Lydia Barnes
Biographical information




Family information

Stewart Barnes (ex-husband)



  • Ned † (uncle)
  • Frieda (cousin)
  • Ex-mother-in-law
Professional Information



St. Ambrose Hospital

Character information
First appearance


Last appearance

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do. And Do. And...

Portrayed By

Stockard Channing


Lydia Barnes is a cardiologist and the mother of the Barnes family.


Christmas 1982Edit

At a Christmas party in 1982, Ben and Oliver stole a snow globe from the neighbor, Mrs. Veech, a crime for which Regina was accused. Regina maintained her innocence, even over 20 years later. When Lydia remodeled her apartment, where the snow globe had been hidden, the truth came out. ("If These Floors Could Talk")

Thanksgiving 1998Edit

Lydia brought a date for Regina to Thanksgiving in 1998 because she was unaware at the time that Regina was gay. She walked in on Regina kissing Oliver's then-girlfriend, Sharon, which shocked her. ("Thanks")

Thanksgiving 2004Edit

Lydia and Stewart were separated for Thanksgiving 2004, but hadn't yet told the kids, so they pretended to be still married. The kids knew something was up, but they figured that something was wrong with Stewart, since he appeared not to be able to remember things, like where things are located in the kitchen. When he got food on his shirt, Regina suggested he change, but he insisted club soda would take it out. However, a loud pop scared him, causing him to spill wine all over his shirt. Because he no longer had clothes there, he was forced to put on one of Lydia's. He then spilled dip on his pants when Oliver came through the door unexpectedly. Ben then noticed that all of Stewart's things were gone and they figured out that their parents had separated. They thought it would be the last Thanksgiving they all spent together. ("Thanks")


After her divorce from Stewart, Lydia bought herself new pajamas to console herself.


Lydia, after Barb McGee spread rumors about her being sad about her divorce, decided to throw a party for the hospital staff to restore her reputation. She invited Ronald Barker as her date, but he surprised her when he showed up with his fiancée. In order to prevent her relationship from being further destroyed, Lydia rushed to find a backup date, enlisting Ben and Oliver's help. Unbeknownst to her, they hired a male escort to be her date for the evening. She proceeded with the party, unaware that her date a was a prostitute. When she was informed about the situation, she was upset at what they had done. When Barb let on that she knew, Lydia panicked. However, Regina stepped up and said she'd ruin Barb's reputation by saying that when she came into the ER with an injured ankle, she'd been injured while cheating on her husband with a tennis pro. ("And I'll Cry If I Want To")

Monty Swallowing Stewart's PhoneEdit

Monty, Stewart and Lydia's dog, swallowed Stewart's new phone, an extremely tiny phone a patient had brought back from Japan. They immediately rushed him to the emergency vet, where they waited while he passed the phone. Once he had passed the phone, they were able to take him home. ("The Truth About Nerds & Dogs")

Hospital Fundraiser and ElliotEdit

At a hospital fundraiser, Lydia was hit on by Elliot Hellerman, a urologist at the hospital. She outbid him on Broadway season tickets, which she planned to use with Ben. After the fundraiser, she told him that they were invited to the Duffys weekly Saturday game night, prompting Ben to "break up" with his mother. She told him that she had a date with Elliot. She cancelled the date, but later rescheduled at Ben's coaching. ("The Heartbreak Kid")

Cooking ClassEdit

Ben planned to take a cooking class with Oliver, saying that it was the perfect way to meet single women. However, each of them bailed on the class and sent Lydia and Regina in their places. Regina and Lydia were both resistant to staying for the class, but they ultimately went through with it and finally talked about Lydia's feelings about Regina being gay. Lydia admitted that it was uncharted territory for her, but she never stopped wanting what was best for Regina. She just stopped knowing what that was.

During the class, Lydia drew the eye of the teacher, a chef at a restaurant, who thought Lydia was gay. ("Key Ingredients")

Janice Meyers' WeddingEdit

Lydia, along with the rest of her family, was invited to the wedding of Janice Meyers, whom they had known since she was a child. Lydia became upset at the wedding when people kept asking her about the divorce and how it was to be single again. However, when she found out that her friend, Lois, was also recently divorced, the two of them bonded over people pitying them. When she heard a man's voice in Lois's hotel room that night, she asked her for details the next morning, not knowing that the man was her own son, Ben. ("The Wedding")

