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Alan Shore is a fictional character on the television series Boston Legal, played by James Spader. The character first appeared in the final season of The Practice. Alan is one of the main characters in Boston Legal. Spader won multiple Emmy awards in both series for the character.

Character background

Alan was born in 1962 in Dedham, Massachusettsmarker. He is of Scottish descent; his great-grandfather emigrated to the United Statesmarker from Scotlandmarker in 1903. Alan's childhood friends included Paul Stewart (whom he first met in kindergarten) and Tom Dougan (who later became a priest). Alan slept with Paul's mother when he was 16; he lost his virginity at age 14 to a friend of his mother. One of his neighbors was Catherine Piper, his future secretary. According to one of his courtroom speeches, Alan has a sister. At one point in his life, he had to seek the help of a sex surrogate named Joanna to help him deal with perhaps his most shocking paraphilia: an attraction of sorts to his mother, and the way she touched him (non-sexually) as a child.

Alan was once married, but his wife died. In Boston Legal, he talks about his deceased wife and how she was able to guess accurately what he would think and do. Alan speaks of his wife in a loving way, however, and expresses the otherwise unseen emotion of regret for her passing. It is noted that he was irritated at her uncanny ability to guess his every thought, even when he was trying to be unpredictable. Often, many of Alan's behaviors support this claim.

Alan states on numerous occasions that he is sure that his final fate will be murder. He voices concern, although only to Denny Crane, that he fears waking up alone as he is sure that, in a previous life, he was murdered in his sleep. Alan considers Denny to be his best friend; every night, he drinks Scotch and smokes cigars with Denny on his office balcony often reflecting on the events of the day and confessing their most intimate fears and desires while displaying their many oddities and eccentricities, and confessing their platonic love for one another. When Denny's suspected Alzheimer's Disease worsened, Alan and Denny decided to get married, so that Alan could have power of attorney over Denny's medical care, as well as spousal privilege in any future criminal proceedings. This would also allow Denny to transfer his considerable wealth to Alan tax free. They were married at Nimmo Bay Fishing Lodge in Canadamarker, by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Practice

During the final season of The Practice, Alan was hired by Young, Frutt & Berlutti. He brought in vast amounts of money to the firm (over $9 million by his count), but his tendency to ignore ethical rules (though often for ethical purposes) eventually convinced the firm to fire him with $15,000 in severance pay. Alan sued for more money, winning his case with a judgment of $2.3 million that resulted in financial hardships for Young, Frutt & Berlutti.

During his time at Young, Frutt & Berlutti, Alan often insulted Jimmy Berlutti and infuriated Eugene Young with his unorthodox way of legal practicing. Due to the constant insults, Jimmy was the first of the partners to state his displeasure of Alan, while Eugene chose to initially put up with Alan, as Alan did bring in a vast amount of income. As the season went on, Eugene could no longer be silent and decided, with Jimmy, to fire Alan. Alan offered to return the money the jury ordered, but Eugene refused. Despite Eugene's distaste for him, Alan stated in his final words to Eugene that he had great respect for Eugene. He then went on to work at Crane, Poole & Schmidt.

Boston Legal

In Boston Legal, Alan displayed most of the same traits. He is considered an unethical attorney due to the sometimes questionable methods he uses to help his clients; however, Alan seems to be able to help his clients and fellow lawyers when no one else can, due to his quick wit and apparent lack of fear for the consequences of his illegal actions. He once had an unlicensed doctor remove a bullet from one of Lori Colson's clients after the client refused to have it extracted in a hospital due to the fact it might convict him; Alan helped him out because the bullet might have had a life-threatening impact on the man.

Later, Alan advised a client to flee the country after Jerry Espenson unintentionally ruined his trial.

Alan is a brilliant lawyer, extremely intelligent and very well-informed, qualities that aid him immeasurably in his job. His usual courtroom strategy involves identifying what he sees as the underlying problems in society that put his clients at odds with the law or another person in the first place, and articulating them to sympathetic juries or judges that frequently grant him and his clients favorable verdicts.

Like Denny Crane, Alan is a womanizer with an insatiable sexual appetite. He has had relationships with Sally Heep and Tara Wilson, the latter having had a major effect on his psyche. It is hinted in episodes of Boston Legal that he and Denny suffer from satyriasis. His sexual harassment of Nora Jacobs, his former secretary (which mainly included him giving her a score on a scale of 1 to 5 with regard to what kind of sweater she was wearing), drew a rebuke from Shirley Schmidt. Alan's ex-girlfriend Christine Pauley once tried to run him over, and he later served as her lawyer to get her out of the mental hospital she was in as a result.

When Alan represented his sexual surrogate Joanna in a custody suit involving her 10-year-old daughter, she suggested that the sexist part of him is actually becoming Alan Shore, and that he is losing the ability to connect with a woman in a non-sexual way – an observation that unnerved Alan.

Alan has also shown to be vulnerable to a few women during his life, though he always regains his composure. When Lorraine Weller, an old flame of Alan's, was first introduced, he suffered from word salad and felt intimidated by her, almost compromising his ability to represent Shirley in a case. This again became evident when another old flame, Pheobe Prentice, came up against Alan in a case which Alan was suing a big tobacco company, which Phoebe was representing. Despite initial discomfort and loss of form, Alan rebounded and won the case with the total damages in excess of $200 million.

Alan also has some strange quirks. For reasons that have nothing to do with money, he does not have a home; he lives alone in a hotel room and has alluded to a feeling of comfort from knowing that he can check out at any time. Alan has suffered occasionally from dangerous sleepwalking associated with night terrors, has an almost paralyzing fear of clowns, and twice spoke in word salad, which was caused by anxiety.

