A young man who discovered at an early age that he possessed the power to bring back the dead, but only for a minute, or something else in close proximity would die in return. After realizing — through his resurrected mother kissing him goodnight — that a single touch would kill them forever, Ned is shipped off to boarding school by his absentee father, separating him from his childhood sweetheart Chuck.Some years later, Ned has become a piemaker who makes money on the side by partnering with Emerson Cod, a private investigator, in resurrecting the victims of difficult murders in order to track down their killers. He lives a smooth, if emotionally detached life, until he learns of Chuck's murder and inadvertently lets her live longer than her intended one minute. Along with Emerson, occasionally Olive, and definitely Digby, They Fight Crime.
Butt Monkey: If something bad happens to a main character, there's about a ninety percent chance it will be Ned.
Clingy Jealous Guy: A heroic example to Chuck, although it's somewhat justified given Chuck is probably the first person he's openly let into his life in nearly twenty years.
Cursed with Awesome: Ned can revive the dead with a touch, and has used that power to revive his dog and later his childhood sweetheart, make lots of money investigating murders, and open a thriving bakery by using old, rotted fruit in his pies (since it becomes fresh-off-the-vine as soon as he touches it)...
Blessed with Suck: ... and as a result, he can't touch the woman he loves lest she drop dead instantly, ditto his beloved pet, and if he ever eats any of his pies the fruit will wither and rot in his mouth.
Dark Secret: The fact that Chuck's father died to balance out the revival of his mother haunts him for a bit, leaving him unable to tell Chuck.
Devoted to You: An unusual male example. Helps that he's played by Lee Pace.
Friendless Background: As the multiple flashbacks to his school life show, his gift was not very conducive to making friends. Even at the start of the series, his relationships with Emerson and Olive are more business associates than genuine friendship.
Disappeared Dad: He shipped Ned off to boarding school and started a new family with another woman. The only notification that he gave of any of this to Ned was a generic "We've Moved!" postcard. He later abandoned that family, too.
Missing Mom: She had an aneurysm. Ned revived her but she died again when she kissed him goodnight.
Ned's childhood sweetheart. Upon the death of her father, who had died to balance out the revival of Ned's mother, she is sent to live with her aunts Lily and Vivian. She and Ned do not meet again until he is called upon to solve her murder on a cruise ship, upon which he accidentally revives her (killing the funeral home owner in return). Despite being legally dead, Chuck manages to reintegrate herself into Ned's life, rekindling their romance along the way, but on one condition — they can't ever touch, or else Chuck dies again forever. Her kind, free-spirited nature provide good faith and cheer to the show's dynamics, something Ned is appreciative of.
Sibling Yin-Yang: More aloof and withdrawn than Vivian. To drive the point home, "Vivian" means "life" while "Lily" is a flower normally used at funerals.
"Wouldn't it just be rock 'n roll if liking someone meant they had to like you back? 'Course that would be a different universe and something else would probably suck."
Portrayed by: Kristin Chenoweth
Tiny, adorable Olive is Ned's neighbor, a waitress at the Pie Hole, and unfortunately hopelessly in love with Ned. Despite her initial dislike for Chuck, the latter eventually warms herself to her. At the same time, Olive strikes up a friendship with Chuck's aunts.
Ned's beloved childhood golden retriever. When Ned was nine, Digby was run over by an eighteen-wheeler. Ned's sorrow at this led to him discovering his mysterious power. In the present day, Digby still lives with Ned, but is frequently cared for by Olive.
" If I loved you... Then I would love you in any way I could, and if we could not touch, then I would draw strength from your beauty... And if I went blind, I would fill my soul with the sound of your voice and the contents of your thoughts until the last spark of my love for you lit the shabby darkness of my dying mind..."
Played by: Ra˙l Esparza
A Traveling Salesman who treats his own fear that Earth's atmosphere will get sucked away through various homeopathic remedies. He gives Chuck antidepressants that she bakes into her aunts' pies. He's also in love with Olive.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Initially a love interest for Olive, he eventually fixes the espresso machine for her and attempts to catch her eye to no avail. Later on in the series, he then simply disappears with minimal explanation and the Alfredo/Olive subplot is dropped. Justified, in that Alfredo's last appearance is in an episode where he is Put on a Bus, and Olive realizes she loved him too late.
One Dialogue, Two Conversations: During their first conversation Olive asks him if he ever felt like "all the oxygen was leaving the room." She was referring to seeing her crush make out with another girl, but he thought she was talking about his own phobia.
"Nothing sells books like a little murder and mayhem."
Played by: Paul Reubens
Originally introduced in "The Smell of Success," a smell expert who believes fouler smells improve the human condition. He becomes a recurring character after becoming curious about Chuck and Digby's unique smells.
Originally introduced in "Bitches" as a dog breeder and trainer, and is easily the most ruthless and pragmatic of Harold Hundin's wives. She and Emerson develop feelings for each other during the investigation, and she becomes something of a Love Interest for him.
"Shrimpboy's the gangster in charge of the table and paying off the manager. Anson Chen did eight years in the state pen for armed robbery. Jin Quin is a thug for hire who'll do anything for a few dollars. Louie Lu strangled his mother-in-law, got off on a technicality. Jim is a plumber."
Evil Brit: SubvertedŚshe's not the killer, and while much more pragmatic and callous than the other wives, she is definitely not evil.
Knight Templar Parent: Subtle, but you can see in her conversation with Olive that she holds contempt for the surviving Jock-Off 2000 jockeys. And up to eleven when it turns out she was murdering them all along.
Lucas Shoemaker, Pinky McCoy, and Gordon Mc Smalls
Played by: Christopher Neiman, Ralph P. Martin, Carlos Alazraqui
From "Girth." The three other surviving jockeys of the Jock-Off 2000 (Olive being the fourth). Lucas is killed by what he claims is the ghost of John Joseph Jacobs, and the other three survivors meet up to discuss it.
Played by: Jessica Lundy (Hillary), Lydia Look (Heather), and Jenny Wade (Hallie)
From "Bitches." Harold Hundin's three other wives (the third, Simone, has her own section above). Hillary owns a designer petwear store, Heather is a pet psychologist, while Hallie breeds Labradors as seeing-eye dogs and donates them to the blind.
Team Pet: Their prized dog, Bubblegum, a Col-a-dor-Russel-a-poo, the "perfect dog," bred from their favorite dogs by Harold. They are all vehemently protective of him and take measures to ensure he won't fall into the wrong hands.
Played by: Mark Harelik
From "Bitches." A pet store chain owner and friend of Harold.
Feed the Mole: A variation. Determined to find out which of Harold's wives killed him and Snuppy, Ned revives Snuppy at Harold's funeral. Hillary then has a Freak Out and runs away, pinning her as the killer.
Red Herring: The wives paint him as Harold's murderer, but that's quickly thrown out the window when he's murdered himself.
Played by: Sarah Jayne Jensen
A student and protege of LeNez, Anita Gray is killed in a freak bomb accident while snooping through a booby-trapped advance copy of his book.
Cruel and Unusual Death: Burned alive by a bomb planted in LeNez's book. She is even interrogated while her corpse is still smoking.
From "The Smell of Success." A smell expert who believes that humans should surround themselves with good, positive smells. His book, "The Smell of Success," is poised to become more successful after the attempt on his life.