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Characters / The Nanny

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The cast of The Nanny. All spoilers are unmarked.

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Main Cast

    Francine "Fran" Fine
"Oh, please! I come from Flushing. There is nothing that these kids can throw at me that I haven't seen before. Except maybe their trust funds."
Played by: Fran Drescher

The titular nanny of the Sheffield household, a nasal-voiced woman from Flushing, Queens. Originally arriving at the Sheffields' door to sell cosmetics, she winds up becoming the nanny to Maggie, Brighton, and Gracie after showing some savvy with the kids.

  • Aesop Amnesia: A lot of Season 4 episodes revolve around her learning why it might be a bad idea to pursue her boss (mainly how it might affect the kids), or how unhealthy her obsession with marriage and Mr. Sheffield is. Naturally, this will be forgotten by the next episode, leaving her to pursue Mr. Sheffield or crack jokes about his cold feet.
  • Alliterative Name: Fran(cine) Fine.
  • Annoying Laugh: Her nasal laugh is divisive at best with everyone else in the cast.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: She may come off as nasal, big-haired, and desperate, but, people tend to forget she is also a hypermanipulative master of the Cool and Unusual Punishment, most often in the form of forced proximity with her overbearing mother. She's also skilled with Jewish guilt, and can reduce feelings of triumph to bitter sadness with a snap of her fingers.
  • Big Eater: Though not to the same degree as her mother, Fran still has quite the appetite and frequently snacks on food no matter how inappropriate.
  • Big Sister Mentor: Acts as an older sister figure to Maggie. This is established in the Season 1 episode "The Nuchshlep", when Fran tells Maggie she's too old for a nanny. Though this raises many problems once Fran and Maxwell are married, as Fran is expected to side with Maxwell on issues about the children.
  • Book Dumb: Not very educated (her best qualification is beauty school) but extremely street smart.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: She may be eccentric, but she's also a very competent nanny.
  • Catchphrase: Has a few:
    • "Oy..."
    • "Good morning, everyone!"
    • "Oh, Mistah Sheffield!"
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Fran is not a drinker but after she gets the idea she's about to be fired she drinks one Pink Squirrel at a friend's retirement party and ends up so wasted she can barely walk and climbs onto Maxwell's bed confusing it for her own.
  • Cute, but Cacophonic: She's attractive but also has a very distinct and nasal voice, which often annoys others. A doctor once mentions that if Fran's adenoids were removed her head would cave in.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Although usually sweet, she's not above resorting to dry humour especially in response to the shenanigans at the Sheffields or her parents' place.
  • Flanderization: Her desperation for finding a man becomes a bigger and bigger part of her character as the show goes on. It becomes a plot point a few times, especially in a small Season 4 arc, where she seeks therapy to break out of her obsession and learn to love herself.
  • Formerly Fat: Was apparently very hefty (or not as thin) at one point in her life. She's on Weight Watchers during the series to maintain her current figure, though she regularly applies Loophole Abuse to cheat on her diet.
  • Former Teen Rebel: One of the reasons she's so good at taking care of the children is that she's probably already pulled almost every stunt the Sheffield kids could ever think of. She once mentions skipping school so often, "my homeroom was McDonalds" and caused her mother so much grief, she once says, "When I started puberty, my mother was a size six, when I hit eighteen... so did she."
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine. She's the most energetic and bubbly of the adults.
  • Friend to All Children: Easily wins over the Sheffield children and most other kids due to her friendly personality. As the theme tune goes, "That's how she became the Nanny!"
  • Genki Girl: She gets along with the kids also because she's very energetic and humorous.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: She and C.C. hang out with each other on girls' nights, with no issues. Outside of their rivalry, they get along fairly well.
  • Happily Married: Finally gets together with Maxwell in Season 5 and is shown to have a happy marriage for the remainder of the show, including the birth of their twins.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: She and Val are best friends, ever since childhood.
  • Hypocrite: A common gag is for her to criticise someone (especially the children) for something while she's doing or about to do the exact same thing, such criticising her family/friends for lacking class while doing something unclassy herself.
  • Inherently Attractive Profession: She is particularly attracted to men who are doctors, especially Jewish doctors.
    Fran: All the while that you were selflessly raising your son Eric, while his mother, Cheree, was gallivanting all over Spring Valley, did you know that he wasn't your biological child?
    Brock Storm: Yes, I've always known.
    Fran Fine: You are a god. And a doctor. I gotta lie down.
  • Jewish Mother: Downplayed. She's Jewish and acts like a maternal figure to Maggie, Brighton and Grace, before literally becoming one in the last season. However she is a lot more lax than most other fictional Jewish mothers.
  • Lady in Red: As an attractive lady that joins the protagonist family, the Theme Tune characterises her as a lady who wears red when everyone else is wearing tan.
  • Magical Nanny: She's able to connect with the kids in a way they'd been missing, and she specifically helps neurotic youngest child Grace.
  • Mama Bear: Even before she actually becomes their mother, she's very protective of the Sheffield children. When Gracie gets the wrong idea about whether Fran actually likes her beyond her nanny duties thanks to C.C., Fran warns her that if she "ever hurt[s] one of [her] kids again they'll be wiping [her] blue blood off the walls".
