"What makes me different has also brought everyone I love into my life."
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
- Adorkable: Big time.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: He raises the dead, but doesn't believe in ghosts.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: The dialogue is ambiguous, but there may also be C.H.U.D.s in this world, too.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows
- Bad Liar
- 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 and Troubled Past
- 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.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
- The Hero
- I Just Want to Be Normal: To be fair, his powers have made his life a lot worse.
- Indirect Kiss
- Loners Are Freaks
- Long Lost Sibling: Two of them—his twin half-brothers.
- Love Makes You Crazy
- Mistaken for Murderer
- Motor Mouth
- Mundane Utility
- Nice Guy: Kind-hearted and mild-mannered, with everyone's best interests at heart.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: His attempts at simple kindness have a tendency to go wrong.
- No Name Given: Strangely enough he's the only regular character with no last name given. Coincidence? Probably not...
- Of Course I'm Not A Virgin
- Parental Abandonment
- 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.
- Power Incontinence
- Ridiculously Average Guy: His powers aside, he's very much unremarkable and seems to prefer it that way.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Savvy Guy to Chuck's Energetic Girl.
- Shrinking Violet: In his own Adorkable way. Even more so when he was a child.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Ned doesn't want anyone but Chuck, much to Olive's dismay.
- Socially-Awkward Hero: Ned doesn't really do well with people.
- Sugar and Ice Personality
- They Fight Crime
- Twitchy Eye
- When He Smiles: A male version. Ned frowns so much that when he does smile, it's pretty amazing.
- Window Love
- You Can Always Tell A Liar: His right eye starts twitching.
Charlotte "Chuck" Charles
"I'd kiss you if it wouldn't kill me."
Portrayed by: Anna Friel, Sammi Hanratty
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.
The truth ain't like puppies, a bunch of them running around, you pick your favorite. One truth and it has come a knockin'.
Portrayed by: Chi McBride, Steven Wash Jr.
A private investigator who frequently partners with Ned. Dour and sour, he provides some of the show's more down-to-earth comments. He's also a very avid knitter
, using the hobby as a stress relief.
"Lying to yourself about love never works.
Portrayed by: Ellen Greene
One of Chuck's aunts, who is the softer, kinder one of the two. She and Lily were once the famous synchronized swimming duo Darling Mermaid Darlings.
''Olive: "Look carefully ladies, this is your future."
Lily: "Is it vodka?"
Lily: Hm. As in Russian for vodka?''
Portrayed by: Swoosie Kurtz
The other of Chuck's aunts, who is colder and snarkier than her sister. She and Vivian were once the famous synchronized swimming duo Darling Mermaid Darlings.
"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.
Played by: Jonathan Magnum
From "Dummy." An automobile safety specialist at the Dandy Lion Worldwide Industries.
Played by: Riki Lindhome
From "Dummy." A model for the Dandy Lion SX.
Played by: Patrick Fabian
From "Dummy." CEO of Dandy Lion Worldwide Industries.
Played by: Brad Gunberg
From "Pie-lette" and "The Fun in Funeral." Along with his brother Louis, he runs the Schatz Brothers Funeral Home. He was killed to balance out Ned's revival of Chuck.
From "The Fun in Funeral." Along with his brother Lawrence, he runs the Schatz Brothers Funeral Home.
Wilfred Woodruff VI
Played by: Eddie Shin
From "The Fun in Funeral." A man whose prized family heirloom, a sword dating back to the Civil War, was stolen. He vows revenge upon the Schatz brothers for this.
Lemuel "Lefty Lem" Weinger
Played by: Dash Mihok
From "Pigeon." A one-handed criminal who breaks out of prison in search of a hidden treasure his deceased cellmate told him about.
From "Pigeon." A homing pigeon that lost its wing and is later nursed to health by Lily and Vivian. Later revealed to belong to Elsita's mother.
- An Arm and a Leg: Has a wooden leg, which is covered by the long skirt she wears when we meet her. It contains the diamonds Lem was searching for all along.
- Generation Xerox: Continued to write to Lefty Lem under the impression that he was Jackson under Elsa's name. Fittingly, she and Lem fell in love like Jackson and Elsa did.
- Long Distance Relationship: With Lem, all along.
- Plucky Girl: Seems very spirited when Lefty Lem ties her up.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: Mother-daughter pair Elsa and Elsita are both played by Jayma Mays.
John Joseph Jacobs
Played by: Hamish Linklater
From "Girth." A young man who'd been hyped as the best jockey of his age until his tragic death in a horse race Olive participated in.
Played by: Barbara Barrie
From "Girth." John Joseph Jacobs's mother.
- Ashes to Crashes: They're not human ashes.
- 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: Joel McHale
From "Bitches." A famous dog breeder who is poisoned by, he tells Ned before his one minute is over, his wife. Too bad he forgot to mention that he has four
Hillary, Heather, and Hallie Hundin
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.
- Alliterative Family
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: From what we see of her, Heather is also cool and emotionally detached. Justified as she's a psychologist.
- Canine Companion: All of them have one, as seen at Harold's funeral. Buttercup is an amalgam of all their favorite breeds.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Hillary is... a little unhappy about the polygamy.
- Frame-Up: Hillary frames Hallie for Harold's murder.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: The fourth and youngest wife, Hallie, has blond hair and donates dogs to the blind. Chuck denies that Hallie could be the murderer because she comes off as that angelic.
