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Characters: The Nanny

Main Cast (in order of billing):

Francine "Fran" Fine (Fran Drescher)

Maxwell Sheffield (Baron Charles Shaughnessy)

Niles (Daniel Davis)

  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With C.C.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Fake Brit: Daniel Davis is actually from Arkansas, but his accent is so good that when the show premiered in the UK, viewers thought that he should help Charles Shaughnessy (an actual Londoner) with his accent.
    • Not just a Londoner, an honest-to-God Lord (he is the 5th Baron Shaughnessy).
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic.
  • Gentleman Snarker
  • I Was Quite a Looker: In one episode, when Max wrote a thinly veiled story based on his life, Niles is moping that he wasn't invited to the premiere since he was the inspiration for the character of the houseboy. Fran snarks, "He was twenty-five with a blond pompadour and an impish grin." Niles bites back, "Well, so was I six hundred thousand Brillo pads ago."
  • The Jeeves
  • Legacy of Service: His father was the Sheffield butler before he was.
  • Loving Bully: To C.C.
  • Older than They Look: Niles was a teenager when Max was still young enough to have a nanny himself, but he looks roughly the same age as him and Fran.
  • Only One Name: "It's just Niles. Like Cher.".
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Considering C.C's Jerk Ass attitude, most of his insults towards her tend to fall under this category.
  • Platonic Life Partners: With Fran.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He delivers one to C.C. after she begins mocking him for thinking he had a chance with her. Niles lays into her that at least he is trying to move on from his rejection, whereas she's spent a good chunk of her life chasing after a man (Maxwell) who has no interest in her and never will, and is still chasing after him even though he's now married and is having a child with his new wife. The thing is, rather than give a snappy comeback, this really hits C.C. where it hurts and she decides to resign from being Maxwell's partner. She doesn't, and C.C. and Niles really do get together.
  • Sarcastic Devotee
  • Screwy Squirrel: He's at his happiest tormenting C.C. with tricks and pranks.
  • Servile Snarker
  • Shipper on Deck: For Fran and Maxwell.
  • The Southpaw

Chastity Claire "C.C." Babcock (Lauren Lane)

  • Antagonist in Mourning: Happens twice to C.C.. Once when Fran leaves to become a soap opera star, C.C. is ecstatic until she finds out that Maxwell has hired Heather Biblow to take over as nanny. When Fran returns, C.C. hugs her, exclaiming "Don't you ever leave me again!" to a perplexed Fran. The second time was after Niles suffers a heart attack during a verbal spar with him.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Niles.
  • Betty and Veronica: Subverted. She thinks she's Betty and Fran is Veronica to Maxwell's Archie, but she's not even in the equation.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing
  • Blondes are Evil
  • Blue Blood
  • Bitch Alert: Her first interaction with Fran was a frostbitten sarcasm about her appearance.
  • Break the Haughty
  • Butt Monkey
  • Catch Phrase: Often enters with "Hello, hello!"
  • Child Hater: She can't even remember the names of Maxwell's children, or even the number, despite knowing them all their lives, and working from their home. Also, one time, when she was entertaining a group of ladies she mentioned how they were deciding between donating to their show or a Children's Milk Fund, saying how she didn't want any thirsty little brats getting in her way.
  • City Mouse
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Towards the end.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Chastity Claire, revealed in the finale.
  • Enemy to All Living Things: So much so that after having sex with Niles, she's shown singing and dancing with animals like Snow White, much to the surprise of everyone.
    • In another episode, she was able to tell, over the car phone, that Fran had hit a rabbit while driving by recognizing the noise. To repeat: She was able, over the phone, to identify what Fran hit, down to the species, merely by the sound it made when it was hit by a car.
  • Evil Laugh
  • First Girl Wins: Averted. She was the first girl, though arguably subverted since she ends up with Niles in the end.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: Lauren Lane became pregnant during season 5, so it was written that C.C. got institutionalized after learning that Fran and Maxwell got engaged. In one episode, she lampshades Seinfeld's use of this trope on Elaine Benes, later entering the room with a large sign that said "BABY" over her body.
    • Also a justified trope. It'd be out-of-character for her to be pregnant, since she's portrayed as hopeless at getting dates throughout most of the show.
  • Hopeless Suitor
  • Informed Deformity: A quite jarring case: throughout the series Niles insinuates that C.C. is unattractive, despite the fact that she actually looks quite beautiful (it was her personality that was unattractive!). Justified later on in the series when it turns out that Niles has just been saying this to cover up the fact that he's actually madly in love with C.C. (For the most part, in the early episodes, it would appear that Niles simply hates her so much he's coming up with every insult he can to throw at her. He also calls her a cow, a hooker, and a witch.)
  • It's All About Me: Even though she mellows out in the end, she still goes on and on about herself, even going as far as having a priest marry her and Niles while Fran's in labor.
    • Although, that was Fran's idea. She bad been violently ill ever since Niles proposed, and Fran said that as soon as she said "I Do", her jitters would go away.
      • It turns out though, that she was feeling ill because she's pregnant with Niles' child. Although C.C. did say she was feeling better afterwards.
    C.C.: Nanny Fine, you're right! I don't feel like I'm gonna throw up anymore!
    Fran: (Mid-contraction) I'm so friggin' happy for you!
  • Jerkass:
  • Lack of Empathy: This exchange says it all:
    Fran: Question: When they shot Bambi's mother, did you find that a sad moment?... At all?
    C.C.: I'm sure she's mounted on a nice wall in a fine home somewhere.
  • Large Ham: Especially in the first seasons, her two expressions were either icy indifference or full-throated rage.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Often, usually delivered swiftly by the machinations of Fran and/or Niles. In fact, most of Niles' barbs and pranks are done in direct response to a moment of Jerk Ass or callousness on C.C.'s part.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor
  • Meaningful Name: Her full name Chastity-Claire, considering how unlucky she is with men, especially Maxwell.
    • Probably also an Ironic Name, since it's such a sweet, feminine name and C.C.'s so... not. It should be noted that when this is announced, the entire room (including Fran who's in labor) stop and look at her rather surprised.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Until the finale, revealed to be Chastity-Claire Babcock.
  • Playing Gertrude: C.C. is several years older than Fran, but Lauren Lane is actually 4 years younger than Fran Drescher.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser
  • Rich Bitch
  • Slapstick Knows no Gender: A unique example in that most of her slapstick is caused by a male character (Niles).
  • Small Name, Big Ego
  • Stalker with a Crush: Towards Maxwell, with borderline Yandere tendencies.
  • Twitchy Eye: Whenever she sees and/or hears about Fran and Maxwell getting along.
  • Well Done Daughter Girl