Thanksgiving 2005Edit

Despite them being divorced, Ben suggested that Lydia invited Stewart to Thanksgiving, so the five of them could celebrate together as a family. Things went south when Oliver accidentally pushed the turkey out the window. They then ordered Chinese food. The man who delivered it accidentally hit the turkey as he biked to them. As he was leaving, he collapsed. They later figured out it was because his wife had forgotten to pick up his blood pressure medication. They got him stable and had him promise to check in with his regular doctor before sending him on his way. After reminiscing about past Thanksgivings that hadn't gone so well, they ignored the emergency page and sat down to have a nice dinner together. ("Thanks")

Visiting MariaEdit

Maria was the Barnes' housekeeper when the kids were little. For her 80th birthday, Lydia baked her a cake and planned to go visit her in the nursing home. However, Lydia decided to go the following morning and guilted the others into joining her. Stewart and Oliver rode in one car while Ben, Lydia, and Regina rode in the other. While they were driving, Ben hit something and the tire went flat. Lydia asked Regina to change it, but then remembered that she'd had the spare tire taken out to make room for the cake. They then all piled into Stewart's classic car, which he was restoring. However, the only thing he'd done so far was the horn, which he demonstrated. However, he hadn't done a very good job because the horn started honking continuously. It also rained the rest of the way, so when they arrived, they were soaked and upset. Lydia had even lost a shoe through the hole in the floor and the cake had been destroyed. Maria was sleeping when they arrived, so they decided to wait a few minutes rather than waking her up. Ben created a scene in Maria's room when he refused to rub her roommate's feet and then pressed her bed alarm by mistake. The ensuing chaos woke Maria. ("Guilt Trip")

Christmas 2005Edit

Ben and Oliver came to Lydia's for Christmas dinner. ("New Year's Eve")

New Year's Eve 2005Edit

At the hospital, Lydia met a man named Gavin and they went for a cup of coffee at the diner. She later brought him to Ben, Oliver, and Regina's New Year's Eve party, where she learned that he's Crystal's father. After a fight that resulted after Gavin found out that his daughter was dating her boss again, Lydia and Gavin still left together. ("New Year's Eve")

Cabin TripEdit

Lydia and Stewart had a week in a cabin, which they decided to split after the divorce. Lydia took the first half of the week with Ben and Stewart the second with Regina and Oliver. Lydia was planning to be out of the cabin before Stewart and Crystal showed up, but they ended up being snowed in. Lydia was shocked that Stewart and Crystal (along with Oliver and Regina, plus Oliver's girlfriend Trisha, were able to make it up to the cabin. Nevertheless, they tried to make the best of it. When Oliver, Ben, and Stewart found a pregnancy test while the ladies were out, they all panicked and speculated over whose test it might be, each of them hoping they weren't the father. Ultimately, it was discovered that the test belonged to Regina, who was thinking about using a sperm donor to become a mom alone and bought the test in case she might need it. ("Yours, Mine or His?")

Norma's VisitEdit

Stewart's old receptionist, Norma, came into town for a visit on her way out of the country. Because she was unaware that Stewart and Lydia were divorced, they pretended to be still married to spare her feelings, figuring since it was only for one day, they could manage. However, when Norma was injured while at their apartment, one day became two and they had to pretend for longer. Despite this, they made it through the time without her figuring it out. Since they lamented not having much time to visit with her, she mentioned that there was no rush on her way back home, so she could stay for longer. Lydia then revealed that they were divorced. ("Model Behavior")

Valentine's Day 2006Edit

Lydia and Stewart had standing reservations at La Cucina for Valentine's Day. Lydia offered them to Stewart and Crystal, but they were having dinner at home, so they declined. When Ben mentioned that Oliver might like the reservations as his had fallen through, she offered them him. However, she meant it to be for him and her, while he believed she was giving it to him to use with his date, Lola. Oliver tried to get out of it without hurting his mother's feelings, but he was found out and Lydia ultimately let him use the reservations to go on his date with Lola. After he left, she stayed at the apartment with Ted. However, when Ted very strongly came on to her, she was startled. She was flattered when he talked about how beautiful she is. They ended up watching a movie together, but she made it clear that nothing would happen between them. ("Hot Water")

Using ReginaEdit

Lydia wanted an in with Cynthia Boyd, who was supposed to pick a new board member, a seat Lydia wanted. When she found out that Cynthia has a gay son and goes to many Pride events with him, she told Lydia that her daughter is gay and they go to Pride events together, trying to get on Cynthia's good side. Lydia threw a party and had Regina play up the lesbian act. However, Regina figured out what she was doing and pretended to be straight, even hitting on a waiter. Lydia later apologized to Regina for using her like that. ("You Win Some, You Use Some")

