Denny Crane

Denny Crane

pp-semi-protected|small=yesInfobox character
colour =
name = Denny Crane

caption = Denny Crane
first = "The War of The Roses" ("The Practice")
last =
cause =
nickname =
alias =
species =
gender = Male
age = 75 or 74
born = 1932 or 1933
death =
occupation = Lawyer
title = Senior and Founding Partner of Crane, Poole & Schmidt
callsign =
family = unnamed father (deceased)
spouse = five unnamed ex-wives
children =
relatives =
residence =
episode = 93
(88 on Boston Legal)
(5 on The Practice)
portrayer = William Shatner
creator = David E. Kelley

Dennis "Denny" Crane is a fictional character on the television series "Boston Legal". He first appeared during the final season of "The Practice", and is portrayed by William Shatner.

Character biography and personality

Denny is a founding partner (and was chief rainmaker) of Crane, Poole & Schmidt, along with Shirley Schmidt and Edwin M. Poole. In his prime, he was a legendary litigator; his reputation amongst lawyers is long and fabled, and Denny himself insists he is the greatest lawyer in history and has never lost a case, stating that his record is 6,043-0. ("Loose Lips") This record is debatable, however, as Denny shifts the blame away from himself in lost cases he was involved with, saying that it was, in fact, his colleague who lost, not him. Paul Lewiston once observed that Denny is like Muhammad Ali late in his career, relying more on his past reputation than his current skills.

On a case involving seniors and prescription drug prices, Denny forgot the details of the case, and gave an opening statement that resulted in a mistrial to his client's benefit. He then finally took seriously Alan Shore's suggestion that he might have Alzheimer's Disease, and went to get tested for it. Later, Denny admitted to Alan that he had been taking a type of amphetamine drug to help him focus on trial procedures and stopped taking the drug. After trying a case involving the safety of red meat, he came to believe that his condition was due to mad cow disease, which he simply refers to as "mad cow." When Denny received his annual CT scan during the Christmas episode, a doctor revealed that Denny has mild cognitive impairment, which could be the result of normal aging or the early stage of Alzheimer's, and added that based on MCI patient history, Denny has an 80% chance of having Alzheimer's in six years.

Denny feels that elevators "are for Democrats," and states that he only takes the stairs (although he is frequently seen taking the elevator). In one episode, when he is representing the United States in court, he refers to the Attorney General by his first name, "Alberto."

In the third season episode "Nuts," when Denny finds out that he is on the Transportation Security Administration's No Fly List, Alan tells the lawyer representing Homeland Security that there is no one more patriotic than Denny, stating that he is pro-life, pro-death penalty, uses every possible loophole to get out of paying taxes and donated to the Jack Abramoff Ball. Earlier in the episode, Alan and Denny discuss who of Denny's friends could come to his aid; names mentioned were Tom DeLay, Bill Frist, Mark Foley and Dick Cheney.

Denny is, at times, portrayed as extremely unethical. In one episode, he convinces a judge to drop all charges against his nymphomaniac client by playing on the judge's self-esteem problems stemming from his being a virgincite episode
title = Death Not Be Proud | episodelink = | series = Boston Legal
serieslink = Boston Legal | network = ABC | airdate = 2005-03-20
season = 1 | number = 17
] (the judge is later revealed to be homosexual; he had simply never had sex with a womancite episode
title = Selling Sickness | episodelink = | series = Boston Legal
serieslink = Boston Legal | network = ABC | airdate = 2007-02-06
season = 3 | number = 14
] ). Denny also once employed a spin doctor to taint the jury pool by flooding the media with sympathetic portrayals of his client. Additionally, he has, at many times, made remarks about sleeping with people's wives, a practice that places him in harm's way in the pilot episode.

Denny's expertise and skill in media manipulation, as well as his reputation, have made him the public face of Crane, Poole & Schmidt, far more often than any of the other senior partners would like. His aggressive personality, massive ego, excessive libido and eagerness for the limelight have caused him to lose five wives, the most recent after only three hours of marriage when he was caught having sex with a catering server in the coat room at his own wedding reception. But as a name partner and the firm's resident rainmaker, Denny cannot be removed from the firm without great difficulty and economic risk (as he often points out, "My name's on the door").

When surrounded by reporters, Denny often says his name and something that is not directly related to the case. In "The Black Widow," Denny repeatedly says, "Denny Crane! She loves me − she loves me not!" and in another episode, "Denny Crane! Cookoo for Cocoa Puffs."

Denny also believes that the first rule of practicing law is to promise the client millions of dollars because "It's good business."

