods. Susan Kennedy (Jackie Woodburne) tells Gary that Xanthe needs a tutor, which requires further expense. Gary turns down the job from Kevin and gets a loan from Paul. He also tells Xanthe that she will have to buy a cheaper dress for the formal. Paul persuades Gary to spy on Terese. Gary takes up a new hobby, pigeon racing. Gary is the prime suspect when Cooper Knights is assaulted and an intervention order is taken out against him. He's later arrested for breaching that order. It's later discovered that it was Cooper's mother who was the assailant. Lassiter's organises a pigeon race and Gary's bird wins, only to face disqualification for doping. Paul is the prime suspect until Xanthe admits that she gave Gary's pigeon paracetomol. Gary starts working for Terese. Gary and Terese begin a relationship.