Ranking the best New York Undercover characters is not a simple exercise. New York Undercover was one of the most unique cop shows of the 90s in that it represented New York City’s urban culture from the perspective of undercover officers.
Airing from 1994-1999, New York Undercover provided a non-white perspective historically ignored by primetime television.
In addition, J.C. Williams and Eddie Torres represent NYC with the city’s urban streetwear, slang, and cultural gravitas not possible in other police-based television series.
Finally, the musical guests speak to the show’s cultural significance with cameos from D’Angelo, Brandy, Mary J. Blige, James Brown, Monica, Montell Jordan, and countless others.
However, this list will strictly cover the show’s characters rather than musical guests and celebrity cameos.
Below, Circa 98 ranks the ten best New York Undercover characters.
1) J.C Williams
J.C. Williams is one of two essential characters in New York Undercover and the one who most consistently carries the show. Of course, J.C. appears in all of the show’s four seasons, serving as either the lead or co-lead in each.
J.C. embodies New York City with his presence, demeanor, fashion, and moral compass.
While the death of his fiance and unborn child in the Season 1 finale prompts a temporary retrieve into darkness and despair, he ultimately finds his way back to the moral foundation that endears him to viewers.
His exhibition of strength, maturity, and fatherly duty make him the best New York Undercover character.
J.C.s relationship with his son, Gregory, is another staple of the series. Scenes where Williams passionately teaches his son about life, morality, and survival are extremely powerful.
2) Eddie Torres
Eduardo Torres is the other essential character and the partner of J.C. Williams. The series’ premise is based on their partnership and for good reasons.
Detective Torres is equally as impactful as Williams in the show’s landscape though it is cut short by his exit after Season 3.
Eddie is a fantastic character, from his relationship with his father and sister to his charm and heritage. His inner conflict as a police officer is appropriately nuanced as he empathizes with many criminals he arrests.
Eddie is Williams’s trusted partner and friend up until his untimely death at Season 3’s conclusion. The show never regains its appeal after Torres’s death as his partner J.C. and widow Nina Moreno go on to join a separate police unit.
The show ends after the fourth season, in large part, because of Torres’s absence.
3) Lieutenant Virginia Cooper
One of the original three lead characters, along with Eddie Torres and J.C Wiliams, Lutiunet Cooper severs as the Lieutenant of New York City’s fourth precinct, overseeing her undercover duo.
Cooper appeared in the first three seasons before exiting after Season 3. However, her absence is immediately felt as the fourth season fails to resemble the show’s original premise, partially due to her absence.
While her character sometimes made questionable decisions or interjected odd perspectives, she ultimately encapsulated the essence of the show’s appeal, along with her original castmates.
4) Shantel Tierny
Shantel is the ex-girlfriend of J.C. and the mother of his only child, Gregory. Despite being portrayed as a nuisance for parts of Season 1, it’s clear that Shantel is an excellent mother and a genuinely good person.
Unfortunately, Shantel finds herself amid the mob after her son witnesses a murder. Luckily both she and her son are able to escape without harm. Shantel works as a nurse until the hospital terminates her employment due to budget cuts.
Despite her character taking a different turn in Season 3 before exiting the series entirely, Shantel Tierny appealed to the audience as authentic, committed, and realistic.
5) Gregory “G” Williams
Gregory, or “G,” is the son of J.C. and Shantel and one of the most critical recurring guest stars.
For a younger character, G is able to carry multiple storylines throughout the series, including his witnessing of a mob murder and his friendship with Mouse, a juvenile murderer who gets murdered himself in retaliation.
In addition, G accurately demonstrates the angst of a child of divorce struggling to form an identity as a street-smart kid in a prep school environment. His relationship with his father, J.C., is often contentious but always authentic.
Gregory appears in each of the show’s four seasons, joining his father, J.C. Wiliams, as the only characters to do so.
6) Nina Moreno
Nina Moreno becomes Eddie Torres’s partner at the beginning of Season 2 as J.C. Williams recovers from severe injuries sustained during Danny Court’s chase.
Although J.C. Williams eventually recovers and resumes his role as Eddiee’s partner, Nina remains part of their undercover unit.
Soon, Eddie and Nina start a romance and get married in the Season 3 finale. However, Eddie dies shortly after the wedding, leaving Nina as a widow.
She and J.C. Williams join a different police unit for Season 4 based on their knowledge of Eddie’s killer, who remains at large until the Season 4 premiere.
7) Sandy Gill
Sandra Gill was J.C.’s fiance before her murder in the Season 1 finale. J.C. and Sandy were scheduled to marry the next day when Danny Court (played by Ice T) entered their apartment disguised as a flower deliverer to shoot and kill Sandy Gill.
Sandy was a practicing lawyer with aspirations to advance in her career. However, she sometimes clashed with J.C. regarding conflicting worldviews, based mainly on their upbringing and background differences.
Still, Sandy kept J.C. grounded after various challenges throughout his career. Ultimately, Sandy was a great person whose death was brutal to accept. Unfortunately, J.C. Williams never truly found a partner to replace her.
8) Medical Examiner Wong
M.E. Wong helped set the stage for the series’s tone with his quips regarding dead bodies he examined before Williams and Torres’s investigations.
But, unfortunately, his morbid sense of humor backfired when he examined Sandy Gill’s body in front of J.C., who he did not realize was her fiance.
Like many of the show’s original characters, Wong’s disappearance after Season 3 contributed to the series’s swift decline.
9) Detective Ricciarelli
Detective Ricciarelli was one of the original collogues of J.C. and Eddie at the fourth precinct. He often helped them with cases and sometimes filled in when one of them could not be on duty.
Ricciarelli helps the series personify New York City with his east coast demeanor.
Carol was a parole officer for Andre Morgan, the father of one of Gregory’s friends and hockey teammates. She meets J.C. Williams when he asks her to reconsider Morgan’s request.
While she initially comes across as dismissive, she ultimately realizes that her personal life is interfering with her work and behavior. However, it’s also clear that a spark exists between her and J.C.
After a few more meetings, Carol and J.C. start dating for part of Season 3. However, as soon as J.C. truly falls for Carol, she dumps him at Natelie’s, citing her unresolved feelings for her ex-husband.