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Characters / Ally McBeal

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This is the character sheet for Ally McBeal

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    Ally McBeal 

Ally McBeal
Played by:: Calista Flockhart

Title character and protagonist of the show. A litigator at Cage and Fish. Becomes senior partner in Season 5.

  • Birthday Hater: The closer her birthday was, the bigger her depression. She could never enjoy her day and celebrate, and had even trouble to civilly accepting best wishes. She hates getting older without a husband in sight and without a prospect of having babies soon.
  • Crossover: Starred in one with The Practice, as herself.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Ally is quirky and dorky and she sometimes sees unicorns, dancing babies or hears music in her mind. Many men on the show find her quirks charming and fall in love with her. It helps that she's also very pretty.
  • Fainting: Emotional variety, whenever she sees a girl she likes.
  • High-Powered Career Woman: She is a notable subversion. A Harvard Law grad who works for a Boston Law Firm and leaves after being sexually harassed by her boss for another firm in the first episode, Ally's narrative arc seems to be set up to follow the trope. However, it is quickly made apparent that unlike most versions of the trope, Ally is a hopeless romantic, who is just as motivated by love as she is her work (perhaps even more so), and she's a bit of a Cloud Cuckoo Lander and The Ditz. She often has wild Imagine Spots, daydreams about the problems she faces, and has glaring holes in her knowledge about legal issues, despite being a lawyer. The character was subsequently criticized in the media as being anti-feminist and demeaning to women because of these traits, culminating with the character gracing the cover of Time Magazine with the headline, "Is Feminism Dead?"
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: She's a naive romantic, and a rather desperate one since My Biological Clock Is Ticking. This leads her to have quite e tumultuous love life over the course of the series.
  • Mr. Imagination: She frequently has Imagine Spots about the occurrences and people in her life.
  • Ms. Fanservice: She's an attractive woman who tends to wear short skirts that show off her legs.
  • My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Her character is defined by her desire to find her true love and start a family with them, to the point she often hallucinates babies. Ironically enough, she already has a daughter from an egg donation, Maddie, who finds her in the last season and moves in with her.
  • Sweeps Week Lesbian Kiss: Engages in one with Georgia. Later, does another with Ling.
  • The Unfair Sex: Richard calls out Ally for believing this trope, as she was okay with a bride having an affair before marriage, but not the groom.

    John Cage 

John Cage
Played by: Peter MacNicol

One of the two initial senior partners at Cage and Fish. In the later episodes of Season 5, he becomes a member of a Mariachi band in a Boston Mexican restaurant.

  • Amicable Exes: While the initial break-up leaves him and Nelle acting very hostile at first, they eventually mend their relationship and act as cordial co-workers to each other.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: His legal defenses are brilliant and he wins the majority of his cases, and he's downright odd.
  • Character Tic: He has an absurdly high number of them — his nose whistles, stammering "Poughkeepsie", his face above his lips shakes when he thinks about women's "moustaches", he has to be barefoot when preparing his closing arguments, he smiles intensely (a part of his therapy), has a personal song, he hangs in his office as a bat, he has to have a fresh toilet bowl, he has a secret small room in the office (don't ask where), and so on.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Women who feel attracted to him find him adorably weird.
  • Insecure Love Interest: He's initially insecure about his relationship with Nelle, as he believes her gorgeous looks and confident demeanor place her out of his league.
  • In-Series Nickname: "Biscuit". It's a very old nickname from school. Elaine would use it from time to time.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Nelle suspects this because John had yet to sleep with her.
  • Mr. Imagination: He and his Barry White fantasy. Also had an Imagine Spot with Nelle the happy housewife and some kids.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive Guy to Richard's Manly Man.
  • Pitbull Dates Puppy: With Nelle in Seasons 2 and 3. He's the puppy, being a sensitive dorky lawyer who's dating a confident, gorgeous, and icy career woman.
  • Verbal Tic: The nose noises and stammering "P-P-Poughkeepsie".
  • Weirdness Magnet: The firm's lawyers and clients themselves are weird, but John always seems to draw in the crazies.

    Richard Fish 

Richard Fish
Played by: Greg Germann

The other initial senior partner at Cage and Fish and Ally's classmate, who offers her a position at his firm.

  • Beta Couple: Season 1, with Whipper.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Double subverted. He has just as many quirks as the rest of the firm, and is an absolutely abysmal lawyer, to the point that you can hear judges' eyes rolling whenever he sets foot in a courtroom. However, his primary job isn't being a lawyer, but being the public face of the firm, and he excels at maintaining and expanding the firm's client base.
  • The Casanova: He's a major womanizer who Really Gets Around.
  • Catchphrase: "Bygones". Also "That's a Fishism".

    Elaine Vassal 

Elaine Vassal
Played by: Jane Krakowski

Gossipy and nosy secretary at Cage and Fish.

