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Characters / Ugly Betty

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Major Characters

     Betty Suarez 

Beatriz "Betty" Suarez (America Ferrera)

A young woman trying to make it on her own, Betty Suarez is the main protagonist of the show. She lives in Queens with her widowed father Ignacio, older sister Hilda and nephew Justin, and works as an assistant to the Editor In Chief at Mode Magazine. She quickly learns working at Mode will test the very fibers of her character, yet she remains resilient and excited in spite of all the conspiracies, drama and heartbreak she suffers. She hopes to be a journalist someday and will often take the chance to pursue her ambition. A role model for all girls everywhere in the view of the show's writers, she's liable to both give and receive Aesops. By the way, she's not so much ugly as she has a really bad/strange fashion sense.

  • Animal Motifs: Butterflies, symbolic of Betty's own metamorphoses.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: Despite her competence, Betty is also very clumsy, often knocking into things, most notably plexiglass windows
  • Dude Magnet: She's had several men trying to win her affections over the course of the series, including her boss.
  • Family Versus Career: This is more so in the 3rd season. Weirdly, she doesn't even have children or a husband, and the family member screaming for the attention is her sister, who already is home with their ill father on a daily basis anyway.
  • Fish out of Water: Especially in the earlier episodes, where she first moves from Queens to a new place and struggled to fit in.
  • Girl Friday: To Daniel, she's usually the reason behind his success working behind the scenes.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Thankfully averted when she gets her makeover. She does, however, get more fashionable glasses in the Grand Finale.
  • Hollywood Dateless: Quite a lot of love triangles for one so "ugly".
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: To Daniel, especially in the early seasons. She saved his job many many times.
  • I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me: Subverted. Betty doesn't have a crush on Daniel like in the other versions of the show, and in the end it's him that develops feelings first.
  • Important Haircut: Part of Betty's makeover near the end of the show is getting one.
  • Nice Girl: Easily one of the most empathetic and nice characters on the show.
  • Odd Friendship: Quickly befriends the rich womanizing Daniel. She also becomes friends with Amanda and Marc later in the story.
  • Only Sane Employee: Betty is this by miles when she first joins Mode.


     Daniel Meade 

Daniel Meade (Eric Mabius)

Betty's somewhat incompetent boss, though he does try sometimes. The Unfavorite of the Meade family (which owns the company) he often spends his days Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places, leaving a trail of broken hearts behind him wherever he goes, his own included. He and Betty tend to take turns being each other's rock and evolve from simple boss/assistant relationship into close friends. In the show's finale the relationship was left open-ended, though various hints throughout the episode possibly imply that they Hooked Up Afterwards, the most obvious being that Daniel decides to stay in London for no discernible reason other than that Betty happens to be there. It remains unclear, however, if Betty feels the same way, though she does smile at his arrival

     Wilhelmina Slater 

Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams)

Head Creative Assistant and daughter of a Senator, she's a woman of quick wit and versatility which she uses for selfish reasons. Her ultimate desire is to run a magazine and attempts to take over Mode Magazine numerous times. One of the most complicated characters, she performs the role of a Card-Carrying Villain yet is not above the occasional Pet the Dog moment. She has an estranged daughter named Nico and is Marc's manager.

