This page is a listing of characters in JAG.Technically, several of the main characters of Spin-Off series NCIS first appeared as guest roles on JAG in the two-part Backdoor Pilot, "Ice Queen" and "Meltdown", in season 8. However, those characters are properly listed at the NCIS character page.Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead!
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Harmon "Harm" Rabb, Jr.
Played By: David James Elliott
Ace Pilot: When you've flown everything from a Stearman to a high-velocity spy plane, landed a C-130 on the deck of an aircraft carrier, and pushed a crippled F-14 by the tailhook with your own plane's canopy, you better be one of these.
Mac:Have you ever known the commander to do anything...
Bud:...Improper? No. Unconventional. Yes!
In "Ice Queen", Leroy Gibbs says that Rabb is the best prosecutor and defense counsel there is at JAG.
Career-Ending Injury: Harm was originally a Naval Aviator, following in his father's footsteps, until he crashed his plane in a night landing on an aircraft carrier due to an undiagnosed vision problem. In order to stay in the Navy, he went to law school and became a judge advocate (military lawyer).
Chekhov's Skill: In the Pilot Movie, the fact that Harm is a former aviator who used to fly F-14 Tomcats is what enables him to save the CAG at the end.
Establishing Character Moment: The resolution of the Pilot Movie is where Harmon Rabb, Jr. is firmly established as the self-confident heroic figure that would remain throughout the rest of the series. When Harm saves the CAG’s life in an F-14 Tomcat he gets redemption from the dishonor of having been forced to turn in his wings, despite the diagnosed night blindness, and proving that he’s still a capable aviator, just as his father once was. From the CAG's perspective, it's the son of the man he couldn't save who now saved him.
Friend to All Children: Harm comes across as this. He befriends the 10 year old son of his girlfriend in season 3, and saves him from both murderous thugs and terrorists. In season 4, he goes after the murderer of a small girl on a Navy base and saves her twin sister from the same fate. And initially in that case he employed Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique on a convicted child molester, who were innocent but provided useful info. And he finally becomes the guardian of an adolescent girl in season 9 with an alcoholic father.
Generation Xerox: Harm’s dad just so happened to look in his prime exactly like his son latter does in his prime (save for the moustache and the deeper voice)…
Genius Bruiser: Harmon Rabb is a lawyer that looks like a boxer and is, of course nicknamed 'Harm'. He's more liable to use the law to fight his battles than anything else, but failing that he's a trained Naval Aviator and qualified to fly fighter jets.
Gut Feeling: Harm has an uncanny ability to judge whether a defendant is innocent or not before any evidence admissible in court is provided.
Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Such an outfit is worn by Harm in the beginning of "Ares", when he boards a plane from Okinawa heading back to the States, only to be recalled for more adventures to follow…
It's What I Do: When applying to be the guardian of Mattie in 9th season episode “A Merry Little Christmas” a social service worker comes and inspects Harm’s apartment.
Watley: Do you have a firearm in the house?
Rabb: Yes, sir. But it’s under lock and key.
Watley: Do you ever have cause to employ it?
Rabb: Once or twice in the line of duty.
Watley: Aren’t you a lawyer, Commander Rabb?
Rabb: I’m also a war veteran, a Naval officer and a qualified F-14 pilot.
Long Lost Relative: Harm spends a substantial portion of the show searching for his father, who went MIA during the Vietnam War. His father escaped custody, and was later shot and killed, but not before meeting a Gypsy woman and fathering another son, Sergei.
In "Ares", Harm is told not to go to the bridge onboard the destroyer because the captain doesn’t want any JAG lawyers there during an exercise. However he goes there pretending that the message was ambiguous.
In the episode "True Callings" when Harm realizes he is better as a lawyer, he saved a sailor from the brig by pointing out the prosecuting attorney filed the wrong charges, such as "False Imprisonment," which is applicable only to police officers and the like instead of "Kidnapping," and pointed out how the other charge actually invalidates the prosecution's main witness against the sailor by another technicality.
