Grace Adler

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Grace Adler
Will & Grace character
First appearance "Pilot"
(episode 1.01)
Last appearance "The Finale"
(episode 8.23)
Created by David Kohan
Max Mutchnick
Portrayed by Debra Messing
Full name Grace Elizabeth Adler
(birth name)
Grace Elizabeth Adler-Markus
(married name)
Nickname(s) Gracie, G, Gracious
Gender Female
Occupation Interior designer
Family Martin Adler
Bobbi Adler
Janet Adler
Joyce Adler
Dr. Jay Markus
Eleanor Markus
Spouse(s) James Hanson
(husband; annulled)
Dr. Marvin "Leo" Markus
(husband; 1st time [divorced])
(husband; 2nd time)
Children Lila Markus
(daughter, with Leo)
Relatives Ben Truman
(son-in-law, via Lila)
Religion Judaism

Grace Elizabeth Adler-Markus (née Adler) is a fictional character in the American sitcom Will & Grace, portrayed by Debra Messing.[1][2][3] She is a Jewish interior designer, living in New York City with her gay best friend Will Truman (played by Eric McCormack).[4] She is originally from Schenectady, New York, and has graduated from Columbia University. She also mentions in season 2 that she attended the Fashion Institute.

Character overview[edit]

Grace was born on April 26, 1967, in Schenectady, New York.[citation needed] She has been particularly influenced by her mother, Bobbi (Debbie Reynolds), a flamboyant actor from whom she inherited her many neuroses.[5] Grace also constantly strives for the affection of her father Martin (Alan Arkin), competing with her two sisters (one younger, one older), who have more obvious problems than she (Joyce, played by Sara Rue, is a mentally slow compulsive overeater, while Janet, portrayed by Geena Davis, is rarely employed and promiscuous). Grace herself is decidedly selfish and neurotic, but this is usually played for laughs, like when her husband Leo asks, "You want me to be happy, right?" and she sweetly replies "Not if it affects me negatively in any way."[6] She is also somewhat vain, once declaring herself to be a "frickin' bombshell" and believing that she bears a strong resemblance to red-haired celebrities like Rita Hayworth (once even thinking a photo of Hayworth was one of herself) and Nicole Kidman. This, however, leads to her being taken down a peg, and she is usually the butt of numerous jokes by other characters. In one episode, while in Los Angeles, she is repeatedly mistaken for Kathy Griffin by tourists.[7] She is a Democrat.[8]

Grace's quirks and physical abnormalities are often fodder for the show's antics. She has very large feet, even for her height, and she's often ridiculed for them. She comments on the fact "feet the size of canoes" were the only things her father ever gave her. There is a general running joke of her being slovenly and unladylike, which contrasts with Will's fastidiousness, usually for purposes of comedy. She is very cheap and often hoards on free things and even steals. She once mentions selling Will's college term papers for a profit, of which Will had no knowledge.


Grace's best friend since college is Will Truman, and their relationship is the focus of the show. They met at a college party at Columbia University. Through the third-season episode "Lows in the Mid-Eighties," we see they began dating and Grace did not realize that Will was gay at the time, and Will had not come out of the closet yet. When Will met Jack McFarland at a party, Jack made him confront his homosexuality. Will "proposed" to Grace during Thanksgiving, in an effort to postpone actually having sex with her. When he finally came out to her hours later, Grace was so angry with him that she didn't speak to him for a year. They ran into each other at a grocery store a year later and made up, and became inseparable best friends. Grace moves into Will's apartment in season one when she breaks up with her fiance Danny.[9] She moves out in season 2 to declare her independence - albeit only to an apartment across the hall.[10] She moves back in the 3rd season.[11] She eventually moves to Brooklyn in season five when she marries Leo but moves back in with Will in season 7 when she divorces Leo.

Their closeness is a running joke throughout the series; many other characters refer to them as a married couple. They can finish each other's sentences, which helps them in their fast rounds in trivia and parlor games. They can also be quite dysfunctional and co-dependent, sometimes even requiring the other's approval of clothing and boyfriends. When Will begins dating his future husband Vince D'Angelo (Bobby Cannavale) in season 6, Will is nervous about Grace's opinion of him, noting relationships have ended because of Grace not liking one detail about his boyfriend (one example given is that all Grace had to say about one such boyfriend was "mock turtleneck," and the relationship was ruined).[12] Despite this, they are generally caring and supportive of each other.

