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Annalise Keating (née Anna Mae Harkness) is a fictional character created in 2014 by Peter Nowalk. She was developed for the ABC legal drama series How to Get Away with Murder. Keating is a high-profile Philadelphia-based defense attorney and law professor at the fictional Middleton University.[1]

Annalise Keating
How to Get Away with Murder character
Annalise Keating HTGAWM.jpg
Viola Davis as Annalise in the latter half of the first season.
First appearance "Pilot" (1.01)
September 25, 2014
Created by Peter Nowalk
Portrayed by Viola Davis
Occupation Defense attorney
Title Professor Annalise Keating, Esq.
Family Ophelia Harkness (mother)
Mac Harkness (father)
Celestine Harkness (sister)
Thelonius Harkness (brother)
Clyde (maternal uncle, deceased)
Spouse(s) Sam Keating
(d. 2014)
Significant other(s) Nate Lahey (lover)
Eve Rothlo (lover)
Children Sam Keating, Jr. (stillborn son)
Nationality American



On February 25, 2014, it was announced that Shonda Rhimes had cast Viola Davis in the show's leading role of Professor Annalise Keating.[2]



Early in the series, Annalise was reported as a self-sufficient and confident woman. She seemed to have a perfect life and was respected for being a great lawyer and a great law professor, whom her students both fear and admire.[3] Her emotional behavior has been changing according to the occurrence of the story events. After being involved in the murder plot with four of her students, Annalise became a woman with two faces; one of them, a strong woman, was publicly displayed, while the other, a sentimental and destroyed human being, was shown to Nate, her lover.[4]

Early lifeEdit

Annalise was born as Anna Mae Harkness in Memphis, Tennessee in 1967.[5]

As a child, Annalise was raped by her uncle. Her mother (Cicely Tyson) witnessed the crime and burned down their home, killing him.


Keating was the wife of the psychologist Sam Keating (Tom Verica). we learned in Season 2 that she was once pregnant with her late husband, Sam’s, baby boy. Annalise’s baby son was killed in a car accident. Their relationship lasted for 20 years, until Annalise later found out that he was cheating on her with a college student, Lila Stangard, whose murder was the center of the murder investigation in season one. Despite the affair, Annalise stayed with Sam until the day he almost attacked her. The two fought and she left. Later that night, Sam was found dead. Although she was suspected, Annalise didn't murder him; the real guilty party was Wesley Gibbins (Alfred Enoch), one of Annalise's students and her most intimate ally.[6]

While Sam was cheating on Annalise with Lila, Annalise was cheating on Sam with the detective Nate Lahey (Billy Brown).[3][7] He had an intimate and romantic relationship with Annalise. Meanwhile, Nate's wife, Nia, was hospitalized with stage 4 cancer. Nia was aware of Nate's relationship with Annalise. When Nia dies, in the second season, Nate gets angry and breaks up with Annalise, stating that he didn't have enough time to take care of Nia because Annalise framed him for Sam's murder.[8]

Annalise has yet another ally in Bonnie Winterbottom, a former student of Annalise's who now works with and for her. The two appear to have been close friends and share the background of rough childhood and physical abuse. Though they have never been officially touted by the series as a couple, there have been moments which hint that Bonnie may be in love with Annalise or at least think she is. They shared a kiss and even a bed while drunk, but it is unknown if anything sexual happened between the two women. Their relationship has not been further explored.

In the past, before the series' chronology, Annalise had a relationship with Eve Rothlo (Famke Janssen). Annalise left her home and changed her name—from Anna Mae to Annalise— and later met Eve. They were friends before becoming lovers.[9] They broke up and Annalise later married Sam. Years later, Annalise calls Eve asking for help to defend Nate. During the second season, the two have several romantic moments, but Annalise remains involved with Nate.[8]

Rivalries and friendshipsEdit

Due to her profession, Annalise is hated by many people. However, the prosecutor Emily Sinclair (Sarah Burns) has a specific rivalry with Annalise, vowing to take her down.

Annalise has a rivalry with ADA Renee Atwood (Milauna Jackson) too, who sleeps with Nate after he breaks up with Annalise. Along with Atwood, Annalise also has a feud with prosecutor Todd Denver (Benito Martinez).

Annalise is exceptionally close with Eve Rothlo (Famke Janssen), her ex-girlfriend from Harvard and Bonnie Winterbottom (Liza Weil). Her relationship with Frank Delfino (Charlie Weber) is complicated. It is shown Frank is loyal to Annalise and she trusts him enough to trust him with whatever she needs but in Season 3, she finds it hard to forgive him after learning that Frank was responsible for the death of her child when she was 8 months pregnant. She has an on-off relationship with Detective Nate Lahey (Billy Brown) too. Even though not-so-warm at first, she later shares an amicable friendship with Soraya Hargrove (Lauren Vélez), the President of Middleton University, who also attends AA meetings with Annalise. Later it was revealed Hargrove was working with the DA to get custody of her children by forming a deal in which she had to find if Annalise was responsible for the fire and death of Wes Gibbins. Annalise shares a motherly relationship with her students, the Keating 5, even though they misunderstand each other often and have been distrustful towards her on multiple occasions. She feels responsible and protective for each one of them, especially Wes (Alfred Enoch) whose mother committed suicide in front of her while working on a case for the Mahoneys. It's later revealed Wes is the son of Charles Mahoney (Wilson Bethel), son of Wallace Mahoney.



  1. ^ "Viola Davis as Annalise Keating". ABC. The Walt Disney Company. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  2. ^ Abrams, Natalie (25 February 2014). "Viola Davis Lands Lead in ABC Pilot How to Get Away With Murder". Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Kumari Upadhyaya, Kayla (25 September 2014). "How To Get Away With Murder: "Pilot"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  4. ^ Kumari Upadhyaya, Kayla (23 October 2015). "A new lie has consequences for everyone on How To Get Away With Murder". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  5. ^ Balogun, Morenike; Thompson, Sarah L. (March 1, 2018). "Lahey v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania". How to Get Away with Murder. Season 4. Episode 13. American Broadcasting Company. 
  6. ^ "How To Get Away With Murder: "Kill Me, Kill Me, Kill Me"". The A.V. Club. 21 November 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  7. ^ Ihnat, Gwen (10 October 2014). "How To Get Away With Murder: "Smile Or Go To Jail"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  8. ^ a b "Did How To Get Away With Murder finally reveal what's up with Annalise and Wes?". The A.V. Club. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  9. ^ Piccoli, Dana (25 September 2015). "Annalise reunites with a former female lover on "How to Get Away with Murder"". After Ellen. TotallyHer. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  10. ^ "Emmy Awards 2015: Winners complete list". CNN. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  11. ^ "SAG Awards: 'Birdman,' 'Modern Family' Land Most Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  12. ^ Lewis, Hilary (12 September 2015). "SAG Awards: 'Game of Thrones', 'Homeland', 'House of Cards' Lead Noms; 'Empire', 'Inside Amy Schumer' Shut Out; 'Mr. Robot's' Rami Malek Sneaks In". TVLine. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 
  13. ^ "'Get On Up,' 'Selma,' 'Dear White People' Score NAACP Image Award Nominations (Full List)". Variety. Retrieved 21 May 2016. 

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