[this page version=05 September 2012]
For several years now I have been trying to compile a list of television programs that have included gay/lesbian/bisexual characters as a part of their regular (or semi-regular) casts. Many shows have `dealt' with sexual orientation in a single episode or story line, but just how many have included gay, lesbian or bisexual characters on a regular (or recurring) basis? This is the list I have. My intention is to keep the list to network and widely-syndicated entertainment shows in the English language.
To be listed a character should have appeared in at least three episodes and be explicitly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered. Effeminate (but not gay) male characters, manish (but not lesbian) female characters, and gender shifting science fiction characters are generally not listed. For the purposes of this list, a character is described as `recurring' if he or she has appeared in at least three (3) episodes.
If you can recall any other shows, or can correct errors or omissions in this list, please e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The latest version of this list is always available on the World Wide Web at the URL: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~wyatt/tv-characters.html
Characters by decade of debut: 1961-1970 (1 character documented), 1971-1980 (59 characters documented), 1981-1990 (89 characters documented), 1991-2000 (338 characters documented), 2001-present (1036 characters documented to date).
A: Absolutely Fabulous, Action, After Henry, After the Beep, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agony Again, Agony, All In The Family, All My Children (1983), All My Children (1995-2004), All My Children (2006-present), All That Glitters, Allen Gregory, 'Allo, 'Allo, Amazing Race, American Crime, American Dad, An American Family, American High, American Idol, American Journal, And the Beat Goes On, Angels, Anger Management, Anything But Love, Archer, Are You Being Served? Again!, Are You Being Served?, Arrow, As If (UK), As If (USA), As the World Turns (1988-1989), As the World Turns (2005-2010), At Home With the Braithwaites, Attachments, Australia's Perfect Couple, Awkward.,
B: Babylon 5, Backstrom, Bad Girls, Ball Four, Banana, Bare Essence, Barney Miller, Batman, Beane's of Boston, Beautiful People, Bedtime, Beggars & Choosers, Being Erica, Being Mary Jane, Bette, Between the Lines, Beverly Hills 90210, Big Brother (Australia), Big Brother (UK, 2000), Big Brother (UK 2001-present), Big Brother (USA), Big Love, The Biggest Loser, The Bill, Black Sails, Blackpool, The Bob Newhart Show, The Bold and the Beautiful, The Book Group, The Book of Daniel, The Borgias, Boston Public, The Box, Boy Meets Boy, Brass, Breakers, The Brian Benben Show, Brideshead Revisited, The Brittas Empire, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Brookside (1985-1990), Brookside (1991-2003), Brothers & Sisters, Brothers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bump!, Burnside, By Appointment With Dr. Keith, Byker Grove,
C: Cagney and Lacey, Californication, Camp, Caprica, The Carrie Diaries, Casualty (1996-2000), Casualty (2007-present), Chasing Life, Check It Out, Chicago Fire, Chicago Hope, Chozen, Chris & John to the Rescue!, The Chris & John Show, Chris & John's Road Trip, City Life, The City (Canada), The City (US), The Class, The Cleveland Show, The Closer, CodCo, The Comeback, Commander In Chief, Cop Rock, The Corner Bar, Coronation Street (1998-present), Coronation Street (2003-present), Courthouse, Coverguy, Crapston Villas, SE69, Crashing, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, The Crew, Crossroads, Crumbs, Cucumber, Cuffs, Cutters, Cybill,
D: Daddy's Girls, Dallas, Dalziel & Pascoe, Dance Academy, Dante's Cove, Dark Angel, Dawson's Creek, Days of Our Lives (1977), Days of Our Lives (2011-present), Deadwood, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Desperate Housewives, Dexter, Dig, Dirt, Dirty Sexy Money, Do Not Disturb, Doctor, Doctor, Doctor Who, Doctors, Dominion, Donald Strachey Mysteries, Don't Ask, Don't Trust the B**** In Apartment 23, Don't Wait Up, A Double Shot At Love, Downton Abby, Drawn Together, Dream On, Drop the Dead Donkey, DTLA, Dynasty,
E: EastEnders (1986-1989), EastEnders (1991-2000), EastEnders (2001-present), The Education of Max Bickford, Eldorado, 11 Cameras, Ellen, Emily Owens, M.D., Emmerdale (1993-2000), Emmerdale (2004-present), Empire, E.N.G., Entourage, ER (1995-2001), ER (2005-2009), Everwood, Eye Candy, Eyes,
