Wiksteria Lane

Karen McCluskey had never been sure what her neighbors thought of her. Did they see her as merely a babysitter? An entertaining source for gossip? Or just the mean old lady who lived down the street?
Mary Alice Young

Karen Bender (née Simonds, previously McCluskey) was Wisteria Lane's local babysitter who loved to cause trouble. She was originally introduced as Lynette Scavo's nemesis, though she eventually grows to become friends with the other housewives. She is mainly referred to as Mrs. McCluskey throughout the series.


Early Life[]

Karen McCluskey moved to Wisteria Lane with her husband Gilbert in 1977 (“Give Me That Blame”). They had a son together who died when he was a little boy. After her husband died, she hid his body in her basement freezer in order to keep collecting his pension checks. Right before he died, Karen discovered Gilbert had a lover during the course of their marriage, and decided to keep his checks as retaliation and revenge.

Season 1[]

Don’t do me any favours. You don’t even like me. I don’t want you doing anything because you feel obligated.

Lynette is surprised when Porter, Preston and Parker give her a present she actually likes - a beautiful flower pot they made for her. But then Mrs. McCluskey claims it's hers, and she has proof - there's a price tag on the bottom. Lynette lets the boys off with a warning, if they swear never to do it again and write apology notes. Then Mrs. McCluskey accuses the boys of stealing her clock. The war escalates when Mrs. McCluskey runs over one of


Karen with the Scavo boys.

the boys' bikes with her car and Lynette retaliates by throwing eggs. Tom discovers a treasure trove of stolen things in the boys' playhouse, including the clock. The boys go over to apologize in person and Mrs. McCluskey shows an unexpectedly soft side when she reveals that her own son died when he was 12. It's a side Lynette, who waited outside, will never see. ("Love is in the Air")

Karen collapses, in front of her house, after taking too much medication. Lynette reluctantly calls the paramedics and then rides along to the hospital. To thank Lynette for saving her life, Mrs. McCluskey presents her with a Tiffany lamp. But it comes with strings attached - now she wants to come over to chat and to tag along on Lynette's errands. Lynette responds by handing back the lamp. The next day, Lynette signs for a package for Mrs. McCluskey when she doesn't answer the door. Lynette lets herself in and finds that the older woman can't open her bottles of arthritis medicine. Mrs. McCluskey tells her not to help if it's only because she feels obligated since they're not friends. Lynette sternly tells her life is obligation - and she'll be over in the morning to take her to the pharmacy so she can get child-proof bottles. Then she takes back the Tiffany lamp. ("Live Alone and Like It")

Season 2[]

Here's the big news. Parker offered me a fudgesicle if I would show him my vagina.

Lynette worries that her twin sons, Porter and Preston will fall prey to a stranger if one ever approaches. Lynette stages Stu from work to show up and drive away with Porter and Preston. With Lynette and Tom watching at a distant, Stu approaches the boys and bribes them with candy which they fall for and jump into the car. Unexpectedly, Karen sees the entire scene from her window and begins to tase Stu. Lynette runs out of the house to help Stu and tries to shoo McCluskey away. ("The Sun Won't Set")

Bree collapses on the front lawn and falls asleep only to be discovered by Mrs. McCluskey the following morning. Andrew then wakes his mother up by turning on the sprinkler system. Bree wakes up instantly and has a hangover from the evening prior. Later, Mrs. McCluskey tells Lynette she saw Bree drunk and that if she was the babysitter she would never be drunk while watching someone else's children. Lynette refuses to believe this. ("Thank You So Much")

After a day of babysitting Lynette's kids, Mrs. McCluskey tells Lynette that Parker asked her to show him her vagina, so that he could put a sunflower seed in there and see if a baby would grow. McCluskey advises Lynette to tell him that sex is dirty and shame him. Lynette refuses to do it initially. But then, when Lynette involuntarily shames him, she instantly finds a new obsession for Parker to fret over: a puppy. ("Don't Look at Me")

Lynette places the children in Mrs. McCluskey's care and follows Tom to Atlantic City. Later, after discover the true, Lynette returns to Fairview to gather the children and leave. Then, Tom returns to an empty home and asks Mrs. McCluskey where his family is. Mrs. McCluskey explains that Lynette followed him to Atlantic City and knows about his woman. ("No One is Alone")

Karen, with Carlos, Tom and Gabrielle (as well as other residents of the neighborhood) looking on, when Betty is arrested. She looks at them and flashes a nervous smile, before looking away. ("Remember, Part 1") When Matthew's body is taken out Bree's house by the paramedics, Karen's head is seen, briefly. ("Remember, Part 2")

Season 3[]

I know you people have been talking about me, and I guess the only way to shut you up is to come clean. So...Who would like to hear the gruesome details?

Edie has been trying to sell the Young house for six months now. Karen is telling to people about the freak accident that happened in this house, including the discovery of two fingers belonging to Felicia Tilman, who was never found. Edie knocks her out of the house. Karen replies with "Maybe you'll have an easier time with the Applewhite house and that rec room in the basement." ("Listen to the Rain on the Roof")

Lynette, Gabrielle, Susan, and Karen are sitting around an outdoor patio table, chatting. Lynette announces Tom wants to open a pizzeria. Lynette hopes Tom will realize it's a bad idea. But, Karen answers that's never gonna happen, because he is a man. Then, she explains her husband sold insurance for thirty-six years, and one day, he woke up and decided he wanted to move to Paris and paint naked ladies. Karen wasn't okay with him, and Gilbert despised her, for the rest of his life. And because she slept with his brother, too. ("Nice She Aint")

When Ian knocks on her door, Susan drops behind her car to hide and Mrs. McCluskey, who's walking by, stops to look at Susan. Susan puts her finger to her mouth to request silence. But, Karen asks what Susan is doing. Ian hears her, and Susan is discovered. Mrs. McCluskey laughs and walks away. ("Sweetheart, I Have to Confess")

At Gabrielle’s house, Karen rings her doorbell and Gabrielle answers. Karen tells Gabrielle to turn on the TV, Gabrielle says it’s on the fritz. She then tells her to turn on the radio, but Gabrielle says she should’ve come ten minutes earlier. Karen then tells Gaby about Carolyn at the supermarket and says she has hostages. Gabby is shocked and then Karen announces that everyone is watching it at Bree’s house. However, as she’s talking Karen notices the destruction in Gaby’s house. Karen asks if everything’s okay, but Gaby says everything’s fine. However, Carlos then walks behind Gabrielle and he starts to rev a chainsaw. Gabrielle then excuses herself and then chases after Carlos; Karen watches through the window in the door. Later, at Bree's house, Karen is shocked, like the other persons, when she learned a gunshot was heard. ("Bang")

Mike is discharged from the hospital. Edie cleans his house and discovers Karen has been stealing his lawn mower. Mike is still the suspect of Monique’s murder. Detective Ridley gets a warrant to search his house. He is looking for Mike’s toolbox, which he can’t find. Later, Mrs. McCluskey gives the toolbox back to Mike and tells him to clean his wrench. Karen was hiding it as a thank you for Mike saving her life. ("Children and Art")

Lynette is sitting outside her house on a bench, talking with Mrs. McCluskey. She shares her suspicions, about Art, with Karen. Karen believes her and she decides to do something herself. She picks up a cell phone and dials a number. ("Beautiful Girls")

The residents of Wisteria Lane have a holiday block party. Art dresses as Santa Claus, but all the parents won't let their kids near him, because Mrs. McCluskey has spread the word that he's a pedophile. The tomorrow, Mike is arrested, for Monique's murder. Susan and Bree walk over to Mrs. McCluskey, who's on the sidewalk in front of Mike's house, and ask her what is going on. Later, Lynette asks why the neighborhood women making protest signs. Karen answers it's because Art is a menace. She says too Lynette is their hero, because she discovered Art's true character. ("The Miracle Song")

Lynette is speaking with Karen about Tom and the liquor support and that she intends to call him and help him but Mrs McCluskey advices her to do it without letting Tom know about it. ("Not While I'm Around") Mrs. McCluskey is babysitting Kayla. The doorbell rings, and it is Ed, dropping by a gift basket for Lynette. Mrs. McCluskey goes along with the lie and tells him she's at a doctor appointment. But Kayla, continuing to hate Lynette, tells Ed the truth. ("Come Play Wiz Me")

Mrs. McCluskey is babysitting the kids but Lynette couldn't relax because she kept thinking about the fight she had with Tom. Karen says Tom tries to be romantic. She also mentions her husband, for each wedding anniversary, bought her an appliance. But, the last one, he gave her a vacuum cleaner. Karen adds Gilbert died, two weeks later, and she didn't cry. ("My Husband, the Pig")

Mrs. McCluskey baby-sits Tom and the kids while Lynette's out at work desperately trying to find a good assistant manager for the restaurant. Tom becomes a burden for Mrs. McCluskey and she takes the kids to the pizzeria, telling Lynette she quits. Later, Tom phones Mrs. McCluskey and apologizes for his behavior, and she accepts, and when Mary Alice closes the episode with the theme of passion, we see the body of Mrs. McCluskey's husband lying at the bottom of her freezer in the basement. ("Liaisons")

The power goes out on Wisteria Lane. Karen has a problem with her husband's corpse in the freezer. When she takes a fall down the basement stairs she fractures a rib and is taken away by paramedics. At first, she refuses because she's worried about Gilbert thawing, but as she's wheeled into the ambulance, the power comes back on, reassuring her it will be all right. The tomorrow, Tom and Lynette are arguing, and when Parker asks for ice cream and they say no, they decide to go to Karen's to take some. While down there, Parker discovers the body and asks his mother to visit Mrs. McCluskey in the hospital. While visiting, Parker reveals he saw the body, and she explains everything to him. While looking after the house, Ida Greenberg notices a strange smell and also discovers Gilbert's body, and Mrs. McCluskey awakens in the hospital to have two officers standing by her bed. Later, Karen is left alone in the dark in a prison cell. ("God, That's Good")

Susan, Lynette and Gabrielle talk about Karen, and her husband in the freezer. They think Karen has killed Gilbert. Later, Parker goes see Karen and tells her that she has to come back and baby sits them because the new sitter stinks. Then, Parker tells her that if she just told people about her husband everything could be fine. She tells Parker to look at some women and tells him that nothing she could say would stop them from gossiping. Later, some kids are looking at Karen’s house and one of them goes and spells WITCH on her front door. Karen gets out of the house and kids all run away. Parker tells her that everything would be OK if she just told people what she told him because she can make them stop. Finally, Karen decides to tell the true to the other women. Then, Lynette asks Karen if she wants come back and babysitting the kids. She accepts. ("Gossip")

Karen is a guest at Gabrielle and Victor's wedding. She asks Gabrielle if she heard the brouhaha between Carlos and Edie. But, Gaby answers she doesn't care, because she is filled with love and she can forgive anyone anything. ("Getting Married Today")

Season 4[]

Face it, the only time we're friends is when you need something.

The night after Gaby's wedding, Karen orders Carlos to take in the trash cans. Back inside, Edie's plan backfires and she really does hang herself. Carlos and Karen see Edie's lifeless body hanging through her bedroom window. One month later, at Katherine's BBQ, Karen compliments Katherine on her new husband. Then, Karen asks why Katherine left so suddenly Wisteria Lane but Katherine excuses herself so she doesn't have to answer. Later, Ida and Karen call her over saying they've saved her a place at their table. Susan starts crying and runs away, because she thinks she is in menopause, and she is too young for that. ("Now You Know")

Dylan returns home and passes by Mrs. McCluskey's house. Karen strikes up a conversation with Dylan about how she used to always see her playing on her tricycle around the neighborhood with her father close behind. Dylan is surprised, because she thought her father left her mother when she was a baby. ("Smiles of a Summer Night")

Gabrielle, Susan, Katherine, Bree, and Karen are startled by the large, unattractive sculpture on Bob and Lee’s front lawn. They consider using the services of the neighborhood homeowners association, though it hasn’t been active since Mary Alice’s death. The women confront Bob and Lee. Bob’s respectful towards the women while Lee’s quick to snap, and say it’s not going anywhere. The women agree to bring back the homeowners association. ("Art Isn't Easy")

When Bree notices Danielle's presence, at Bob and Lee's Halloween party, Karen, disguised in witch, goes see Danielle, with a glass in her hand. Karen asks what is her costume, and Danielle answers she don't think our Lord is amused if Karen makes light of witchcraft. She adds Karen might use a coaster, and leaves. Then, Karen says to Bree that Danielle is disgusted with her. ("Now I Know, Don't Be Scared")

During Gaby's goodbye, Karen alerts the girls that a tornado is on its way. Lynette asks Karen if she, her husband and her five children can stay in her basement, and she reluctantly agrees. In the basement, Ida is here with her cat. Lynette wants Karen to kick Toby out of the basement because Tom is extremely allergic, but Karen takes Ida's side, and refuses. Tom is having trouble breathing so Lynette smuggles the cat upstairs. Karen catches her and Lynette wants to know how she can choose a cat over Tom, especially after all their years of friendship. Karen insists they are not friends since Lynette never asks her over unless she wants something. The door blows open and the cat runs out, so Karen runs after it and Lynette tries to get her back inside. Karen sees the ominous funnel cloud at the end of the street. They try to reenter Karen's house, but a barbecue pit and other rubble blows in the way. They rush into Lynette's house and into the bathroom to hide in the tub under a mattress. After the tornado, Lynette crawls through the mountains of debris in the street and screams in horror when she sees that Mrs. McCluskey's house is no longer standing and has been completely demolished. ("Something's Coming")

Lynette is afraid for her family’s life and her friends comfort her. Karen hopes for a miracle. But, when the Scavo family is saved, Karen asks Tom where Ida is, and he shakes his head silently, letting everyone know she didn't make it. Karen feels saddened by this, and Edie quietly grabs her hand in a compassionate act. Three days later, Lynette and Karen are packing and cleaning Ida’s home. Ida wanted her ashes scattered at the nearby stadium, because she was a pro baseball player. When Ida's family come, Karen asks if she can live in Ida's house, because her house is demolished. They accept. This night, Lynette and Karen arrive at the field. They are prepared to spill the ashes. Mrs. McCluskey recites a touching poem and then they go to leave to spread Ida's ashes. A security guard catches them and Lynette keeps tossing the ashes as she runs - before they are both caught. Lynette and Karen have come back to Wisteria Lane. Lynette wants to get to know Mrs. McCluskey better and they’re going to start now. ("Welcome to Kanagawa")

Karen is seen, when she leaves her house, with her Bible in her hands, and goes to the church. ("Sunday") Karen is looking for Toby. Bree decides to help her. She finds Toby in front of Edie's house. At this moment, Bree notices Edie kisses Orson. ("Opening Doors")

Karen sees the quarrel between Edie and Bree, when she prunes her hedges. Later, in the street, Katherine tells Wayne that Dylan isn't really his daughter, which angers Wayne, who makes a move to beat her. However, Katherine waves at Mrs. McCluskey, who was nearby, and Wayne realizes he can't do anything to her with people watching. ("Mother Said") Karen is a guest at Bob and Lee's wedding. At a moment, when Bree thinks she was abandoned by Katherine, Karen tells her that she just saw Katherine an hour ago, at her house. ("Free")

Season 5[]

Karen McCluskey is at the welcome home party for Edie Williams. Edie introduces her to Edie's new husband, Dave Williams. Karen and Dave smile and shake hands because Edie had mentioned to Dave how Karen was her best friend on the lane. ("You're Gonna Love Tomorrow")

Edie decides to move out as she is tired of Karen's attitude towards her. She insulted her with a crude joke earlier. The next day, Dave pays Mrs. McCluskey a visit and demands an apology to Edie. Karen refuses. Dave then tells her that Karen must be lonely when he notices she talks to Toby like a person. Toby is found missing after that and Dave offers to help her find the cat in condition that she apologize to Edie. Karen finally did, and tells Edie to inform Dave that they have reconciled. Later, she found Toby back in her house. Karen ponders about Dave's true motives and teams up with Katherine to learn more about him. ("We're So Happy You're So Happy")

Mrs. McCluskey, still suspicious of Dave, joins with Katherine to discover more about him. They invite Edie for lunch to fish some details about Dave. Mrs. McCluskey very blatantly asks questions about Dave's past, but even Edie doesn't know herself. At Danielle's welcome home dinner, Dave is reluctant to answer to Katherine. Then, Edie continues questioning him. Dave tells he didn't go to college and that his dad had drinking problems. Edie later apologizes, and she blames her questioning him on Mrs. McCluskey's keen interest. Then, Dave feeds the idea into Edie's head that Mrs. McCluskey may be starting to go senile. ("Kids Ain't Like Everybody Else")

After learning of Mrs. McCluskey's upcoming 70th birthday, Dave suggests that they throw her a birthday party but have Susan host it. Edie's job is to distract McCluskey with drinks. While she's out, Dave moves things around in her house. When she comes home and finds what's happened, she goes to her party with a baseball bat and tries to attack Dave. She's taken away by an ambulance, with everyone thinking she's senile. Before she's driven away, Dave tells her he's sorry. ("Mirror, Mirror")

At the hospital, Mrs. McCluskey tells Edie that she had a bad reaction to her new medication and now she'll be staying with her sister for a while. McCluskey calls her sister Roberta and tells her to come over. She talks to Roberta about investigating Dave, and as Roberta works for the phone company, they can begin their investigations there. Later, Roberta informs her sister she found out that Dave's hiding something about who he's been calling. ("Mirror, Mirror")

Karen and Roberta investigate Dave's background. Roberta finds out through his phone records that there is a


Karen and her sister Roberta.

number that he calls repeatedly every month. They discover that particular number belongs to Dr. Heller, a criminal psychologist. They attempt to call Dr. Heller posing as an insurance company, planning to get any information from Dr. Heller but failed. ("What More Do I Need?")

Mrs. McCluskey and Roberta track down Dave's phone calls and find out that once a month Dave calls Dr. Heller. Karen and Roberta decide to make a visit to this Dr. Heller person hoping to find more about Edie's mysterious husband. ("City on Fire")

Mrs. McCluskey and Roberta visit Dr. Heller's office, but after a long wait the receptionist informs the women that Dr. Heller is missing. McCluskey thinks it may be connected to Dave, but Roberta is tired of investigating and tells her sister she's through. They just miss hearing Dave call in to refill his prescription. McCluskey returns to Wisteria Lane and Dave sees she's back as he's leaving. ("Home is the Place")

Eli Scruggs, the neighborhood handy man, is at Susan's house when he is approached by an angry Karen. McCluskey is annoyed that Eli has sent out cards to everyone in the neighborhood announcing his retirement, because she took a long time to trust him. He told her that somebody will replace him and she wishing him good luck. ("The Best Thing That Ever Could Have Happened")

At the party, Susan shows them the painting but is surprised that its gone so when Mrs. McClusky calls Katherine over she explains that it broke when she dusted it. Susan chooses to believe but goes to check the garage anyway, and finds the painting in perfect condition. ("Crime Doesn't Pay")

Edie is out of paper so she calls Karen to see if she has any fax paper but when she doesn't. Edie tells her she will go to the store tomorrow and asks Karen if she needs anything, when her list becomes too long she tells Karen she will just call her from the store. The next day, Edie tells Karen that Dave lost his wife and 3-year-old daughter which makes Karen sorry she ever doubted him. Karen invites her over for drinks, which postpones the fax from coming through again. Edie finally puts the paper in and receives the article about Mike. ("A Spark. To Pierce the Dark.")

Karen is, with her neighbors, in circle around Edie, when she died. Two days after Edie's death, Dave asks Bree, Lynette, Gabrielle, Susan and Karen to take Edie's ashes to her son, Travers. They housewives seem reluctant at first and they clearly don't want to do it, but Susan agrees on behalf of the five women. Later, on the road, when Susan pulls over on the side of the road, she asks if anyone knows how to change a tire, and with that, everyone looks at Karen. A little while later, Karen is raising the car with a jack. At Travers' university, Karen explains to Travers that Edie always loved him. This night, at Wisteria Lane, Karen tells them to wait as they need to plan what to do with Edie’s ashes, because Travers says that the girls should take them, as they were Edie’s best friends. Bree asks if they have to plan it tonight as they’re all tired. Karen then says they’ll all talk tomorrow. Later, at her house, Karen heads towards the door with the ashes, and as she closes the door, she looks out onto the street, and an idea suddenly hits her. She then looks at the ashes and tells Edie that she’s “subtle as always”. The next morning, the five girls go to spread Edie’s ashes around Wisteria Lane. ("Look Into Their Eyes and You See What They Know")

While driving Karen to the hospital, Susan runs into Jackson who wants to talk to her over dinner. ("Bargaining") Dr. Heller's receptionist calls Roberta and informs her that Dr. Heller is dead so she immediately goes over to Karen's and they know that Dave was the one who killed him. Roberta wants to go to the police but Karen knows they need evidence so they decide to break into Edie's house. ("Everybody Says Don't")

Karen and Roberta break into Edie's house and while searching through his briefcase, they find the name "David Dash" on the pill bottles. Two investigators show up asking to speak to Dave and catch Karen and Roberta inside the house. The detectives got confirmation from the receptionist that David Dash was a patient there and is the same one whose wife and daughter died in the car crash. Karen tells them that she remembers that crash because her neighbors, Mike and Susan, were in that crash so Roberta tells them that is weird and wonders why he would move onto the same street as the people who killed his family. ("If It's Only in Your Head")

Season 6[]

Gabrielle and Karen are talking in the car about Karen's new boyfriend, Roy, and they see that Ana is washing Carlos' car. Gabrielle thanks her but she knows that Ana wants something. When Ana walks back inside, Karen tells Gabrielle that it is a downer of raising a teenage girl. Later, Mrs. McCluskey is walking home and notices that Julie and Danny are arguing outside Susan's house. She knows something is up and she walks back home, in suspicion. ("Nice is Different Than Good")

Karen watches Roy

Karen and Roy having sex

Karen is the first to leave her house that morning, it is revealed that she has been involved in a grossing relationship with Roy Bender and has a plan to tell him that she loves him on the walk. Once she does she expects a reply but when the time comes for him to give her one, he sees Julie's unconscious body in Susan's garden. He goes to help her and Karen has the sudden urge to scream. The scream is heard by each of the housewives and everyone on the street is soon alerted to Julie's attack. Later in the episode, Karen brings up to Roy what she had said earlier, he replies with: "If you got hit by a bus, I'd really miss you", this is not good enough for her and threatens him with showering alone that evening, this forces him to confess his true feelings and tell her that he loves her. She is also contemplating whether or not to tell the police that she saw Danny and Julie having a heated argument the night before and that he is a possible suspect to her attack. ("Being Alive")

Karen talks with Susan Delfino, Lynette Scavo, Gaby Solis, Bree Hodge, Angie Bolen, and Mona Clarke all discuss the second murder that happened recently and Karen tells them that they should take a self-defense class. At the class, Karen and Gaby are partners. Karen continually flips Gaby over and beats her up. ("Would I Think of Suicide")

Karen was at the Christmas party with her boyfriend, Roy Bender. When the plane started crashing through Wisteria Lane, Karen and Roy got up and ran. ("Boom Crunch")

While waiting to find out how Karl Mayer turned out after the plane crash, Karen comforts Susan and tells her that ever since he cheated on Susan, she never spoke to him again and hated his guts. Then Karen confesses that she was in the chapel a few minutes before praying for him. After Karl passes away, Karen is seen at the funeral. ("If...")

