Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Grace and Frankie

Go To

    open/close all folders 

The Bergsteins


Frances "Frankie" Bergstein (née Mengela)

Portrayed By: Lily Tomlin

A hippie art teacher, adoptive mother to Coyote and Bud and ex-wife of Sol.

  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Frankie is a combination of Hippie, New Age and far-left stereotypes. But she is also clearly accustomed to the high standard of living she enjoyed as a lawyer's wife and has a history of making expensive purchases, ironically intended to help her get more in touch with the spiritual and less with the material.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Frankie has her moments, especially when she's high.
  • Cool Old Lady: An avid fan of drugs, hip hop, and openly honest about sex and her own vagina, Frankie definitely qualifies.
  • Granola Girl: Big time.
  • Hippie Parents: Alongside Sol.
  • Hippie Teacher: Runs an art class for convicts or "society's outcasts".
  • Housewife: A subversion in contrast to Grace. Frankie seems to have little in the way of cooking or housekeeping skills. It is heavily implied that Sol was the main cook in their family and openly stated that Bud did most of the household chores. Frankie devoted most of her time to artistic, activist and spiritual pursuits. Grace, in contrast, at least knows how to cook reasonably well and tries to keep a tidy home even though she was a career woman.
  • Informed Judaism: Is nominally Jewish, but also practices New Age and Neopaganism rituals. At one point she invokes the Norse goddess Frigg.
  • Manchild: An extremely rare female example, mostly applicable because she is in her 70's and the usual female tropes focus on much younger women. Frankie throws tantrums when people don't do what she wants, she sings loudly when people say things she doesn't want to hear and will pull stunts like locking her family out of the house (or locking herself in) when she is mad at them. She is also financially irresponsible and has relied heavily on her (now ex-) husband and sons to handle the practical matters of life. She can barely drive, and seems to lack many basic life skills.
  • Political Overcorrectness: Frankie can take this to extremes that drive everyone else nuts. To the point that Brianna's Camp Gay assistant wants to record one of her rants on his phone because he says that some of his friends still don't believe that Frankie is real.
  • Sanity Slippage: Frankie's mind is not entirely what it once was. It's originally chalked up to her being a Cloudcuckoolander, but later it becomes apparent that it is more than that. A major highlight is when she accidentally drives from LA to Mexico with Bud's baby in her backseat because she saw and ice-cream truck and decided to follow it. For some reason. When questioned about her logic in this, she cannot properly explain why. She starts having "senior moments" with increasing frequency afterwards.
  • Second Love: Finds it with yam farmer Jacob.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Deconstructed. Her attempt to protest against the use of palm oil in her lube ends up derailing the product entirely when she makes a statement by spreading fake blood in herself during a meeting with an important investor and ruins her work relationship with Brianna, despite the fact that she was trying to go as far as her company could go to make an environment friendly product but couldn't get rid of the palm oil.
  • Sticky Fingers: Initially it seemed to be a singular incident: stealing a pack of cigarettes when an obnoxious store clerk was ignoring her and Grace. But when Grace takes Frankie to a meeting at a business incubator she practically fills her purse with items stolen from the office.
  • Straw Character: Frankie is a Strawman Political caricature of far-left stereotypes. One of the senior partners at Sol's law firm referred to her as his "communist wife". She is also hysterically opposed to Grace having a gun, despite her own insecurity about being in the house after a break-in. Frankie also passionately supports any environmentalist cause (but wants to use Grace's credit card to "adopt" a snow leopard). Indeed, the main thing limiting her activism is that she no longer has Sol's money to spend on it.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: In Frankie's case, the big phobia is earthquakes. Even very minor ones send her into a state of terror. Which makes it rather odd that she lives in California. She is also terrified of guns and refuses to live in a house where one is kept.


Sol Bergstein

Portrayed By: Sam Waterston
A successful divorce lawyer with a hippie streak, adoptive father to Coyote and Bud, ex-husband to Frankie and current husband to Robert. Stepfather to Mallory and Brianna.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: When he is actually acting like a lawyer, Sol comes across as being very competent. This is at odds with his behavior in his personal life, where he seems rather neurotic and emotionally open.
  • Cool Old Guy: Much like Frankie.
  • Gentle Giant: Can't stand making anyone unhappy and was apparently 6ft tall by the age of fourteen.
  • Henpecked Husband: When Frankie laments that a fight she had with Grace is worse than any she ever had with Sol, Bud points out to her that this is because Sol always caved in to what Bud explicitly calls her "tantrums".
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The sensitive guy to Robert's manly man.
  • Supreme Chef: Sol is an excellent cook. Out of their combined family only Mallory comes close.


