Fictional Columbia Alumni: TV Edition

Part I: Lawyers

Meghan Markle as Rachel Zane at Columbia Law School in Suits
Meghan Markle in "Suits," USA. (Pictorial Press Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo)

Before she became a royal duchess and media fixture, Meghan Markle played Rachel Zane, a paralegal who attends Columbia Law School, in the legal drama Suits (2011–2019).


Jason Segal as Marshall Eriksen in "How I Met Your Mother"
Jason Segel in "How I Met Your Mother," CBS.

Environmental lawyer Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel) of the 2005–2014 sitcom How I Met Your Mother earned his JD at Columbia.


Jesse Tyler Ferguson as Mitchell Pritchett in "Modern Family"
Jesse Tyler Ferguson in "Modern Family," ABC.

In Modern Family (2009–2020), Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) is a double Ivy League graduate, having attended both Cornell University and Columbia Law School.


Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock in Daredevil
Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock in "Daredevil," Netflix. (Nicole Rivelli)

Superhero Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox); his best friend, Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson); and ex-girlfriend, Elektra Natchios (Élodie Yung), are Columbia Law School alumni in Netflix’s 2015–2018 Daredevil adaptation. 


Carey Lowell as Jamie Ross in Law & Order
Carey Lowell in "Law & Order," NBC. (IMDb)

Jamie Ross (Carey Lowell) studied for the bar at Columbia before going on to serve as an assistant district attorney on Law & Order (1990–2010). In 2005, she appeared as a trial judge on the show’s short-lived spin-off Law & Order: Trial by Jury.


Tawny Cypress in Yellowjackets
Tawny Cypress in "Yellowjackets." (IMDb)

New Jersey state-senate candidate Taissa Turner (Tawny Cypress) is revealed to be a Columbia Law School alumna in Yellowjackets, the 2021 series about members of a high-school soccer team who survive a plane crash. 


Cynthia Nixon as Miranda Hobbes in "And Just Like That..."
Cynthia Nixon in "And Just Like That..." (Craig Blankenhorn / HBO Max)

In Sex and the City (1998–2004), Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) is a Harvard-educated corporate lawyer who makes partner at her law firm. In the series' 2021–22 spinoff, And Just Like That..., she goes back to school to pursue a master's in human rights at Columbia. 


Part II: Doctors

Patrick Dempsey in Grey's Anatomy
Patrick Dempsey in "Grey's Anatomy," ABC.

In Grey’s Anatomy (2005–), Derek Shephard (Patrick Dempsey); his best friend, Mark Sloan (Eric Dane); and ex-wife, Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh); are all Columbia medical-school graduates who work at the same hospital. 


Kate Walsh and Audra McDonald in Private Practice
Kate Walsh (left) and Audra McDonald in "Private Practice," ABC. (Photo by Randy Holmes - ©2011 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Doctors and on-and-off couple Sam Bennett (Taye Diggs) and Naomi Bennett (Audra McDonald) are Columbia alumni in Private Practice (2007–2013), a Grey's Anatomy spin-off centered on Addison Montgomery. 


Mindy Kaling and Danny Castellano in the Mindy Project
Mindy Kaling and Danny Castellano in "The Mindy Project," Fox / Hulu.

As evidenced by a shirt seen in season two, New York City OB/GYN Mindy Lahiri (Mindy Kaling) of The Mindy Project (2012–2017) is a Columbia alumna.   


Rob Morrow in Northern Exposure
Rob Morrow in "Northern Exposure," CBS. (IMDb)

Queens native Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow), another Columbia med-school alum, brings his health expertise and city sensibility to a remote Alaska town in Northern Exposure (1990–1995).


Hugh Laurie and Omar Epps in House
Omar Epps (right) with Hugh Laurie in "House," Fox. (IMDb)

While Dr. House himself didn’t attend Columbia, neurologist Eric Foreman (Omar Epps) and oncologist James Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) of the 2004–2012 medical drama House are both alumni.


Matthew Fox in Lost
Matthew Fox in "Lost," ABC. (IMDb)

In the supernatural series Lost (2004–2010), real-life Columbia grad Matthew Fox ’89CC plays physician Jack Shephard, a med-school alum who gets stranded on a remote island after a plane crash. (Naturally, his medical knowledge proves extremely valuable.)


