Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Television Characters

by David A. Wyatt
Copyright ©2008 David Wyatt

[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:

dawwpg@shaw.ca

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

1.1 The TV networks

1.2 Program Index

[version= 2 April 2014 (overall)]

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 (859 characters documented to date).

A: Absolutely Fabulous, Action, After Henry, After the Beep, 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 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, Bad Girls, Ball Four, Bare Essence, Barney Miller, Batman, Beane's of Boston, Beautiful People, Bedtime, Beggars & Choosers, Being Erica, 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, 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), 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, Commander In Chief, Cop Rock, The Corner Bar, Coronation Street (1998-present), Coronation Street (2003-present), Courthouse, Coverguy, Crapston Villas, SE69, The Crew, Crossroads, Crumbs, 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, Dirt, Dirty Sexy Money, Do Not Disturb, Doctor, Doctor, Doctor Who, Doctors, 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), E.N.G., Entourage, ER (1995-2001), ER (2005-2009), Everwood, Eyes,

F: F Troop, Fair City, Fairy Tale, Fame, Family Affairs, Felicity, Fingersmith, Fired Up, First Comes Love, First Years, Flash Forward, Flipping Out, The Following, Footballers' Wive$, 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, Go Girls, Go On, Godiva's, Golden Girls, Gossip Girl, G.P., Grace And Favour, The Graham Norton Effect, The Graham Norton Show, Grange Hill, 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, 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, Howard's Way,

I: I Now Pronounce You..., Ice Blues, In Living Color, In Sickness and Health, 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,

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, Kings, Kink, Kiss Me Guido,

L: The L Word, The L.A. Complex, L.A. Law, The Lair, The Larry Sanders Show, 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, The Lone Ranger, The Long Firm, Looking, Love Monkey, Love, Sidney, Lovespring International, Lush Life,

M: Mad About You, Mad Men, Madison, Malibu Country, Mapp & Lucia, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Masters of Sex, Me and Frankie Z, Melrose Place (1992-1999), Melrose Place (2009-present), Men In Trees, Mercy, Metrosexuality, Mickey Mouse Club, Mile High, Mission Hill, Modern Family, The Mole, Moral Orel, More Tales of the City, Mrs. Brown's Boys, Murder One, Muscle, My Fabulous Gay Wedding, My Family, My Name Is Earl, My So-Called Life,

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, 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, On the Other Hand, Death, 1 Girl 5 Gays, 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, Party Girl, Party of Five, Passions, Peanuts, Penmarric, 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, 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 World (1992-2000), The Real World (2002-present), Reaper, Relativity, renegadepress.com, Reno 911!, Rescue Me, Revelations, Revenge, Rhona, Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World, River City, Riverdale, The Roads to Freedom, Robson Arms, Roc, Roseanne, 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, 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, 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, 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, Tenko, Terry and Julian, These Arms of Mine, These Friends of Mine, Third Man Out, 30 Rock, Thirtysomething, 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, The Tudors, 24, Two and a Half Men,

U: U8TV: The Lofters, Ugly Betty, 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 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, Women In Prison, World Without End,

X: Xena: Warrior Princess,

Y: You Rang, M'Lord?, The Young and the Restless,

2.0 The Shows and Characters


2.1 1961 - 1970

The Roads to Freedom (drama) BBC 1970, seen on PBS 1971 Paris on the eve of the Second World War. Based on the novel trilogy of the same name, by Jean-Paul Sartre.


2.2 1971 - 1980

2.3 1981 - 1990

2.4 1991 - 2000

2.5 2001 - present


3.0 Some Also Rans

Three's Company (sitcom) ABC 1977-1984. Archetype of the airhead sitcom. The premise of the living arrangements was that the landlord would only allow Jack to live with Janet and Chrissy if he was gay. [I guess some things were morally acceptable and others weren't.] No `really' gay characters, though.

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.


4.0 Some That Don't Belong

The Lone Ranger (western) ABC 1949-1957 (radio 1933-1955). What would you say if I told you `kemo sabe' translated as "longtime companion"?

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

  • Peppermint Patty and Marcie [various Peanuts specials since 1965, CBS],
  • Spin Evans (Tim Considine) and Marty Markham (David Stollery) [Spin and Marty and The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty (children's adventure) broadcast within Mickey Mouse Club, (children's anthology) ABC 1955-1959],
  • Frank and Joe Hardy (Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy) [Hardy Boys (detective drama) ABC 1977-198?], and
  • Xena (Lucy Lawless) and Gabrielle (Reneé O'Connor) [Xena: Warrior Princess (adventure) [U.S.A. Syndication] 1995-2001]
    were/are not gay couples, no matter how fondly they may be remembered as such!