Coyote Bergstein

Portrayed By: Ethan Embry
Frankie and Sol's adoptive son. A recovering alcoholic and drug addict, he works as a substitute teacher.
  • Aerithand Bob: His and Bud's full names against Brianna and Mallory's.
  • The Alcoholic: Frequently referenced but he's recovering.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: He definitely takes more after Frankie than Sol.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Coyote has a nervous, boyish, quality that contrasts his more confident and mature brother. Most people like him.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: the foolish to Bud's responsible.
  • Manchild: Has a childlike naivety,and isn't known for making responsible decisions. Lampshaded by both him and Brianna.
    Mallory: Are you 15?
    Coyote: In many ways, yes.
  • Happily Adopted: Finds a loving family with Frankie and Sol but still pursues his birth family.
  • Really Gets Around: Back before he got sober.
  • Recovered Addict: Went through a particularly bad phase, buying cocaine from one of his students and having an Addled Addict episode in Mallory's front yard where he pleaded with her to not marry Mitch, to whom she had already been married for several years and had children with. He got better, but everyone lives in fear of a relapse.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Less responsible and uptight than his more responsible and organized brother
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: For his brother Bud. He was sleeping on Bud's couch until well into season 3.


Nwabudike "Bud" Bergstein

Portrayed By: Baron Vaughn
Sol and Frankie's adoptive son. A lawyer like his father.
  • Aerith and Bob: His and Coyote's names stand out against the Hanson's less unusual ones.
  • The Dutiful Son: He's much more aware of the needs of his family than his siblings, spending the first season trying to make sure that both of his parents are OK.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Despite being more mature than his brother in many ways,then Bud has a nervous, boyish quality at times.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The responsible to Coyote's foolish.
  • Happily Adopted: Despite the dysfunction, Bud obviously loves his family greatly.
  • Not So Above It All: While usually mature, then he has his moments of immaturity like trying to force his girlfriend and brother to get along by making them spend time together.
  • Only Sane Man: Between his hippie artist mother, gay father and former drug addict brother Bud stands out as this for the Bergsteins.
    Coyote: [Bud], you're the only normal one in the family. And we rely on you a lot.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: The responsible, organized and uptight one in the family, contrasting his more naive and impulsive brother.

The Hansons


Grace Hanson

Portrayed By: Jane Fonda
A former cosmetics mogul who built her own company. Ex-wife to Robert and mother to Brianna and Mallory.
  • Cool Old Lady: Not quite as much as Frankie but she's still this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much a requirement when you live with someone like Frankie.
  • Jerkass with a Heart of Gold: Only after divorcing Robert does Grace finally see how mean and cruel she could be including deriding Frankie for never actually having given birth and telling Mallory to not have any more kids. Despite this, she's a fundamentally good person.
  • Lady Drunk: Grace is rarely seen without an alcoholic beverage nearby, even in the morning.
  • Maternally Challenged: Grace struggles to relate to her young grandchildren and their childish pursuits. It is implied that this was also an issue with Brianna and Mallory. Notably, when Mallory needed a babysitter for her daughter she opted for Robert and Sol rather than Grace.
  • Rich Bitch: Was this during her marriage to Robert, when she was a successful businesswoman married to a successful lawyer and her circle of friends were all like this. She gradually gets over it after the divorce, although the fact that she no longer has as much money may have contributed to her realization as to how bad she was.
  • Sanity Slippage: Less severe than Frankie's, but it's there. Grace was once a very sharp business woman who, with the exception of Robert and Sol, was quite skilled at sniffing out bullshit and self-reliant. As she has gotten older, her abilities in both departments have decreased, to the point that she is conned by a crooked contractor and has all of the copper piping in the beach house stolen, starts relying more on Insane Troll Logic as a justification for some actions.
  • Silver Vixen: By virtue of being played by Jane Fonda, the grandmother of four passes for this.
  • Straight Man: To Frankie.
  • The One That Got Away: For Grace, it's Phil Milstein.


