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|Bud J. Roberts, Jr.|
Patrick Labyorteaux as then-Lieutenant Commander Bud Roberts Jr.
|First appearance||JAG: A New Life (09/23/1995)
NCIS: Hung Out to Dry (09/30/2003)
|Last appearance||JAG: Fair Winds and Following Seas (04/29/2005)
NCIS: Rogue (09/20/2016)
|Portrayed by||Patrick Labyorteaux|
|Occupation||Judge Advocate, USN|
|Family||Bud "Big Bud" Roberts, Sr. (father)
Michael "Mikey" Roberts (brother)
|Alma mater||George Mason University School of Law|
Son of a retired Master Chief, Roberts joined the Navy, and as an Ensign was assigned to sea duty aboard the USS Seahawk as the Public Affairs officer under Captain Ross. It was during this role as the PAO aboard the Seahawk, that he first met Lt. Harmon Rabb, and his partner Lt. (j.g.) Caitlin Pike, when they arrived to investigate a murder; this got him interested in a career in law, and it was later Lt. (j.g.) Meg Austin who recommended him for transfer to JAG prior to her own transfer from JAG staff. He attended law school in the evenings at George Mason University School of Law and, upon scoring top grades in his finals, was assigned extra legal responsibilities and acted as a trial counsel for special courts-martial. Sarah MacKenzie and his wife Harriet Sims are the only people Roberts will allow to view his law school grades. He, his younger brother Mikey (Michael Bellisario) and sister Winifred (Winnie) had a somewhat strained relationship with their father, who raised them himself after the death of their mother, due to his physical and sometimes abusive methods of disciplining them. Bud's last meeting with LCDR Rabb prior to his transfer to JAG Headquarters was in the first-season episode "Skeleton Crew," when Rabb had been dispatched to investigate the murder of a former Academy classmate (and a love interest).
Roberts is well liked and well respected by everyone at JAG headquarters, and is often considered one of the better trial lawyers there. His success rate in the courtroom is often contributed to by his opponents' underestimation of him and his abilities. Harm had once said of him, "Watch out for his 'Aw, shucks, I have a lot to learn' routine", alluding to Roberts' ability to appear less intelligent than he actually was. After returning to JAG headquarters following the loss of his right leg from a landmine, Bud was assigned to working Disability cases; he proved his worth to JAG when he investigated and successfully turned in a refusal of benefits when he noticed a sailor damaging his eyes with self-inflicted laser burns. Shortly thereafter, Bud returned to full limited duty in the court room.
Though not the physical type, Bud has been known to become so when the situation demands it; he once caught a punch thrown by his father, and was able to subdue the larger man without difficulty. The incident where his jaw was broken when he stepped between two simultaneous punches from Rabb and the Australian officer Lt. Cmdr Mic Brumby outside of an Australian courtroom had more to do with the physical limitations of the human body than lack of physical prowess. At the time of the taping, actor Patrick Labyorteaux had earlier suffered an accident that had broken his jaw, causing it to be wired shut and producers opted to write it into the storyline.
- A.J. Roberts (named in the honor of RAdm A.J. Chegwidden, however not taking his proper first and middle names Albert Jethro.)
- Sarah Roberts (named in the honor of Lt.Col Sarah MacKenzie). Unfortunately, the child died due to complications in childbirth.
- James Kirk Roberts (named in the honor of Capt James T. Kirk). Bud was a big Star Trek fan.
- Unnamed twins (a boy and a girl) born towards the end of the series (the girl is called Nikki in episode "Straits of Malacca").
Lieutenant Roberts was assigned as Judge Advocate on the USS Seahawk during the beginning of the War on Terrorism in 2002. He lost a leg trying to save a boy from a field of landmines in Afghanistan that year. He was transferred back to JAG HQ after his operation and proving that he was still able to meet the fitness requirements of the U.S. Navy.
Roberts was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in 2004 in "Hail and Farewell" Part 1, which was the final act of command of the Judge Advocate General, Rear Admiral A.J. Chegwidden, at his dining out. Bud had already been passed over for promotion twice, meaning that if he were to be passed over a third time, he would have been involuntarily separated from the Navy.
Roberts also appears in the first season of the JAG spin-off NCIS, during his tenure on JAG, where Special Agent Gibbs hopes Roberts will help "lawyer" him past a prohibition on the use of the DNA profiles stored by the Department of Defence. He then reappears after an absence of more than eleven years in the fourteenth season, having been promoted to Captain and still assigned to JAG Headquarters, where he meets up with Timothy McGee and assisted the NCIS MCRT in the investigation of the homicide of a fellow JAG officer. McGee asks him about Harm and Mac, but Roberts is interrupted before he can reveal the results of the series' infamous final coin toss. He and fellow cast member Admiral Chegwidden, played by John M. Jackson, are the only two members of the regular JAG cast who have appeared in NCIS as the same character they played in the parent show.
Dates of promotion
- Promoted to Lieutenant (junior grade) sometime between episode 1.22 Skeleton Crew (unaired) and episode 2.01 We the People (original air date January 3, 1997)
- Promoted to Lieutenant in episode 4.19 The Adversaries (original air date April 13, 1999)
- Promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in episode 9.23 Hail and Farewell (Part 1) (original air date May 21, 2004)
- Promoted to Commander (off-camera - not in episodes) presumably five or six years after his promotion to LCDR (in Hail & Farewell) in relation to Time In Rank/Eligibility to be promoted. (United States Navy).
- Promoted to Captain prior to his appearance in NCIS's fourteenth season. (original air date September 20, 2016)
Awards and decorations
The following are the medals and service awards fictionally worn by CAPT Roberts, as seen in "Rogue". The names are given in order of precedence, according to SECNAVINST 1650.1F and the U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations (NAVPERS 1566.5G).
- Bud was awarded the Purple Heart after stepping on a landmine, and losing his right leg.
In one episode, Lieutenant Roberts was selected to carry the nuclear football. He had trepidations about this duty, as he was worried that he would be responsible for the deaths of many innocent people. While he was on duty as the Military Aide to the White House, the President whose "nuclear football" he was guarding (George W. Bush) attended a conference. During this conference, Bud had to go to the bathroom. When he reemerges, the President is gone. Bud then runs the three miles to the White House with the 40 pound nuclear football. This closely resembles a real event, when President Bill Clinton once left a meeting in such haste that he left behind his military aide, who then ran to the White House.