Alan is attracted to mature, older women, although he routinely sleeps with younger women as well. He also gains arousal from being measured for pants , and has claimed to have a foot fetish. He has admitted only to Denny and Lorraine of his sexual encounter with a neighbor at the age of 14, where he lost his virginity. Alan points to this as why he has trouble with women, claiming he is "missing a love gene."

Alan was once charged with inciting a riot after he and Tara pretended to try and pick each other up at a college fraternity bar. During this chain of events, a rather large man tried to pick up Tara and eventually punched Alan; in response, Alan offered several bar patrons $100 bills to attack his assailant. At trial, Alan was acquitted after giving a speech to the jury which (may have) convinced them that his seemingly cold, calculated incitement was simply a coward's way of avoiding the fight.

Alan also aided Shirley in keeping nude photographs taken of her in her youth from circulating by the simple expedient of buying them and keeping them for himself, and discouraged a predatory court conservator who had gotten himself appointed custodian of an old woman who was a friend of Catherine Piper's by having two large men break into the man's home, bind and gag him, and steal records.

Alan is a complex character. In The Practice, Ellenor Frutt, a close friend of Alan's, described him as a "self-loathing person who breeds contempt from other people through his actions." During Season 1 of Boston Legal, Alan was again analyzed by Sally. He had seemingly used Sally for purposes of blackmailing a witness, but Sally thought it was the reverse at the end of the episode. Instead of Alan using her, Sally felt that he was using the witness like a tool of sorts to show how despicable and utterly unethical he was. Alan used the word "run," and was perhaps trying to manipulate Sally to stay away from him. Sally countered that it was "the incredibly decent man" lying buried underneath the bad stuff who was trying to warn her.

Tara also stated that Alan has three sides: the good side, the bad side, and the naughty side. The good side is Alan's honorable intentions during court defending innocent people, but the bad side of him could not bear that burden of being the good. So, in an attempt to get to Alan, Tara tried appealing to his naughty side by presenting to him her underwear in a folder. The aforementioned bar fight has also seemingly reflected Alan's personality; Tara has stated before that "It's always about Alan Shore", 'always' being the key point. She also claimed that he thought he was the center of the universe.

Alan has a grandiose sense of himself, and believes that the world is just about him. There is a section of dialogue between Alan and Denny where the former states that the best part about Denny is that he doesn't seem to be in the room at all. Alan has an interesting narrative that he remains absolutely alone during a relationship, and serves to more of his self-hating, narcissistic attitude. Shirley later described Alan the exact way he is, albeit in an insulting manner.

Throughout the series, Alan has clashed with almost all of the men he works with. He occasionally butted heads with Paul Lewiston, generally over things that pose a potential threat to the firm. His dissent of the United States armed forces drew the ire of Brad Chase, a former Marine. He came to resent Jeffrey Coho after his secretary, Melissa, left Alan to work for him. Even Denny, his best friend, grew angry with him due to their differing ideologies and his concern for Denny's deteriorating mental health.

Alan's position at Crane, Poole & Schmidt is technically that of an associate yet, for all practical purposes, he is treated as a partner in the firm. Alan himself has acknowledged he has no hope of actually ever making partner, for the very good reason that the partners, by and large, do not trust him, yet he is treated as much more of a peer by the named partners and senior partners than a subordinate. He generally exerts influence with both the senior and named partners far above what his actual position would indicate, including his strong friendship with Denny and a grudging respect from Shirley, as well as often ignoring the rules and warnings of serious consequences, if he feels strongly about something.

When Lorraine joined the firm, Alan immediately was attracted to and intimidated by her; he became afflicted by word salad every single time she was around. The two began a relationship, but he was unhappy to learn that she already had a man in her life.

In the fourth season, Alan reached the high point of his legal career by arguing a death penalty case before the Supreme Court of the United Statesmarker. During this, he criticized many of the sitting justices for politicizing the Supreme Court. One interesting point to note is that he largely (though not solely) attacked Republican-appointed justices, consistent with Alan's liberal stance on many issues. Denny, though he did not actually argue, insisted on attending the proceedings, as he had never argued before the Supreme Court. He considered this occasion as a must for his legacy to be complete. In the sixth episode of the fifth season, it is revealed that Alan won this case.

Starting from the second season, Alan has had a semi-adversarial relationship with Melvin Palmer, a high-priced attorney from Texasmarker who relies on a friendly southern attitude to woo clients and other attorneys. Alan and Melvin have been on opposite sides of a case three times, and although Alan won each of them, Melvin remained undaunted. Alan once compared him to a blow-up clown bobo doll ("He always bounces back"). Alan does not hide his contempt for Melvin, whereas Melvin seems amused by Alan's personality. While Alan, Denny, and Melvin were on vacation in Utahmarker, Alan and Denny were arrested when Denny snuck into a woman's tent to visit her; Alan reluctantly allowed Melvin to represent them, and charges were dismissed when Melvin convinced the judge to let them off using the pretense that Alan would politicize the trial. Alan was mortified at the idea of being indebted to Melvin, although he seemed grateful.

Alan Shore is a character created by David E. Kelley, who leads a force of characters with similar traits and personality quirks. Although he's viewed as generally being unethical and in some instances a bad person, Alan is planed firmly in the grey area, and lives his life in an exploration of life itself instead of being either good or evil, he simply finds topic after topic to become incredibly passionate about and fights with everything he has in support of a position that isn't always moral, but more often than not he's capable of finding something about either side of any topic that he believes in.


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