Doctor of the YearEdit

Lydia was one of the possibilities when the family learned that one of them had been named a top doctor of the year. She was shocked when it was actually Stewart who had won. She ended up bringing Jack, a longtime foe of Stewart's, to his party. She was nervous because it was their third date and she believed there were expectations and she wasn't sure she was ready as it had been a long time since she'd had sex with anyone and was worried she wasn't still desirable. When Oliver figured that out, he, who had walked in on her in the shower one morning, assured her she was still beautiful and desirable. ("Doctor of the Year")

Uncle Ned's FuneralEdit

The whole Barnes family attended the funeral of Ned, Lydia's uncle. After the funeral, Lydia and Stewart found out that he had left them something. They imagined it to be something expensive, as he had many nice things, but were shocked to find out it was a bed. The significance was that it was the bed they spent their honeymoon on. When the bed was delivered, they started to reminisce and ended up falling asleep together on the bed fully clothed. They had also been disagreeing over the two funeral plots they had bought together while they were married. After fighting it out, they agreed to keep the plots and be buried together if they die single, so it'd be easier on the kids. ("Restaurant Row")

IRS AuditEdit

Lydia and Stewart were audited for the last year they were married. Their accountant had retired and Regina had convinced them to use her then-girlfriend to do their taxes. Stewart was unable to find the tax returns and ended up avoiding Lydia rather than preparing for the audit. Regina was able to contact Tess, the ex-girlfriend, and get a copy of the return. When Enid Kolodny came to do their audit, everything checked out except that they had claimed Monty as a dependent. Regina dosed the auditor with a medication that knocked her out. When she woke up, she finished the audit quickly and they managed not to get in trouble. ("Losing Patients")


Lydia wanted to remodel her kitchen, something she finally got approved. She believed the reason it took so long to get approved was that her neighbor Mrs. Veech believed that Regina had stolen a snow globe from her Christmas party in 1982. While she was getting ready to remodel, she decided to remodel the living room as well and the truth came out, that Ben and Oliver had stolen the snow globe and hidden it under the floorboards in Lydia's living room. ("If These Floors Could Talk")

Cabin TripEdit

Stewart won a raffle for a weekend at a very nice cabin and planned to take Crystal. However, when he couldn't because of his hernia surgery, Lydia took the key to use with Jack. When they broke up, Oliver took the key to use with Mary. When they ended things, Regina took it to use with Conner. When Conner went back to her ex-boyfriend, Ben tried to use it with Wendy, the nurse he'd been flirting with, but she turned him down after overhearing Oliver say he's crazy. Ben, Oliver, Regina, and Lydia ended up going out there together just the four of them. ("Breaking Up Is Hard to Do. And Do. And...")



Stewart BarnesEdit

Lydia was married to Stewart Barnes for 33 years. Together, they had three children: Oliver, Regina, and Ben.

When their divorce papers were finally ready to sign, they sat in the diner together and signed them quickly and were told it would take effect in three days. While at Janice Meyers wedding, they realized their divorce had gone into effect, so they danced together.("The Wedding")

She and Stewart had standing Valentine's Day reservations at La Cucina. ("Hot Water")

They spent their honeymoon in Lydia's Uncle Ned's cabin. ("Restaurant Row")

While they were heading toward divorce, the last straw for Lydia, after which she called a divorce lawyer, was Stewart going on a business trip on her birthday weekend and claiming he sent her flowers which never arrived. When they were later audited, they found the receipt for the flowers attached to another receipt, revealing that Stewart had been telling the truth. ("Losing Patients")

Ronald BarkerEdit

Lydia asked Ronald to be her date to the party she threw, but he showed up with his fiancée. She beat him out for Broadway season tickets. ("And I'll Cry If I Want To")

Elliot HellermanEdit

At a hospital fundraiser, Elliot, a urologist, heavily flirted with Lydia. He asked her on a date, but she got scared and cancelled it. At Ben's prompting, she re-scheduled the date. ("The Heartbreak Kid")

Howard NetterlanderEdit

At Janice Meyers' wedding, Janice introduced Lydia to Howard Netterlander, thinking they'd hit it off. Lydia was intrigued, but quickly deflated when she found out that Howard is extremely boring. ("The Wedding")


Gavin and Lydia met at the hospital, where she stopped her to ask her where he could get a cup of coffee. She recommended the diner across the street and joined him. That led to her bringing him to her children's New Year's Eve party, where she was shocked to find out that Gavin is Crystal's father. However, that didn't stop them from continuing their night. ("New Year's Eve")

Jack ArbogastEdit

Lydia brought Jack Arbogast, Stewart's professional rival, to Stewart's party when he was named one of the top doctors of the year. She was nervous about it because it was their third date and it had been a while since she'd had sex. Oliver reassured her that she was still beautiful and sent her on her way with Jack. ("Doctor of the Year")

Lydia and Jack continued to see each other. They started to bicker because Lydia insisted on using a shortcut and they missed the opening curtain on a play they were seeing. Lydia then questioned his surgical technique when he operated on Stewart. They ended up breaking up. ("Breaking Up Is Hard to Do. And Do. And...")

