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Grace Elizabeth Adler (formerly Adler-Markus) is a fictional character in the American sitcom Will & Grace, portrayed by Debra Messing. 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. She is also the employer of Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) and the friend and neighbor of Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes).
|Will & Grace character|
|First appearance||"Pilot" |
|Created by||David Kohan |
|Portrayed by||Debra Messing|
|Full name||Grace Elizabeth Adler |
Grace Elizabeth Adler-Markus
(former married name)
|Nickname||Gracie, G, Gracious|
|Family||Martin Adler |
(sister) Will Truman
|Spouse||James Hanson |
(husband; 2006; annulled)
Dr. Marvin "Leo" Markus
(husband; 2002-2004; 2006-2017; divorced)
|Children||Laila Markus |
(daughter, with Leo, in the flash-forward; removed from the revival)
|Relatives||Dr. Jay Markus |
Grace was born on April 26, 1967, in Schenectady, New York. She has been particularly influenced by her mother, Bobbi (Debbie Reynolds), a flamboyant actress from whom she inherited her many neuroses. 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." 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. She is a Democrat 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!" 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?").
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.
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. She moves out in season 2 to declare her independence - albeit only to an apartment across the hall. She moves back in the third season. 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). 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 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.
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. 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 goes on to attend college and there meets Will and Vince's son, Ben. 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.
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. 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 couldn't 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), and he eventually asks her to move in with him. In the season finale, however, she ends the relationship upon realizing that she doesn't really love him and simply doesn't want to be alone.
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 (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.
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