- "She don't have a key to the house, does she? Oh, Mr. Sheffield, maybe it's all for the best"
- ―Fran to Maxwell
Born into a Jewish family in New York, Francine "Fran" Joy Fine is the second daughter of Sylvia and Morty Fine. She was raised in Flushing, Queens in New York City along with her older sister Nadine.
In her teens, Fran and best friend Valerie Toriello (played by Rachel Chagall) attended local Hillcrest High School, alongside fellow students Ray Barone (played by Ray Romano) , Fran's arch-rival, Heather Biblow (played by Pamela Anderson), the late actress Morgan Faulkner (played by Jane Sibbett), and taxicab driver wannabe playwright Jeffrey Needleman (played by Richard Kind).
Fran in the series is shown as a bubbly, outgoing, humorous, and sexy character where she gets herself into trouble on a number of occasions but ends up solving the problems. Upon graduating, Fran attended cosmetics college while working as a part time foot model. She later assisted in her then-fiancé Danny Imperiali's bridal shop in Flushing, until she was dumped by Imperiali who immediately replaced her with Heather Biblow. Not only did Heather steal Fran's job, she even married Danny and they had a baby together.
Fran resorted to selling "Shades of the Orient" makeup door-to-door to make ends meet. In the first episode, Fran arrives at the home of Maxwell Sheffield (played by Charles Shaughnessy), a millionaire Broadway producer, who hires her as a nanny for his three kids, Maggie (played by Nicholle Tom), Brighton (played by Benjamin Salisbury), and Gracie (played by Madeline Zima). This occurs after she shows Maxwell her references, which are written in lipstick.
After she was hired by Maxwell, Fran discovered that her old physical education teacher from her days in high school, Ms. Wickavich (played by Rita Moreno), whom she derisively called "The Wickavich of the West", was now teaching at Maggie's school and was going by the name Coach Stone. The taunting and bullying teacher did her best to make both Fran and Maggie miserable. (One of her memorable lines was when she was criticizing someone's handspring. You call that a back handspring layout?! Shape up!! I've seen better routines in Gymboree!! You Mary Lou Rotten!) Fran did her best to stand up to her, and after saving her life by knowing the Heimlich maneuver, Coach Stone (albeit grudgingly) passed Maggie in gym.
Miss Fine is self-conscious about her age; she often claims to be 29 on the show, regardless of how much time passes. It is assumed that, because she turned 30 toward the end of the first season, Fran is thirty-five years old by the end of the series (which leads to some speculation about why her age is such a big dilemma in the first place, especially since it was around the time of the Nanny's creation that the trend of women were getting married later in life rather than in their twenties took hold, Maxwell once sarcastically stated that even FBI couldn't know her true age and that the best they could dig up was 32). Fran is constantly under pressure to get married by her controlling mother, which results in comical situations when Fran declines a chance to marry a rich man (causing her mother to threaten suicide), so she may continue caring for the Sheffields. Her Aunt Rose and Uncle Stanley were played by Fran Drescher's real-life parents, Morty and Sylvia Drescher.
Fran is known amongst her friends for being chronically single. Throughout the show she is seen going on date after date and boyfriend after boyfriend, never managing to land a permanent partner, much to her mother's chagrin. This is something Fran is notably embarrassed by, as shown by her plans to have a baby via sperm donor in "" and by her jealousy of Val in "Val's Boyfriend" when Val lands a boyfriend and she does not.
Fran often finds herself in engagements, getting engaged to Danny Imperiali twice, going on a spiraling shopping spree in "Shopaholic" when he marries her rival, Heather Biblow. Fran is knocked out of this trance when she is kissed by Mr. Sheffield. Fran also found herself as a accomplice to a robbery when the man she got engaged to after two weeks of dating was using her to rob a jewelry store. When it was revealed the man was just using her she asks "Why me?" and the cop responds the robber had been targeting desperate women in their 30's, to which Fran responds "Again I ask, why me?".
The romantic tension between Maxwell and Fran lasts until the middle of the 5th season, when the couple gets engaged; following several snafus, they are finally married in the season 5 finale in (1998). Until that point, they always address each other with proper employer-employee politeness, i.e. "Miss Fine" and "Mr. Sheffield". Maxwell confesses to Miss Fine that he loves her when their plane to New York meets some turbulence, and he believes they may crash. Upon returning home, Maxwell immediately revokes the statement (this is later referred to as "the Thing" and is held over Mr. Sheffield's head with glee by Fran and Niles).