  • Big Bad: She is the primary antagonist of the story.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: She acts nice but is the opposite.
  • But Not Too Black: An In-Universe example. Wilhelmina underwent surgery and skin bleaching in order to conform to the fashion industry's standards as a model.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: She and Marc often call their schemes "evil" with complete sincerity.
  • The Chessmaster: Always has an elaborate plan at hand to get back into Mode's good books, usually involving Marc and any number of her 'contacts'.
  • The Corrupter:
    • As Tyler's AA sponsor, though that didn't work out so well for her.
    • And presumably to Marc sometime prior to the pilot. In fact, Wilhelmina seems to consider it her sworn duty to teach anyone who works for her the proper way to scheme and plot.
  • Deal with the Devil: Don't make deals with Wilhelmina... just don't.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Wilhelmina does soften slightly throughout the series, especially to Marc, Daniel and sometimes Betty.
    • The finale implies she learned her lesson since being nice actually earned her what she wanted.
  • The Dragon: Early On to Alexis. Also during her life as Wanda, Fey Sommers' assistant.
  • Not So Different: To Betty, of all people. She used to be Wanda, Fey Sommers "mousy" assistant before Fey decided to turn her into a supermodel.
  • Kick the Dog: Wilhelmina does this almost every episode.
  • Pet the Dog: Rare in earlier seasons, but quite often in Season Four. Usually to Marc, Daniel or even Betty. In the finale, she even admits that she will miss Betty.
  • Rich Bitch: Rich, check. Bitch, oh so check. Lampshaded
    Claire: You may wanna rethink your wardrobre, Wilhemina. Gonna have a little trouble convincing them you need money wearing mink.
    Wilhemina: It's not mink, darling, it's chinchilla!
    Claire: Well, whatever it is you look like a Rich Bitch!
  • Taking the Bullet: An unusual example; she didn't really intend to take the bullet from Tyler for Claire (in fact, Tyler accidentally fired the gun), but she did save her life . She gets better.
  • The Vamp: She played this role, initially, to seduce Bradford.
  • Villain Decay: While still a danger at times, her backstabbing and scheming wanes significantly as the series goes on. She undergoes the Heel–Face Revolving Door several times per season due to personal hangups, familial conflicts and the old "my career" vs "my soul" conflict.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Zig-zagged in that whenever it seems things couldn't go wrong they do.
  • Visionary Villain: She really, really cares for and loves MODE and will do anything to have a permanent share of it. As of Season Four, she has succeeded and has an equal 50% control with Daniel. At the end of the series, she has complete control, but not by treacherous means.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Inverted. She and her father used to be pretty close but her ambitions is what made them grow distant.
  • Woman in White: A lot of her iconic outfits are purely white.

     Marc St. James 

Marc St. James (Michael Urie)

Wilhelmina's Battle Butler and Camp Gay assistant. Marc takes pleasure at being catty to friends and enemies alike though he too has the occasional Pet the Dog moment.

  • Battle Butler: Not afraid to get his hands dirty to get the job done.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Mark always shown to be very friendly and supportive towards Justin. Giving him advice and encouragement when needed.
  • Camp Gay: Very much so. He behaves in a stereotypically flamboyant manner and makes puns and witty jokes on suggestive terms like "flaming" and "out."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of his dialogue is this, especially when paired with Amanda.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Male version - no gay jokes, please. Marc becomes quite close to Betty come the end of the series, and even Daniel in his own way.
  • The Dragon: As the personal assistant of Big Bad Wilhelmina.
  • Gay Best Friend: For Amanda, a lot of the show's humor comes from their dynamic and they even got their own spin-off web-series.
  • Hidden Depths: Who would have thought the snarky, gay assistant, who picks on people's dreams, would want to own a magazine one day?
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Marc really is a nice guy behind his cattiness.
  • Morality Pet: To Wilhelmina, especially in the finale.
  • Parental Substitute: To Justin, more so as the series goes on (though he still thinks Justin is Betty's son), which eventually got Hilda jealous.
  • Pet the Dog: With Amanda, Justin, and occasionally Betty.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: With Amanda. They have a co-dependent relationship; she often pretended to be his girlfriend to help him hide from his mother that he was gay, and he has taken risks to protect her job from Wilhelmina. They even starred together on their own spin-off web-series "Mode After Hours".
  • The Rival: To Betty, as he's Wilhelmina's personal assistant just like Betty is Daniel's.
  • Yes-Man: Until about season 3 and 4 where he becomes more vocal about his discontents.

     Amanda Tanen 

Amanda Tanen (Becki Newton)

A Sassy Secretary (technically a receptionist) at MODE who serves as Marc's Fag Hag and tags along with him whenever it involves pranking or demeaning others. Though she's conniving and catty she's not too intelligent (i.e. not knowing what wrath means) and is highly impulsive. Despite this she is not completely bitchy and, like every other main character, has plenty Pet the Dog moments. In more recent episodes, she, Marc and Betty seem to have formed some kind of loose Power Trio.