Michael DevlinEdit

Lydia went on a date with Michael Devlin and had a nice time. Lydia was surprised when he didn't call her again, but her sons told her that he was waiting for her to make the next move and encouraged her to call him. At their advice, she called him and set up a second date. They decided to stay in, thwarting Ben and Oliver's plan to sneak in and take back the snow globe Ben had hidden there. After a few more attempts to get them out of the way, the truth came out and Michael and Lydia decided to continue their date outside the apartment. ("If These Floors Could Talk")



Before Lydia and Stewart divorced, they got a dog, Monty. After the divorce, they continued to share custody of him, trading off weeks. While Lydia often dressed him up in elaborate outfits, Stewart would feed him treats, often more than he should have been eating. Stewart is the spoiling "parent" to Monty while Lydia is the one he goes to for comfort. ("The Truth About Nerds & Dogs")


Lydia's mother is very critical of her and believes she shouldn't have left Stewart because she's no spring chicken. ("Brothers Grim")

Lydia said that, like Regina with her, she always did the exact opposite of what her mother told her to do. ("Doctors Without Bidders")


Lydia has a cousin, Frieda, who constantly asks for medical advice when they're together. ("Restaurant Row")


Lois TurnerEdit

Lydia and Lois have been friends for decades, to the point where their kids call them "aunt". When Lydia met up with Lois at Janice Meyers' wedding, they bonded over being divorced and people pitying them. When Lydia heard Lois having sex, not knowing it was Ben in the room with her, Lydia asked for details. ("The Wedding")

Barb McGeeEdit

Lydia has a contentious relationship with Barb McGee, a co-worker at the hospital. After the divorce, Barb spread rumors about Lydia looking sad, which caused people to pity Lydia, which is the opposite of what she wanted. Lydia threw a party to help restore her reputation. Barb attended the party and heard that Lydia had a date. However, when that date turned out to be engaged, Lydia had to come up with another one quickly. Ben and Oliver hired a male escort for her and didn't tell her his profession. However, Barb recognized him. She was going to spread the word, but when Regina threatened to ruin her reputation, Barb backed off. ("And I'll Cry If I Want To")


Crystal and Lydia have an often contentious, occasionally peaceful relationship. When Crystal came with Stewart to Lydia's party, Lydia complimented Crystal's shoes and Crystal suggested that they go shopping together sometime. However, each of them privately asked Stewart to get them out of it. ("And I'll Cry If I Want To")

Stewart, wanting to ease the tension between Lydia and Crystal, set them up to spend time together. They ended up bonding and getting along. ("If These Floors Could Talk")


Norma is Stewart's old receptionist. While she was working for him, she became close to the whole family. She later said that she still carries a picture of Oliver, Ben, and Regina in her wallet and brags about them as if they were her own children. ("Model Behavior")


La Cucina OwnerEdit

The owner of La Cucina is a patient of Lydia's. Because of that, he said she get his best table. ("Hot Water")


Lydia is a cardiologist at St. Ambrose Hospital.

Notes and TriviaEdit

  • She keeps pre-wrapped emergency gifts in her trunk. The presents for men are marked with brown bows.
  • Her ringtone on Stewart's phone was the Wicked Witch theme from The Wizard of Oz. ("The Truth About Nerds & Dogs")
  • She once backed over someone who was trying to carjack her. ("The Heartbreak Kid")
  • She once took horseback riding lessons. When she fell off, she quit and sold everything she'd bought for it. ("The Heartbreak Kid")
  • She wears size 5 shoes. ("Guilt Trip")




Pilot · We Wanna Hold Your Hand · And I'll Cry If I Want To · The Truth About Nerds & Dogs · Brothers Grim · The Heartbreak Kid · Key Ingredients · The Wedding · Thanks · Guilt Trip · New Year's Eve · Yours, Mine or His? · Model Behavior · Hot Water · You Win Some, You Use Some · Doctor of the Year · Restaurant Row · Losing Patients · Doctors Without Bidders · If These Floors Could Talk · The Lady Doth Protest Too Much · Breaking Up Is Hard to Do. And Do. And...