mad men

The First and Last Appearances of Mad Men’s Most Memorable Characters

Photo: AMC

Last night we bid farewell to Mad Men. To mark the occasion, Vulture assembled a virtual scrapbook of the show’s 50 most memorable characters, documenting the evolution of each one’s arc during the series’ seven seasons. Join us for a trip down memory lane …

An orphan raised in a brothel, Dick Whitman had little from his childhood worth remembering. During the Korean War, he switches name tags with a dead soldier and returns to the States living as Don Draper (with the eventual cooperation of Draper’s wife, Anna). With his new name, Don becomes the most sought-after man on Madison Avenue, plus a husband and father of three. After two divorces and nearly ruining his career by going MIA once again, a meditative retreat in California gives Don the peace of mind to think up “I’d Like to Buy the World a Coke,” one of the biggest ad campaigns of all time. First appearance: series premiere; last appearance: series finale
Unlike the other secretaries in the office, as Don’s protégée, Peggy ascends the corporate ladder to copy chief. Peggy is one of the first employees hired at SCDP before she’s poached by a competitor, CGC, but then that company merges with her former one. She endures a painful relationship with Ted Chaough and (to her mother’s chagrin) spends a while cohabitating with Abe Drexler, but eventually finds love with Stan Rizzo, her longtime co-worker and sounding board. First appearance: series premiere; last appearance: series finale
On the eve of his wedding to Trudy Vogel, Pete has sex with Don’s new secretary, Peggy, beginning a sporadic affair. After he and Trudy have a daughter, he learns that Peggy secretly had his son. After his marriage falls apart, he spends several months working from SC&P’s California office. At the end of season seven, Duck unexpectedly finds him a job at Learjet’s corporate HQ in Kansas, where he relocates with his reunited family in tow. First appearance: series premiere; last appearance: series finale
Betty is a former model and the mother of Don Draper’s three children. When she finds out he’s been cheating on her, she obtains a divorce and marries rising pol Henry Francis. In the final season, Betty returns to college to study psychology. In the midst of her studies, she is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and doctors say she has months to live.   First appearance: series premiere; last appearance: series finale
Sterling Cooper’s office manager, Joan, keeps the business afloat, and has an on-again, off-again relationship with Roger Sterling. She later marries Greg Harris, a doctor who eventually becomes an army surgeon. When she becomes pregnant with Roger’s son, she decides to raise him as Greg’s (whom she eventually divorces). To secure Jaguar’s business, Joan agrees to spend one night with one of the car company’s executives in exchange for a junior partnership at SCDP. Later, when she’s an account executive at McCann-Erickson post-buyout, Joan threatens to expose the sexist treatment she’s enduring; instead, she leaves with half of what her contract is worth and forms a production company. First appearance: series premiere; last appearance: series finale
Account man by day, fiction writer by night, and tap dancer under the influence. Ken’s father-in-law is an executive at Dow Chemical, and when Ken won’t use family ties to get the business, Don and Roger secure it on their own. On a hunting accident with two Chevy execs, Ken loses an eye and withdraws from the account; when his father-in-law retires, he is let go from SC&P. Then Ken becomes head of advertising at Dow, exacting revenge by taking his multi-million-dollar business elsewhere (eventually letting Joan produce his commercials). First appearance: series premiere; last appearance: series finale
As head of the TV department at first SC and then SCDP, Harry often travels to California. He has a one-night stand with Pete’s secretary, Hildy, which he confesses to his wife, Jennifer. Throughout the series, he is angry at Joan’s level of authority at the office, especially after she receives a partnership and he does not. Shortly after Megan divorces Don, Harry attempts to get her in bed, promising that he’ll help her acting career. First appearance: series premiere; last appearance: series finale