10-Minute Retirement: Harm had his vision impairment fixed and went back to flying Tomcats for a short while, before his new commanding officer convinced him that he was too old to be competitive as an aviator against all the younger pilots, despite his skill, and that he would do the most good as a judge advocate.
Troubled Backstory Flashback: In the pilot episode, we get to see the accident where Harm five years earlier crashed an F-14 on an aircraft carrier, which killed his RIO, grounded him as an aviator and put him on a different career track as a lawyer.
Ultimate Job Security: Half the stunts he's pulled should have had him cashiered out of the Navy, or at least left him with very poor chances of promotion.
In "Mishap", he even says: I never let fear for career influence my actions. Which is convenient, when you got the Powers That Be on your side...
In the same episode Admiral Chegwidden mentions that he's received lots of complaints about Harm and his methods over the years.
The one time he resigned and it stuck, he got back into JAG only when a minor background character suddenly revealed she'd falsified her credentials and never attended law school, which exacerbated the shortage of personnel, which meant that Admiral Chegwidden had to ask the Secretary of the Navy to reinstate Harm's commission...
Straw Feminist: Caitlin Pike has signs of this in the pilot episode, somewhat justified because she's inexperienced with serving onboard ships and the downright macho attitude displayed by male crew members.
Megan "Meg" Austin
Played By: Tracey Needham
The female lead in season 1. Transferred out between seasons 1 and 2.
Boot Camp Episode: "Boot" has Meg investigating Paris Island's female DI's in the most straightforward way.
Punishment Detail: In "Boot", while undercover as a Marine private, she is assigned sanitary duty.
Put on a Bus: Lt. JG Meg Austin was present for most of the first season, but disappeared with little explanation at the start of the second.
Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Apparently her father was friends with Lt. Colonel Oliver North (of the Iran-Contra scandal). Meg calls in a favor from "Uncle Ollie" once or twice when they need info they can't get through official channels.
Mac: In one way or another, we're all searching for something.
Harm: Oh, yeah? What are you searching for?
Mac': What every woman wants: a great career, a good man and comfortable shoes, lots and lots of them.
Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Other than after a traffic accident in "The Four Percent Solution", Mac never sustains any visible injuries throughout the show. In a "A Tangled Webb" she was about to subjected to Electric Torture, but Harm saved her in the nick of time.
Mac:I do have a tattoo, I'm a pretty good armwrestler and, although I don't like the term, I'm technically a Jarhead.
Ludicrous Precision: Despite not wearing a watch Mac can tell you what time it is, or how much time has elapsed, no matter what the situation is. She says that she's usually accurate to within 30 seconds, and when people ask her how she does it she just says "It's a Marine thing."
Missing Mom: Mac's mother left when she was a kid. They eventually reunited, but it didn't go well.
Mixed Ancestry: Mac has, other than presumed ancestry from the British Isles given her name, Cherokee and Iranian ancestry. The Native American ancestry is only mentioned in "The Return of Jimmy Blackhorse", while the Iranian part is mentioned in several episodes.
Ms. Fanservice: Catherine Bell is a notably attractive woman, and the show took every opportunity it could to show off Mac both in uniform and in other attire, skivvies and swimwear included.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Catherine Bell's pregnancy in late season 8, as her character temporarily served as judge to hide the fact. And later that season she follwed Clayton Webb on a secret mission to Paraguay posing as his pregnant wife...
Mac:I'm a Marine, a devildog, we don't back down from anything!
However, at times such as in "Second Sights" when finding her estranged father on his deathbed at a hospice in a state of coma, and at the same time meeting her even more estranged self-centered white trash mom, she turns out to be Not So Stoic. But it turns out to be a Double Subversion: after her father has passed away she tells her mother without any emotion that she never wants to see her again because it was she, not her father, who once abandoned her.
10-Minute Retirement: Mac resigns to become a civilian lawyer, only to realize she was far happier in the Marines. Turns out Admiral Chegwidden never actually processed her discharge papers, and she was allowed back on (albeit she spent the first month back doing scut work as penance for leaving).