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: She's an upbeat and exuberant Jewish working class woman, who brings a much needed new spirit into the entire household of her more uptight widowed British employer, Maxwell Sheffield. Fran is the protagonist though, so she's a more well-developed character than the more negative examples of the trope. And even though Maxwell is attracted to her already from early on, he has huge commitment issues and needs almost five years to finally propose marriage to Fran.
  • Matzo Fever: She is very, very Jewish, and attracts the attention of dozens of men over the years, including many celebrities and (of course) her boss the Broadway producer Maxwell.
  • Ms. Fanservice: One of her standout traits is her good looks and her stylish formfitting attire, such as her miniskirts.
  • Nice Girl: For the most part, she is usually very kind and compassionate to other people. For example, she is never initially hostile with C.C. and treats her very politely, despite the latter's often rude behavior directed at her, and she always takes C.C.'s insults in stride (to a certain point, before she'll retaliate). That said, mess with her kids at your own peril.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Her kindness to waiters and the like is nothing unusual, considering her upbringing, but it deserves special mention since it's frequently contrasted with the snooty blue-bloods she usually deals with. In "The Strike", she refuses to cross a picket line of striking busboys and had to be forcibly dragged by Maxwell. In "Personal Business", when she dates an obnoxious soap star, she addresses the driver by name whereas her date only calls him "Driver." In fact, the first person from the Sheffield household to accept Fran is Niles, the butler.
  • No Indoor Voice: Still loud even in an indoor setting, which she got from her mother. They trade off on this quality, and then sometimes use it simultaneously.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Intentionally played with after Fran goes out for sushi for the first time and eats enough wasabi to send her to the floor in pain. When she gets back up, she is amazed at how well her sinuses have cleared up and her shrill nasal accent is gone (a.k.a. Fran Drescher speaks in her normal voice). Just as she wonders how long it will last, her accent's back to what it always was.
  • One of the Kids: Can easily relate to the Sheffield's children due to her younger age and will go along with their quirks and hobbies, which is a reason she makes such a good nanny.
  • Parental Substitute: Becomes a maternal figure to the Sheffield children, even before she actually became their mother.
  • Phrase Catcher: Her antics often get out a frustrated "MISS FINE!" from her boss.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: In the later seasons, she's rarely shown doing any work as a nanny. Although this is justified since two of the three children she was hired to take care of are practically adults by this point, and keeps her job because of her Unresolved Sexual Tension with Maxwell (he also mentions how he keeps her around at least partly as an act of sympathy as she's not really qualified to do much of anything else, but his primary reason is mostly the former.) It gets lampshaded frequently, such as in an episode of the last season where Fran, now Maxwell's wife, hires a new nanny who quickly realizes that she's not needed. C.C. still calls Fran "Nanny Fine", but largely out of disrespect due to taking Maxwell's affections.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Develops a platonic but nevertheless tight friendship with Fran. Niles is the first to accept Fran into Maxwell Sheffield's household (and later becomes a Shipper on Deck for Fran and Maxwell), the two of them confide in each other, and they love to snark about C.C.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass: Fran has an extremely detailed knowledge of pop culture, has the TV Guide memorized, and in at least one case even used her knowledge of pop culture to successfully track down the guy who kidnapped CC's dog (It Makes Sense in Context). Fran's ability to personify this trope is one of the reasons she's able to reinvigorate the dry Sheffield household when she moved in.
  • Quirky Curls: She has curly black hair, matching her enthusiastic and bubbly personality.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The cheerful Genki Girl to the roper and reserved Maxwell.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Granted, she looks beautiful pretty much all the time, but she's stunning when she wears formal attire and goes the extra mile to look stylish, even earning comparisons to Audrey Hepburn at one point.
  • She's Got Legs: She has long legs, usually accentuated by her mini-skirts.
  • Shipper on Deck: In the final season, when she learns about Niles's feelings for C.C., she initially has a What Does He See in Her? reaction but eventually starts being supportive of their relationship, giving advice to both of them to make it work.
  • Signature Laugh: Known for her nasal, snorty laugh.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: After four seasons' worth of Unresolved Sexual Tension between her and Maxwell, they almost wind up sleeping together while in Paris, during the Season 4 finale...but Maxwell backs out of it at the last moment, offending Fran.
  • Stacy's Mom: After she and Maxwell get married, there's episode that centers around Brighton getting in a fight at school because some boys were ogling her.
  • Street Smart: She’s not very educated but she knows how to deal with the real world.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: In "Fashion Show", it's explained that she gets her clothes from fashion designer Todd Oldham, who's her cousin, at discounted prices (well, alongside frequenting outlet malls and having astronomical credit card bills.)
  • Vague Age: A Running Gag is how Fran lies about being younger than she actually is and refusing to reveal it. All is known is that she's in her thirties.
  • Verbal Tic: She often starts sentences with "meanwhile...", which she got from her mother.
  • Will They or Won't They?: The series spents a good chunk of the time teasing whether Maxwell and Fran will actually become an official couple or not. Lucky for them, they do eventually marry.

    Maxwell Sheffield
"You're off your bloody rocker, you know that? Thank God you're not operating heavy machinery, just raising my children."
Played by:Charles Shaughnessy, 5th Baron Shaughnessy

The esteemed head of the Sheffield household, a somewhat successful Broadway producer and widower with three kids.