F: F Troop, Fair City, Fairy Tale, Faking It, Fame, Family Affairs, Fear the Walking Dead, Felicity, Fingersmith, Fired Up, First Comes Love, First Years, Flash Forward, The Flash, Flipping Out, The Following, Footballers' Wive$, Forgive Me, The Fosters, Four Kings, 413 Hope St., Friends, The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty, Further Tales of the City,
G: Game of Thrones, GCB, Gems, General Hospital: Night Shift, General Hospital (1994-1998), General Hospital (2005-2006, 2012-present), Gigantic, Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie, Girlfriends, The Girl's Guide to Depravity, Girls, Glee, Glue, Go Girls, Go On, Godiva's, Golden Girls, The Good Wife, Gossip Girl, Gotham, G.P., Grace And Favour, Graceland, The Graham Norton Effect, The Graham Norton Show, Grange Hill, Grantchester, Greek, Grey's Anatomy, Grosse Pointe, G-Spot, Guiding Light (1995-1997), Guiding Light (2009-present),
H: Hail To the Chief, Half & Half, Happily Divorced, Happy Endings, The Hard Times of RJ Berger, Hardy Boys, The Haves and the Have Nots, He Shoots He Scores, Head Over Heals, Heading Out, HeartBeat, Heartbreak High, Hearts Afire, Hex, High Society, Hill Street Blues, Hit & Miss, Hit the Floor, Holby City, Hollyoaks: In the City, Hollyoaks (1995-2000), Hollyoaks (2006-present), Hollywood Beat, Hollywood Squares, Homicide: Life on the Street, Hooperman, Hope and Gloria, Hot l Baltimore, Hotel Babylon, House Husbands, How I Met Your Mother, How To Get Away With Murder, Howard's Way,
I: I Now Pronounce You..., Ice Blues, Impastor, In Living Color, In Sickness and Health, In the Big House, In the City, In the Flesh, In the Life, In Treatment, Isidingo, It Ain't Half Hot, Mum, It Takes a Worried Man, It's All Relative, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia,
J: Jacob and Joshua: Nemesis Rising, Jawbreaker, The Jewel In the Crown, John Callahan's Quads, The John Laroquette Show,
K: Keeping Up Appearances, The Kids In the Hall: Death Comes to Town, The Kids In the Hall, Kingdom, Kings, Kink, Kiss Me Guido,
L: The L Word, The L.A. Complex, L.A. Law, The Lair, The Larry Sanders Show, Last Tango In Halifax, Law & Order, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, Liberty Street, Linc's, Lipstick Jungle, Little Britain, Live Shot, Living in Captivity, Locker Room, The Lofters, London Spy, The Lone Ranger, The Long Firm, Looking, Love Monkey, Love, Sidney, Lovespring International, Lush Life,
M: Mad About You, Mad Men, Madison, The Magicians, Major Crimes, Malibu Country, Mapp & Lucia, Marry Me, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Masters of Sex, The McCarthys, Me and Frankie Z, Melrose Place (1992-1999), Melrose Place (2009-present), Men In Trees, Mercy, Metrosexuality, Mickey Mouse Club, Mile High, The Millers, Mission Hill, Modern Family, The Mole, Moral Orel, More Tales of the City, Mr. Robot, Mrs. Brown's Boys, Murder One, Murdoch Mysteries, Muscle, My Fabulous Gay Wedding, My Family, My Mad Fat Diary, My Name Is Earl, My So-Called Life, Mystery Girls,
N: Naked Josh, Naked News Daily Male, The Nancy Walker Show, Nash Bridges, Nashville, NCIS, Necessary Roughness, Neighbours (1994-1996), Neighbours (2004-2005, 2010-present), The New Normal, The Night Shift, 90210, Nip/Tuck, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, No Heroics, Noah's Arc, Normal, Ohio, Northern Exposure, Number 96, Nurse Jackie, NY Graham Norton, NYPD Blue,
O: The O.C., The Office, Offspring, Oh Grow Up, Olympus, On the Other Hand, Death, Once Upon a Time, One Big Happy, 1 Girl 5 Gays, The 100, One Life To Live (1992-1993, 1997-1998), One Life To Live (2004-2005, 2009-2010), One Tree Hill, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, The Originals, Orphan Black, Our Hero, Out Of Practice, Outland, Oz,
P: Pacific Drive, Pan Am, Paradise Falls, Partners (2012), Partners (2014-present), Party Girl, Party of Five, Passions, Peanuts, Penmarric, Penny Dreadful, A Place to Call Home, The Playboy Club, Playing the Field, Please Like Me, Political Animals, Popular, Porridge, A Portrait of a Marriage, The Practice, Pretty Little Liars, Prisoner: Cellblock H, Privileged, Profiler, Project Runway, Public Morals, Pursuit of Happiness, Push,
Q: Quads, Quantico, Queer As Folk 2, Queer As Folk (UK), Queer As Folk (US), Queer Eye For the Straight Guy,