  • Ambiguously Bi: Later in the story, Amanda seems to have something of a girl crush on Betty.
  • Attention Whore:
  • The Brainless Beauty: Downplayed, as she may not be the smartest, however, Amanda is more of a sensitive genius, often being very emphatic when the situation truly requires it, she's also shown to have some degree of street smarts and is a very competent stylist.
  • The Beard: Played this role often for Marc.
  • Big Eater: Mainly when under stress.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Not as much as Marc, but it's still there.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: To Betty throughout the series.
  • Fag Hag: Mostly to her Gay Best Friend Marc, but being a secretary in a fashion magazine has her hang around many gay men. She even turned a few.
  • Friends with Benefits: Becomes one with Daniel in Season 4.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Seems like a vain, mean woman at first, but seems to genuinely care about that she likes.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: She finds out her mother is the legendary editor-in-chief Fey Sommers in Season 1.

     Ignacio Suarez 

Ignacio Suarez (Tony Plana)

Betty's fatherly dad. He's an illegal immigrant from Mexico, but not one who was just looking for a better life. No, that would be too boring. Instead, he was on the run after having killed a man (a rather unpleasant man, though, who later turned out to be not-quite-so-dead).

  • Day Time Drama Queen: Ignacio seems to have nothing else to do but hang around watching Telenovelas.
  • Doting Parent: Almost overwhelmingly so to his girls, to his grandson Justin, and usually to Betty or Hilda's love interests.
  • Ill Boy: He has a heart condition.
  • Morality Pet: Somewhat this for both Betty and Hilda.
  • Papa Wolf: He's extremely protective of his daughters.
  • Supreme Chef: He has great cooking. As we find out, this is how he met Rosa, as he used to work as a chef in the restaurant.
  • Your Cheating Heart: How he and Rosa got together, as Rosa's husband, Ramiro, at the time, was abusive.


     Hilda Suarez 

Hilda Suarez (Ana Ortiz)

Betty's rather shallow sister with whom she's embroiled in The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry. Hilda may or may not be Miss Yo-Yo Knickers, but she at least dresses like her.

     Justin Suarez 

Justin Suarez (Mark Indelicato)

Hilda's son and therefore Betty's nephew. Justin is Ambiguously Gay for most of the series, but he eventually comes out as The Twink when he hits his teen years. Largely used as a plot device for the Marc character, who serves as a mentor for the kid.

     Claire Meade 

Claire Meade (Judith Light)

Daniel and Alexis' mother. Originally introduced as Lady Drunk, she now just wants her family back together and serves as a reluctant mentor for Betty, who often is scared of Claire's cold-blooded side. In the first season, she admitted to murdering Fey Sommers and was sent to Cardboard Prison, which she escaped from, of course. Later on, it was Ret Conned that she hadn't meant to kill Fey, enabling the others to Clear Her Name.

     Christina Mc Kinney 

Christina McKinney(Ashley Jensen)

Betty's best friend at work, Christina is a Funny Foreigner from Scotland, which means she drinks a lot and uses all that hilarious Scottish slang. Her purpose on the show was originally being Betty's only friend among the Modies, making her The Artifact from the days when the show was more of a Fish out of Water comedy. As a result, Christina was Out of Focus a lot in later episodes. She was Put on a Bus at the end of the third season, and returned in the third-to-last episode when Betty, Hilda, and Amanda visited London.

  • The Artifact: Christina doesn't really fit into the show during her last few episodes. Granted Betty doesn't either, but she has more reason for being there.
  • Best Friend: She's Betty best frien and ally at Mode at the start of the story.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Often gets into some Snark-to-Snark Combat with Marc and Amanda.
  • Funny Foreigner: Christina is often mocked for being Scottish, but is also a humorous character herself.
  • Only Sane Employee: She's the most normal person at Mode.
  • Out of Focus: At some points, Christina only existed to pop up and give Betty advice.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Christina was originally written as an American and was only made Scottish after Jensen was cast.
    • Also, one of the main reasons for Christina becoming Out of Focus (and then being Put on a Bus) was because the show relocated production from Los Angeles to New York, causing a conflict for Ashley Jensen who was then residing in California and unable to relocate.
  • Scotland: Has that gorgeous accent.

