Jesse Katsopolis (Jesse Cochran in season 1 [see Trivia]) is a lead character on the sitcom Full House, portrayed by John Stamos. He is Danny Tanner's brother-in-law, and uncle of D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle, and is Pam's younger brother, the husband of Rebecca, and father to Alex, Nicky and Pamela.
Jesse Katsopolis was born to Nick and Irene Katsopolis. He is half-Greek and half-Italian (as evidenced in "It's Not My Job" [2.3] and "The Prying Game" [7.10]) – Greek on his father's side and Italian on his mother's side.
His birth name is Hermes. His mother said (in "The Legend of Ranger Joe" [5.6]) that when he was in kindergarten, he was teased so much that he begged to be renamed. However, he has respect for his true name being the name of the Greek god of speed, as well as his grandfather.
In the first episode of the series, Jesse moves in with Danny to help him raise his kids after the death of his wife, Pam. Jesse only planned to stay for a couple of weeks but ends up staying for the whole series, along with Joey Gladstone. Jesse describes in later episodes how Pam was a great influence in his life, and how, despite his rebel attitude, she managed to keep him in check.
He used to be a "bad boy", but that begins to change when he begins taking care of the girls (especially Michelle), and really changes when he begins having a relationship with his love, Rebecca Donaldson.
In the beginning, Jesse has a "bad boy" clothing style, but this changes to a more casual style in later seasons. Also, in the beginning, he has long hair but then cuts it to a pompadour style, which he takes great care of. At 6 feet tall, he is taller than everybody except Danny (who is 6'4"). Michelle never goes past his waist in the series. He is also in good shape. When the twins are born, he wants them to wear doo rags just like him, but Becky objects.
Personality and hobbies
Jesse's obsession with his hair is a major trait of his. It is featured in the season two premiere "Cutting it Close", focusing on his tough time coping when Stephanie accidentally cuts off a hunk of his mullet and leads him to break both of his arms in a motorcycle accident.
His role model is Elvis Presley—particularly in the earlier seasons—not only in music but in style and attitude as well. He even takes a job as an Elvis impersonator in "Mad Money" (1.21), which he keeps a secret at first.
He is portrayed as being freewheeling and laid back (especially in earlier seasons). Danny sometimes considers him to be irresponsible. In "Our Very First Night" (1.2), Danny accuses him of being careless when he allows the girls to stay up too late and eat sweets (although the girls did know better and took advantage of him). However, the tables are turned in "Crimes and Michelle's Demeanor" (4.2), as he gives advice to Danny when he has trouble being able to discipline his baby Michelle for the first time.
In "Driving Miss D.J." (5.20), when he tries to teach D.J. how to drive, he tells her to "feel the vibrations", but does not tell her how to make a turn, which results in her putting deep scratches in his car. In "Please Don't Touch the Dinosaur" (6.18), when the field trip comes to a stop after the destruction of a large dinosaur skeleton, Danny accuses Jesse of being too laid back and Jesse does admit that the fun "got a little out of hand".
His freewheeling ways come to a clash early on in his relationship with Becky. In "Dr. Dare Rides Again" (3.9), Jesse watches an old videotape of himself doing a motorcycle wheelie on the ledge on top of a six-story building and wants to prove that he still has what it takes. When he starts to redo the stunt, he comes to his senses (with help from Becky) and realizes that it would be better not to risk his life, so he could be around for his loved ones. And prior to his wedding, her father, a cowboy who had an earlier life that was similar to Jesse's devil-may-care ways, warned that he will now be sacrificing his life for that of domesticity. This encourages Jesse to do one last stunt with Joey; jumping out of a moving airplane. The stunt goes awry and it is up to Becky to rescue Jesse to get him to the church on time.
Jesse really starts maturing after he and Becky have kids. He is always shown to be a caring uncle. Jesse is also known for his famous recipe of fried chicken.
While he does address Joey and Danny by their informal names, he often addresses them by their given first names (i.e. Joseph and Daniel) as a form of affection.
Jesse is very involved in rock and roll music. In one episode, he mentions that he had two bands during high school: Feedback and Discipline Problem. For most of the series, he fronts a band called Jesse and the Rippers in which he is the lead vocalist and guitarist. In "Captain Video" (5.25/26), they get a record deal with a demo of "Forever" (a cover of a Beach Boys song), which becomes a hit single. They tour around the country in local clubs during the summer. Later, in "Road to Tokyo" (6.3), the song goes to #1 on the charts in Japan, and the record company has him to go to Japan (alone – except for Becky and the twins) to perform. In "Comet's Excellent Adventure" (8.1), he is kicked out of the group by his band members concerning his lack of commitment – because he is now a busy family man.