  • Age-Gap Romance: Maxwell is in his early forties and eventually marries Fran who is implied to be in her early to mid thirties (and loves to lie that she's actually 29).
  • Always Someone Better: He deals with this twice over. In the present day, he's always playing second fiddle to Andrew Lloyd Webber; during his school days, he always seemed to be coming in second place to Jeremy Irons.
  • Blue Blood: Comes from a rich family, although there's jokes that he doesn't have a title like his other family members (ironically, his actor Charles Shaughnessy became a real-life baron in 2007).
  • British Stuffiness: He's British, uptight and prefers to not be overemotional. Runs in the family, with the exception of his brother and black sheep Nigel.
  • Butt-Monkey: Not quite as much C.C., but he has been on the receiving end of Fran's antics more than once and has numerous plays of his flop until finally hitting it big near the end of the show.
  • Catchphrase: Maxwell's enraged bellow of "MISS FINE!"
  • Celebrity Resemblance: It's a Running Gag that he is mistaken for Pierce Brosnan.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Becomes prone to jealousy Once he starts realizing his feelings for Fran. He doesn't go crazy,, but he gets very envious and petty whenever she finds a new beau. He'll usually jump into pissing matches where he attempts to one-up the love interest, or just goes straight to insulting them.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Plays up the dry humour whenever aggravated.
  • Depending on the Writer:
    • Maxwell will go back and forth between being savvy and a hapless buffoon in Fran's antics.
    • In the early seasons, Maxwell will either be aware about his feelings for Fran or comically oblivious about it.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: His middle name is Beverly, a Gender-Blender Name.
  • Fatal Flaw: His Commitment Issues. He openly cares for Fran, but fears making things official with her because he's worried about how the kids might react if the relationship falls apart. He still treats their dynamic as a romantic relationship though, leading to several instances where Fran gives up on him because he doesn't want to waste her life waiting on him to possibly changing his mind.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic. The most straight-laced of the adults.
  • Happily Married: Finally gets together with Fran in Season 5 and is shown to have a happy marriage for the remainder of the show, including the birth of their twins.
  • I Am Not My Father: Values family above all else, as opposed to his aloof, philandering father.
  • My Greatest Failure: It's been mentioned numerous times that he turned down the chance to produce Cats as he found its premise to be ridiculous; he still insists he made the right call, despite the mockery he's received for it.
  • Oblivious to Love: Played for Laughs, though it's more like Oblivious To Lust, as Maxwell constantly misinterprets or overlooks C.C.'s attempts at winning his heart.
  • Only Sane Man: Has the most serious personality compared to the other adults.
  • Overprotective Dad: He is overprotective of Maggie, not wanting her to date.
  • Phrase Catcher: Usually gets an "Oh, Mistah Sheffield..." from Fran.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The down-to-earth and uptight guy to Fran's fiesty and energetic Girl.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Is quick to correct people when they assume Fran is his wife or girlfriend for most of the series.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Maxwell loathes Andrew Lloyd Webber simply because the man in question always one-ups him.
  • Skunk Stripe: Has a gray streak in his hair, which is lampshaded to have appeared around the same time as Fran.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: He's quite tall (5' 11.5" or 1.82 metres), dark-haired, and a good-looking man.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Averted. He comes from a wealthy family, but has plenty of common sense, especially compared to his siblings.
  • Uptown Boy: He’s a rich Broadway producer falling for working-class Fran.
  • Will They or Won't They?: The series spents a good chunk of the time teasing whether Maxwell and Fran will actually become an official couple or not. Lucky for them, they do eventually marry.

"Ms. Fine, you spend so much time up this creek, I should think by now you'd have bought a paddle."
Played by: Daniel Davis

The snarky butler of the Sheffield household. He becomes fast friends with Fran, and is always quick to drop a creative insult against C.C.