     Alexis Meade 

Alex/Alexis Meade (Elizabeth Penn Payne / Rebecca Romijn)

Formerly Daniel's Transgender sister. She was The Woman Behind The Woman in early episodes, but then had a Heel–Face Turn, leaving Wilhelmina to pick up the evil slack. Alexis is not very consistently written and as a result her personality seems to repeatedly switch between "loving sibling with a competitive streak" and "evil bitch". Put on a Bus at the start of the third season. Not seen after that, but occasionally mentioned.

Associated tropes:

  • Aloof Big Sister: To Daniel, though she does warm up.
  • Bandaged Face: Was always seen with once in her early appearances.
  • Big Bad: Was briefly built up as this in the early episodes, but had an Heel–Face Turn and become more of a The Rival towards Daniel until she was Put on a Bus.
  • Bi the Way: Married to a woman before coming out and gets a boyfriend afterwards.
  • Broken Ace: While Daniel always thought their father treated Alexis like the golden child, Alexis informed him that the real reason Bradford spent so much time taking part in characteristically masculine activities was to try and "cure" Alexis's desire to be a woman, which caused her a lot of trauma.
  • Depending on the Writer: Alexis could either be a total bitch, or genuinely nice.
  • Faking the Dead: She faked her death while she underwent her sex change and plotted to take control of Mode from her father.
  • Heel–Face Turn: She does this a few times.
  • The Man Behind the Man: For the first half of season one, Wilhelmina appeared to be working for her.
  • Man, I Feel Like a Woman:
    • Alexis used to be Alex.
    • Actually made into a plot point. Alexis gets hit with amnesia, making her forget that she underwent her transition and that for all she knows, she's still Alex but suddenly put in a female body. While the amnesia lasts, she reverts back to her previous male personality: her speech patterns are rougher and more masculine, she goes to the men's room, and she overdoes her make-up (although she becomes better over time).
  • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: Well she started off male, and came back female.
  • Old Friend, New Gender: Obviously with her sex change.
  • Put on a Bus: Eventually left the show with her son, DJ.
  • Tomboyish Name: Of a unisex variety, as "Alex" could be a shorter form of Alexander or two letters off from "Alexis".
  • Transgender: A fairly good representation of one.


     Bradford Meade 

Bradford Meade (Alan Dale)

Daniel and Alexis' dad who died in the second season. He was the one who hired Betty in the first place, under the twisted logic that since Betty was ugly, his son would not have sex with her and actually get work done.

  • Abusive Parents: Most of Daniel and Alexis's issues were born from the pressure he put on both of them.
  • Character Death: Died in the second season, but appeared as a vision to Betty later on.
  • Fake American: Alan Dale is a New Zealander.
  • Guess Who I'm Marrying?: Wilhelmina, of course.
  • Hypocrite: Despite giving Daniel a hard time for his womanizing, he almost ruins their company when he marries Wilhelmina.
  • I Kiss Your Foot: He has a foot fetished, and Wilhelmina takes advantage of it to seduce him.
  • Your Cheating Heart: He had a 25-years long affair with Fey Sommers.

     Fey Sommers 

Fey Sommers (Christine Jones / Becki Newton)

A Posthumous Character who died shortly before the pilot. Bradford was having an affair with her, but Claire found out and murdered her - or at least that was the story until it turned out it wasn't Claire's fault. At the end of the first season, Amanda discovered Fey was her biological mother. After this occurred, Becki Newton, who plays Amanda, started portraying Fey in Flash Backs.

Love Interests

     Standard Betty Boyfriend 

Standard Betty Boyfriend

The Standard Betty Boyfriend is a curious specimen. He starts off as a lovably quirky guy, but Sex Changes Everything and he immediately turns into The Obstructive Love Interest if they ever hook up. After the fans become annoyed enough, the writers give Betty a new boyfriend and the Great Cycle Of Love repeats again.