Margaret "Maggie" Sheffield (Nicholle Tom)

  • Daddy's Girl: Much to her frustration.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Beautiful and blond, generally kind.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: It was a plot point at a few times that, even though Fran was at least a generation older than her and hired to be a caregiver, Maggie was frankly too old to have a nanny anymore (she started the show in her early-to-mid teens,) and they acted more like sisters or girlfriends than anything else (it became a problem later when Fran really did become her mother.)
  • Missing Mom
  • Na´ve Everygirl
  • She Cleans Up Nicely
  • She Is All Grown Up: As the show progresses.
  • Shrinking Violet: In the beginning.
  • Spoiled Sweet
  • Took a Level in Badass: As part of her Character Development. In early episodes, her only response to Brighton's barbs was to scream out "Shut up, Brighton!" and storm out of the room angry and/or hurt. By the end, thanks to Fran working on her self-esteem and teaching her how to stand up to him, by the end, she was able to give as good as she got and would get the better of him frequently.

Brighton Sheffield (Benjamin Salisbury)

Grace "Gracie" Sheffield (Madeline Zima)

  • Adorably Precocious Child
  • Brainy Brunette
  • Creepy Child: Especially in earlier seasons, her therapy and subsequent extensive knowledge of psychology made her come across as a little twisted. In the pilot, after Fran snarked about Grace saying her therapist took her back through her childhood (She was about 7 at the time,) Grace turned to her and said, "Oh, you have no idea how complicated I am."
  • Daddy's Girl
  • Missing Mom
  • Mood Whiplash: Part of Grace's charm was the fact that she would pinball back and forth between a Wise Beyond Their Years pseudo-adult and a very typical little girl, once saying her ideal man was a combination of Barney... and Ted Koppel.
  • Mouthy Kid
  • Out of Focus: Seasons 3-6, probably to make room for Fran's growing romance with Maxwell, and more story lines involving Val, Sylvia, and Yetta (and possibly due to the fact that Madeline Zima was the only one still under age and subject to child labor laws.)
  • She Is All Grown Up: Towards the end of the series.
  • Shipper on Deck: For Fran and Maxwell.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years

Recurring Characters:

Sylvia Rosenberg-Fine (Renee Taylor)

  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents
  • Big Eater
  • Characterization Marches On: In an early episode, she actually took in the entire main cast during a blizzard and kept all of them well-fed. Later on, she was quick to snatch up any food someone else was about to sink their teeth into.
    • Potentially justified since it was a major crisis (worst blizzard in 30 years) and the family was stranded in her house. The rest of the time, since the Sheffield household was much better off than she was, all food was fair game (she did seem willing to offer food any time they were in her home.)
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Informed Deformity: While Sylvia was a Big Eater and definitely a bigger woman, in show, they portrayed her as a whale. During one of her many elaborate freakouts, she threatened to throw herself in the Hudson River, to which Fran responded "Ma, flooding New Jersey is not gonna solve anything!"
  • I Want Grandkids
  • Jewish Mother
  • My Beloved Smother
  • No Indoor Voice
  • Shipper on Deck: For Fran and Maxwell.
    • To be fair though, playing a stereotypical Jewish Mother whose daughter is over 30, Sylvia would ship Fran with just about anyone. Fran even commented once that her mother would have been thrilled with her hooking up with a successful, professional woman if not for the fact said lesbian wasn't Jewish.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave
  • Verbal Tic: Like her daughter, she often starts sentences with "Meanwhile...".
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: A typical trait of the My Beloved Smother on sitcoms of the time, she always genuinely seemed concerned with Fran's happiness (she just had trouble understanding that happy =/= married.) She would pair up Fran with any available male she saw. Also, when it was revealed that Fran was a Former Teen Rebel, it was mentioned how Fran had no privacy as a child. Sylvia's acrylic nails could open any door she needed through ("Doors, diaries, my ex-boyfriend Chevy," according to Fran,) and casually mentioned reading her diary like it was a cookbook.

Grandma Yetta Rosenberg (Ann Morgan Guilbert)

Val Toriello (Rachel Chagall)

  • Dumb Blonde: As Fran puts it, "Val wasn't short for 'valedictorian'.".
  • Fake Nationality: Rachel Chagall is also Jewish, but plays an Italian-American.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Fran.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: TWICE! But since Rachel Chagall didn't have top billing it was much easier to hide her pregnancies and have her disappear for a while during maternity leave.
  • Straw Loser: Fran looks like a genius and total success in life compared to her. Fran outright admits she likes being around Val because it makes her feel smarter.


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