R: Raising the Bar, Raw FM, Raw, Read Out!, The Real O'Neals, The Real World (1992-2000), The Real World (2002-present), Reaper, Red Band Society, Relativity, renegadepress.com, Reno 911!, Rescue Me, Revelations, Revenge, Rhona, Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World, Ripper Street, River City, Riverdale, The Roads to Freedom, Robson Arms, Roc, Roseanne, Rosewood, The Royals, Rubicon, Rude Awakenings,
S: St. Elsewhere, Santa Barbara, Sara, The Sarah Silverman Program, Saturday Night Live (2008-2013), Saturday Night Live (Also Rans), Saving Hope, Scandal, Schitt's Creek, Scream Queens, Sean Saves the World, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, The Secret Life of Us, Seed, Seinfeld, Sesame Street, Sex & Violence, Sex and the City, Shades of Blue, Shameless (UK), Shameless (USA), The Shield, $#*! My Dad Says, Shock to the System, Shortland Street (1992-2000), Shortland Street (2006-present), A Shot At Love, Shout, The Simpsons, Sinchronicity, Sirens (UK), Sirens (USA), Sisters, 6Degrees, Six Feet Under, Skins, The Slap, Sleeper Cell, Smash, Snips, So Graham Norton, So NoTORIous, Soap, SoGayTV, Some of My Best Friends, Sons and Daughters, Sophie, The Sopranos, Sordid Lives: The Series, South of Nowhere, South Park, Southland, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Spartacus: Vengeance, Spartacus: War of the Damned, Spartacus, Spin and Marty, Spin City, Spun Out, Spyder Games, Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Starved, The State Within, Steven and Chris, Strike Back, Suburgatory, Suddenly Susan, Sugar Rush, The Super Adventure Team, Survivor (2000), Survivor (2001-present), Sweat,
T: Taggart, Tales of the City, Teen Wolf, Telenovela, Tenko, Terry and Julian, These Arms of Mine, These Friends of Mine, Third Man Out, 30 Rock, Thirtysomething, This Life, This Life, Three's Company, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Tinsel Town, To Play the King, Together, Torchwood, Total Security, The Tracey Ullman Show, Train 48, Trauma, True Blood, True Detective, The Tudors, 24, Two and a Half Men, Tyrant,
U: U8TV: The Lofters, Ugly Betty, Undateable, Under the Dome, Undercover Princes, UnderCovers, Undressed (1999-2000), Undressed (2001-2002), Unhappily Ever After, The United States of Tara,
V: V Graham Norton, The Vampire Diaries, Veronica Mars, Veronica's Closet, A Very Peculiar Practice, Vicious, The View, Viva Blackpool, Viva Laughlin,
W: The Walking Dead, The War At Home, Warehouse 13, Wasteland, Water Rats, Waterloo Road, Weeds, White Collar, Whitney, Who Wants To Be A Superhero, Will & Grace, Winners & Losers, The Wire, Wizards vs. Aliens, Women In Prison, World Without End,
X: Xena: Warrior Princess,
Y: You, Me and the Apocalypse, You Rang, M'Lord?, Young & Hungry, The Young and the Restless,
Days of Our Lives (daytime serial drama) NBC 1965-present. In 1977 the unhappily married Sharon Duval (Sally Stark) admitted to her dear friend Julie Williams that she was bisexual and was in love with her. The story line was quickly wrapped up when problems broke out backstage between head writer Pat Falken Smith and the NBC top brass.
Dallas (serial drama) CBS 1978-1991. Serial drama set among Texas oil barons. In 1978 J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman) schemed to have his niece Lucy (Charlene Tilton) married to Kit Mainwaring (Mark Wheeler), the heir of the Mainwaring Oil Company. Lucy was smitten by the handsome young man but it was not to be... Kit had just broken up with his boyfriend. (2 episodes).
Golden Girls (sitcom) NBC 1985-1992. Blanche's gay brother Clayton Farnsworth (Monte Markham) appeared twice. In another episode Dorothy's lesbian friend Jean appeared. The pilot for Golden Girls included a gay cook/houseboy as a regular cast member, but the character was eliminated when series production began.
Star Trek: The Next Generation (science fiction) Syndicated 1987-1994. Dr. Crusher's orderly in an unproduced first season script, Ensign Freeman, was supposed to be gay. A 1991 promise by series creator Gene Roddenberry to introduce minor regular gay characters during the 1991/92 season was reneged on by Paramount after Roddenberry's death. Two other episodes touched on orientation identity issues: "The Outcast" (1992) ("heterosexual" of the gender neutral J'naii people de-oriented by psychotherapy) and "The Host" (1991) (Trill object of affections of female crewmember changes hosts and therefore outward gender). Star Trek: Deep Space 9, in the episode "Rejoined," also used the Trill host-symbiot construct to portray love between two Trills, now both female.