Denny and others

Alan Shore

Denny and Alan Shore are close friends, despite their great political differences. Episodes almost always end with a scene of the two enjoying a cigar and a glass of Scotch on the balcony of the law firm, talking over events that had happened in the episode. Alan once said, "I'm proud of you Denny...I always am."

hirley Schmidt

Denny and fellow senior and founding partner Shirley Schmidt had a brief relationship many years ago, although she refers to this as a bet to sleep with him that she lost. He once claimed that he had a threesome with Shirley and Barbra Streisand; Shirley then told him that she had hired a male Barbra Streisand impersonator. Denny frequently interprets seemingly meaningless friendly talk between them as sexual moves, and often makes advances to sleep with her. He also once had, or still has, a life-size doll in the likeness of Shirley which he dubbed "Shirley Schmidt-ho."

His father

Denny reveals in the episode "Live Big" that he euthanized his demented father ("The man with the brain of a two year-old") by pressuring the supervising doctor to increase his patient's morphine dose ("We put him out of our misery," Denny tells Alan).

In the third season episode "Son of the Defender," Denny says he learned everything he knows about the law from his father. When he began practicing in 1957, Denny and his father practiced together. However, the elder Crane did not approve of Denny's reliance on deceit and manipulation to win his cases. When Denny relied on a stunt to acquit a man his father thought was guilty, his father said, "I thought it would be a good life for you, but now I don't know. We don't think alike, you and I. I don't really know you." Years later, when the son of the victim in the same case sought revenge on Denny, the memories of his father's disapproval brought an obvious sadness upon Denny. Upon the result of this case in 1957, Denny said, "My father...he disowned me."

Donny Crane

Another lawyer, Donny Crane, was believed to be Denny's illegitimate son, the product of an affair with an anonymous woman. Denny, however, confessed to Alan that when Donny's mother slapped him with a paternity suit, he settled, and Donny's mother later admitted that Denny wasn't the father. It was by overhearing this conversation Donny learned Denny didn't sire him.

Many jokes were made about the closeness of Donny and Denny's names. Just like Denny, Donny used his own name as an exclamation at inappropriate times. However, as the show has evolved, Denny has made it clear to Donny that although he may not have sired Donny, he regards Donny as his son.

Character eccentricities


Denny is a staunch conservative Republican who strongly opposes gun control, claiming that "It's for communists." On the recommendation of his friend Tom DeLay, he keeps a wide variety of loaded guns in his office (including the camouflaged AR-7 he saved Alan with [] ).

On numerous occasions, Denny has accidentally discharged his guns, although no one has ever been hurt by his carelessness. However, he does have a fondness for using his gun(s) on living people, and has done so more than once. Denny first shot the aforementioned man who was threatening Alan with a gun right in the offices of Crane, Poole & Schmidt.cite episode
title = Hired Guns | episodelink = | series = Boston Legal
serieslink = Boston Legal | network = ABC | airdate = 2004-12-19
season = 1 | number = 10
] In another episode, he was forced against his will by a judge to provide "pro bono" representation to an accused child rapist/killer. The killer privately bragged to Denny about having committed the crime, and Denny responded by shooting both the man's kneecaps in "self-defense" with a gun he had smuggled past courthouse security in his briefcase.cite episode
title = Truly, Madly, Deeply | episodelink = | series = Boston Legal
serieslink = Boston Legal | network = ABC | airdate = 2005-11-08
season = 2 | number = 7
] He also shot a homeless man in the head with a paintball gun after the man threw a rock at his head because Denny ignored his pleas for spare change.cite episode
title = Gone | episodelink = | series = Boston Legal
serieslink = Boston Legal | network = ABC | airdate = 2005-12-06
season = 2 | number = 9
] Finally, Denny shot his psychologist on two separate occasions: first in self-defense when the psychologist brandished a gun after Denny pulled his gun first, and then again in a courtroom after the psychologist was threatening to shoot Alan.cite episode
title = Race Ipsa | episodelink = | series = Boston Legal
serieslink = Boston Legal | network = ABC | airdate = 2006-04-25
season = 2 | number = 23
] As Paul Lewiston put it best: "He [Denny] shoots people." When a concerned client and friend of Denny's accused Denny's firm of not being environmentally conscious, Denny opened fire on him with a paintball gun, and later shot him several times with an air soft gun during a subsequent meeting. He later shot Carl Sack with the same gun.cite episode
title = Green Christmas | episodelink = | series = Boston Legal
serieslink = Boston Legal | network = ABC | airdate = 2007-12-18
season = 2 | number = 10

"Denny Crane!"

Denny often punctuates his statements by announcing his own name, "Denny Crane." (Another character created by David E. Kelley -- Charlie Bixby -- also exhibited this quirk on "Boston Public"). Denny's explanation of this habit is that people often can't believe they are actually in the room with legendary Denny Crane, so he says his name out loud to assure them that it's real (as stated by him in his guest appearance in "The Practice"). According to Shirley Schmidt, Denny says his name aloud to remember it in reference to his MCI.