  • Walter (Kevin Sussman, early season one) - An entity of pure evil who was was Put on a Bus in shame after fifteen episodes. As he was introduced after he had already reached the obstructive stage, he ended up being The Scrappy. Betty tended to be Mistaken for Cheating by him (even though he expected her to ignore the fact that he cheated on her) and he showed her No Sympathy when her ridiculously convoluted work and home life prevented her from spending time with him. Seriously, what were the writers thinking?
  • Henry Grubstick (Christopher Gorham, late season one through season two) - An adorkable nerd and Betty's first real love. At first a breath of fresh air after Walter, but then it turned out he got some other girl pregnant and things went downhill from there. He's had at least four tearful goodbyes with Betty where he was moving back to Tucson "forever", but still proceeds to show up in NYC whenever the writers need some pointless drama.
  • Gio Rossi (Freddy Rodriguez, season two to early season three) - Immediately formed a Henry-Betty-Gio Love Triangle when he first appeared on the scene, and the season finale forced Betty to choose between them. She chose neither, and he was Put on a Bus only to make one last appearance in the final season. His main purpose is to criticize Betty and remind her of her original dream. Some consider him a fan-favorite for Betty's love after Henry turned annoying, while others dislike him for being a condescending mansplainer.
  • Jesse (Val Emmich, early season three) - You know that sensitive, self-absorbed musician you dated in college? THIS GUY. Fortunately, this didn't get very far.
  • Matt (Daniel Eric Gold, late season three to mid season four) - A Lonely Rich Kid with a Corrupt Corporate Executive for a father and a Rich Bitch for a mother. His main character trait was never finishing what he started and constantly changing his life's ambition. He and Betty were getting really serious when Henry inexplicably dropped in for an episode and gave Betty another farewell kiss right when Matt happened to inexplicably be watching from afar. He promptly became her Jerkass boss and attempted to make her life a living hell, before getting back together with her for a few episodes and then deciding to move to Africa. Detty shippers noted the similarities to Daniel and dubbed him "Daniel-lite".

     Daniel's Girl Of The Season 

Daniel's Girl of the Season

Despite being a rich playboy, Daniel will fall in love like no one has ever loved before only to have his heart completely mutilated when he finds out her deep, dark secret.

  • Sofia (Salma Hayek, season one) - Strong, sexy, career woman who won Daniel's heart by rejecting him. She was the first woman he ever truly loved and he proposed to her after only two months. Turned out to be a publicity stunt for her new article, "Fling to Ring in 60 Days", which she revealed to him on live TV.
  • Renee (Gabrielle Union, season two) - Wilhelmina's sister, who found out her evil plans and thus had to be taken out. As she suffered from mental illness, Wilhelmina had Marc mess with her medication, thus making her go crazy with jealousy, attempt to kill Betty, and light Daniel's apartment on fire. In the end she was committed to an asylum, which for some reason meant Daniel could never see her again. She and this storyline were never mentioned again.
  • Molly (Sara Lafleur, season three) - Elementary school teacher and the first "normal" girl Daniel was attracted to, who was considered "Betty-lite" by the Detty shippers. Drama came from her being the fiance of his friend and CFO, Connor. After some endless pining and angst, she broke up with Connor, got together with Daniel, and died of cancer.
  • Natalie (Jamie-Lynn Sigler, season four) - Manic Pixie Dream Girl helping Daniel get over Molly's death. The support group she brings him into turns out to be an evil cult.

     The Mostly Bad Boys Of Hilda 

The Mostly Bad Boys of Hilda'

Hilda likes dating bad boys, often with disastrous results. Ignacio is so displeased by this.

  • Santos Reynoso (Kevin Alejandro, season one) - Knocked Hilda up in High School, resulting in Justin. Starts to make amends in the first season, but dies.
  • Coach Tony Diaz (Eddie Cibrian, late season two to early season three) - Justin's gym teacher. Hilda continues to date him after finding out he's married, but don't worry he's leaving his wife. Really, honestly!
  • Archie Rodriguez (Ralph Macchio, season three to season four) - A city councilman and the lone respectable guy in Hilda's dating history. Yes, the most respectable guy she's dated is a politician.
  • Bobby Talercio (Adam Rodriguez, season four) - An old flame who got Hilda pregnant while she was supposed to be dating Archie. It later turned out the pregnancy failed, but nevertheless Hilda ended up marrying Bobby in the Grand Finale. Well, actually the second-to-last episode, but close enough.

     Other Characters' Love Interests 

Other Characters' Love Interests


Example of: