Dr. Alan Jerome Harper, DC, (formerly Harper-Schmidt), is one of the main characters of Two and a Half Men. He was the show's deuteragonist for the first 8 seasons, and the main protagonist of the final 4 seasons. He is the only character to appear in every episode of the series.
Despite access to Walden's fortune and a yearly payment as a board member of Walden's company for three years, Alan never made any attempts to hire a very good lawyer to nullify his alimony agreements (especially to Judith, who mooches off him).
Alan used to be married to Judith, who is the mother of their son Jake, but Judith then divorced Alan. The divorce was hard on Alan, as he lost almost all of his possessions and got stuck with paying her $3,875 monthly alimony (thanks to Charlie, who slept with and then broke up with Alan's lawyer, who took out her anger on him by promising the ridiculously large amount of money to Judith.)
Alan drives a Volvo station wagon and runs his own chiropractic care clinic out in the San Fernando Valley (even winning The San Fernando Valley Chiropractic Award more than once), though he gets irritated when people point out he is not a medical doctor. Alan wanted to be a M.D., but the only school he could afford was one in Mexico.
While he loves his brother and son, Alan harbors a degree of resentment towards Charlie since money and women just seem to fall into his lap, while Alan, who has worked hard his entire life, remains a failure, and has yet to reap such rewards. He seems to have little faith in Jake due to his lazy and unmotivated attitude.
Judith lived a luxurious life on Alan's alimony until she got remarried to Dr. Herb Melnick (also known as Greg Melnick in earlier episodes), Jake's pediatrician (Ryan Stiles), which meant Alan didn't have to pay her alimony anymore. Alan was over the moon, even pushing them to get together. They are good friends, and Herb is even closer to Charlie and Alan than to Judith.
In the divorce, Kandi received Alan's condo, which they bought with the casino winnings they earned right after their impromptu Las Vegas wedding.
Alan lives in the guest room of Charlie's Malibu Beach House. He did not pay any rent for the first 5 years, 2 months and eleven days that he was living there, since nearly every cent he earned went towards paying alimony and taking care of Jake; when Evelyn said she would pay for Jake's college education, Alan had no incentive to go to work and felt aimless. He then agreed to fork over some money to Charlie every month, though the amount that would earn him a say in the household's operations was too high for him.
Alan and Judith had sexual relations right before Judith and Herb did, so Judith became pregnant with one or the other's child. Although there has been hints of the girl being Alan's and not Herb's, nobody actually knows the identity of her real father. Charlie once pointed out that she could even not be either of theirs.
He starts to hang out with Herb, much to Judith's dismay. He starts dating a woman named Lyndsey McElroy, who is the mother of Jake's friend Eldridge McElroy. Alan and Lyndsey fool around in a bathroom.
After Charlie's death and funeral in Season 9, Alan is deeply saddened and lonely. He shares a heartfelt goodbye with Charlie's cremated remains, expressing his love for Charlie and appreciation for letting Jake and him live there for the past eight years. He was going to scatter his ashes along the beach until Walden's sudden appearance startled him, causing him to accidentally throw the urn containing Charlie's ashes into the air, scattering Charlie's remains all over the living room. As he is unable to afford the beach house, Alan reluctantly sells the house to Walden. Alan and Jake continued to live in the house permanently, which has been their home for eight years; Alan is considered by Walden to be his best friend. He continues to be Walden's guide into the world of dating and, well... basically everything else he hasn't done that an average joe does. Although he is genuinely Walden's best friend, caring deeply for him (sometimes to the point of implied homosexuality), Alan has an ulterior motive: keep Walden paying for the house so he doesn't end up homeless or have to live with Evelyn. He intends on spending the rest of his life living with Walden, because at this point he's completely given into his sniveling and toss away any dignity in order to stay at the house. This cements the fact that Alan realizes he'll never know success of his own and will continue to shamelessly sponge.
However, his repressed grief over losing his only brother eventually gets the better of him, causing him to go insane believing himself to be Charlie. This is spurred by the desire to live the life his brother had and as a way to try to keep his brother "alive". After spending 28 days in a rehab center, during which Walden remodels his deceased brother's beach house, Alan sadly realizes that Charlie is really gone and that he no longer has a reason to stay in his late brother's beach house. Walden assures him that he still belongs there and Alan continues to stay in Charlie's (now Walden & Alan's) beach house. However, as time progressed afterward, Alan more than openly admitted that Charlie was a horrible human being.
Alan and Lyndsey get engaged; Kandi comes back to reconcile with Alan, but is turned down; and Lyndsey calls off the wedding when the spark is gone in their relationship.
Alan's long-lost niece comes to town and moves in with him and Walden. In the first episode of the season, it is revealed that Alan's clinic went out of business due to his financial woes, therefore leaving him unemployed. However, he had to fake his own death to get out of paying the back-rent he couldn't afford to pay. Alan and Lyndsey starting having an affair together after troubles with Lyndsey's boyfriend. Alan and Judith also briefly get back together and engaged after a drunken night, but call it off when Judith learns Alan planned on proposing to Lyndsey first. Alan and Lyndsey's affair eventually comes to an end when Alan hooks up with Larry's sister Gretchen. They soon become engaged to be married, but it is all put on hold when Gretchen's former husband returns to make amends. She tells Alan that they're not over, but she must think it all over before making up her mind.
Exceedingly cheap, Alan almost never pays for the tiniest thing, whether it be a meal or rent, going twelve years without so much paying a dime to live in Charlie's Malibu beach house, even after his brother died. Though at the beginning Alan was more focused on making sure he was there for Jake or reconcile with Judith, Alan's development becomes glaring from a struggling dad, to a victim of the universe until virtually a shameless con artist. Alan will go to incredible lengths to make any kind of money, dirty or otherwise. He bribed Jake into liking Judith's fiancé Herb Melnick so he wouldn't have to pay alimony in "A Live Woman of Proven Fertility" and set up a massive Ponzi scheme, scamming his friends and family out of 50,000 dollars, but quickly spent it all on himself, plunging him in massive debt in "Three Hookers and a Philly Cheesesteak". Perhaps the most memorable and certainly least dignified was when he ran into the ocean, fully clothed, to get back Walden's expensive rhodium and platinum wedding ring in "A Fishbowl Full of Glass Eyes". However, Alan can't be fully blamed for his cheapskate ways. During the divorce proceedings, Charlie slept with his high-priced lawyer and later dumped her, causing her to vindictively raise the alimony, leaving him with virtually nothing. This was only exacerbated when he and Kandi were divorced. However, there have been hints that Alan's cheap and frugal attitude towards money existed even before he was screwed on alimony. When Alan defends his inability to pay for Jake's field trip by saying "I'm not cheap, I'm broke," Charlie states to Jake that "he was cheap long before he was broke". This is probably because as his misfortunes and horrible luck built up as he grew older, Alan saw that he would never truly know success and began to abandon his morals.
One of Alan's opposing traits to his brother is his avoidance of hard liquor (bourbon, scotch, whiskey etc.) and preference for light beer and Appletini's, much to the embarrassment of Charlie. He has become more tolerant of strong alcohol as the series progressed.
Although he is the victim of much cruelty from the rest of the world, Alan's truly irritating nature and obnoxiously sniveling personality makes him an insufferable person to be around. Alan has been shown to be quite cowardly, but this is mostly because at times when he has shown courage, he usually ends up regretting it. Also, because people have him in their power when he can truly do nothing about it, he will simply end up suffering more for it. This behavior is displayed around Evelyn simply because she's his mother and Judith because of her powerful lawyer. At times when Alan has tried to stand up to Judith, he usually regrets it by either losing his nerve and let Judith have her way or going through on his courageous outbursts, which Judith makes him pay dearly for later on.
Alan lives an extremely inactive sex life and normally resorts to chronic masturbation. His marriage with Judith was passionless, to say the least. Charlie describes him as a man who was "married twelve years and had sex twelve times". Because of this, Alan becomes extremely clingy towards women whom he has only a sexual relationship with, mistaking his feelings for love. After an entirely physical weekend with Nancy, a woman he met at the supermarket, he was prepared to elope to Vegas with her but was shot down when she called to say her husband had come to town early in "Frankenstein and the Horny Villagers". The prime example was with Kandi, who did seem to care for Alan but was incredibly stupid and had very little in common with him. They impulsively married in Vegas after Charlie and Mia's wedding was called off, only to divorce months later. Also, Alan is revealed to use Viagra, which is specifically emphasized when he began masturbating all around the house. Charlie was also very surprised to discover that the cause of Alan's "non-stop whack-a-thon" was because he was cheap, as his Viagra pills expired next week but Alan adds to this "... And horny" in "Twanging Your Magic Clanger". In "Ergo, The Booty Call" Jake accidentally had one of Alan's Viagra pills, thinking them to be vitamins, during his birthday party, to which Berta wittily adds, "the kid's gonna need another party hat" (as to cover the erection).
Despite being presented as a lonely man, Alan has had multiple girlfriends throughout the series, but whenever they got close, it's normally he who ends up ruining it. Examples include when he and Judith were close to reconciliation but after having sex, he became agitated that after their divorce her sexual moves bettered but chose to not do the same while married to him, in "Carpet Burns and a Bite Mark". Other occasions include when his envy overtook him after being given a house key by his girlfriend, Lindsey, whom he was convinced that Charlie was trying to steal her from him in "Skunk, Dog Crap and Ketchup" and breaking up with his girlfriend because of their loveless sex life when she in reality planned to have a threesome with her friend in "Meander to Your Dander". Despite his constant submission to women, Alan shows incredible confidence and charm at times but they are normally extremely brief. While arguing with Judith about Charlie bringing Myra as a date to her wedding, he hangs up on her with total confidence but admits that he was going to "pay for that" once he did; Berta referred to him having "phone cojones" in "Smooth as a Ken Doll."
Known to be a doormat, Alan has allowed virtually every woman in his life to walk over him. The reasoning behind this behavior is elaborated on by many characters, but Alan ultimately concludes that it was Evelyn's doing in her entirety. Loving his mother more than Charlie yet being the least favored, Alan demands affection but receives naught. Evelyn sucked the joy out of her children's life because of her self-obsession and undermined his worth with no real love, which only made him more desperate for affection, transferring this desire for love to every woman he was in a relationship with, allowing himself to be whipped and ignore what he wanted to please them instead of himself. The irony of this is that his desire to be loved has made virtually every woman he commits himself to resent his existence. Perhaps the closest thing Alan has ever had to mutually loving relationship was with a troubled single mother. His needs for affection caused him to lose his earning and his condo for Kandi, as he failed to realize that he needed to keep the money for himself and beware of Judith's scheme in making him more miserable.
Alan is presented as being an extremely effeminate man, which others perceive as being gay but he defends as metrosexual. Amongst other things, he possesses an expansive and literate vocabulary, normally speaking in fluent and sophisticated sentences, has an extravagant and flamboyant sense of fashion, a fondness for Glee and Broadway theaters and plays such as The Lion King. He also began doubting his own sexuality when he starts hanging around with his friend Eric, who was gay in "Tucked, Taped and Gorgeous". Also, after the rest of his friends and family also mistook him for being gay and their lives became better, he was genuinely conflicted until he kissed Eric and discovered that he was in no way attracted to him and angrily kicked him out of his car when he discovered that he found Charlie to be the more attractive Harper.
Despite his effeminacy, Alan has a dark side and displays what appears to be a violent temper. When he discovered that Charlie had framed him for stealing Silly Putty when he was a boy, he angrily tried to beat down the door that Charlie was hiding behind in "The Price of Healthy Gums Is Eternal Vigilance". As well when his girlfriend was hit on during their date, he punched the man square in the face and claims that he enjoyed doing so, which he realizes that he does have a "monster" inside him in "Crude and Uncalled For".