  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Despite his rivalry with C.C., some moments reveal they can tolerate one another and they even share a passionate kiss in a middle of a Snark-to-Snark Combat. They eventually do get married in Fran's delivery room.
  • Deadpan Snarker: His main trait is making snarky comments while maintaining a stoic professional look.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic. The witty one of the adults.
  • The Gadfly: Loves messing with C.C.
  • Gentleman Snarker: The otherwise polite butler Niles' snarks are usually directed at people who deserve it, such as C.C.
  • Gossipy Hens: Niles is often mentioned to gossip with the butlers of other people in Maxwell's social circle and his favorite activity other than tormenting C.C. is eavesdropping.
  • Iconic Item: Usually seen with his feather duster due to his cleaning duties.
  • In-Series Nickname: Maxwell often calls him "Old Man".
  • I Was Quite a Looker: In one episode, when Max writes a thinly veiled story based on his life, Niles is moping that he isn'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: He's British, polite, sophisticated, and loyal to his employer... for the most part. Eventually, however, he becomes a Deadpan Snarker, thinking Maxwell's stubborn for his reluctance to admit his true feelings to Fran. Eventually, in a late season, he gains enough backbone to finally tell his boss off and speak his true mind about it, and this finally convinces Maxwell to propose to Fran, and it sticks.
  • Jerkass to One: A loyal and polite butler who can be considered a nice person... unless he's around C.C. While she's a Rich Bitch who deserves much of the torment, Niles can be ruthlessly sadistic towards her.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He can be a pretty harsh Deadpan Snarker at times, and is particularly rude to C.C Babcock. However he has always stayed true to the Sheffield's and Fran; he deeply cares for them and will always defend or protect them when they are abused, mocked, or whatever else.
  • Legacy of Service: His father was the Sheffield butler before he was.
  • Loving Bully: Spends majority of the series annoying C.C. Although it's assumed to be genuine hatred, in Season 6 it's revealed that Niles has loved C.C. all along and all the insults and pranks are his way of flirting.
  • Manchild: Often enjoys pulling pranks on C.C., as well as being playful with Fran.
  • Not So Stoic: Later seasons have him breaking his collected exterior and burst out in a rage. These moments are usually caused by his Maxwell's waffling on his feelings for Fran, or when someone gets in the way of him finding out about The Thing.
  • 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.".
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Lampshaded by C.C. when he's recovering from a heart attack and she tells Fran and Maxwell about it—she figured out something was wrong with him when he failed to respond to her taunting with a witty remark.
    CC: And then the scariest thing happened!
    Fran: He had the heart attack?
    CC: No, worse! There I was, waiting for a zinger...and nothing!
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Has a flawless British accent in the show (to the point that a fan assumed the actor was actually British and sounded more "authentic" than Maxwell, who's played by an actual British actor). However in later seasons the actor's American accent sneaks in now and then when his delivery becomes faster and louder (could be justified in-series as Niles has spent a number of years in America at this point).
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Considering C.C's Jerkass attitude, most of his insults towards her tend to fall under this category.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Develops a platonic but nevertheless tight friendship with Fran. Niles is the first to accept Fran into Maxwell Sheffield's household (and later becomes a Shipper on Deck for Fran and Maxwell), the two of them confide in each other, and they love to snark about C.C. Babcock.
  • The Prankster: He's at his happiest tormenting C.C. with tricks and pranks. Lampshaded by C.C. herself:
    C.C.: You set me up, didn't you? The run, the chase, getting stuck in the door, everything! My mental health is just a sick game to you, isn't it!?
    Niles: Rack 'em up, let's play again!
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He delivers an incredibly critical speech 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. In the end, though, she doesn't, and she and Niles really do get together.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Played with. He's the snarky butler of the Sheffield family but rarely insults them, and mainly shows his snarky side around C.C. Babcock. He only does make a few snarky remarks at family members though when he has to put up with C.C. not coming over anymore as she is in an asylum. He also has a few moments where he mocks Fran as she gets away with a lot as Maxwell's love interest and later wife.
  • Servile Snarker: He's pretty much a classic example of the witty, sarcastic butler.
  • Sex God: Is apparently very good in the bedroom, according to C.C.
    C.C.: I found my man and I am completely and totally...and multiply satisfied.
    Fran: Reeeeeeallyyyyyy?
    C.C.: That is the joy of being with a man who lives to serve others, baby. [they giggle perversely]
  • Shipper on Deck: Is one of the biggest supporters of Maxwell and Fran as a couple. It's to the point where, when Maxwell tells him he's going to propose, Niles' expressions of happiness sound more like he was getting proposed to.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: He becomes more and more disrespectful towards Maxwell, even openly insulting him and being less transparent about his attempts to eavesdrop. This is largely chocked up to his increasing frustrations over Maxwell being The Ditherer over his romance with Fran, despite Niles spending five years trying to get the romance going.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After finally getting tired of Maxwell's indecisiveness with Fran, Niles gives him one of his biggest rants ever.
    Niles: I am so bloody sick of hearing this year after year. "Niles, what am I to do? I told her I love her, I took it back, I'm afraid of commitment, I'm worried about the children!" [grabs Max] FOR GOD'S SAKE! MAKE A MOVE! DO SOMETHING! You passed on Cats! DO YOU WANT TO REGRET THIS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, TOO!?

    C.C. Babcock
"I want to be alone with Maxwell tonight. What's it gonna cost me to make you disappear?"
Played by: Lauren Lane

A haughty, frigid socialite and Maxwell's longtime business partner. She is smitten with him and constantly schemes to find a way to end up with him, only to be debunked at every turn, mostly due to Niles' manipulations.