In "Matchmaker Michelle" (5.2), he tries to change his music and style so that record labels would sign him. With "help" from Joey, he becomes Vulture. However, this does not turn so well as he tries to "fly" down on a harness to sing like a vulture. But the harness gets stuck and with more "help" from Joey, he is sent flying through the air during his performance.
In "Educating Jesse" (6.6), he is asked by D.J. and Kimmy to compose a song for their "stay in school" campaign, but he declines. When they are perplexed about why Jesse said no, he reveals he is a dropout and to participate in such a campaign would be an act of hypocrisy, also revealing to Becky that he dropped out due to spending too much time with his band. He then admits that it is time that he went after his high school diploma.
In "The Play's the Thing" (6.8), after he and Joey give a lead role in the play to Derek Boyd over Michelle, they give her another role. But she refuses it and sulks. They tell her "You can't always get what you want in life", and in his example, Jesse tells her that it is like being in a band: not everyone can be the lead singer and that he is not any more important than any other member of the group.
In "We Got the Beat" (8.18), after Girl Talk's failed performance in a youth talent contest, he tells Stephanie that he was not "picking on" her, but rather, "motivating" her, reminding her that in addition to constant rehearsals, they should have focused more on their album content (sound) than their album cover (looks). In addition, while Danny and Becky approved of their rehearsal, he says that treating her like family is far different than being her manager. He then decides to continue to help improve her talents, not as her manager, but as who he has been since day one: her uncle.
Aside from his music career, Jesse is shown to have various day jobs during the series. The first is as an exterminator for his father's business. In "It's Not My Job" (3.2), he enters the advertising business with Joey, becoming advertising executives. Their agency is called Double J Creative Services (and in season 4, Danny decides to help out by being a silent partner).
In later seasons, Jesse and Joey start a career as radio hosts with a show called The Rush Hour Renegades (KFLH-FM 95.6). Jesse would then inherit and re-open The Smash Club, which was a nightclub that he attended frequently while growing up, and where his band played regularly.
- Rebecca Katsopolis – wife
- Alex Katsopolis – son
- Nicky Katsopolis – son
- Nick Katsopolis – father
- Irene Katsopolis – mother
- Pamela Tanner – sister (deceased)
- D.J. Tanner – niece
- Stephanie Tanner – niece
- Michelle Tanner – niece
- Iorgos Katsopolis – grandfather
- Gina Katsopolis – grandmother
- Hermes Katsopolis – great-grandfather
- Stavros – cousin
- Demetri – cousin
- Melina – first cousin; once removed
- Danny Tanner – brother-in-law
- Kenneth Donaldson – father-in-law
- Nedra Donaldson – mother-in-law
- Connie Anderson – sister-in-law
- Corky Donaldson – brother-in-law
- Dick Donaldson – cousin-in-law
In "The Seven-Month Itch" (1.16/17), after he leaves, saying that he had to get away and was not sure if he would be coming back, the girls try to get him to come home by tricking him into thinking that Michelle is sick. Danny and Joey talk him into realizing that he is more than just the girls' uncle now, that although he may have lost some freedom, he gained a lot more by moving into the Tanner house. He then realizes that no matter what, he will always be there for the family.
Like Joey (and later, Becky), Jesse is a surrogate parent to the girls. In "D.J. Tanner's Day Off" (1.22), he mentions how Nick would give him the "dad face" whenever he got punished (and all the guys give D.J. the "dad face" after finding out that she played hooky).
He is known for his "little talks/chats" with his nieces, mostly with Michelle; like with Danny, these teach them important lessons in life.
In "Just Say No Way (3.21), after catching D.J. holding a beer can, he realized she was stopping a group of boys from drinking and that she wasn't drinking after all as he thought; but that didn't stop him from having a chat with her about the dangers of drinking and the trouble she was heading for.
Early in the series, when Stephanie tries and get Jesse to do something that he does not want to do, they have an exchange where Jesse would say "Uncle Jesse doesn't want to" (do something) and Stephanie says "Yes he does!" Jesse would then say "No he doesn't" and Stephanie would respond "yes he does!" Jesse would say the same thing one last time, rather emphatically, "No he doesn't", and Stephanie would respond once more while faking crying, "Yes he does", and he would give in. In "Mr. Egghead" (3.18), after her nose gets broken and she has to wear a splint, she tries getting out of having her picture taken in the school year's class picture. He tells her that she may regret that later in her life. And when she wants to take that chance because she does not want to be humiliated a second time (having been called "Sneeze Burger" the year before), he insists that she take his advice.