With Orson getting out of the hospital, and Bree divorcing him, Orson rents a downstairs bedroom at Karen and Roy's house. Bree see's Roy building a ramp and Karen watching so she rushes over. Karen tells Bree that they need the money and Orson needs a place to stay. Bree asks Orson where he will get the money from and Karen tells Bree from the divorce settlement. Bree tells them that she has changed her mind and will drag the divorce out and that it could be years before Orson see's a penny. Karen then kicks Orson out because he can't pay the rent. ("You Gotta Get a Gimmick")

Karen starts visiting Katherine Mayfair at the mental hospital she is locked up in and Karen asks when Katherine is coming home. Katherine tells Mrs. McCluskey that she is never going back because no one could forgive her about almost destroying Bree's business, trying to ruin Mike and Susan's marriage, and having Mike arrested for a crime he did not commit. Later on, Karen comes back with Lynette, Bree, Susan, and Gaby and they all make up and Katherine decides to come home. ("How About a Friendly Shrink?")

Karen meets the new resident of Wisteria Lane at Katherine's welcome home party. Later on, Karen talks with Robin, the stripper and asks Robin how she likes living on the lane. Robin says she likes it and Karen tells that she is glad and the two neighbors part ways. ("Lovely")

Karen and Roy invite the Delfino's over for brunch where Susan pushes Roy into proposing to Karen. Karen gladly excepts but Roy isn't to sure. After Roy kisses Susan on the lips because he hates being committed, Susan is about to tell Karen but Karen tells Susan she has lung cancer and that she and Roy aren't getting married until she beats the cancer. Roy then tells Susan that he loves Karen and he is gonna make things work. ("The Chase")

Two episodes later, it is revealed Karen has beat cancer and the neighborhood throws a party for her. At the party, Karen and Roy tell everyone that anyone can get lung cancer and they freak out some people. At the end of the episode, Karen gives Katherine some advice that if she is gay then either she shouldn't care what people thinks, or she should just move. Karen and Katherine have a friendly hug but Karen pulls away saying that she doesn't want to get a reputation and Katherine smiles. ("My Two Young Men")

Season 7[]

Karen McCluskey is shocked when she see's the former neighbor, Paul Young walk out of Susan Delfino's house. Karen goes to find Susan, Lynette Scavo, Bree Van de Kamp, and Gabrielle Solis to let them know. ("Remember Paul?")

Karen meets Bree, Andrew, and Lynette at the hospital when Bree accidentally hits Juanita Solis with her car. Karen is there to comfort the Solises and then Paul comes in. Karen tells Paul he doesn't need to hang around. Paul tells them that they should pray. Paul holds Karen's hand and they pray. After he lets go, Karen is furious that he touched her. Bree talks to Karen, Bob, and Lee about Juanita's health and Bob and Lee argue. Karen asks them when their gonna kiss and make up but Bob and Lee say they won't. Karen, Bree, Bob, and Lee then see a confused women with a suitcase and fish bowl with a goldfish walking up the street. The four people find out that the women is Paul's new wife, Beth Young. Karen goes to Bree's house later to return a rake that Bree's ex-husband, Orson let her borrow. Karen asks Bree where her hot, young contractor is. Bree tells Karen she fired him because of her sexual urges. Karen tells Bree not to care about it and to do what her instinct is. ("You Must Meet My Wife")

Karen is taking a walk through the lane and Beth asks Karen why everyone hates Paul. Karen says because Paul killed an innocent women. Beth corrects by saying he didn't kill Felicia Tillman because she was caught alive. Karen tells Beth that people think Paul killed Felicia's sister, Martha Huber. ("Truly Content")

Karen is sitting on her porch, drinking a beer, when Paul walks up to her, greeting her as he does so. She asks him what he wants and he points out that she's direct and that he loves that about her. Paul then asks Karen if she has any interest in selling her home, "Well, get ready to love me again, no." Karen bluntly tells him. "Aren't you tired of caring for this place? Big lawn and all these stairs?" Paul mentions, "Yeah, your concern is touching, what's your game here?" McCluskey asks, curious, "I just love this neighborhood so much, I would hate to see this house fall into the wrong hands after you're gone." Paul tells her. Karen tells him that she isn't going anywhere, "I hope you're right, but the years do have a way of flying by, and I thought you might wanna unload this place while you still have the upper hand." Paul says. "Upper hand?" Karen asks, "Yes, right now you're sharp as a tack, but one day, your hip will break, you'll suffer a massive stroke, and the doctors say you can no longer live on your own. And when that day comes, potential buyers who don't care about you like I do, and know that you're desperate, they'll smell the blood in the water." Paul explains. Karen threatens Paul that people will begin to smell his blood if he doesn't get off of her porch. Paul obliges and says that he didn't mean to upset her, he walks away, saying, "My offer still stands, as I said, it all comes from my great love for this beautiful neighborhood. Careful on those stairs now." Karen angrily watches as Paul walks away from her property. ("The Thing That Counts is What's Inside")