By the fifth season, Mr. Sheffield and Miss Fine begin a tentative romantic relationship, which consisted of a very large milestone: calling each other by their first names. Mr. Sheffield proposes marriage (a move that sends C.C. Babcock, who had an obsessive crush on Maxwell and a jealous hatred of Fran, to an insane asylum), and they are married in the season 5 finale in (1998). They finally give birth to fraternal twins, Jonah Samuel and Eve Catherine Sheffield born in (1999), in the series more nasally and boisterous like her mother. In fact, while Fran is in labour she screams that Eve has 'her mother's hips'.
Despite the fact they stopped using each other's last names to address each other when they married, Fran and Max would still switch to their boss/employee roles out of habit. When Max is angry with her, he will instinctively shout "Miss Fine!", causing a worried Fran to reply, "Oh no, I'm Miss Fine again!". The same is true for Fran, who calls Maxwell "Mr. Sheffield" in bed. Before they got married, Fran had many fantasies of them making out. In one episode, a drunk Fran accidentally went to bed alongside a sleeping Max. Upon waking up to find where she was, she first said, "I'm havin' that dream again."
Fran has a very big family and is in contact with a vast majority of her extended family as she constantly brings stories about them up in conversation as examples. Among those mentioned by Fran are:
- Rose Fine
- Stanley Fine
- Mima Fageh (paternal great-aunt)
- Louie (paternal great-uncle)
- Edna (first cousin once removed)
- Sophie (cousin)
- Irving (cousin)
- Ira (aunt)
- Merrill (cousin)
- Sheila (cousin)
- Marvin (uncle)
- Myron (uncle)
- Claudene (cousin)
- Esther (aunt)
- Ernie (cousin)
- Selma (aunt)
- Aaron (uncle)
- Mema Fager (aunt)
- Todd Oldham (cousin)
- Bob (cousin)
- Dave Fine (paternal uncle)
- Judy Fine (paternal cousin)
- Mory Fine (paternal uncle)
Fran is most known for her brown big hair, her loud choice of clothes, and wearing a lot of makeup. Her hairstyle and clothes varies every episode, often wearing clothes from the latest Todd Oldham line (Todd being a cousin of hers and her connection to the high fashion world), though she almost always wears a tight miniskirt, high heels and a tight top. She’s known to wear a floral bathrobe for breakfast, when the rest of the Sheffields are already dressed though in one episode she actually gets dressed. Everyone thought she was sick.
Fran often compares herself to actresses of and before her time, including Elizabeth Taylor, Julia Roberts, Barbara Streisand and Audrey Hepburn.
- Fran attended the same high school as Ray Barone (played by Ray Romano), which she affectionately calls "Raymond" in one of the CBS crossover episodes. Ray Barone is the lead character in the hit sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. In real-life, Romano and Drescher both went to Hillcrest High School in Queens, New York, graduating in 1975.
- Fran's favorite store is Loehmann's. When Fran was having the twins, Mr. Sheffield told her to visualize Loehmann's for comfort.
- Fran Fine's most prominent trademark, her exceptionally loud and nasal voice, made the character almost legendary, in real life and in the show. Other characters regularly made comments about the sound (i.e. Fran shouts when she gets stuck in an elevator, Maxwell says "that's my wife!", without actually knowing that it was Fran before the familiar sound of her voice). Although many people believe the voice is "fake", it is Fran Drescher's real voice (although she confessed she played it up a little when filming).The aforementioned voice and persona would eventually find its way into a fourth-wall scene from the episode "The Baby Shower", where Fran and Niles met her idol who was staying in the hotel, which by the way was Fran Drescher, who was playing herself. When the two met, Fran told Drescher that she thought that her ironed-out hair style didn't look good. Drescher in turn told Fran that they just finished doing the same episode that Fran and Niles was in now after Fran and Niles told Drescher what they were up to.
- As seen in a flashback, she first saw Mr. Sheffield in the 1970’s on a talk show.
- Fashion designer Todd Oldham played himself in one episode as Fran's cousin. He was used as an explanation on how she could afford her wardrobe.
- Miss Fine has a huge obsession towards singer Barbara Streisand.
- Fran's age has always been treated like a mystery. When asked, Fran always claims that she’s twenty-nine years old, starting right from first episode, with heavy inplication that she's in fact, older. With that said, the youngest Fran could possibly be would be 30 at the start of the series and 36 and the end of the series.
- Along with age, Fran's exact birthday is also rather unclear, but it's likely she was born around late september and early october, as it is revealed The Cradle Robbers that Fran is a Libra, and in Fran's Roots that she was born on Rosh Hashana, a Jewish holiday. In real-life, Drescher's date of birth is September 30, 1957.
- In season 4, episode 12 titled “ Danny's Dead and Who's Got the Will?”, Fran introduces herself as “Francesca Finé”, alluding to the fact that her name is Francesca and not Francine.