Beware the Nice Ones: Don't let the innocent act fool you - Bud may not be a combat officer, but he can and will put you through a legal world of hurt if you deserve it. Goes double for when you go after Harriet or their kids.
Bud’s interest with the paranormal comes in handy at times, as in "Vanished" when they manage to locate a missing F-14 with the help of observations made by UFO enthusiasts. Also, a case of Characterization Marches On, as Bud by the time of “Psychic Warrior” has become more of a skeptic.
His liking science fiction shows comes to help him relate to a terrorist and get crucial information out of him without the terrorist knowing. He also gave the Admiral's girlfriend information on how the Original Series of Star Trek borrowed heavily from Shakespeare with some scripts, which she notes will allow her to reach more students now.
Doing Research: As one of the low men, he was usually tasked with this by whomever he was helping that episode. He even helped Harm out of an insurance/accident scam.
Nerd: Bud describes himself as a Nerd in "The Colonel's Wife".L
Non-Action Guy: Despite being a trained military officer and passing certain guidelines and qualifications, he rarely gets into a scuffle himself.
Obfuscating Stupidity: One of Bud's tactics. Or as Mac puts it, his "Awwe-shucks" facade as a lawyer. He got a serial killer to confess on the stand by playing dumb and later stressed Harm out by asking him why the guy should believe Bud was incompetent at all.
Took a Level in Badass: He went from an Ensign working Public Affairs to Lieutenant Commander by series end, and through it became a very able lawyer, able to match wits and skills against Mac, Harm, and Sturgis. In his final case of the series, and actual proper case overall, Bud beat Harm and Lt. Vukovic using the very evidence Harm discovered to try and clear his client's name.
A Rear Admiral (2 stars) who served as the Judge Advocate General of the Navy (JAG) from 1996 to 2004. A Navy SEAL who served in The Vietnam War with distinction, he transferred to surface warfare, and later on went to law school becoming a judge advocate.He first appeared as a recurring character in the latter half of season 1. Appeared as a regular in seasons 2 to 9. In 2013, Chegwidden reappeared, now as a civilian lawyer, in the season 10 finale of NCIS ("Damned If You Do") as Gibbs' attorney.
Webb: So you finaly decided to join the millenium and get computer literate. AJ: No choice. SECNAV said I was the last flag officer to get online.
The Chains of Commanding: Chegwidden has clearly has a difficult job as Judge Advocate General of the Navy, reconciling the often disparate interests of justice and policy-makers, not to many the many eccentric and unpredictable people under his command.
Gunnery Sergeant Valindez:I like challenges, sir! AJ:Well, gunny, that's what Napoleon said when he invaded Russia. I expect better results from you.
Death Glare: Chegwidden is a master of this trope. The fact that he's a former Navy SEAL reinforces the validity of this beyond any formal authority.
Everyone Has Standards: When he was President of the Captains Promotion Board, Commander Lindsey's name came up. When asked about his views on the man since he did serve at JAG, Chegwidden stated he would not willingly have the man on his staff again as he has no confidence in his ability and he breaks too many rules. The officer who asked, who had personally seen Harm bend and break rules, just stares.
A Father to His Men: His "people" are his surrogate family. For all his acting like a "growling old salt" he will go to the mat for any of them. His last act as JAG was to basically demand that the Navy promote Bud despite his career-limiting injury.
AJ [to Bud's father]:Don't you hurt that boy. Big Bud:No, sir. AJ:Because if you do then you'll answer to me Master Chief, you don't want that.
Meredith [to AJ when talking about Harm & Mac]:You are not their father AJ. They're adults.
Grumpy Bear: Chegwidden often displays such characteristics, even though he has more gentle sides and genuinely cares for his staff.
Honest Advisor: Admiral Chegwidden is depicted this way in his onscreen dealings with the two SecNavs during his time in office.
Jerkass Façade: Admiral Chegwidden is a mild version of this trope. Even though he often hides behind military protocol and the authority that comes with being an admiral to distance himself from interpersonal relationships beyond the strictly professional, he deeply cares for the people that work under him.