Robert Hanson

Portrayed By: Martin Sheen
A successful divorce lawyer. Ex-husband to Grace and father to Mallory and Brianna. Current husband to Sol and stepfather to Coyote and Bud.
  • All Gays Love Theater: Loves theater, and even joins a queer theater group starting season 3.
  • Cool Old Guy: It's Martin Sheen so of course he's this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has a very sharp sense of humor.
  • Henpecked Husband: Ironically, more so after the divorce than before. During his marriage to Grace they were actually a somewhat distant couple. Since then he has had to deal with a more pushy side of Grace. For example, she castigates him for keeping a stockpile of expensive jewelry to give her as gifts rather than buying each piece individually as an occasion came up. She also reels in Robert and Sol to help package her vibrators for shipment and criticizes how neatly he labels the boxes.
  • Parental Issues: Has a very cold relationship with his awful, emotionally abusive mother.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The manly man to Sol's sensitive guy.
  • Straight Gay: Robert is an example of this. He has typical masculine interests of an aging Boomer/Silent Generation man. However, his "gayness" shows up in being a theater geek, as mentioned above.


Brianna Hanson

Portrayed By: June Diane Raphael
The head of Say Grace after her mother's retirement. Eldest of Robert and Grace's daughters.
  • Child Hater: Does not even like the idea of having lunch with her sister Mallory if the babies get brought along. But she promises that she will be a Cool Aunt once the kids become teenagers.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Easily the worst for this. It often leads to some of the series' funniest moments.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: As the show progresses, we get to see a softer side of her.
  • Flanderization: Her relationship with Barry. While she was always the more dominant one in the relationship, she became especially bitchy and toxic in Seasons 6 and 7.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The only one of the four kids to point out that their fathers' affair means that they have been cheating on their mothers for years, and that if they'd left their mothers for anyone else, all four kids would hate them for it.
  • Lady in a Power Suit: Unsurprising for a cosmetics executive, and something she clearly learned from her mother. Brianna favors stylish but professional outfits that accentuate her looks while also projecting a no-nonsense image.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: She has a string of one-night-stands, and even attempts to pay her way into a relationship with a male escort. Fortunately, she finds a genuine connection in Barry.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She's rude and downright insulting most of the time, but is overall not a bad person.
  • Morality Pet: Barry is this to Brianna.
  • The Snark Knight: She's shown to care deeply for her friends and family, even if she's uncomfortable with her emotions and prefers to resort to sarcasm. Played for Laughs when it's revealed that she keeps sad dog movies on hand for the one time a year she allows herself to cry.


Mallory Hanson

Portrayed By: Brooklyn Decker
Devoted housewife and mother. Mallory is Robert and Grace's youngest daughter.
  • Dead Sparks: Between her and Mitch. To the point that neither of them really wants to go on a child-free vacation together.
  • Family Versus Career: A sore point between Mallory and Grace, as Grace feels that Mallory should stop having children and do something else with her life.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Robert has her guide him through preparing a meal for Sol via video call. Brianna or Grace do not appear to have even been considered as sources of instruction.
  • Housewife: To a doctor husband. Mallory is extremely competent at domestic matters. Much more so than her mother.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: With her sister Brianna, with a dose of Light Feminine Dark Feminine. Whereas Mallory is nice, friendly, family-oriented and dresses modestly in pastel colors, Brianna is snarky, often rude, dislikes young children and is a career-oriented woman who wears more form fitting, revealing outfits in bold colors.

Other Characters

Introduced in Season 1



Portrayed by: Peter Cambor
An accountant at Say Grace. Brianna falls for him.


Phil Milstein

Portrayed by: Sam Elliott
A man with whom Grace was in love with, but chose Robert over him.
  • Bus Crash: After he and Grace break up, he leaves the scene and isn't mentioned until Robert reveals during a funeral he died some time ago.
  • Last Episode, New Character: Played with. Phil doesn't show up until season 2, but his existence and his history with Grace are revealed by her in a video diary made by her in the last episode.
  • The One That Got Away: Grace is still hung up on him fifteen years after seeing him for the last time.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: He cheats on wife to be with Grace, someone he's implied to still be in love, while his life has become sadder and sadder due to his wife developing Alzheimer.

Introduced in Season 2



Portrayed by: Estelle Parsons
"I don't want to go out fighting, I want to go out flying"
A dear friend of Frankie. She travels around the world but has come back to throw a party with Frankie.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Defied. When Gracie tries to talk her into getting treatment and fighting cancer, Babe states that she does not want to fight it, she just wants to go out peacefully.
  • Face Death with Dignity
  • Fun Personified: Babe is an extremely fun loving person and instantly bring joy to Frankie and others around her.
    Babe: I'm the happiest person I know!
  • Gallows Humor: Has a hard time doing it. Frankie can't exactly deal with this knowing she's going to die soon.
    Frankie: That's really not funny.
    Babe: I know. I'm still sorting out this gallows humor thing. It's always too far or not far enough.
  • Spirit Advisor: has become this for Grace in Season 5. It's revealed she often talks with Frankie as a ghost.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: She has decided to take her own life. After her cancer resurfaced, she refused to let it consume her or go through the process of healing again and wants to go out in peace.