  • Antagonist in Mourning: She's shown to worry or miss Fran and Niles on a few occasions despite her disdain for them.
    • 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.
    • C.C is horrified after Niles suffers a heart attack during a verbal spar with him and is legitimately worried for his wellbeing until he awakens at the hospital.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Despite her rivalry with Niles, some moments reveal they can tolerate one another and they even share a passionate kiss in a middle of a Snark-to-Snark Combat. They eventually do get married in Fran's delivery room.
  • Betty and Veronica: She thinks she's the "sweet" and preppy Betty to Fran's "annoying" and vampish Veronica when fighting for Maxwell's affections, but she's not even in the equation.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Tried to be the main force driving a wedge between Fran and Maxwell, but failed every attempt.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: She at least acts superficially nice around Maxwell, but it's pretty obvious to everyone else that she is not exactly a kind person.
  • Bitch Alert: Her first interaction with Fran is a frostbitten sarcasm about her appearance.
  • Blue Blood: Born into money.
  • Break the Haughty: C.C's arrogant ways often bite her in the ass, especially by the hands of Niles.
  • Butt-Monkey: By far the most abused character on the show, especially when she is around Niles who always loves making fun of her.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Often enters with "Hello, hello!"
    • "Oh puh-leeze!
  • 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 sheentertaining a group of ladies she mentions how they were deciding between donating to their show or a Children's Milk Fund and comments she doesn't want any thirsty little brats getting in her way.
  • Christmas Cake: She's very self-conscious about being unmarried and most of the time single at her age and Niles never misses a chance to rub it in her face... until he proposes to her himself and eventually marries her.
  • Contralto of Danger: She speaks with a deeper, huskier voice than the lighter, nasal Fran. She uses an even lower voice when trying to sound seductive.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Usually makes a snarky comment with a mere look of disdain, especially towards Fran and when engaging in Snark-to-Snark Combat with Niles.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: She mellows out towards the end, especially in Season 6. Interestingly, with the defrosting comes more than a few scores against Niles as well.
  • Embarrassing First Name: In the finale the Sheffields are bewildered by C.C's full first name which is Chastity Claire. Niles, on the other hand, thinks it's a beautiful name.
  • Enemy to All Living Things: Animals do not like her, and vice versa. She's very neglectful or dismissive of her dog Chester, who often growls at her especially when in Fran's arms, and in "The Car Show" she was able to tell, over the car phone, that Fran had hit a rabbit while driving by recognizing the noise, merely by the sound alone. It's to the point that after having sex with Niles, she's shown singing and dancing with animals like Snow White to drive home how out of character she's become.
  • Evil Laugh: Her laugh has a very mocking tone.
  • Formerly Fat: Maxwell's brother remembered C.C. (not recognizing her slim and blonde appearance) as following Maxwell around in college and being "a plump brunette". The Weight Woe and dieting hasn't left her and she is envious that Fran can eat so much and keep her shape and size.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric; she is the hot-tempered and rude member of the group.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Aside from Maxwell, nobody in the Sheffield household likes her, especially Niles, who particularly despises her (or so it seems).
  • Hopeless Suitor: To Maxwell throughout the series. She just doesn't want to accept that he only sees her as a business partner.
  • 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 that Niles simply hates her so much he's coming up with every insult he can to throw at her, having also called her a cow, a hooker, a dog and a witch.
  • Ironic Name: Her full name Chastity-Claire sounds like 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.
  • 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), so that her jitters (later revealed to be due to her pregnancy) go away.
    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: Far and away the biggest one in the series.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Although her terrible personality remains, she eventually becomes someone the others can count on and softens up.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Just when you think C.C.'s about to show an ounce of decency, she'll do a 180.
  • Lack of Empathy: Is incredibly insensitive and reacts inappropriately in certain scenes.
    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.
  • Lady Drunk: She frequently suffers from alcoholism, implied to be due to her romantic troubles.
  • Large Ham: Especially in the first seasons, her two expressions were either icy indifference or full-throated rage.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Her bad personality often leads to her getting what she deserves, 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 Jerkass or callousness on C.C.'s part.
  • Last-Name Basis: Maxwell calls her C.C., but everyone else usually refers to her as Miss Babcock.
  • Meaningful Name: Her full name is Chastity-Claire, which is befitting of a woman who is unlucky is with men, especially Maxwell.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: She's primarily referred to as C.C, if not Miss Babcock. It's only at the end of the series that her nickname is revealed to be short for Chastity-Claire.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Will not hesitate to kiss up to potential investors or actors/musicians for her and Maxwell's musicals.
    Fran: Can that woman suck up, Niles.
    Niles: If she came with attachments, we could throw out the Hoover.
  • Rich Bitch: She's a rich businesswoman who is also mean, obnoxious, snobby, and egocentric.
  • The Rival: She thinks she's a rival to Fran for Maxwell's love. However, she never gets the better of her and isn't even on Maxwell's radar.
  • Sanity Slippage: She becomes more and more unstable after Maxwell proposes to Fran until finally she has a nervous breakdown and requires several months in a mental hospital to recover. (In reality, her actress had to take maternity leave.)
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Despite working with/for the same man and being around each other a lot, she and Niles always throw insults at one another and find ways to annoy each other. As the series goes on, the two went from hating each other to loving that they hate each other. After C.C.'s hospitalized after suffering a nervous breakdown, she tells Niles that she began hearing voices while she was there. It turns out Niles had actually been visiting her and making her think she was hearing voices. C.C. is touched that he visited.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: She's the most abused character in the show. A unique example in that most of her slapstick is caused by a male character (Niles).
  • Small Name, Big Ego: She is a narcissist with a big ego who looks down on nearly everyone.
  • Smug Snake: With a couple exceptions, her attempts to undermine both Niles and Fran are always met with failure. Doesn't stop her from trying...
  • Stalker with a Crush: Her crush on Maxwell leads her to become disturbingly obsessive with him, with borderline Yandere tendencies.
  • Stepford Snarker: She's very scornful and sardonic, but as the series goes on, she's shown to be a very depressed and lonely woman.
  • Theme Naming: She mentions having a cousin named G.G., a sister named D.D., and mother B.B..
  • Twitchy Eye: Her eye tends to twitch whenever she sees and/or hears about Fran and Maxwell getting along.
  • Uptown Girl: She's a rich businesswoman and falls for Niles the butler at the end.
  • Vague Age: It's left unclear exactly how old she is, though she's very self-conscious about it. On one occasion she lets slip that she's in her forties.
    C. C.: (about Fran, who always lies she's 29) She could be-
    Niles: Your age.
    C. C.: Yeah, she could be for- get it, Niles!
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: In the Season 1 episode "Ode To Barbra Joan" it's revealed that she secretly wishes for her father's attention and approval.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Downplayed. She's convinced she and Maxwell are a couple in a romance story and she's vying for his affections with Fran. Even after the two are married and Fran is pregnant, CC still somehow thinks she and Maxwell will end up together. It takes a massive "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Niles in the final season to make her finally come back down to reality.