Roger was a partner at Sterling Cooper, which his father originally co-founded. He carries on an affair with Joan, and two heart attacks later, Roger leaves his wife, Mona, for his secretary, Jane; loses his daughter to a cult; and gains a son via Joan. SCDP, the new agency he started with Bert, Don, and Lane, is eventually bought by McCann-Erickson (after the deaths of Lane and Bert). He’s set to walk down the aisle a third time to Marie Calvet, Megan’s mom, whom he once received a blow job from at an award ceremony. First appearance: series premiere; last appearance: series finale
Don and Betty’s eldest child, Sally, is forever changed following the death of Betty’s father, Gene. Following her parents’ divorce, she acts out by cutting her hair and masturbating at a sleepover, earning her a trip to the psychiatrist and, later, boarding school, where she thrives. As a teen, she is traumatized when she walks in on her father having sex with his neighbor, Sylvia. After she says good-bye to her friend Glen (who is bound for Vietnam) this season, Henry tells her that Betty has terminal cancer. First appearance: series premiere; last appearance: series finale
Bert founded Sterling Cooper with Roger’s father in the 1920s. As the most senior member of the company, he mostly gets what he wants, whether it’s guests who remove their shoes before entering his Japanese-themed office or signed contracts from corporate commitment-phobes like Don. Bert passes away after watching the lunar landing. Two times, Don conjures up images of Bert, who sings him a Disney-fied farewell. First appearance: season one, episode two; last appearance: season seven, episode 12
Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s PR director, Henry first espies a pregnant Betty at Roger’s Kentucky Derby party. Later Henry saves the day by lobbying to preserve a local reservoir, pleasing Betty and impressing her Junior League pals. When Betty uncovers Don’s lies, she divorces him and marries Henry, who wins a seat in the New York State Senate. Despite his wife’s wishes, when Betty is diagnosed with lung cancer, Henry spills the beans to Sally. First appearance: season three, episode three; last appearance: season seven, episode 13
Played by four different actors, Bobby — Don and Betty’s middle child — is the owner of the BB gun Betty uses to kill the pigeons that antagonize a neighborhood dog. He is not given a big arc on the show, but appears in the final episode, where he discerns that his mother is sick when he overhears a fight between Betty and Henry. First appearance: season three, episode one; last appearance: series finale
Don’s French-Canadian secretary, Megan, catches him off-guard with her maternal instincts. While chaperoning the Draper children on a trip to Disney Land, Don proposes and Megan accepts. As newlyweds, Megan throws him a surprise birthday party at their apartment, where she serenades him in French. Their relationship eventually breaks down when Megan quits her job to move to L.A. after Don decides to move there but then changes his mind. They divorce at the beginning of the final season, and Don gives her a $1 million good-bye check. First appearance: season four, episode two; last appearance: season seven, episode nine
Stan succeeds Sal Romano as the ad firm’s art director. Stan and Peggy’s memorable repartee begins when Miss Blankenship locks them in a hotel room together so that they’ll brainstorm a brilliant idea for Dow Chemical (Peggy takes off her clothes when Stan accuses her of being ashamed of her body). They maintain a close friendship through the years, and in season seven, Peggy confesses her biggest secret to him: that she gave her son up for adoption. In the series finale, Stan confesses his feelings for her and she reciprocates. First appearance: season four, episode six; last appearance: series finale
When Peggy is a secretary, Paul (who once dated Joan) plants the seed that she too could be a copywriter. When SCDP forms, she is seen as a more viable asset and recruited to write copy in lieu of Paul. A couple of seasons later, Paul resurfaces as a Hare Krishna and aspiring sci-fi writer. First appearance: season one, episode one; last appearance: season five, episode 10
Sal, Sterling Cooper’s closeted art director, is married to a woman named Kitty. On a work trip, when the hotel fire alarm goes off, Don realizes that Sal had been interrupted from escapades with the bellhop. Don stays mum, but when Sal rejects sexual advances from the firm’s top client, Lee Garner Jr. of Lucky Strike, Garner wants him gone, and Don acquiesces.  First appearance: season one, episode one; last appearance: season three, episode nine