Karen, Gaby, and Lynette gossip as Emma Graham stares from afar not being noticed. At Emma Graham's concert, Karen and Lee walk over to Gaby who is sitting at the bar. Karen and Lee make fun of Gaby for getting a nose job when she was in her teens. ("Let Me Entertain You")

In Mary Alice Young's opening narration, Mary Alice reveals that Karen and Roy are now married which means they married off screen. ("A Humiliating Business")

Bree and her boyfriend Keith Watson have Keith's parents, Karen, and Roy over for Thanksgiving because the year before Bree promised Karen could come over for Thanksgiving the next year. At Thanksgiving dinner, Karen and Roy are entertained by the drama between Bree, and the Watson's. ("Sorry Grateful")

Paul tries to get Karen to sell her house to him but Karen refuses and tells him to leave. ("Pleasant Little Kingdom") The four housewives ask Karen if she plans on selling her house to Paul. Karen swears that she will never sell to Paul. Karen, along with rest of the lane is furious with Lee when he sells his house to Paul. When the riot starts on the lane with Paul and all the ex-cons, Lynette spots Karen laying down on the ground after being knocked over injured. ("Down the Block There's a Riot")

Gaby Solis visits Karen to asks for a menu to a Chinese restaurant Karen and Roy always talk about. Gaby see's Karen owns an old wooden doll and takes out her own. Karen gives Gaby the menu but starts to worry about her. Karen talks to Gaby's husband, Carlos about Gaby. ("I'm Still Here")

Lynette and Tom Scavo make their son's Preston and Porter Scavo move out, so they rent a room at Karen and Roy's house. Lynette is surprised to see Karen doing their laundry and making their food and cleaning their room. Lynette is surprised that Karen is okay with Porter and Preston bringing bimbos into her house. Karen says that when Roy is around young people, it pumps up Roy's energy and makes him good in the sack. Lynette gives Porter and Preston a bear jug and tells them to have a housewarming party. The following morning Karen returns Preston and Porter eagerly to Lynette's house holding them by the ears. ("Farewell Letter")

Karen goes to Bree's brunch when she is searching for a kidney for Susan. Karen is reluctant to get tested because she doesn't know how the surgery will turn out. Karen however gets tested and is not a match for Susan where as Bree Van de Kamp and Beth Young are. ("Searching")

Karen calls Bree over because her son, Andrew broke into Karen's house, drunk in the middle of the night. ("Everything's Different, Nothing's Changed") Susan picks up M.J. Delfino from Karen McCluskey's house because she babysat him. Felicia Tillman visits Karen which shocks her because she thought Felicia was in prison. Felicia says she was granted early parole. Felicia tells Karen that Paul abused and mistreated Beth and that was why she shot herself. Felicia also confesses that Beth is her daughter which shocks Karen even more. Felicia tells Karen to watch out for Paul because she doesn't want anything else to happen to someone since Mary Alice and Beth (Paul's former wives) both killed themselves. Karen goes back inside and Roy asks who that was. Karen says it was just an old friend. Roy says Karen looks like she just saw a ghost. ("The Lies Ill-Concealed")

It is shown that Karen keeps money hidden in an ornament. ("And Lots of Security...") Karen and Roy attend Susan's welcome home progressive dinner party. Roy complains to Karen about having to walk from Renee Perry's house to Lynette Scavo's house to Bree Van de Kamp's house and to Gaby Solis's house. When the neighborhood walks in on Bree and her boyfriend trying to get dressed after sex, Karen and Roy laugh. Karen and Renee are the only housewives that don't walk in on the murder Carlos commits while trying to protect Gaby. ("Come on Over for Dinner")

Season 8[]

Let me tell you about a neighborhood. It's not just a bunch of houses in the same place. It's a community. It's lives that are connected, people who care about each other. I know it sounds sappy, but damn it, it's true. And these wonderful people I've lived beside they're my family.