My Greatest Failure: For Admiral Chegwidden it is not having been with his daughter Francesca (who grew up in Italy with her mother and stepfather), during her childhood and adolescence.
Officer and a Gentleman: He will always try to be polite to people, and if his bad mood is making him caustic to someone undeserving, he will apologize.
AJ:My name is Admiral Chegwidden. I am the Judge Advocate General of the United States Navy. Before I leave this hangar, I will know the why and the how of Lieutenant Douglas Marion's death, or Commander Rabb, here, is gonna have your ass... and I'm gonna own your soul.
The Vietnam War: Earned a Navy Cross, which is second only to the Medal of Honor in terms of significance, for his bravery in combat.
AJ:I've killed men under the rules of war, something I'll live with every day. It's made me appreciate the value of human life and the laws that guide it.
Peter Ulysses "Sturgis" Turner
Played By: Scott Lawrence
Appeared in seasons 7 to 10. Harm's former roommate at the Naval Academy and a submariner-turned-lawyer. The character became a regular cast member in the tenth season.
Mistaken for Racist: Sturgis is accused of racism against Koreans by a biased Lieutenant in Naval Intelligence. He gets cleared of the accusation, but the experience leaves him a little bitter and more cynical.
You Are in Command Now: Takes over as acting JAG between Admiral Chegwidden's retirement and General Cresswell's appointment.
Played By: Zoe McLellan)
Petty Officer Jennifer Coates first appeared in season 7. Coates succeeded Jason Tiner as the yeoman/administrative assistent to the Judge Advocate General of the Navy from season 9-10. The character became a regular castmember in the last season.
The wife of Bud Roberts, since "Wedding Bell Blues" in the third season.Appeared in seasons 2-10.
Adult Fear: In "Nobody's Child", pregnant Harriet accidently gets to see crime scene photos of the corpse of a brutally murdered girl and freaks out. A few episodes later in "The Adversaries" she sees the dead girls identical twin sister and gets flashbacks of the photos.
Beware the Nice Ones: Bud and Harriet are the sweetest couple and good parents, but both go on the warpath if someone screws over their spouse. Notably, Harriet once punched out Lt. Singer when she tried to damage Bud's career out of spite.
Ensign Newbie: Harriet took Bud's job as a public affairs officer on the USS Seahawk when Bud transferred to JAG, and was just as much a newbie as he was.
Fake Guest Star: Karri Turner never received star billing despite regulary appearing on the show for 9 seasons.
The Maiden Name Debate: Following her marriage with Bud Roberts, Harriet continues to be referred to by her maiden name, Sims. It’s likely done for convenience (because there would otherwise be two lieutenants Roberts in the same workplace) and it’s unknown if she changed her legal name.
Mama Bear: Threaten her kids and you will live to regret it.
Non-Idle Rich: Harriet Sims, despite having been brought up in wealth, joined the Navy, works hard as an office manager at JAG and has at the end of the series 4 children with Bud Roberts.
Secretly Wealthy: Bud Roberts is at first shocked upon realizing that his then-fiancée Harriet Sims comes from a wealthy family, as shown by their Big Fancy House and her father's multiple sports cars, when visiting her parents in Florida for the first time in "Yesterday’s Heroes".
Played By: Chuck Carrington
Petty Officer Jason Tiner served as the yeoman/administrative assistent to the Judge Advocate General of the Navy from season 2-9.
Mistaken for Gay: He one day hung out with his brother, who was gay, and came out of a gay bar with him. He then was involved in a fight with Gunny as Gunny arrived with his Marine buddy, when Tiner's brother hit on the Marine. So, many suspected him of being gay, and thus going to be discharged from the military until the matter is cleaned up.
Appeared in seasons 4-6. First came as an Royal Australian Navy exchange officer on duty in the United States for the first year, then went back to Australia and later came back to work as civilian attorney in Washington. Went back for good when his engagement with Mac broke up.