    Billy Thomas 

Billy Thomas
Played by: Gil Bellows

Associate at Cage and Fish, former boyfriend of Ally, and husband of Georgia.

    Georgia Thomas 

Georgia Thomas

Associate at Cage and Fish, wife of Billy.

    Nelle Porter 

Nelle Porter
Played by: Portia de Rossi

Associate at Cage and Fish, joined at the beginning of Season 2.

  • Amicable Exes: While the initial break-up leaves her and John acting very hostile at first, they eventually mend their relationship and act as cordial co-workers to each other.
  • Beneath the Mask: Can actually be very sweet and loving beneath her cold exterior.
  • Birds of a Feather: She develops a friendship with fellow mean-spirited co-worker Ling.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Just as eccentric as everyone else, but she was the firm's most productive associate and was specifically brought in as a "rainmaker", to generate new business.
  • Career Versus Man: Her relationship with John dissolves once he discovers she has no desire to be a mother or start a family, preferring instead to be a career-oriented woman.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She has a sarcastic wit and is a frequent source of biting, witty one-liners.
  • Demoted to Extra: She has much more of a background role in seasons 4 and 5.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Nelle isn't exactly loved, but she becomes sort of a queen bee of the place and her hair is frequently mentioned as a key aspect of her attractiveness.
  • Foil: Her character was made to be the antithesis to Ally, with Nelle being a glamorous and confident beauty who has no desire to be a parent, contrasting with the meek and insecure Ally who's desperate to settle down and start a family.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Everyone in the firm considers her to be a gorgeous, including herself.
  • High-Powered Career Woman: Unlike Ally, Nelle is actually ambitious and devoted to her law career. She joined the law firm with the intention of one day becoming a partner. When Richard reveals to her this isn't happening, she aggressively starts poaching clients from the firm and intends to start her own.
  • Ice Queen: She was called "sub-zero" for this reason. She doesn't even stick her hand all the way out for a handshake. It changes as the series progresses.
    • Defrosting Ice Queen: Season 4 really starts this for her, starting when she spends the day with a doctor going to jail for euthanizing a client.
  • In-Series Nickname: "Sub-zero" because she's so icy and unapproachable.
  • Kick the Dog: Nelle leaves the firm in Season 3, and tries to steal the clients by manipulating Elaine. It doesn't go well for Nelle.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: She usually wears her hair in a Prim and Proper Bun, but occasionally she lets her long, platinum blond hair down, causing everyone in the scene to gape in adoration.
  • Pet the Dog: Nelle has a few, but ultimately the largest is when she helps Elaine fulfill her dream to become a Broadway star.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: Often wears her hair in a professional bun while she's working.
  • Proud Beauty: She's very proud and smug abour her good looks, although unlike Ling, she doesn't like to use them to manipulate men, preferring to succeed based on her intelligence and merits as a litigator.
  • Pitbull Dates Puppy: With John. She's the pitbull, being a confident, gorgeous, and icy career woman who's dating a sensitive dorky lawyer.
  • Rich Bitch: She's fairly well-off and has a rather snobbish attitude.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: She becomes attracted to John due to his good-natured nature.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: She's extremely scared of frogs, which becomes a source of drama as her Love Interest John has a frog as a pet.
  • Woman Scorned: Leaves the firm in Season 3 thanks to her break up with John, but comes back later.

    Ling Woo 

Ling Woo
Played by: Lucy Liu

Associate at Cage and Fish, started as a client of Nelle's before she was hired a few episodes later. Friend of Nelle's.

