Grace Adler

Grace Elizabeth Adler (formerly Adler-Markus) is a fictional character in the American sitcom Will & Grace, portrayed by Debra Messing.[2][3] A Jewish interior designer living in New York City, she lives with her gay best friend, Will Truman (played by Eric McCormack), for a majority of the series.[4] She is also the employer of Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) and the friend and neighbor of Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes).

Grace Adler
Will & Grace character
First appearance"Pilot"
(episode 1.01)
Last appearanceIt's Time
Created byDavid Kohan
Max Mutchnick
Portrayed byDebra Messing
In-universe information
Full nameGrace Elizabeth Adler
(birth name)
Grace Elizabeth Adler-Markus
(former married name)
NicknameGracie, G, Gracious
OccupationInterior designer
FamilyMartin Adler (father)
Bobbi Adler (mother, deceased)
Janet Adler (sister)
Joyce Adler (sister)
Fiona (niece)
Marilyn Truman
Paul Truman (stepbrother)
Sam Truman (stepbrother)
Will Truman (stepbrother)
SpouseJames Hanson (husband; 2006; annulled)
Dr. Marvin "Leo" Markus (husband; 2002-2004; 2006-2017; divorced)
ChildrenLaila Markus[1] (daughter, with Leo, in the flash-forward; removed from the revival)
RelativesDr. Jay Markus (former father-in-law)
Eleanor Markus (former mother-in-law)

Character overviewEdit

Grace was born on April 26, 1967, in Schenectady, New York.[5][6] She has been particularly influenced by her mother, Bobbi (Debbie Reynolds), a flamboyant actress from whom she inherited her many neuroses.[7] Grace also constantly strives for the affection of her father Martin (Alan Arkin then Robert Klein), competing with her two sisters (one younger, one older), who have more obvious problems than she (Joyce, played by Sara Rue, is a compulsive overeater, while Janet, portrayed by Geena Davis then Mary McCormack, 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."[8] 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.[9] She is a Democrat[10] and a graduate of Columbia University and the Fashion Institute.

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. When Will pulls out a pair of over-sized slippers out of a box of her childhood memorabilia, she remarks "Those are my ballet slippers from fourth grade! I went from a four to an eight in a month!"[11] In another episode, she and Will travel to Los Angeles and visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and Grace finds that her hands and feet fit perfectly into John Wayne's hand and footprints ("Was he really tiny, or am I just a monster?").[12]

There is a general running joke that she is slovenly and unladylike, which contrasts with Will's fastidiousness, usually for purposes of comedy. She is very cheap and often hoards on free things (such as pretending to have a drinking problem in order to get free food at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings) and even steals. She once mentions selling Will's college term papers for a profit, of which Will had no knowledge.

In the 10th season episode "Grace's Secret", Grace reveals that she was sexually assaulted at age 15 by her father's best friend, Harry.[13]

In the 11th season, Grace discovers that she is pregnant, the result of a one-night stand while on vacation in Italy. She decides to raise the child with Will, who is also having a child via surrogate. In the series finale, she goes into labor, and Will, Jack, and Karen go with her to the hospital to have the baby and begin a new chapter in her life.



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 (Tom Verica).[14] She moves out in season 2 to declare her independence - albeit only to an apartment across the hall.[15] She moves back in the third season.[16] She eventually moves to Brooklyn in season five when she marries Leo but moves back in with Will in season 7 when she gets divorced.

Her closeness to Will 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 that he has ended relationships because Grace disliked one detail about them (one example given is that all Grace had to say about one such boyfriend was "mock turtleneck," and the relationship was ruined).[17] Despite this, they are generally caring and supportive of each other.

In the revived series, which retcons the events of the first series finale, Grace has divorced Leo, and is once again living with Will. They go into business together briefly, before Will gets a job as a law professor. When she gets pregnant in the 11th season, she decides to raise the baby with Will, and they buy a house together in Upstate New York. In the series finale, she goes into labor, and Will assures her that they can do this together as he goes with her to the hospital.

Jack and KarenEdit

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 drinking and belittling Grace. Karen routinely criticizes Grace's choices in fashion (usually by disdainfully asking, "Honey, what's this all about?") and men. Karen doesn't exactly withhold her judgments; in one episode, when Will calls Grace at work and Karen answers, she puts him on hold and says "Grace, the reason you're not in a relationship is on line one." Nonetheless, Grace and Karen become close friends over the years. Grace eventually learns to look past Karen's faults, and Karen occasionally does stop ridiculing her 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 turns down Grace's proposal for a business loan 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. They still antagonize one another, however, often leading to Grace striking Jack in some manner.