Over the course of the series, Trudy tries her best to domesticate Pete. They marry and endure years of infertility before she gives birth to their daughter, Tammy, and convinces him to move to the suburbs. Although Pete still has a theoretical bachelor pad in the city, he’s caught cheating with their suburban neighbor, and Trudy throws him out of the house. However, she still loves Pete. They reconcile when Pete tries to get her back and move to Kansas for Pete’s swanky new job with Learjet. First appearance: season one, episode four; last appearance: series finale
Lane was sent to New York to oversee the merger between his British employer, Puttnam, Powell, and Lowe (PP&L), and Sterling Cooper. Instead, upon realizing that he’d be transferred to India, Lane fires Don, Roger, and Bert — with their blessing — then quits so the foursome can start their own venture, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. By forging Don’s signature, Lane begins embezzling money from SCDP, which he intends to return; Don finds out and fires him, and Joan later finds Lane after he hanged himself in his office.   First appearance: season three, episode one; last appearance: season five, episode 12
Rival agency Cutler, Gleason and Chaough squares off against SCDP for Honda’s business, but Don tricks Ted’s team into violating the competition rules by submitting a commercial. CGC steals Peggy away, though briefly — in an attempt to win the Chevy account, the two companies merge into Sterling, Cooper & Partners. Ted instigates an affair with Peggy and tells her he’ll leave his family, only to change his mind and ask Don to transfer him to their office in California. When SC&P is bought by McCann-Erickson, a now-divorced Ted returns to New York, where he starts dating a former college classmate.  First appearance: season four, episode five; last appearance: season seven, episode 12
Though he has a prickly interview with Peggy, Michael wins over his idol, Don, to become SC&P’s first Jewish copywriter. Michael, who was born in a concentration camp and resides with his foster father, eventually gets on Don’s bad side (among other things, Michael pitches a new concept to an already satisfied client). His upward career trajectory is derailed when he’s forced to share an office with the company computer, unhinging him. In his final episode, Michael presents Peggy with a token of his love — his severed nipple — and is gurneyed away to a mental hospital.   First appearance: season five, episode three; last appearance: season seven, episode seven
A former adman in England who served in WWII and hates Don, Duck begins making overtures to PP&L when he fears Roger will fire him over a missed opportunity with American Airlines. The merger between PPL and SC is his idea, but in the end, Duck gets shut out of the new agency SCDP. Duck loses his family and several jobs to the bottle, and after a relationship with Peggy fizzles, she catches him attempting to take a shit on a couch that he believes belongs to Don. At the end of the series, Duck is sober and working as a recruiter.   First appearance: season one, episode 12; last appearance: season seven, episode 13
In a stunt to distance themselves from Young & Rubicam — whose employees toss water balloons out the window onto black protestors — SCDP bills itself in print as an equal opportunity employer, resulting in Dawn’s hiring. Dawn punches her fellow secretary’s time card so the woman can leave early, but instead of getting fired, she’s given more responsibility, eventually ascending to Joan’s former position as office manager.   First appearance: season five, episode three; last appearance: season seven, episode 11
Post-secretarial school, Meredith takes a job as the receptionist in the lobby of SCDP, where Joan throws a model airplane at her for allowing a process server to drop off Greg’s divorce documents. She serves as Lou’s secretary until Don returns to the company. Late in season seven, she challenges Don’s sexism and finds out that she will make the move with him to McCann-Erickson. However, when Don takes an extended road trip, Roger lets her go. She takes the news well. First appearance: season five, episode two; last appearance: series finale
Francine and Betty are friends when we meet Betty. Betty laughs off questions about an affair with Francine’s husband, Carlton (meanwhile, Carlton has told Don that he lusts after the babysitter of his infant daughter, Jessica). When the future of the Pleasantville Road Reservoir is threatened, Francine encourages Betty to call Henry at the governor’s office. Several seasons later, Francine and Betty still meet for lunch dates, though Betty is insulted when Francine offers to split a coffee cake with her newly rounder friend.     First appearance: season one, episode two; last appearance: season seven, episode three