    Margaret "Maggie" Sheffield
Played by: Nicholle Tom

The oldest of Maxwell's children.

  • Aesop Amnesia: In one episode where Fran suspects her of having started her sex life, Maggie is quick to assure her that she would never take such an important step without talking to her first, leading to a beautiful highlight of the close bond she and Fran have. Cue to the sixth season, where Maggie casually comments about sleeping with her boyfriend, which completely shocks Fran - who nevertheless seems to have forgotten about Maggie's words as well.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Early in the series, Fran's very wealthy Alpha Bitch cousin Marsha (clad in a teal jumpsuit) starts insulting Fran for being a nanny instead of a Trophy Wife, the passive and quiet Maggie takes offense to this.
    Shut up you big green cow!
  • Catchphrase: Prone to letting out a very giggly "yeah" whenever cute boys are involved.
  • Cool Loser: In early seasons, despite that fact that, in Fran's words, she's a "thin blonde heiress with legs up to here," her crippling shyness has left her a complete and total outcast. Under Fran's tutelage, her self-esteem improves by leaps and bounds and her popularity skyrockets.
  • Daddy's Girl: Maxwell dotes on her too much and refuses to accept that she's growing up, much to her frustration.
  • Foil: She starts the show as a foil character to Fran. Originally, there were only two Sheffield children, Brighton and Gracie, but the producers decided to add a socially-awkward daughter who'd serve as a contrast.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Beautiful and blond, and generally kind.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: It's a plot point a few times that, even though Fran's at least a generation older than her and hired to be a caregiver, Maggie is frankly too old to have a nanny anymore (she's 14 years old at the start of the series,) and they act more like sisters or girlfriends than anything else (it becomes a problem later when Fran officially becomes her stepmother.)
  • Missing Mom: Her mother Sara Sheffield passed away before the series begins. How she died has never been revealed.
  • Naïve Everygirl: Initially she's awkward and insecure, and despairs that no boy will ever fall for her.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Maxwell is stunned when she dresses up for the party (with Fran's help) in the pilot episode, saying that she looks grown up and a lot like her mother.
  • She Is All Grown Up: She starts out as a pretty, but dowdy young woman with no confidence and with Fran's help, obtains more beauty skills and adopts a very stylish preppy look. At the end of the series when preparing for Maggie's wedding, Fran comments on how much her step-daughter has grown since they first met.
  • Shiksa Goddess: Although she's Christian, Fran always refers to her as a Shiksa goddess. She attracts the attention of a young Jewish neighbour of Fran's parents' home, and at the end of the series she marries her Jewish boyfriend.
  • Shrinking Violet: In the beginning she's very shy and awkward, but Fran helps her grow out of this.
  • Took a Level in Badass: As part of her Character Development. In early episodes, her only response to Brighton's barbs is 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's able to give as good as she got and gets the better of him frequently.

    Brighton Sheffield
"Thank you, thank you, I am a crook!"

The only son of Maxwell and the middle of the three Sheffield children.

  • Intergenerational Friendship: A rather endearing friendship grows between him and Yetta, who eventually becomes his great-grandmother.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Is quite rebellious and annoying, especially at the beginning of the series thanks to his mother's death and his distaste for all the previous nannies. However he still shows he cares for his family, such as not dobbing in Fran when he tried smoking because of her.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Downplayed. He's the troublesme middle child of the three Sheffield kids and it's lampshaded by Gracie in the pilot episode that he acts out because of middle child syndrome. However while Maxwell likes to dote on his daughters he's still eager to spend father-son time with him.
  • Missing Mom: His mother Sara Sheffield passed away before the series begins. How she died has never been revealed.

    Grace "Gracie" Sheffield
"Oh, you have no idea how complicated I am."
Played by: Madeline Zima

The youngest of the Sheffield children.

  • Adorably Precocious Child: Despite being only a little girl, Gracie has a habit of naming medical conditions and complicated words.
  • Brainy Brunette: Has brown hair and she is smart and Wise Beyond Their Years.
  • Creepy Child: Said a lot of unsettling things especially in earlier seasons, where her therapy and subsequent extensive knowledge of psychology makes her come across as a little twisted. In the pilot, after Fran snarks about Grace saying her therapist took her back through her childhood (she's six years old at the time,) Grace turns to her and sas, "Oh, you have no idea how complicated I am."
  • Daddy's Girl: She seems to be the closest with father Maxwell and is the most disappointed when he can't spend time with them.
  • Little Miss Snarker: She's more soft-spoken than the trope usually would be but Gracie is quick to say something snappy and brutally honest, even witty about the adults and her siblings.
  • Missing Mom: Her mother Sara Sheffield passed away before the series begins. How she died has never been revealed.
  • Mood Whiplash: Part of Grace's charm is the fact that she pinballs 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.
  • Out of Focus: Has less focus after Season 2, probably to 1) make room for Fran's growing romance with Maxwell, 2) give more story lines to Val, Sylvia, and Yetta, and 3) accommodate for Madeline Zima still being under age and subject to child labor laws.
  • Shipper on Deck: Like everyone else, she's very supportive of Fran getting together with her father because she sees Fran as a mother.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Her main trait ever since her debut is that she's creepily sophisticated with the thing she says. She even confuses the grown-ups.

