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|Bud J. Roberts, Jr.|
Patrick Labyorteaux as then-Lieutenant Commander Bud Roberts Jr.
|First appearance||A New Life (JAG)|
(September 23, 1995)
|Last appearance||Dark Secrets (NCIS)|
(January 9, 2018)
|Portrayed by||Patrick Labyorteaux|
|Occupation||Judge Advocate, USN|
|Family||Bud "Big Bud" Roberts, Sr. (father) |
Michael "Mikey" Roberts (brother)
|Alma mater||George Mason University School of Law|
Bud Roberts made two appearances in the first season of JAG before becoming a regular part of the Ensemble cast for the next nine seasons of JAG. Bud Roberts has also appeared three times on NCIS, two of them long after JAG had ended.
Bud Roberts is a military brat, the son of a retired Master Chief Petty Officer "Big Bud" Roberts, Sr. (Jeff MacKay). Bud Roberts, Jr. joined the Navy through Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC), and as an Ensign, he was assigned to sea duty aboard the USS Seahawk as a Public Affairs Officer (PAO) under Captain Ross (Bill Bolender). It was during this role as the PAO aboard the USS Seahawk, that he first met Lieutenant Harmon Rabb (David James Elliott), and his partner Lieutenant JG Caitlin Pike (Andrea Parker), when they arrived to investigate a murder. Bud's last meeting with LCDR Rabb prior to his transfer to JAG Headquarters was in the first-season cliffhanger, when Rabb had been dispatched to investigate the murder of a former Academy classmate (and a love interest). This got him interested in a career in law, and it was later LTJG Meg Austin who recommended him for transfer to JAG prior to her own transfer from JAG staff.
He attended law school in the evenings, at George Mason University School of Law and, upon scoring top grades in his finals, was assigned extra legal responsibilities and acted as a trial counsel for special courts-martial. His wife Harriet Sims and Sarah MacKenzie are the only people Roberts will allow to view his law school grades. He, his younger brother Mikey (Michael Bellisario) and sister Winifred (Winnie) had a somewhat strained relationship with their father, who raised them himself after the death of their mother, due to his physical and sometimes abusive methods of disciplining them.
Roberts is well liked and well respected by everyone at JAG headquarters, and is often considered one of the better trial lawyers there. His success rate in the courtroom is often boosted by his opponents' underestimation of him and his abilities. Harm had once said of him, "Watch out for his 'Aw, shucks, I have a lot to learn' routine", alluding to Roberts' ability to appear less intelligent than he actually was.
Though not the physical type, Bud has been known to become so when the situation demands it; he once caught a punch thrown by his father, and was able to subdue the larger man without difficulty. The incident where his jaw was broken when he stepped between two simultaneous punches from Rabb and the Royal Australian Navy officer Lieutenant Commander Mic Brumby (Trevor Goddard) outside of an Australian courtroom had more to do with the physical limitations of the human body than lack of physical prowess.
- A.J. Roberts (named in the honor of RADM A.J. Chegwidden, however not taking his proper first and middle names Albert Jethro.)
- Sarah Roberts (named in the honor of LtCol Sarah MacKenzie). Unfortunately, the child died due to complications in childbirth.
- James Kirk Roberts (named in the honor of Capt. James T. Kirk). Bud is a big fan of Star Trek.
- Unnamed twins (a boy and a girl) born towards the end of the series (the girl is called Nikki in the tenth season).
In one episode, Bud Roberts was selected to carry the nuclear football. He had trepidations about this duty, as he was worried that he would be responsible for the deaths of many innocent people. While he was on duty at the White House as the Navy Aide to the President, the President whose "nuclear football" he was guarding (George W. Bush) attended a conference. During this conference, Bud had to go to the bathroom. When he reemerges, the President is gone. Bud then runs the three miles to the White House with the 40 pound nuclear football.
Lieutenant Bud Roberts was assigned as Judge Advocate aboard the USS Seahawk during the beginning of the War on Terrorism in 2002. He lost a leg trying to save a boy from a field of landmines in Afghanistan that year. He was transferred back to JAG HQ after his operation and proving that he was still able to meet the fitness requirements of the U.S. Navy.
After returning to JAG headquarters following the loss of his lower right leg from a landmine, Bud was assigned to working disability cases; he proved his worth to JAG when he investigated and successfully turned in a refusal of benefits when he noticed a sailor damaging his eyes with self-inflicted laser burns. Shortly thereafter, Bud returned to full limited duty in the court room.