The head of Menken’s department store, Don bolts from their first ad meeting in the pilot episode when he finds her too assertive. At Roger’s urging, Don apologizes over dinner, and they begin an affair that ends the night of Roger’s first heart attack. Don suggests he and Rachel run away to Los Angeles, but she declines, choosing to marry a fellow Jew and raise a family. Near the end of the series, Don has a dream about Rachel, only to learn that she’s just died of leukemia. First appearance: series premiere; last appearance: season seven, episode eight
Freddy, a senior copywriter, is dismissed after getting drunk, peeing his pants, and passing out when he’s supposed to meet with Samsonite. Peggy is given Freddy’s old office. At the top of season seven, Freddy, now a sober freelancer, gives Peggy an exemplary pitch for Accutron watches. But in actuality, the words were Don’s, who had Freddy take his pitches to Sterling Cooper during his leave. First appearance: season one, episode six; last appearance: season seven, episode four
Cutler is the CDC partner least in favor of the partnership with SCDP, and he leaves Don and Roger fuming when he tasks Bob with their prize account, Chevy. He is similarly against Sterling Cooper & Partners becoming part of McCann-Erickson, but changes his mind when he learns that each partner will earn millions. First appearance: season six, episode five; last appearance: season seven, episode seven                     
Betty and Don’s housekeeper, Carla, is the primary caretaker of their children Sally and Bobby. Carla drives Betty to the psychiatrist and keeps quiet about her meetings with Henry. After Betty forbids Sally from seeing her friend Glen, Carla allows them to say good-bye before the family relocates with Henry, costing Carla her job. Carla’s firing leads Don to ask Megan to accompany him on a family trip to California. First Appearance: season one, episode 13; last appearance: season four, episode 13
Roger and his first wife, Mona, often disagree about how to raise their daughter, Margaret, who winds up living in a commune, despite their efforts to bring her home. When she and Roger finally split, she blames Don for what he said during a drunken soliloquy.  First appearance: season one, episode two; last appearance: season seven, episode seven                                                                                               
John Mathis, a member of SC&P’s creative department, first helps Peggy conduct field research for Burger Chef. John offers to set Peggy up with his brother-in-law, Stevie, and though she blanches at first, she agrees and the two nearly flee to Paris together. When John feels he’s given bad advice from Don about how to repair a relationship with a client, he lashes out at him and gets canned.                                                                         First appearance season six, episode one; last appearance: season seven, episode 10
Bob joins SC&P as an accounts man answering to Ken, and he annoys virtually everyone, until he wins over first Joan and then Jim. After Ken’s injury, to avoid having to work alongside Bob on Chevy, Pete has Duck try to find Bob a new post. Turns out Bob — like Don — is not who he says he is, and Pete finds out and attempts to blackmail him. Meanwhile, Bob recommended a nurse to look after Pete’s mother, and Pete becomes furious when the nurse and his mother elope. Bob later proposes to Joan (she says no), and when — thanks to a tip from the male GM exec he’s bedding — he learns that the firm will lose Chevy, he defects to a job waiting for him at Buick in Detroit.                                                                                                               First appearance: season six, episode one; last appearance: season seven, episode 10
While Betty watches her single neighbor Helen’s son, Glen, the boy plays Peeping Tom while she uses the toilet. Betty scolds Glen, he cries, and when asked she gives him a lock of her hair, which his mother finds. Glen runs away from home and camps out in the Drapers’ backyard; another time, long after the family has moved, Glen runs away from boarding school to spend time with Sally, and Don lets Glen drive his Cadillac home. The last time Glen sees Betty, he is bound for Vietnam.   First appearance: season one, episode two; last appearance: season seven, episode 10