Recurring Characters

    Sylvia Rosenberg-Fine 
Played by: Renee Taylor

Fran's mother.

  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Sylvia has a bad habit of eating all the food in sight, constantly nagging Fran about not being married, and telling wildly inappropriate stories to anyone around to hear.
  • Big Eater: She is known for her constant and voracious eating. Once she was on a diet and she hallucinated Brighton and Yetta as roasted turkey and chicken.
  • Characterization Marches On: In an early episode, she actually takes in the entire main cast during a blizzard and keeps all of them well-fed. Later on, she's quick to snatch up any food someone else was about to sink their teeth into. Can be justified as the blizzard incident is a major crisis and the family is stranded in her house, and she's still willing to offer food to whoever's visiting her house.
  • Death Glare: Prone to giving a terrifying glare to anyone who annoys her. Epically done during Maxell and Fran's wedding so that no one can object to their marriage.
  • Extreme Omnivore: There's a few times when her love of food goes Up to Eleven. Fran mentions she ate half a plastic cookie before realizing it was a refrigerator magnet, she eats a chunk off a plaster cake Fran made, and once complains about how a rice cake tasted like cork before Fran notices she's eating a coaster. Fran inherits this, snacking on a bowl of trail mix that was actually potpourri. Sylvia likely got it from Yetta, who doesn't notice the grapes she's eating are actually part of a wax fruit display.
  • Formerly Fat: She likely slimmed down from her childhood where she must have been a pudgy thing. One episode has Yetta hold up a dress she wore as a newborn (tiny and lacy) and then Sylvia's newborn dress (larger and plainer).
  • Formerly Fit: She was once as slim as Fran in her youth, only to get larger with age and with the stress of raising Fran as a teenager.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Averted. Fran notes that her parents keep their old dog's collar and leash in their bedroom, likely using it for personal reasons. Sylvia tells her to mind her own business. Later in the episode, it's implied that Sylvia's Halloween costume (a full-body latex suit) also falls into her purview.
  • Informed Deformity: While Sylvia is a Big Eater and definitely a bigger woman, in show she's treated as if she's a whale. During one of her many elaborate freakouts, she threatens to throw herself in the Hudson River, to which Fran responds, "Ma, flooding New Jersey is not gonna solve anything!"
  • I Want Grandkids: Constantly nags Fran for grandchildren. Note that she already has grandkids from Nadine — she just doesn't like being around her family as much.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Sylvia looked like a blonde Fran in the flashbacks.
  • Jewish Mother: She and Sylvia's mother Yetta both act as Jewish Mother/Grandmother to Fran and the Sheffield children.
  • My Beloved Smother: An example of the mother-daughter relationship, with the running joke of her badgering Fran to get married and have kids.
  • No Indoor Voice: Sylvia is prone to shouting, much like her daughter. They trade off on this quality, and then sometimes use it simultaneously.
    Sylvia: (to Yetta, who is senile) Ma, these are not Fran's children. She's not married, she's all alone!
    Fran: Louder, Ma. I don't think they heard you in Uruguay!
  • Parental Favoritism: She paid more attention to Fran than to Nadine for most of their childhood and even though Nadine did get married and have children (things Sylvia wanted for Fran and nags her about), Sylvia barely acknowledges her eldest daughter and finds her grandchildren to be horrible.
  • Shipper on Deck: While she ships Fran with just about any potential marriage partner, as a stereotypical Jewish Mother, she's particularly keen to see Fran and Maxwell get together.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Frequently hangs around at the Sheffields' house. Lampshaded several times:
    Maggie: Fran, you can't control what your mother eats. She doesn't live here.
    Gracie: When did she move out?
  • 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 seems concerned with Fran's happiness (she just had trouble understanding that happy =/= married.) She pairs Fran up with any available male she sees, and it's 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" and she apparently read her diary like it was a cookbook).

    Grandma Yetta Rosenberg 
Played by: Ann Morgan Guilbert

Fran's grandmother and Sylvia's mother.

  • Breakout Character: Makes a single appearance in the first season but eventually becomes a regular character due to her wacky personality.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: She often says and does weird things as a result of her senility.
  • Flanderization: Was crankier and more "there" in her early appearances, with shades of Dirty Old Woman. Later jokes about her senility overtook all other aspects of her character.
  • Jewish Mother: She and Sylvia both act as the Jewish mother/grandmother to Fran and the Sheffield children.
  • Must Have Nicotine: She is an avid cigarette-smoker. Her addiction and consequential health problems is enough to scare off Brighton from smoking.
  • Playing Gertrude: Ann Morgan Guilbert is just five years older than her onscreen daughter Renee Taylor.
  • Really Gets Around: The most sexually successful character in the show, by far. She even eventually gets to marry Ray Charles.