In "The Devil Made Me Do It" (5.19), when he catches Michelle playing around with his equipment after telling her not to, he informs Danny, who then grounds her the rest of the day. Michelle does not appreciate being told on. But, she learns her lesson in the "little chat" that they have after she comes home. He reminds her how wrong it was to run away from home just because she was punished for breaking the rules of the house, adding that if she has a problem, she can go to anyone in the house for help. He teaches her the same lesson in "Silence is Not Golden" (6.17) after Danny punishes her for running up the family's phone bill.
In the episode "13 Candles", it is revealed that his first kiss was with Diane Van Zant.
During the show's first season, he has several girlfriends. Some of them are:
- Vanessa ("Our Very First Show")
- Adrianna ("Daddy's Home")
- Robin ("Half a Love Story")
- Jill ("Half a Love Story")
- Samantha ("The Seven-Month Itch (Part 1)")
- Roxanne ("Sea Cruise")
During the second season, Jesse meets Danny's co-host, Rebecca Donaldson, and they started dating. They almost elope in Nevada at the end of the season, but she feels that she is not ready. During season four, they did get married. (He barely gets jealous of other guys who are possibly interested in Rebecca, unless they have good or better hair than he does.)
During season four, when Jesse and Becky are engaged, Jesse sees his ex-girlfriend Carrie at their ten-year high school reunion in "One Last Kiss". She wants to dance with him, but he freaks out and leaves. Then she arrives at the house and tells him that she wants to get back together. After talking they kiss. He tells her that he is in love with Becky now. He then goes to Becky and tells her that he kissed Carrie and Becky gets mad. Then Jesse tells Becky that he is only hers now.
In the episode "Greek Week" Jesse sees his old girlfriend Elena and finds out that they were already "married" for almost 13 years, due to a "traditional Greek wedding", when they held flowers and walked around a table. They walk backwards around the table to get divorced. Then at the end of that episode, he proposes to Becky for good.
Besides being very close with his sons, he is also close to his nieces, D.J., Stephanie, and Michelle, especially with Michelle, giving her affectionate nicknames like Munchkin, Rugrat, and Shorty.
Often-recurring phrases and words
- "Have mercy!": his best-known and most-often-used phrase in the series; so much so that other characters have used it to him
- "Watch the hair!" (especially in the earlier seasons when it was longer)
- "Capisce?" (pronounced kapeesh), which is Sicilian for "understand?"
- Originally, John Stamos signed to play Adam Cochran, but he changed the name to Jesse before the show began, then later requested his Greek heritage to be implemented in the show by changing his character's last name to Katsopolis
- Favorite toy as a child was a stuffed dog named Doggie Katsopolis
- Favorite color is black, as revealed in the episode "D.J. Tanner's Day Off"
- His most frequent recurring phrase, "Have mercy", originally comes from the Bible (mentioned 47 times in the King James Version – although usually with other words following it)
- It is implied (in "One Last Kiss") that Jesse graduated high school, however, in "Educating Jesse", it is revealed he dropped out
After seven years of living in the Tanner House, the Katsopolises moved into a home of their own. Shortly before the events of Fuller House, Jesse landed a dream job in Los Angeles and made plans to move there with Becky and Danny to start a new chapter in their lives.
References/appearances on other shows
- 1992: Hangin' with Mr. Cooper; he makes a cameo appearance in the episode "Hangin' with Michelle"
- 2012: House, M.D.; episode: "Gut Check" (mentioned)
- 2012: American Dad; he appears (animated) in the episode "American Stepdad"
- Main article: Fuller House
- Jackson Fuller – grandnephew
- Max Fuller – grandnephew
- Tommy Fuller, Jr. – grandnephew
- Pamela Katsopolis – daughter (adopted)
- Unnamed grandniece (Stephanie's daughter)
In Fuller House, Jesse is the music producer/composer for his favorite soap opera, General Hospital (John Stamos had his acting break on GH). Because of his new job, and Danny and Becky's new show Wake Up, USA, Jesse and Becky move to Los Angeles, California. Jesse and Becky visit D.J. and her family whenever they can. His grandnephew Jackson Fuller is similar to Jesse and his niece Stephanie is also similar to Jesse on the show. Jesse also has a tight bond with both of them.