Roberts was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander in 2004 at the end of the ninth season, which was the final official act of command of Rear Admiral A.J. Chegwidden as the Judge Advocate General, at his dining out. Bud had already been passed over for promotion twice, meaning that if he were to be passed over a third time, he would have been involuntarily separated from the Navy. It is mentioned in dialogue that Admiral Chegwidden had made a vigorous argument citing all existing precedent of the other handicapped commissioned officers in the United States Armed Forces which had been promoted since the Second World War before the Secretary of the Navy to get Bud his promotion.
In the series' final episode, LCDR Roberts chose to remain at JAG HQ after being offered billets by both Captain Harmon Rabb and Lieutenant Colonel Sarah MacKenzie.
Bud Roberts also appears in the first season of the JAG spin-off NCIS (which took place simultaneously with Season 9 of JAG), where Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) hopes Roberts will help "lawyer" him past a prohibition on the use of the DNA profiles stored by the Department of Defense.
He then reappears after an absence of more than eleven years in the fourteenth season, having been promoted to Captain and still assigned to JAG Headquarters, where he meets up with Special Agent Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) and assisted the NCIS MCRT in the investigation of the homicide of a fellow JAG officer. McGee asks him about Harm and Mac, but Roberts is interrupted by the arrival of Special Agent Alexandra Quinn (Jennifer Esposito) before he can reveal the results of the series' controversial final coin toss.
The next year, while serving as Commanding Officer, Regional Legal Service Office Mid-Atlantic at Naval Station Norfolk, Bud assists Special Agent Gibbs in the death investigation of one of his JAG officers.
Dates of rank
|Ensign||Original rank from the Pilot episode|
|Lieutenant Junior Grade||sometime between episode 1.22 Skeleton Crew (unaired) and episode 2.01 We the People (original air date January 3, 1997)|
|Lieutenant||in episode 4.19 The Adversaries (original air date April 13, 1999)|
|Lieutenant Commander||in episode 9.23 Hail and Farewell (Part 1) (original air date May 21, 2004)|
|Commander||(off-camera - not in episodes) |
Presumably five or six years after his previous promotion in relation to Time In Rank/Eligibility to be promoted.
|Captain||prior to his appearance in NCIS's fourteenth season. (original air date September 20, 2016)|
Awards and decorations
The following are the medals and service awards fictionally worn by Bud Roberts, as seen in the NCIS episodes "Rogue" and "Dark Secrets".
- Bud was awarded the Purple Heart after stepping on a landmine, and losing his right leg.
- On JAG, Bud wore the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (with a service star in later seasons); in NCIS, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon has been replaced by the Navy & Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon (with two service stars).
- As the Commanding Officer of a Regional Legal Service Office, Bud is eligible to wear the Command Ashore insignia.
- "A New Life". JAG. Season 1. Episode 1. September 23, 1995. NBC.
- "Dark Secrets". NCIS. Season 15. Episode 12. January 9, 2018. CBS. Cite has empty unknown parameter:
- "Wedding Bell Blues". JAG. Season 3. Episode 23. May 12, 1998. CBS.
- "We the People". JAG. Season 2. Episode 1. January 3, 1997. CBS.
- "Ghosts". JAG. Season 2. Episode 6. February 14, 1997. CBS.
- "Skeleton Crew". JAG. Season 1. Episode 22. NBC.
- "Boomerang, Part II". JAG. Season 5. Episode 16. February 15, 2000. CBS.
- At the time of the taping, actor Patrick Labyorteaux had earlier suffered an accident that had broken his jaw, causing it to be wired shut, and producers opted to write this into the storyline.
- "Family Secrets". JAG. Season 6. Episode 9. December 12, 2000. CBS.
- "Straits of Malacca". JAG. Season 10. Episode 16. February 25, 2005. CBS.
- "Salvation". JAG. Season 6. Episode 19. April 10, 2001. CBS.
- This closely resembles a real event, when President Bill Clinton once left a meeting in such haste that he left behind his military aide, who then ran to the White House.
- "First Casualty". JAG. Season 7. Episode 19. March 26, 2002. CBS.
- "Enemy Below". JAG. Season 7. Episode 24. May 21, 2002. CBS.
- "Hail and Farewell, Part I". JAG. Season 9. Episode 23. May 21, 2004. CBS.
- "Fair Winds and Following Seas". JAG. Season 10. Episode 22. April 29, 2005. CBS.
- "Hung Out to Dry". NCIS. Season 1. Episode 2. September 30, 2003. CBS.
- "Rogue". NCIS. Season 14. Episode 1. September 20, 2016. CBS.
- The names are given in order of precedence, according to SECNAVINST 1650.1F and the U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations (NAVPERS 1566.5G).