- Marry Them All
- 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.
Played by: Christopher Sieber
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.
Billy and Dilly Balsam
From "Bittersweet." A Brother-Sister Team
who open a taffy and sweets emporium opposite the Pie Hole, seemingly intent on driving them out of business.
Played by: Michael Cornacchia
From "Bittersweet." A burly man who kills the episode's first Victim of the Week
when the latter questioned his relationship with a life-sized doll.
Played by: Steve Hytner
From "Bittersweet." A health inspector whose surprise inspection of the Pie Hole ends up temporarily closing the place.
- Blackmail: To the Balsams; they had bribed him to close the Pie Hole and he was holding this over their heads, resulting in his murder.
- Fingore: Billy bit off his finger when the latter killed him.
Played by: Colby Paul
From "Corpsicle." A young man whose requests for a heart transplant are continuously denied by ▄ber-Life Life Insurance.
Played by: Julia Campbell
From "Corpsicle." Abner's understandably perpetually-stressed mother.
Played by: Audrey Wasilewski
From "Corpsicle." A perky agent of the Make-a-Wish Foundation whose only desire this Christmas is to see Abner smile. She's obviously having a hard time with this.
Played by: Autumn Reeser
From "Bzzzzzzzz!" The potential new face of Betty's Bees, replacing previous Number One Bee-Girl Betty — something that the team suspects is highly connected to her murder.
Played by: Peter Cambor
From "Bzzzzzzzz!" Kentucky's grieving husband, who brings her murder to the team.
Played by: Missi Pyle
From "Bzzzzzzzz!" The founder and president of Betty's Bees before it was taken over by Woolsey Nichols. Kentucky's former employer, with whom she shared a sisterly relationship.
- Beehive Hairdo: Fittingly, as the owner of a honey-based products company.
- Christmas Cake: According to Nichols, her age (37) is the reason for her being phased out in favor of Kentucky.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Kentucky. So much that they were in cahoots to bring Nichols down.
Played by: French Stewart
From "Bzzzzzzzz!" The new owner of Betty's Bees following his hostile takeover of the company.
Played by: Rachael Harris
From "Circus Circus." The emotionally repressed mother of Nikki Heaps.
Played by: Hayley McFarland
From "Circus Circus." "Sweet" Nikki is Georgeann's runaway daughter. Her mother brings her missing person case to Emerson.
Played by: Artie O'Daley
From "Circus Circus." Nikki's mime boyfriend, found dead in his trailer park.
Played by: Casey Weiant
From "Circus Circus." Nikki's best friend.
- Im Not Telling You What Im Telling You: Chuck slyly gets more information from Nikki's best friend than the friend had planned on revealing.
- Loose Lips: Although she claims not to have this, Chuck easily gets information out of her with the right bait.
Played by: Loren Lazarine
From "Circus Circus." The head clown at the Circus of Fun.
Bryce von Deenis
Played by: Googy Gress
From "Circus Circus." A particularly unfortunate audience member.
- Butt Monkey: The stunt the clowns pulled on him seems to have been pretty disgusting, from what we hear. He's more than a little upset about it.
- No Indoor Voice
- Unfortunate Names: When you make a limerick out of "von Deenis," you end up with...
From "Circus Circus." An acrobat at the circus.
Played by: Mo Collins
From "Bad Habits." A nun who'd taken Olive under her wing. She was in charge of the convent's truffle harvest before her death.
Hansel von Getz
Played by: Graham McTavish
- All Germans Are Nazis: Although Emerson thought to he was an "Angry German," he's actually Swiss (and non-threatening).
Father Eduardo Dedonde
Played by: Michael Hitchcock
The priest at the convent.
- Nice Guy: Despite being a murder suspect, he seems to be genuinely nice — he is genuinely concerned for Sister Larue's situation, and speaks to Ned a little about his issues.
Played by: Alexandra Barretto
From "Frescorts." A beautiful woman who comes to Emerson about the death of her best friend Joe.
Played by: Phil Abrams
From "Frescorts." A doctor who approaches Emerson about the death of his best friend Joe. Sound familiar?
Played by: Hayes McArthur, J.R. Nutt
From "Frescorts." CEO of My Best Friend Inc., a frescort company where people are hired to become friends.
Played by: Joshua LeBar
From "Frescorts." A "frescort" at My Best Friend Inc., who had been hired by Veronica, Eugene, and Randy.
Played by: Dana Davis
From "Frescorts." A perky receptionist at My Best Friend Inc.
Played by: Colton Haynes
From "Frescorts." Supposedly the dorky school mascot of Buddy's high school years. Except not really.
- Big Man on Campus: Mentioned to be this by the narration.
- Jerk Jock: He was quarterback, and joined in humiliating Buddy after the latter caused a crucial defeat.
- Posthumous Character: He's been dead since Buddy's high school years.
Played by: Ping Wu
From "Dim Sum, Lose Sum." A dim sum chef.
Played by: Andrea Lui
From "Dim Sum, Lose Sum." Bao Ting's daughter, a waitress at the restaurant.
Played by: Ron Yuan
From "Dim Sum, Lose Sum." Head of a gambling ring.
Played by: Blake Kushi
From "Dim Sum, Lose Sum." Shrimpboy's cousin.