During Don’s forced leave of absence from SC&P, Duck helps Lou fill the job. Lou’s lack of finesse causes much griping among the creative team. Not only is Lou infuriated when he’s farmed out west so Don can reclaim his former position, but also he misses out on what he feels is his payout from McCann-Erickson. After selling a comic-book idea to a Japanese company, Lou announces that he’s off to Tokyo for good.      First appearance: season six, episode six; last appearance: season seven, episode 11
SC hires Dr. Miller as a consultant, most memorably to conduct a female focus group for Pond’s Cold Cream. She and Don begin dating. Dr. Miller is with Don when he learns that he’s lost his top client, Lucky Strike, and though she’s offended when he asks, she supplies Don with some of her corporate contacts — and eventually has to leave her job. She and Don are still an item when he proposes to Megan.                                                                    First appearance: season four, episode two; last appearance: season four, episode 13
During Joan’s engagement to her second husband, aspiring surgeon Greg, he rapes her in Don’s office. After a botched medical procedure, Greg joins the Army without discussing it first with his wife. While he’s in Vietnam, Joan gives birth to Roger’s son, Kevin, whom Greg believes to be his own. Joan kicks Greg out when she learns that he has re-enlisted, and after their divorce he has twins with a nurse.                                                                                 First appearance: season two, episode eight; last appearance: season five, episode four
Not long after marrying Megan, Don begins an affair with their downstairs neighbor, Sylvia, the wife of a psychologist. When Sally Draper goes into Don’s apartment to retrieve a flirtatious letter she wrote to Sylvia’s son, Mitchell, she catches Don and Sylvia having sex. Sylvia later appears in the final season in an awkward elevator encounter. First appearance season six, episode one; last appearance: season seven, episode nine
One of SC&P’s only black employees, Shirley is Peggy’s secretary until Peggy assumes Shirley’s Valentine’s Day flowers are meant for her and takes them. She’s reassigned to cover Roger’s phones, quitting to join a travel agency when the company is officially absorbed by McCann-Erickson. First appearance: season seven, episode one; last appearance: season seven, episode twelve
Joan’s single mother, Gail, moves in as Joan prepares to give birth during Greg’s deployment. Repeatedly, Gail exasperates Joan, whether by defending Greg’s decisions, being too chummy with the plumber, or pushing Joan to enter into a relationship with Bob Benson, who is gay. First appearance: season five, episode one; last appearance: season seven, episode six
In the pilot, Midge, an illustrator, is introduced as Don’s girlfriend; by episode’s end, she is revealed as his mistress. A libertine, pot-smoking beatnik, Midge develops feelings for a man named Roy, and Don unsuccessfully tries to run away with her to Paris. When Don next sees her, she’s a married heroin addict who convinces him to buy a painting.   First appearance: series premiere; last appearance: season four, episode 12
At Roger’s country club, Don accidentally assumes that millionaire hotelier Conrad Hilton is tending bar. The two bond and Hilton becomes Don’s most high-maintenance client. In season three, Hilton levels with Don about McCann-Erickson’s plans to buy SC, announcing that he’ll take his business elsewhere. First appearance: season three, episode three; last appearance: season three, episode 13
Sally’s teacher, Miss Farrell, first meets Don at a parent-teacher conference. Although Don is married to Betty, sharing the site of a lunar eclipse brings him and the teacher under a romantic spell. Frustrated that she and Don cannot be seen together in public, they plan a vacation. But Don stands her up when Betty confronts him about his real identity. First appearance: season three, episode three; last appearance: season three, episode 13
The man we know as Don Draper was born Dick Whitman, son of a prostitute who died in childbirth, and a drunk who died by a horse’s hoof when the boy was 10. Dick spent the rest of his unloved adolescence living in a brothel with his stepmother, Abigail, her husband, Mack (the proprietor), and Abigail’s son, Adam Whitman. Certain he saw his supposedly deceased half-brother on a train once, Adam located “Don” as an adult and was shooed away with $5,000. After receiving a box of mementos in the mail from Adam, Don learns that he had committed suicide. First appearance season one, episode six; last appearance season six, episode six