  • Asian Rudeness: The only Asian character in the cast and by far the rudest and meanest.
  • Beneath the Mask: Sobs when one of her clients dies of leukemia, but only when she's alone.
  • Birds of a Feather: She develops a friendship with fellow mean-spirited co-worker Nelle.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The second she opens her mouth, the bitch comes out.
  • Breakout Character: She was introduced in season 2 as a client, but ended up so popular she joined the main cast and became one of the most popular characters in the show.
  • Brutal Honesty: She never minces words and frequently tells exactly what's on her mind.
  • Death Glare: She gives these frequently to her co-workers.
  • Dragon Lady: She was meant to embody the stereotypes of exotic Asian women being sensual yet vicious and domineering. Some Imagine Spots even show breathing fire like a literal manifestation of a dragon lady.
  • Everyone Has Standards: When Georgia attempted to sue the firm for ruining her marriage, none other than Ling said "even for me that's bogus".
  • Femme Fatale: Her sexuality is portrayed as predatory and she enjoys using her sensuality to manipulate men.
  • Foil: Like Nelle, her character was made to be the antithesis to Ally. Where the dark-haired Ling is sensual, cold, mean and confident, blonde Ally is awkward, warm, nice, and insecure.
  • Freudian Excuse: In a show known for these, she is noticeably the only one who doesn't have one. Smith attributes this to her Asian "mysteriousness"
  • Iron Lady: For all her flaws, she is a tough-as-nails lady who doesn't take shit from anyone, to which both Ally and Nelle admire her for.
    Ally: She's my hero, she's vicious, I disagree with almost everything she says, she treats me like dirt, and somehow she's my hero.
  • It's All About Me: She's often uninterested and dismissive of anything that does not affect her personally.
  • Jerkass: She harasses and belittles pretty much everyone in the cast. Even people with disabilities aren't safe from being insulted by her.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Despite her abrasive personality and wildly offensive comments, she has her Pet the Dog moments, such as volunteering at an old folk's home, and going out of her way to make Elaine feel better after she lost in a contest.
  • Lack of Empathy: Rarely shows any empathy for people, and has plenty of Kick the Dog moments where she acts as Jerkass to sick or debilitated people.
  • Leitmotif: Every time Ling walks into a scene Ally imagines that she hears the Wicked Witch of the West theme from The Wizard of Oz.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Often pulls mean tricks and manipulations to get her way, both in her professional and personal life.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Her sexual agressiveness was often played for Fanservice.
  • Proud Beauty: She's extremely confident about her beauty and sexual prowess.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Convinces a dying boy that he can sue God, yells at handicapped people for getting all of the good parking spaces, pretends to be blind and causes car accidents to cross a street, and it goes on.
  • Running Gag: She constantly reprimands people about mispronouncing her name, but when she "corrects" them, it sounds exactly the same as how they said it.
  • Sex Goddess: Ironically, she considers her sexual prowess to be a problem. She's so ridiculously phenomenal in bed that she's hesitant to sleep with men she dates because then all they ever want from her is sex, and she much prefers the romance.
    Ling: I'm amazing in bed! I'm not proud, but I've ruined lives. I can't take men saying there's nobody after me. I've tried everything. Half-speed, slow. It's always the best sex he's ever had. Suddenly, no talking, movies, dinner. It's sex, sex, sex!
  • Token Evil Teammate: Easily the most selfish and almost outright evil person in the law firm. Only Richard and Nelle find her a good addition to the law firm.

    Mark Albert 

Mark Albert
Played by: James LeGros

Associate at Cage and Fish, hired during the end of Season 3 following the death of Billy. Series regular in Season 4.

    Coretta Lipp 

Coretta Lipp
Played by: Regina Hall

Associate at Cage and Fish. Guest starred in Season 4, became a series regular in Season 5.

    Jenny Shaw 

Jenny Shaw
Played by: Julianne Nicholson.

Associate hired by Ally at the beginning of Season 5. Glenn's former girlfriend.

  • Cloudcuckoolander
  • Endearingly Dorky: Jenny Shaw is a dorky young lawyer and essentially Ally lite. Ally considers her adorable and sees her as her own younger version. She's clumsy and weird, has freckles and slightly sloppy bob haircut.
  • Put on a Bus: Written out in the middle of Season 5.

    Glenn Foy 

Glenn Foy

Played by: James Marsden

Associate hired by Richard at the beginning of Season 5. Jenny's former boyfriend.

    Raymond Millbury 

Raymond Millbury

Played by: Josh Hopkins
Associate hired at the beginning of Season 5.

Other Characters

    Vonda Shepard 

Vonda Shepard
Played by: Vonda Shepard

Singer at the piano bar the lawyers frequent.

    Renee Raddick 

Renee Raddick

Ally's roommate and intially a D.A. later forms her own firm. Often sets Ally up with many different men.

  • Alliterative Name: Renee Raddick
  • Beautiful Singing Voice: As with Jane Krakowski, Lisa Nicole Carson is also a trained vocalist.
  • Big-Breast Pride: Deconstructed. Renee favours plunging necklines that show off her assets, but it turns out that this is in reaction to her having been bullied as a teen for being an early bloomer - essentially, she flaunts her body to prove that no one can make her feel ashamed of it. However, for the same reason she gets very uncomfortable when someone pays too much attention to it.
  • The Cast Showoff: Less so than Elaine, but frequently sings. Still subverted, as her singing is incorporated into the plot.
  • Friendly Enemy: Being a D.A until Season 3, she often speaks against Cage and Fish's clients. Still goes out to the bar with them after work, and lives with Ally.
  • UST: With John in the first season.

    Larry Paul 

Larry Paul

A lawyer who is introduced in Season 4 when Ally mistakes him as her therapist. Ends up dating Ally.

  • Endearingly Dorky: Larry Paul often comes off as a Cloudcuckoolander who snarks adorably and charms practically every woman he meets. He wears scarves and geeky glasses. He's a fun dad who can ride a monocycle. Ally considers him her soul mate.

    Whipper Cone 

Whipper Cone
Played by: Dyan Cannon.

Judge and on-again, off-again lover to Richard.