Whilst a nice guy, the amounted stress brought on by the divorce, alimony payments, constant rejections and the decades of repressed rage and anger has also caused him to develop severe mental stress. The divulged aspects of his past reveal him to have had poor interpersonal skills and suffered from agoraphobia, bed-wetting and night terrors as revealed in "Hey, I Can Pee Outside In The Dark". Also, due to pent-up rage following the divorce proceedings with Judith, he began sleep-walking as well as experiencing inappropriate outbursts until he expressed said rage after beating his brother with a padded baton during therapy sessions in "My Doctor Has A Cow Puppet". Alan's neurosis is more evident in some episodes than others. He fell into a state of desperation when Kandi divorced him in "Working for Caligula" and became highly envious of his brother's successful lifestyle. The resentment towards Charlie, who had not suffered any consequences for his life of debauchery, whereas he had been punished consistently despite keeping his nose clean and always being good, and perfunctory clashes with his gratitude for allowing him and his son to live in his house, caused him to have insomnia in "Release the Dogs". He had an emotional outburst in a cinema library, began angrily screaming during said film screening and began hyperventilating in Charlie's car when he came to the realization that his son was growing older and began enjoying spending more time away from him in "That Special Tug". One of the more serious of Alan's mental illness would be his becoming lack of identity. He was completely rattled when Charlie died, so much that he thought he was his deceased brother and began mimicking him in both characteristics and behaviors until he was enrolled into a mental hospital by Walden in "Thank You For The Intercourse" and while debating what to do with the 50,000 he scammed from his family, he actually conversed with a version of himself in the mirror, only in darker clothes.
- Alan's middle name is Jerome.
- In the season 12 episode "Glamping in a Yurt", after Walden hugs and kisses Alan to create a convincing scene and facilitate the adoption of a child, Alan is visibly affected by such affection, hinting that despite not being gay, he is lonely enough to be pleased by anyone who treats him with love.
- He shares some qualities with Sheldon Cooper, a character from The Big Bang Theory, another sitcom created by Chuck Lorre. However, despite Sheldon's anti-social attitude, he has far more courage than Alan and has never let a single woman control his life, thanks to his thick-skinned nature. Furthermore, Sheldon has a far more successful career and is far smarter and more pragmatic than Alan in everything, even social life.
- Alan was an unplanned child. His mother personally assures him how he's "a pitcher of margaritas and a gas station condom", in "The Sea is a Harsh Mistress".
- In the episode 'Warning, It's Dirty', Evelyn reminds Charlie how forty years earlier, he had asked for a little brother for Christmas, which in contrast puts in doubt whether Alan was unplanned or not.
- Despite leading an immensely pathetic life, he is afraid of death.
- In Gorp. Fnark. Schmegle, it is revealed that Alan is turned on by (even if they are a little fat) angry women.
- Walden, Robin, and Brooke all believe Alan is older than 45, thinking he is 60. (Though he is 42 or 43, depending on how much time has passed since the end of season 8)
- He likely looks older than he actually is due to stress.
- As of the series finale, Alan is the surviving son of Evelyn Harper after Charlie's death.
- There is a lack of continuity regarding Alan Harper because in the episode "Slowly and In A Circular Fashion" he received $50,000 a year (due to owning part of Walden's company) and yet in "Mr. Hose Says "Yes"" he says going to a hotel requires money and I have none." It could be that he has already spent all of that money.
- Also in "Slowly and In A Circular Fashion" he received his name on the deed to the house and yet in "Mr. Hose Says "Yes"" Zoey snidely tells him "Thank you for letting Walden use his own house for a change." It's possible that she does not know his name is on the deed.
- One of Alan's worst moments of cheapness happens during the episode "Why We Gave Up Women". As he was having a heart attack, and Walden had dropped one hundred dollars, he crawled to it even when he was having the heart attack.
- His name is an anagram for Anal, which Charlie once used to describe his personality.
- Herb and Walden are the only two characters who consider Alan a friend.
- Only in the first season he never talked about his cheapness.
- He wears tighty-whities.
- Alan is the only character on the show to appear in every episode of the series.
- In "Bite Me, Supreme Court", it was found out Alan took ballet when he was 14.
- Two and a Half Men was similar to the Odd Couple, Alan was similar to Felix Unger, in that he was a neat freak and obsessive compulsive, except for the fact that he was cheap and annoying. When he was rooming with Walden and his brother Charlie, very girl saw him as annoying and cheap.
- Alan is right-handed.
- He is lactose intolerant, meaning that he can't eat dairy based products, such as milk.
- Berta states that Alan has “phone cahones”, which means that he can stand up for himself on the phone but face-to-face, he chickens out.