Breaking the fourth wall

In a breaking of the "fourth wall," Denny is often shown to be aware of his status as a character in a television show, particularly in the second and third seasons.

* Alan greets Denny at the end of "Too Much Information" with the remark, "Ah, there you are. I've hardly seen you this episode."
* Discussing euthanasia with Alan in "Live Big," Denny says, "I'm tired of my Alzheimer's being a story point," to which Alan replies, "This isn't your story, Denny."
* In the episode "Gone," Denny and Alan are talking about Alan defending the man Denny shot with a paintball gun. Denny says, "I wish you had let me in on the game. I can act you know. I won an Emmy." This is referring to the Emmy William Shatner won for the show.
* At the end of "Squid Pro Quo," when Denny and Alan anticipate what to expect from Marlene Stanger, a sexy new attorney, Denny sums up the situation by saying, "I can't wait to see her next week."
* In "BL Los Angeles," Denny asks Shirley to kiss him, saying, "It's the sweeps episode."
* In the second season finale, Alan remarks to Denny, "I'll see you next season," to which Denny replies, "Hopefully on the same night."
* In the episode "New Kids on the Block," when he is told there are new lawyers in the firm, Denny responds, "Oh, please! If there were new guys, they'd have shown up in the season premiere." Then he welcomed them by saying "Welcome to "Boston Legal"," acknowledging the name of the show rather than the name of the fictional firm. Denny further breaks the fourth wall by saying, "Cue the music." None of the other characters seem to perceive this as unusual, except for Jeffrey Coho, who seems surprised to hear the show's theme music and looks around, seemingly for its source.
* In the episode "Angel of Death," Denny plays the first few notes of the show's theme song on his "trombone-kazoo," in tune with the real song playing over the opening credits.
* In the episode "Fat Burner," Denny turns to Alan after the prosecution's summation and asks, "Why is the other side's closing argument always so short?", referring to how the show's writers only focus on the main characters' summations.
* At the end of "Dumping Bella," Denny (dressed as Dick Cheney) is dancing with Alan (dressed as Shirley Schmidt). Denny comments that the neighbors would be puzzled if they saw Dick Cheney dancing with Shirley Schmidt on their balcony. Alan replies, "Well, if they're regular viewers, they know by now [that] anything goes."
* In the episode "Duck and Cover," Denny is seen toying with a bobblehead of himself standing on an opened law book with a gavel lying at his feet. Denny's bobblehead features a voice chip, which plays a clip of Denny delivering his trademark line, "Denny Crane!". A commercial replica of this prop, with the words "Boston Legal" on the law book base, is available through ABC's website. This one also features William Shatner's voice proclaiming "Denny Crane."

"Star Trek" references

William Shatner's more famous role as Captain James T. Kirk in the original ' – not to mention Rene Auberjonois' role as Odo from ' – is a frequent source of such references.

* In the episode "Finding Nimmo," Alan is reading a book about the extinction of the North Pacific Salmon, noting that "It's caused by sea-lice called cling-ons", to which Denny asks, "Did you just say Klingons?"
* In several episodes, Denny's clamshell phone makes the "tick-tick-tick" sound of a "" communicator when opened.
* In the episode "There's Fire," Denny asks his new wife Bev, "What am I supposed to do, beam myself to Boston every morning?"
* During the third season finale, Denny mentions he once captained his own spaceship, referring to the USS "Enterprise".

Lori Colson's exit

Near the end of the first season of "Boston Legal", Lori Colson filed a complaint about Denny's behavior, which Shirley and Paul Lewiston were ready to use to try to push him out of the firm. At this point, the series went on hiatus so "Grey's Anatomy" could premiere. When "Grey's Anatomy" became such a hit, ABC decided to push "Boston Legal" back until September. While Lori's complaint was briefly addressed early on in the second season, its resolution is still unclear, although Colson is no longer on the show, as Monica Potter left to have a child.

Critical acclaim for Shatner's performance

In 2004, William Shatner won an Emmy for his performance as Denny on the final season of the legal drama "The Practice". In 2005, he won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for "Boston Legal" as the same character, and was nominated for an Emmy again in 2006. states, "William Shatner is a revelation as Denny Crane. [...] Shatner infuses his character with a sadness that seeps through his tired eyes, creating a performance that is alternately brazen and poignant." [cite web | title = Boston Legal: Season One (2004) | url = | work = | accessdate = 2008-03-05] says, "Kudos to William Shatner, who plays crazed lawyer Denny Crane, for turning in one of the best performances of his long, underrated career." [cite web | url = | title = Review - May TV Highlights: Boston Legal: Season One, That '70s Show: Season Four, American Dad: Volume One | work = | accessdate = 2008-03-05]


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