|First Appearance||"Schmidt Happens"
January 9, 2005
|Created by||David E. Kelley|
|Portrayed by||Candice Bergen|
|Number of Episodes Featured in||78|
|Family||Walter Schmidt (father)(Deceased)
Marlena Hoffman (granddaughter) "Mitchy" Weston (nephew) Michael Reiss (nephew)
(ex-husband) Carl Sack (husband)
Shirley is a middle-aged woman who together with Denny Crane and Edwin Poole, founded the Boston law firm, Crane, Poole & Schmidt (as she puts it to young junior associates, "I'm Schmidt"). She and Crane had a brief romantic relationship many years in the past but now her chief role aside from star litigator and top decision-maker is to rein in Denny's excessive behavior and oversee damage control in the wake of his public statements. She had an elderly father who was an Alzheimer's Disease patient in a local hospital, and she visited him periodically to talk with him and read aloud his favorite books until he died (she euthanizing him via a morphine drip) in the Season 4 episode "The Mighty Rogues". She was married for four years to Ivan Tiggs. She also sat on the board of directors of a university, two museums and a hospital. It was never revealed whether it was in Boston or New York.
In an episode tastefully titled "Schmidt Happens", Shirley first entered the Boston Offices when she was called back by Paul Lewiston. Lori Colson revealed that Shirley had spent the last three years in the New York Offices, and that Lewiston called her back to clean up the Boston office in response to a drop in litigation, Edwin Poole's inability to run the firm, and Denny's behavior. As soon as Shirley returned she butted heads with Alan Shore, whom she had a confrontation with in the men's bathroom and then Denny Crane, who found he was still attracted to Shirley after she turned him just by whispering his name. She then proceeded to fire an assistant, Maddie, who had filed a Title IX complaint stating, among other things, that the men had better fixtures. Maddie tried to stand up to Shirley, saying that she couldn't fire her for bringing a Title IX, to which Shirley merely replied by telling her to add a count of wrongful termination to her lawsuit. Shirley made waves only moments later by berating Sally Heep for her dress sense. Within the next day Shirley had taken on a massive case involving a man suing the United States Government. Whereas nobody else seemed able to get the Federal Judge to see their cause of action, Shirley did so, resulting in the judge denying the United State's motion to dismiss. It is unknown what became of that law suit.
Within the next week Shirley fired Sally Heep, stating that whilst her work was good, it wasn't up to the standard expected at Crane, Poole & Schmidt. When Sally asked her how she could come in and after one week fire someone she didn't know, Shirley replied "I'm Schmidt." She then dealt with Alan Shore's sexual harassment of Nora Jacobs and proceeded to take a position as top woman at the firm, becoming an immensely feared but respected woman. Although good friends with Lori Colson, she later ushered her out of the firm when Lori brought a sexual harassment case against Denny Crane.
Shirley is not without baggage - she had to suppress the auctioning of nude photographs of her which had been taken by a photographer with whom she had had an adulterous sexual liaison decades ago (the photographer was married at the time, whereas Schmidt was not). Alan Shore finally persuaded the photographer's vengeful widow to sell him the photos so as to keep the public and Schmidt's grandchildren from seeing them.
Recently, she and Ivan were on opposing sides in a case, Ivan saying he still wanted Shirley. He told her he and his new wife (a bubbly young woman named Missy) were divorcing and he and Shirley renewed their relationship. However, when Missy came to Shirley, saying she suspected Ivan was cheating on her, Shirley realized Ivan had lied about the marriage being over and broke it off. She then helped Missy create a "post-nup" so that if Ivan cheated on her, Missy would get a sizable portion of his earnings and estate. Missy thanked Shirley for making sure Ivan would never cheat on her with anyone and Shirley realized Missy had known all along about them and used Shirley's guilt to get the post-nup created. Although soon after that Ivan challenged the post-nup with Alan Shore as his attorney.
Shirley was at one point kidnapped by the somewhat psychotic Lincoln Meyers, one of the witnesses in the Judge Hooper Murder Trial, during which Jeffrey Coho accused him of murdering Martia Hooper and being a sexual predator. Just when Shirley was going to dinner with Jeffrey, Lincoln Meyer, using a pistol, forced Shirley to his house, where she was tied to a chair and made to wait with him, while he sang Christmas carols to her. Eventually Shirley realized that his relationship with Martia was indeed real as he said many times, although nobody believed him, and now he was trying to replace Martia with Shirley. Eventually the police broke into Lincoln's house and the scenario ended with Lincoln being shot with a crossbow; all part of a trap he had set up to stop any intruders. Shirley was rescued and Lincoln presumably taken to hospital and then jail; since he also killed another Judge who called him a pedophile and whacked Gracie Jane on the back of the head with a shovel.
Shirley is portrayed in the series as the ultimate ideal woman: smart, sexy, graceful, dignified, a great lawyer and businesswoman, phenomenal in bed, easy to fall in love with and impossible to get over. She routinely wins her court cases, effortlessly manages the hectic office of Crane, Poole & Schmidt; balances the fragile relationship between the reckless Denny Crane and the senior partners who want him out, and juggles the affections of all the men who desire her: Denny, Ivan, Judge Simon Devon, Alan Shore, Jeffrey Coho and Lincoln Meyer. Denny, who gladly shares everything he owns with Alan, steadfastly refuses to accept or even allow a relationship between Alan and Shirley because his feelings for her are so strong. When Alan often discusses problems with his current love interests, Denny will usually request permission to pursue the woman himself. In response, Alan will often allude to his desire to pursue Shirley in kind.
As of the fourth season, Shirley is involved with Carl Sack. Carl commented how worried he was about falling in love with her, saying that she went through men "like Tic-Tacs". Their relationship seemed most serious in the fourth season, to Denny's dismay. They went through a few fights, and as a result they seem to be taking things much more slowly.
Despite Shirley's differences with Denny and often having to rein in his excessive behavior, she still maintains a strong bond with him. In the wake of her ruined attempt at a second relationship with Ivan Tiggs, during which he was still married unbeknownst to Shirley, it was Denny that comforted her. When a jealous Denny confronted Shirley about her relationship with Carl, Shirley told him that she still loved him deeply, just not romantically.
In Season Five's "Kill Baby Kill" episode, Shirley finally agrees to be romantically involved with Alan, if Alan can get Denny to allow their relationship. Alan then tries to manipulate Denny by using his Mad Cow disease as a way to say Alan would be able to describe how a great lover Shirley was, when Denny would lose that memory. However, Denny seeing Alan's manipulation, tells him that most likely the last memory of his (Denny's) will be of him and Shirley making love years ago on a beach.
In the season five episode "Thanksgiving" Shirley revealed to Edwin Poole that the Firm was bankrupt, but that she had some ideas as how to prevent them from needing to find a buyer. This was revealed only to Edwin and Carl Sack but, at a thanksgiving dinner at her house (which Denny, Alan, Katie, Jerry, Edwin, his foster son and Melvin Palmer, as well as Carl Sack, attended), it was revealed by Edwin to all who attended. During this dinner it was also revealed how far Denny's Alzheimers had progressed, when he thought everyone had gathered to attend his birthday, which was actually in January. Carl proposed at the end of this meal, aided by Denny and everyone else.
In the finale of the series, Shirley led the charge against Paul Lewiston when he sold the Firm (in his capacity as Managing Partner) to a Chinese Syndicate. She opposed him in court, revealing something of her dislike for him personally because of his 'betrayal', but eventually lost the case. At the end of the series she marries Carl in a ceremony shared by Denny and Alan, who marry to protect Denny's financial empire.