Roc (sitcom) FOX 1991-1994 An interracial gay couple Russell Emerson (Richard Roundtree) and _______? ( ) appeared twice.
In the Life (talk/variety) PBS 1992-2012. Monthly, then quarterly show focusing on gay and lesbian life in the US. Some PBS stations elected not to broadcast it. No roles (therefore no gay characters). In the Life's website is http://inthelifetv.org.
Hope and Gloria (sitcom) NBC 1995-1996? Hair stylist Isaac (Eric Allan Kramer) appeared in the first few episodes but was quickly written out.
Babylon 5 (science fiction) syndicated 1993-present. Susan Ivanova (Claudia Christian) and Talia Winters (Andrea Thompson) had an implied lesbian relationship. In an episode after Talia's character was written out, Susan confesses that she loved Talia.
Murder One (legal drama) ABC 1995-1997. Publicity for this show included the news that one of the minor recurring characters was gay. Most watchers assumed that character would be the lead lawyer's legal assistant Louis Heinsbergen (John Fleck 1995-1996) but the revelation seemed never to occur. [One email correspondent reported having seen the "coming out" episode in Germany, but that it was never broadcast in the U.S.].
F Troop (sitcom) ABC 1965-1967. Before there were overt gay characters on television there were coded representations, manish women and effeminate men. One such character was Roaring Chicken (Edward Everett Horton), the Hekawi medicine man on F Troop.
Saturday Night Live (sketch comedy/variety) NBC 1975-present. After more than twenty years of supposedly pushing the envelope of television conventions, SNL has yet to produce a regular or recurring gay, lesbian or bisexual character. (Although there have been many close encounters: Franz (Kevin Nealon 1986-1995) once experienced a moment of clarity about his affection for bodybuilding buddy Hans (Dana Carvey 1986-1992); androgynous Pat (Julia Sweeney 1990-1994) kept everyone guessing; and out actor Terry Sweeney 1985-1986 played several one-off gay characters but is probably best remembered for his Nancy Reagan). In the fall of 1996 an animated segment titled “The Ambiguously Gay Duo” began appearing irregularly, featuring Ace (Stephen Colbert [voice]) and Gary (Steve Carell [voice]), two superheros battling evil and patting each other on the behind. In a 2011 appearance, Ace and Gary became unanimated, played by John Hamm and Jimmy Fallon. [Did Stuart Smalley, a member of several twelve step programs (Al Franken) ever discuss his sexual orientation? Further information requested.]
Keeping Up Appearances (sitcom) [U.K.] 1990-1993, 1995. We never saw Mrs. Bucket's son Sheridan (or even heard his voice), but he called his mummy regularly from college, usually to ask for money or talk about his very best friend Tarquin.
Four Kings (sitcom) NBC 2006, Living [U.K.] 2006?, 9NA 2006?. Four men, best friends, share a New York apartment. Thirteen episodes were produced. NBC cancelled the series after airing seven, but Living and Nine Network Australia aired all thirteen. One of the four, Jason (Todd Grinnell) was written with the door open to an eventual coming out, but it never made it to air.
Batman (comic-book drama) ABC 1966-1968. This was the story of a bachelor millionaire named Bruce who kept house with a teenaged lad named Dick. Bruce and his young ward Dick went everywhere together and dressed in capes and tights to combat the villains of Gotham City. As Batman, Bruce was completely tongue-tied whenever villain Cat-Woman ever suggested anything remotely sexual. [There were, of course, no gay characters in Batman, but one might wonder about Louie the Lilac (Milton Berle).]
Sesame Street (children's education) PBS and worldwide syndication 1969-present. Just who are Ernie and Bert? Those two guys living together for all these years, sharing a bedroom... And why is it Bert is always so interested in Ernie's baths? [No children's show would depict a male couple among its menagerie of characters. Would it?].
It can also be said with some certainty that
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Frutkin, Alan, "Television's 23 Gay Characters," The Advocate, Issue 727, February 18 1997, pp. 30-31.
Frutkin, Alan, "TV's 26 Gay Characters," The Advocate, Issue 768, September 15 1998, pp. 34-36.
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The contributions and assistance of many helpful Internet Email correspondents, and USEnet and GayNet readers is gratefully acknowledged.
Component Last Change: 1961-1970: Wednesday, 05-Sep-2012 16:06:53 CDT, 1971-1980: Thursday, 24-Nov-2011 11:09:44 CST, 1981-1990: Thursday, 14-Apr-2011 20:15:38 CDT, 1991-2000: Wednesday, 12-Feb-2014 16:45:42 CST, 2001-present: Tuesday, 03-May-2016 16:18:58 CDT, Networks: Friday, 16-Feb-2007 14:01:32 CST, Show Index: Tuesday, 03-May-2016 16:19:01 CDT.