Barry Watson in 7th Heaven
Barry Watson in "7th Heaven," WB. (IMDb)

Rising doctors Matt Camden (Barry Watson) and Sarah Glass Camden (Sarah Danielle Madison) attend Columbia medical school in the 1996–2006 family drama 7th Heaven.


Vanessa Redgrave in "Nip/Tuck"
Vanessa Redgrave in "Nip/Tuck," FX. (IMDb)

Vanessa Redgrave had a recurring role on Nip/Tuck (2003–2010) as Erica Noughton, a psychologist with a PhD from Columbia.


Part III: Undergrad Alumni

Jamie-Lynn Sigler with James Gandolfini in "The Sopranos," HBO. (IMDb)
Jamie-Lynn Sigler with James Gandolfini in "The Sopranos," HBO. (IMDb)

In The Sopranos (1999–2007), mob princess Meadow Soprano (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) attends Columbia College and lives on campus.


Will and Grace
Debra Messing and Eric McCormack in "Will & Grace," NBC. (IMDb)

Both Will Truman (Eric McCormack) and Grace Adler (Debra Messing) of Will & Grace (1998–2020) are alumni. In fact, they began their famous friendship during their first year at Columbia.   


Leighton Meester and Blake Lively in "Gossip Girl"
Leighton Meester and Blake Lively in "Gossip Girl," The CW.

Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), and Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford) all attend Columbia College in the 2007–2012 teen drama Gossip Girl.


cristin milioti in how i met your mother
Cristin Milioti in "How I Met Your Mother," CBS. (IMDb)

Tracy McConnell (Cristin Milioti), the titular mother of How I Met Your Mother (2005–2014), is a former Columbia economics major.  


Tracey Gold in Growing Pains
Tracey Gold in "Growing Pains," ABC. (IMDb)

After graduating high school with honors, Carol Seaver (Tracey Gold) of the 1985–1992 family sitcom Growing Pains goes on to attend Columbia.


Bridget Moynahan in "Blue Bloods"
Bridget Moynahan in "Blue Bloods," CBS. (Craig Blankenhorn ©2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved)

In the NYC cop drama Blue Bloods (2010–), Bridget Moynahan plays Erin Reagan, an assistant district attorney and single mother who graduated top of her class at Columbia. Reagan’s daughter, Nicky Reagan-Boyle (Sami Gayle), graduates from the College in season eight.


Ellie Kemper in "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"
Ellie Kemper in "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," Netflix. (Courtesy of Netflix)

Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015–2019) moves to New York City after being held captive in a bunker for fifteen years. In the show’s third season, she receives a Columbia scholarship but ends up flunking out.  


Elizabeth Berkeley in "Saved by the Bell"
Elizabeth Berkley in "Saved by the Bell," NBC. (IMDb)

In Saved by the Bell (1989–1993), high-school student Jessie Spano (Elizabeth Berkley) gets rejected from her dream college, Stanford, before settling for Columbia.


Demián Bichir in Weeds
Demián Bichir in "Weeds," Showtime. (IMDb)

Esteban Reyes (Demián Bichir) is a drug-cartel leader who attended Columbia in Weeds, the 2005–2012 dark comedy created by Jenji Kohan ’91CC.


Molly C. Quinn in "Castle,"
Molly C. Quinn in "Castle," ABC. (Mitchell Haaseth, ABC ©2015 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved)

In Castle (2009–2016), mystery writer Richard Castle’s daughter, Alexis Castle (Molly C. Quinn), attends Columbia for undergrad.


Jennie Garth in What I Like About You
Jennie Garth in "What I Like About You," WB. (IMDb)

Public-relations professional Val Tyler (Jennie Garth) is an alum in the sitcom What I Like About You (2002–2006). Her less ambitious younger sister, Holly (Amanda Bynes), tries to follow in her footsteps but ends up skipping her Columbia admissions interview to hang out in Coney Island.   


This article was originally published in March 2021. It was last updated in January 2022.