Bobbie is married to Jimmy Barrett, a comedian shilling Utz Potato Chips in SC-produced commercials. She and Don start sleeping together, and they get into a car accident en route to the beach. Don takes Bobbie to Peggy’s apartment to recuperate, and later breaks things off. First appearance season two, episode three; last appearance: season two, episode seven
Glen’s divorced mom, Helen, works in a jewelry store and volunteers for the Kennedy campaign. She is judged harshly by Betty’s circle of friends for being divorced, and because they distrust her around their husbands. Upon unearthing a lock of Betty’s hair in her son’s treasure box, she and Betty argue in a grocery story and Betty slaps Helen. Later, when Don and Betty first separate, Betty commends Helen on her strength. First appearance: season one, episode two; last appearance season two, episode 10
The cousin of Roger’s second wife, Jane, Danny uses his family connection to get an interview with Don for a copywriter position. Don does not intend to hire him, but Peggy observes him successfully using one of Danny’s taglines in a meeting with Life Cereal. Layoffs follow SCDP’s Lucky Strike loss, and Danny is among the first to go. At a party in Hollywood, Danny — now a film producer going by Daniel P. Siegel — punches Roger for trying to whisk away his date.   First appearance: season four, episode six; last appearance: season six, episode 10
A Life photo editor, Joyce meets Peggy in the elevator and invites her to a photographer’s party. There they smoke pot and Joyce tries flirting with Peggy before cops break up the shindig. Through Joyce, Peggy meets her most serious boyfriend of the series, a reporter named Abe Drexler.   First appearance: season four, episode four; last appearance: season five, episode four
Megan’s parents, Dr. Emile and Marie Calvet, visit from Canada just in time to see Don and Roger accept their CLIO award. Marie returns to New York to help Megan remove her belongings from Don’s apartment, and — as a final swipe at Don —  secretly has Don’s furniture emptied from the place as well. She summons Roger to tip the mover, and they begin dating. She later divorces Emile and agrees to marry Roger.               First appearance: season five, episode seven; last appearance: series finale 
During the Korean War, Dick Whitman met a dying lieutenant at the hospital, Don Draper, and stole his identity. Back in the States, Draper’s wife, Anna (a polio survivor), confronts “Don,” but instead of staying angry, the two become very close, providing him with an alibi in his new life. Don divorces Anna to marry Betty, but promises to provide for her while she continues living in California. Anna meets Don and Betty’s children, and eventually succumbs to cancer, leaving Don distraught.                                                                                                                                   First appearance: season two, episode seven; last appearance: season four, episode seven
While dining with Anna in California on New Year’s Eve, Don is reintroduced to her now-grown niece, Stephanie. He drives Stephanie home and hits on her; instead of reciprocating, she tells Don that Anna is dying. Years after Anna’s death, Stephanie calls Don to tell her that she’s pregnant and homeless. Megan puts Stephanie up, but becomes jealous and suspicious, giving her $1,000 to hit the road. We last see her in the series finale when Don goes to visit her to return a family heirloom. She brings Don along on a retreat with her and ditches him when she feels judged for abandoning her chilld in group therapy.                                                                                                        First appearance: season four, episode three; last appearance: series finale
Roger’s entitled daughter, Margaret, and her husband, Brooks, have a son, Ellery. Throughout the series, Margaret regularly brings up the fact that Roger was a terrible father to her. In the final season, Margaret abandons her family to join a commune in upstate New York, where she assumes the name Marigold. Roger and Mona and fails to reclaim her. By the series finale, Roger tells Joan that Margaret is lost to him, and decides to bequeath his fortune to Ellery, and his son with Joan, Kevin.                                                                                                  First appearance: season one, episode six; last appearance: season seven, episode four
First and Last Scenes of MM’s Biggest Characters