Introduced in Season 3


Allison Giampietro-Smikowitz

Portrayed by: Lindsey Kraft

Bud's girlfriend and eventual fiancé with a lot of sickness and health issues.

  • Attention Whore: Accused of being one by Bud's siblings, who think her diseases are just a way to make sure that everyone is paying attention to her.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: No one is particularly big on her. In particular Coyote and Brianna think she is saying she has all those diseases to be the center of attention at all times.
  • Happily Married: With their own idiosyncrasies, they make the perfect married couple.

  • Hypochondria: Shows signs of this, a litany of anxiety symptoms, and various vague neuroses. She also is on a first name basis with hospital staff, and faints when she isn’t the center of attention in the lobby after Frankie’s stroke, but they were early symptoms of pregnancy. Accused by Coyote of having a factitious disorder.

  • Love Interest: For Bud, during season 3, but they are well together in season 4. In the season 3 finale she finds out she's pregnant; halfway through the next series, they're engaged.


Portrayed by: Millicent Martin
The former Secretary in Sol and Robert's law firm, she is now retired from that and works with Grace and Frankie in their business endeavors.
  • Running Gag: There's a recurring joke she makes regarding the death of her ex husband, and how she was a suspect in his murder.


Nick Skolka

Portrayed by: Peter Gallagher

The owner of a big company that becomes interested in Grace when she threatens to sue him.

  • Benevolent Boss: His employees genuinely seem to like him, even Nick's son through an earlier marriage. Though they are estranged, with Nick barely acknowledging his son's in-office presence, they are still affable with each other. However...
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Nick is a very mild example. Despite being a good boss, he has no problem indulging with tax evasion. While his employees are not hurt directly, at the end of season 6, he is arrested for his white collar crimes.
  • Ladykiller in Love: He appears to have had several flings and is definitely a charmer, but falls head over heels for Grace.

Introduced in Season 4



Portrayed by: Lisa Kudrow

Grace's roommate after Gracie left to Santa Fe. A kooky and friendly girl who is in a legal dispute with her terrible step-children over the house her husband left her.

  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Subverted, despite Frankie's insistence, she truly is as nice and sweet as Grace thinks.
  • Good All Along: Frankie believed her to be a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing trying to steal the house from her step-children after being a Trophy Wife for an older man. When they confront her, she reveals that she was the damaged party. She loved her husband and nursed him all the time he was sick while the children would ignore him and kicked her out of the house, leaving her homeless when they got the chance.
  • Pink Is Feminine: She dons a lot of pink in most of her clothes. Frankie's "disguise" for her was simply wearing jeans from top to bottom.

Portrayed by: Mark Deklin


Teddy Mengela

Portrayed by: Talia Shire
Frankie's estranged older sister, who she attempts to reconnect with after forty years.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: She gives an undergraduate-level economy class unlike Frankie, who is revealed to have never been good with numbers.


Robin Mengela

The younger brother of Teddy and Frankie, who died in his teens.



Portrayed by: Scott Evans
A newly engaged neighbor of Sol and Robert, who's invited over in Sol's attempt to make more gay friends outside of Robert's theater group. Further context: Oliver has mentioned his partner Jo to Sol, and therefore both Sol and Robert assume they are about to befriend another gay couple. Both Sol and Robert realize Oliver is gay, despite Jo's status as a woman in their heterosexual relationship (and her overt claims to the contrary), but don't know how to handle the situation.

  • Transparent Closet: Before knowing Oliver was engaged to a woman, named Jo, they assumed he was gay because of his mannerisms and interests (including encyclopedic knowledge of flowers and theater). After having dinner with them, Sol and Robert know he is but Oliver does not realize he is. Before this, even Jo's mother thought Oliver was gay. Later Oliver realizes he is.

Introduced in Season 5



Portrayed by: Jackson Pace
A young teen who punched Coyote, thinking Coyote had an affair with his mom. In truth, he is Coyote's biological half-brother.
  • "Hey, You!" Haymaker: Luke first greets Coyote by confirming who he is, then punching him in his face. Twice. This happens before they realize they are related.
  • Long-Lost Relative: He is Coyote's half-brother through their mother, Krystle.