    Val Toriello 
Played by: Rachel Chagall

Fran's best friend.

  • Dumb Blonde: Val is blonde and, as Fran puts it, "[her name] wasn't short for 'valedictorian'" in high school.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: She and Fran have been best friends ever since childhood and apparently even went to the prom together. When their "adopted" daughter comes to visit them, they have a fight over her as if they're a real couple.
  • Hidden Depths: Despite her lack of brain smarts, she's shown to have an intricate understanding of the mafia.
  • Raised Catholic: Implied. Fran is seen shopping for Christmas presents for her, and when running into a nun, Val hurriedly crosses herself multiple times.
  • 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.

Minor Characters

     Morty Fine 
Played by: Steve Lawrence

Fran's rarely seen father.

  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Fran's comments suggest her father is just as embarrassing as her mother. When he does finally appear in Season 6's "Ma'ternal Affairs", his first scene has him bringing his hubcaps into the house with him so they can't be stolen.
  • Big Eater: Hinted to have a huge appetite, though not as much as his wife.
  • Unseen No More: A running gag is that the audience never properly sees him until the final season, despite the numerous times Sylvia calls for him or when characters visit their house. At best, the back of his body is shown and his voice is heard. He finally appears in the final season (creating a Celebrity Paradox since he's played by Steve from "Steve and Edie").

     Danny Imperialli 
Played by: Jonathan Penner

Fran's ex-boyfriend who both dumps and fires her from his bridal shop in the pilot.

  • Disposable Fiancé: Downplayed. He and Fran were, in her words, "pre-engaged" for a few years until the two break up in the pilot. They briefly get back together and get engaged towards the end of Season 1, but Fran breaks it off when she realizes how much of a jerk Danny is and that she'll miss the Sheffields too much.
  • Foil: To Maxwell Sheffield. Both are men who were/are romantically involved with Fran. The difference is that Maxwell is a wealthy, British theater producer with three children and who sincerely loves and cares about Fran. Meanwhile, Danny is a middle class, American bridal shop owner who cheated on, lied to and used Fran until he found someone who interested him more.
  • Hate Sink: He is deeply hated by the main characters, especially Maxwell because of how he treated Fran.
  • It's All About Me: Cares more about himself than Fran.
  • Jerkass: He is a selfish, chauvinistic jerk who cheated on Fran and dumped her for Heather Biblow. You know that he is rotten when even Sylvia (who is obsessed with getting her daughter married) admits that she doesn't like the way he treats Fran and is reluctant when Fran says that he wants her back.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: He cheated on Fran with her sworn enemy Heather Biblow and later fires her so Heather can have her job. Even when he briefly tries to win Fran back, it is obvious that he is still the same chauvinistic, selfish jerk and hasn't changed at all.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Even after cheating on her and betraying her, Danny prays on Fran's insecurities and desire to get married when he wants her back.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: He is shown to be very misogynistic towards Fran. He doesn't want her to continue working as the Sheffield family nanny when they're married, as "[his] wife is not going to have a job", and he fully expects her to cook, clean and take care of the children. When Fran points out that he wanted her to work at the bridal shop, he admits that he wasn't going to pay her. In other words, to him, a wife is little more than a slave.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The series begins when he breaks up with Fran and fires her, which leads to Fran getting a job as a door-to-door cosmetic saleswoman and later as a nanny in the Sheffield household. This also leads to her eventual romance with her employer Maxwell Sheffield, whom she later marries and has twins with.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: He wants Fran to be "a lady of leisure" rather than work and clearly doesn't value Fran and Heather for more than their sex appeal; also "lady of leisure" is quite questionable when he wanted Fran to cook, clean, have kids, and work at his bridal shop for free.

     Heather Biblow 
Played by: Pamela Anderson

Fran's high school rival and mortal enemy.

  • Alpha Bitch: Was apparently both popular and not very nice when she and Fran were in high school.
  • Blondes Are Evil: Not evil per say, but she is not afraid to steal another woman's boyfriend for herself and also her job.
  • Shadow Archetype: Both Heather and Fran were/are romantically involved with Danny Imperially and can be very promiscuous around men. However, Fran has her own moral compass and is never intentionally malicious, while Heather has no qualms with cheating, stealing or lying to get anything she wants, including another woman's fiance.

     Freida Fine 
Played by: Lainie Kazan.

Fran's aunt on her father's side. She and Sylvia have a rivalry going on.

  • Small Name, Big Ego: She thinks that she is a great singing star and that her fortune came from her own hard work, except, as Fran points out, she just inherited her husband's fortune.

     Jocelyn Sheffield 
Played by: Sophie Ward.

Maxwell's stuck up sister.

  • Rich Bitch: While the wealthy Jocelyn was fairly nice in her debut episode, in her reappearances she's meaner to Fran and deliberately makes her doubt her romance with her her soon-to-be-husband Maxwell because of their societal differences.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Her emotions are very subdued even when facing dramatic circumstances.

     Clara Mueller 
Played by: Cloris Leachman

Maxwell Sheffield 's nanny from when he was a child.

  • May–December Romance: She had an on-going affair with Niles the bulter for many years. When Niles was a teenager, she was already 32 years old and working as Maxwell's nanny.

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