Aside from Will, Grace also has a close relationship with her assistant, Karen Walker, a rich, alcoholic socialite who does virtually no work. Karen is nevertheless useful to Grace, as she pays for her employer's health insurance, gives Grace holiday bonuses, and occasionally uses her society connections to help Grace get work. Otherwise, Karen spends her "work" hours belittling Grace and Karen's maid Rosario, and trading banter with her flamboyantly gay friend Jack. She routinely criticizes Grace's breast size and choices in fashion (usually by disdainfully asking, "Honey, what's this all about?") and men. Nonetheless, Grace and Karen became close friends over the years. Grace eventually learns to look past Karen's faults, and Karen occasionally does stop ridiculing her or being outrageous to reveal a softer, more caring side. In one episode, Grace stands up to Milo (played by Andy García) who refuses to go on a second date with Karen, who was going through a divorce with her husband Stan and was very vulnerable at the time. In another instance, Karen seemingly turns down Grace's proposal for a business loan out of mean behavior, but she reveals she really did it to protect Grace, who didn't really have a strong business plan.

Grace also has a close bond with Will's other best friend, Jack McFarland. Early in the series, Jack and Grace dislike each other, seeing each other as a rival for Will's affections. However, after they spend time together while Will is in the Cayman Islands between Seasons two and three, they develop a closer friendship, later discovering they share a love of ice skating and Antiques On The Road (a fictional version of Antiques Roadshow). Despite their friendship, however, they often antagonize one another, often leading to Grace striking Jack in some manner.

Romantic relationships[edit]

Grace has a string of boyfriends throughout the series, many played by guest stars such as Woody Harrelson and Gregory Hines. Grace marries the Jewish doctor Leo Markus, played by Harry Connick, Jr., on November 21, 2002, but the marriage ends when he has a one-night stand with a doctor from the Red Cross while working in Cambodia with Doctors Without Borders. In season 8, the two reunite briefly during a flight to London when they coincidentally met on the plane. Their mile high tryst leads to Grace getting pregnant, but she doesn't tell Leo because he is engaged to another woman, Kate. However, in the series finale, she and Leo remarry and raise the baby, a girl named Lila, together. Lila is born in Rome, where Leo is working at a hospital as a researcher. After one year in Rome the family moves back to New York, to their apartment in Brooklyn. Lila goes on to attend college and there meets Will and Vince's son, Ben. Lila and Ben are living in dorm rooms opposite each other's while at college; the same scenario that Will and Grace found themselves in while they attended college. Ben and Lila marry soon afterward.[13]

Grace also has a reputation for "turning" men gay. Several of her boyfriends – such as Will himself, and her second-season boyfriend Josh – ended up gay or bisexual, and she has a recurring fear that this will happen again. (At one point she entered a room to find her boyfriend Nathan (played by Woody Harrelson) passed out on a bed with Jack and Will, and moans, "Oh, no, I turned another one.") In season 8, she takes this to a new level when she briefly marries James Hanson, Will's Canadian boyfriend in search of a green card. They annulled the marriage a few days later because of James' callousness and manipulative behavior.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gairola, Rahul. "Will & Grace". Pop Matters Television. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Keveney, Bill (17 May 2006). "NBC's 'Will' bows out gracefully". USA TODAY. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  3. ^ JICHA, Tom. "Top Notch". SunSentinel. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Wells, Matt (16 December 2004). "The American gay". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  5. ^ "The Unsinkable Mommy Adler". Will & Grace. Season 1. Episode 13. February 9, 1999. NBC. 
  6. ^ "24". Will & Grace. Season 5. Episode 24. May 15, 2003. NBC. 
  7. ^ "I Love L. Gay". Will & Grace. Season 8. Episode 14. February 2, 2006. NBC. 
  8. ^ "Boo! Humbug". Will & Grace. Season 1. Episode 5. October 26, 1998. NBC. 
  9. ^ "A New Lease on Life". Will & Grace. Season 1. Episode 2. September 21, 1998. NBC. 
  10. ^ "Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner". Will & Grace. Season 2. Episode 1. September 21, 1999. NBC. 
  11. ^ "Fear and Clothing". Will & Grace. Season 3. Episode 2. October 19, 2000. NBC. 
  12. ^ "Fred Astaire and Ginger Chicken". Will & Grace. Season 6. Episode 20. April 1, 2004. NBC. 
  13. ^ "The Finale". Will & Grace. Season 8. Episode 23. May 18, 2006. NBC. 
  14. ^ "Grace Expectations". Will & Grace. Season 8. Episode 16. March 16, 2006. NBC.