    5.0 References

    Individuals interested in current events and commentary about the depiction of GLBT characters in American mass culture are recommended to check out Logo's brother and sister sites: AfterElton (http://www.afterelton.com/) and AfterEllen (http://www.afterellen.com/).

    Biocco, Michael. "Gay TV," March 1996 - present. A weekly compilation published as a world wide web page, at the URL: http://www.jersey.net/~not2/gaytv.htm

    Brooks, Tim, and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network TV Shows: 1946-Present, Third edition, New York: Ballantine Books, 1985; Fifth edition, New York: Ballantine Books, 1992.

    Brooks, Tim, and Earle Marsh, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows: 1946-Present, Sixth edition, New York: Ballantine Books, 1995; Seventh edition, New York: Ballantine Books, 1999;

    Budd, Dave `DeaconBlu', ed., The Definitive UK Sitcom List, a compilation posted monthly to the USEnet newsgroups alt.comedy.british and rec.arts.tv.uk by zlsiida@fs1.mcc.ac.uk (DeaconBlu), and hosted at the Internet gopher site gopher://info.mcc.ac.uk:70/11/miscellany/sitcom.

    Capsuto, Steven, Alternate Channels: The Uncensored Story of Gay and Lesbian Images on Radio and Television, 1930s to the present, New York: Ballantine Books, 2000.

    Castleman, Harry, and Walter J. Podrazik, Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows: A Fact-Filled Opinionated Guide to the Best and Worst on TV, New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1989.

    Collis, Rose, "Telling Tales," Gay Times, September 1993, pp. 10-12.

    Eisner, Joel and David Krinsky, Television Comedy Series: An Episode Guide to 153 TV Sitcoms in Syndication, Jefferson NC: McFarland & Co. Inc., 1984.

    Freuer, Jane, Paul Kerr and Tise Vahimagi, eds., MTM: `Quality Television', London: British Film Institute, 1984.

    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.

    Frutkin, Alan, and Gerry Kroll, "Gays on the Tube," The Advocate, Issue 713/714, August 20, 1996, pp. 11-22. Revised edition published on the World Wide Web at the URL: http://www.advocate.com/html/issuelinks/gaytube1.html, 31 January 1997.

    Frutkin, Alan, "The Best Fall Television," The Advocate, Number 742, 16 September 1997, p55.

    GLAAD TV Scoreboard on the World Wide Web at the URL: http://www.glaad.org/glaad/scoreboard.html April 1997.

    Giltz, Michael, "TV Gayed", Out, No. 37, October 1996, p. 70.

    Howes, Keith, Broadcasting It: An Encyclopaedia of Homosexuality on Film, Radio and TV in the UK 1923-1993, London: Cassell, 1993.

    The Internet Movie Database at the World Wide Web URL: http://us.imdb.com/

    Jacobs, A.J., "Out?", Entertainment Weekly, No. 347, October 4, 1996, pp. 18-25.

    Jones, Christopher, "The Point: On the Air", weekly column in The Washington Blade Online, on the World Wide Web and the URL: http://www.washblade.com/point/ontheair.htm

    The Larkhall Insider: ITV's Bad Girls, a world wide web site at the URL: http://www.fortunecity.com/village/turner/381, 1999.

    List of Television Shows With LGBT Characters, a Wikipedia web page at the URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_television_shows_with_lesbian,_gay,_bisexual,_or_transgendered_characters 2007.

    McLean, Ian, An Annotated Character List of Gay/Bi Characters in Number 96, personal email correspondence dated Mon, 13 Jan 1997 20:43:21 +1100. Additional email Tue, 24 Jun 1997 21:30:14 +1000.

    Maynard, Kevin, "Culture: `Real' Dirt," Out, May 1999, p. 32.

    Mortimer, Carol. "Gay TV," ? - March 1996. A weekly article posted (and reposted) to several Internet locations, including the USEnet forum soc.motss and the World Wide Web URL: http://pages.prodigy.com/NJ/carol_mortimer/gay_tv_menu.html

    Pela, Robrt L. "The Days of Whose Lives?," Genre No. 48, May 1997, pp. 46-49, 95.

    Poniewozik, James, "TV's Coming-Out Party," Time, Vol. 154, No. 17, October 25, 1999, pp. 54-56.

    "TV Comes Out of the Closet", Globe, Vol. 46, No. 11 (March 16, 1999), pp. 24-25, 32.

    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: Wednesday, 02-Apr-2014 14:10:04 CDT, Networks: Friday, 16-Feb-2007 14:01:32 CST, Show Index: Wednesday, 02-Apr-2014 14:10:07 CDT.