Boston Legal Wiki
Denny Crane
William Shatner as Denny Crane
Personal Information
Gender/Sex: Male
Lawyer, Senior and Main Partner of Crane, Poole, & Schmidt Law
Spouse(s): Beverly (ex-wife)Angie (ex-wife)Clovis (ex-wife)Marcia (ex-wife) Shirley Schmidt (NOT ex-wife)
Domestic partner(s): Alan Shore (life partner)
Related to: Walter Crane (deceased)
Donny Crane (son)
Character information
Created by: David E. Kelley
Appeared on: Boston Legal
First episode appearance: "Head Cases" (Season 1)
Final episode
"Last Call" (Season 5)
Episodes appeared in: 100 in series (2004-2008)
Character played by: William Shatner
Boston Legal Wiki

Denny Crane is a legendary lawyer and name partner in Crane, Poole & Schmidt, who is also best friends with Alan Shore. He is portrayed by William Shatner.

Description and early life[]

Denny Crane is a renowned attorney of some fifty years of practice, who claims to have won 6043 cases and will never lose one.

As revealed in Hired Guns, Denny served in the US Marine Corps, though he couldn't remember if he was a sniper or a pilot, leaving it ambiguous. In Brotherly Love, Denny reveals that during his time in the military he had an affair with Bette Midler in a fox hole.

After completing his military service, Denny studied in law school and started practicing it in 1957 with his father, who was also a renowned lawyer, but who also disapproved of Denny's deceitful tactics and later suffered from the late stages of Alzheimer's, eventually being given a fatal morphine drip by his doctor on Denny's insistence to end their suffering.

Denny and fellow lawyer Paul Lewiston go back a long ways and are seen as long-standing, albeit slightly estranged, friends who've worked the law beat for many years.

Prior to the series, Denny had a one night stand with a woman, who was supposedly impregnated by him and sued Denny in a successful paternity case. She gave birth to a boy, Donny Crane, but admitted years later that Donny wasn't really his son. Nevertheless, Denny financially supported Donny, who finished law school and became a lawyer, even saying out loud his name just like Denny does.

Denny has also had a long, tumultuous relationship with Shirley Schmidt going back a quarter century . Denny recalls how they swam together in Nantucket and supposedly had a threesome with Shirley and Barbra Streisand, but Shirley recalls that that was actually a hired female impersonator.

Shirley left Denny for the then-Secretary of Defense, leaving him hurt though he still harbors feelings for her to this day.

In 1984, Crane, Shirley and Edwin Poole founded Crane, Poole, and Schmidt in Boston, Massachusetts. It grew into a prestigious law firm & opened branch offices in several major U.S. cities as well as London, Hong Kong, & Mexico City. 

Denny's Relationships with Others[]

Alan Shore[]


Denny and Alan as flamingos

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. Denny refers to this as their "blue hour" and takes it seriously enough to break off a marriage proposal because it would prevent him from spending time with Alan. Alan once said, "I'm proud of you Denny...I always am." On another occasion Denny stated that if Alan had been a woman, he would make him his wife. During the final episode of Boston Legal, Denny Crane proposes marriage to Alan Shore as a way of ensuring that his property, confidential conversations and friendship are protected. He proposes this after a particularly bad example of his failing mental state causing him confusion and distress and he says he wishes Alan to have the right to make key decisions regarding his future medical care (Denny having made it clear he wishes to die rather than forget who he is). Alan, though initially reluctant, agrees and they are married by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia along with Shirley and her fiancé Carl at a fishing lodge in Canada.

Shirley 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 has a life-size doll in the likeness of Shirley which he dubbed "Shirley Schmidt-ho."

Denny's 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. As a result of the 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.

Denny's Personality[]

"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.) He does it so frequently that he has occasionally been found muttering his name in his sleep, and as proven by the episode 'The Cancer Man Can' he even calls out his own name during sex. Denny even has a talking teddy bear that, when squeezed, exclaims "Denny Crane!"


Denny attempting to engrave his own name on the Stanley Cup

Denny's explanation of this habit is that people often can't believe they are actually in the room with the legendary Denny Crane, so he says his name out loud to assure them that it's real (as he states in his guest appearance in The Practice). Alan Shore originally asserts (in The Practice) and Shirley Schmidt later confirms, however, that Denny says his name aloud to remember it, in reference to his MCI. In many episodes Shirley Schmidt would whisper Denny's name in his ear, arousing him.

[edit] Sheep[]

In addition to his notorious womanizing, Denny has displayed a bizarre obsession with sheep, bordering on sexual attraction. In "The Bad Seed", Denny fantasizes about taking a vacation to a dude ranch and seems excited about sheep.

Subsequently in "Happy Trails," while in Utah with Alan, after mistakenly taking Viagra instead of his usual medication, discovers a wild sheep standing outside their tent and moves toward it lovingly while romantic music plays before Alan makes him get back inside the tent. When they return to Boston, Denny is so taken at the sight of Katie Lloyd in a sheep costume for Halloween that he throws his arms around her and possibly bites her before Alan, Jerry, and Carl pry him off of her.


Denny is a fervent conservative Republican with no tolerance for anyone or anything he perceives as disparaging of the United States or traditional values. He is admittedly homophobic and has also expressed Islamophobic views. Despite his homophobia, he once complimented Brad Chase on the size of his testicles, having seen him in the shower at the gym.


Denny 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 with which he saved Alan in the episode "Hired Guns").

On numerous occasions, Denny has negligently discharged various firearms, 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. As Paul Lewiston put it best: "He [Denny] shoots people."

Denny Crane H&K

Denny with his gun

Denny first shot the aforementioned man who was threatening Alan with a gun right in the offices of Crane, Poole & Schmidt.[4] 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.[5] Denny 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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8]

In the fifth season, a criminal attempted to steal Denny and Jerry Espenson's wallets by holding them at gunpoint. As Denny handed his wallet over, he pulled out a gun and shot the would-be mugger three times in the legs, leading Denny to be arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. Denny arranged for Jerry to give a strongly pro-gun closing argument, hoping to lose so that they could appeal the case to the Supreme Court as part of Denny's agenda to change gun laws; despite this, the jury finds Denny not guilty anyway. While on vacation in Utah with Alan, Denny (and Boston itself) are insulted by a man with a heavy New York accent, prompting Denny to shoot him in the knee with a tranquilizer gun, knocking him out. In the series finale Denny discovered the firm was being bought out by a Chinese Corporation to which he was very opposed. During a meeting with the business Denny opened fire on them with a paintball gun, chasing them out of the conference room.