Amoral Attorney: Becomes one for a while when he resigns from the Royal Australian Navy and comes back as a civilian. He took cases where people were suing the Navy, which didn't sit well with anyone at the JAG office.
Awesome Aussie: Averted, even though he talks just like Crocodile Dundee.
Fake Nationality: Englishman Trevor Goddard playing Australian Mic Brumby. Apparently Trevor Goddard made a career out of playing Australians.
Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Gave up a cushy private sector job when he decided he wasn't going to blame another Marine for a mishap actually caused by his future employer's prototype weapons system.
Sergeant Rock: Both in the office and after he requests a transfer back to combat duty post-9/11.
Amoral Attorney: There are few lines she wouldn't cross to win a case and her coworkers know it.
Drunk with Power: In "Tribunal", when Admiral Chegwidden is away overseas and has designated Lieutenant Singer as Acting JAG, one of the first things she decides to do is to have a fire drill and to have Lieutenant Sims to review and update all internal administrative manuals.
Informed Judaism: Subverted, as Singer only pretends to be Jewish in "The Promised Land" to badger a Marine deserter and convertite who had joined the IDF. Her first chair Commander Turner calls the bluff by testing her knowledge of judaism.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Singer had signs of this. One instance is when Mac is about to lose a custody case to remove a child from her abusive, civilian, father. When he went to see his ex-wife and child on base where the mother was staying, he was told a blond JAG officer had taken them off base. He came charging into JAG Headquarters and nearly attacked Lt. Sims, believing she was said JAG. This provides more than enough evidence for Mac to win and when asked, Singer simply avoids a direct response.
Manipulative Bitch: She will gladly do anything short of actual criminal behavior to advance her Naval career. Even if it risks getting people disbarred (Mac), divorced (Bud), or humiliated (Bud, Harriet, Harm).
Appeared in season 10 only and replaced Chegwidden following his retirement. A Colonel in the Marine Corps who served as Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he was upon his appointment as Judge Advocate General of the Navy promoted to the rank of Major General (2 stars).
Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: This is the initial perception of the new Judge Advocate General of the Navy, Major General Gordon Cresswell, in the tenth season of JAG from the perspective of the main characters.
Blatant Lies: For a time, Webb insisted that he worked for the State Department, rather than the CIA, despite always turning up in the middle of various plots. Nobody, hero or villain, ever believed him for a second, but most of the time his claim would be accepted with a roll of the eyes and a grain of salt.
The Chessmaster: Clayton Webb. He is a good Chessmaster (both in the sense of being skillful and being on the good side), but he is cold and ruthless and has a streak of the Knight Templar in him. However, he is incorruptible and occasionally surprises people with his softer side. In the later episodes he often goes into danger himself, giving him a good claim to being a Badass Bookworm.
The one time he tried to manipulate Admiral Chegwidden, the Admiral busted Webb's nose for it. After that Webb treated the Admiral with nothing but the utmost respect.
Dad the Veteran: Retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer (non-commissioned officer).
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As crappy a dad as he is, Big Bud does find time to be with his sons at Christmas, attend his grandkids' christenings, help defend Mikey in court, and eventually find the guts to support Bud in rehab following his injury in Afghanistan.
Lower-Class Lout: Big Bud is to some extent a retirement aged example of this trope.
Consummate Professional: He may disagree with Navy policy (especially regarding women in combat roles such as fighter pilot), but he will not tolerate anyone under his command who lets their personal feelings affect carrying out their duties in a professional manner.
Principles Zealot: In "A Separate Peace" Harm defends Boone who is accused of war crimes during The Vietnam War. While Boone doesn't plead guilty, he does nothing to defend himself or help the defense. It turns out that he is innocent but believes that no matter the cost he can never break a vow of silence once it's given.
Strawman Political: Roberta "Bobbie" Latham, democratic congresswoman from Michigan is an arch-typical leftist liberal advocating of the advancement of women in the military for the sake of just doing it, is critical of excessive defense spending, claims to be a human rights activist, is a political oppurtunist in general, and a strong advocate of UN peacekeeping operations (even if the operation can't keep the peace in the first place.)