Romantic relationshipsEdit

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 (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. However, in the series finale, she and Leo remarry and raise the baby, a girl named Laila, together. Laila 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. Laila (Maria Thayer) goes on to attend college and there meets Will and Vince's son, Ben (Ben Newmark). Laila 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 Laila marry soon afterward.[18]

When the series was revived in 2017, the events of the season finale - in which Grace gives birth to Leo's child and drifts apart from Will - are effectively retconned as one of Karen's alcohol-induced hallucinations. In this continuity, Grace has recently divorced Leo, has never had children, and has moved back in with Will while she recovers from the divorce.[19] When Leo reappears sometime later, it is revealed that the marriage ended because Grace did not trust Leo not to cheat on her again, and because they were never as close as Will and Grace. Despite the couple trying months of therapy and taking up golf together, they could not make it work and Grace, unable to forgive Leo, turned to Will for comfort.

In season 10, Grace enters a serious relationship with Noah Boarder (David Schwimmer), after several tense meetings where he tries to sabotage her campaign for interior design president. Their romance slowly blossoms, Grace gets to know Noah's daughter, and he eventually asks her to move in with him. In the season finale, when Noah is unable to come to Jack's wedding, Grace is not happy after overhearing Will say she can do much better than him, and begins to wonder where their relationship is going. After meeting Marcus (Reid Scott), a fellow traveler who plans on travelling the world indefinitely in an effort to find himself, Grace decides to leave the country with him to find true happiness.

In the season 11 premiere, Grace returns to New York from her whirlwind European adventure, during which she had a one-night stand with Marcus. During a doctor's appointment, Grace is startled to find that she is pregnant. When Marcus reappears in the next episode, Grace tells him that she is pregnant with his child, only for Marcus to tell her that he had a vasectomy. Karen then gathers three other men that Grace had sex with during her European adventure in an effort to find out who her baby's father is via a DNA test. Marcus shows up and admits to Grace that he lied about getting a vasectomy, and promises that he will sacrifice his dreams and do everything he can to raise her baby with her. Grace then decides she does not want to know the identity of the father for the time being - all she wants to do is raise the baby, either alone or with someone who loves her.

Grace 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 (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 (Taye Diggs), Will's Canadian boyfriend in search of a green card. They annul the marriage a few days later because of James' callousness and manipulative behavior.[20]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Will & Grace: The Big Finale Is Full of Surprises! | canceled + renewed TV shows". TV Series Finale. Retrieved 2013-09-07.
  2. ^ Keveney, Bill (May 17, 2006). "NBC's 'Will' bows out gracefully". USA Today. Mclean, Virginia: Gannett Company. Retrieved August 12, 2013.
  3. ^ Jicha, Tom (September 21, 1998). "Top Notch". Sun Sentinel. Deerfield Beach, Florida: Tronc. Retrieved August 12, 2013.
  4. ^ Wells, Matt (16 December 2004). "The American gay". The Age. Melbourne, Australia: Fairfax Media. Retrieved 12 August 2013.
  5. ^ Strause, Jackie (March 29, 2018). "'Will & Grace' Team Goes Inside That "Bittersweet" Debbie Reynolds Tribute Episode". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Eldridge Industries. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
  6. ^ "Leo Unwrapped". Will & Grace. Season 5. Episode 20. April 17, 2003. NBC.
  7. ^ "The Unsinkable Mommy Adler". Will & Grace. Season 1. Episode 13. February 9, 1999. NBC.
  8. ^ "24". Will & Grace. Season 5. Episode 24. May 15, 2003. NBC.
  9. ^ "I Love L. Gay". Will & Grace. Season 8. Episode 14. February 2, 2006. NBC.
  10. ^ "Boo! Humbug". Will & Grace. Season 1. Episode 5. October 26, 1998. NBC.
  11. ^ "My Uncle the Car". Will & Grace. Season 3. Episode 15. February 15, 2001. NBC.
  12. ^ "I Love L. Gay". Will & Grace. Season 8. Episode 14. February 2, 2006. NBC.
  13. ^ Houghton, Rianne (2 November 2018). "Will and Grace stuns fans with a powerful #MeToo storyline". Digital Spy. London, England: Bauer Media Group. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  14. ^ "A New Lease on Life". Will & Grace. Season 1. Episode 2. September 21, 1998. NBC.
  15. ^ "Guess Who's Not Coming to Dinner". Will & Grace. Season 2. Episode 1. September 21, 1999. NBC.
  16. ^ "Fear and Clothing". Will & Grace. Season 3. Episode 2. October 19, 2000. NBC.
  17. ^ "Fred Astaire and Ginger Chicken". Will & Grace. Season 6. Episode 20. April 1, 2004. NBC.
  18. ^ "The Finale". Will & Grace. Season 8. Episode 23. May 18, 2006. NBC.
  19. ^ Framke, Caroline (September 28, 2017). "Will & Grace, despite what NBC says, isn't the same show that ended 11 years ago. Good". New York City: Vox Media. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  20. ^ "Grace Expectations". Will & Grace. Season 8. Episode 16. March 16, 2006. NBC.