After Bree Van de Kamp gets a threatening letter, Karen pops up behind Bree and can see Bree is a bit on edge. Bree lies to Karen saying that she is fine and that she just got a letter. Karen understands and walks away. Renee Perry wants new neighbor, Ben Faulkner to ask her out so she pays Karen to act like a helpless old lady to win Bree's affections. ("Making the Connection")

Renee is suspicious about her new boyfriend Ben, thinking he might be having an affair. Renee walks into Karen's house asking if Ben has been "entertaining" lately. Karen says that Ben would never cheat and that he is a great guy. Renee says her ex-husband was a great guy until he cheated on her with his current wife, Tina. Karen tells Renee she’s not her biggest fan and doesn’t even like her, but nobody can argue that she isn’t hot. Renee is surprised, so Karen explains she’s a “knock out”. Karen points out Renee’s greatest assets and then compares her to herself 35 years ago. Renee is horrified to find out she’ll look like Karen in the future. Karen shrugs the remark off and explains that the other woman can’t “hold a candle to her”, implying she can’t be as gorgeous. Renee thanks Karen and Karen tells Renee to go and fight for her man. Renee leaves to prepare herself for the night, and as she leaves, she tells Karen she wish she’d knew her 35 years ago as they would’ve made a great team. Karen jokingly suggests a “threesome”, disgusting Renee. ("Putting It Together")

Gabrielle comes home, looking frustrated, and finds Mrs. McCluskey reading a magazine in the living room. She asks her about the girls, and Karen tells her Juanita demanded ice-cream for lunch. Gaby asks her what she said, and Karen responds, "She's bigger than me, what do you think I said?". Gaby gives her a reprehensive look, and Karen tells her not to, as she said she'd be home by feeding time. Gabrielle apologizes for that, saying she's been looking for her husband all over town, as he went AWOL from rehab the night before, and she has no idea where he is. Karen gets up and asks her if she wants a hint, which takes Gabrielle by surprise, leading her to ask her elderly neighbor if she knows where Carlos is. Karen tells her he came in about two hours before, drunk, and carried himself upstairs. Gaby rushes upstairs, saying "Karen, I don't know how to thank you", to which McCluskey replies, "I'm on a fixed income, let's use our imagination?". ("What's to Discuss, Old Friend?")

Bree answers the door to find Karen. Karen enters the house as she tells Bree that she’s angry. She then tells Bree that she needs help. Bree impatiently asks what with, so Karen explains that Helen Simpson decided to make the lemon bars for this year’s Church Bake Sale. She then tells Bree that she can’t compete with Helen because Helen uses real lemons. Bree asks what Karen uses, but all she says is that she’s on a fixed income. With that, Bree notices Don sneaking downstairs, behind Karen, naked, and she panics for a moment. Bree then tries to distract Karen, so she comfortingly says it must be hard having a fixed income. Karen asks what to do, so Bree asks if she’s considered “covering her lemons” (which was really directed to the naked Don). Don quietly grabs his underwear, and Karen becomes confused. Bree corrects herself and says Karen has the lemon bars covered and she assures Karen she’ll ask Helen to make something else. Bree then asks Karen to leave, but she reveals that she’s waiting for the naked man behind her to finish getting dressed (revealing she’d seen his reflection). Don suddenly apologizes to Bree, stating he had a meeting. As Don goes to get his trousers, Karen gives Bree a judgmental look. Bree tells her not to and explains that Don is a close friend. As Don returns, Bree says “see you later, Dan” as he exits to house, but he tells her his name is Don, making Bree hurry him out. Karen gives Bree a judgmental look again, so Bree explains she met Don when her car broke down near a bar. Karen asks about Greg, a man she saw leaving the other night, shocking Bree. Karen then worriedly asks Bree what’s wrong because she hasn’t been acting herself lately. Bree assures her she’s fine, then Karen notices a bottle of wine, but just takes Bree’s word for it. Karen then leaves the house, leaving an embarrassed and upset Bree. ("What's the Good of Being Good?")

Gaby Solis finds Roy in Wisteria Park with nothing except a suitcase and a fishing pole. Roy reveals to Gaby that he and Karen got into a fight and she kicked him out. Gaby lets Roy stay with her until Roy and Karen patch things up. Karen goes to Gaby's house with a peace offering for Roy. Karen baked Roy a pie. Gaby, gives the pie to her daughters instead because she doesn't want Roy to leave. Karen is at the hospital later on and the doctor tells her that her cancer has returned and she might not beat it this time. The doctor tells Karen that she'll need a lot of support from Roy but Karen confesses that she and Roy split. ("Get Out of My Life")

Gaby is tired of Roy and wants Karen to take him back. Gaby tries to plant flowers on Karen's porch saying that their from Roy. Karen says she saw Gaby cut them from Bree Van de Kamp's garden. Karen starts to have a heart attack so Gaby calls an ambulance. At the hospital, Gaby finds out from a doctor that Karen has brain cancer. Karen tells Gaby that she threw Roy out because she didn't want to make Roy go through watching another wife die. Gaby, however, tells Roy about Karen's cancer and Karen and Roy reconcile. ("She Needs Me")

Karen decides she doesn't want to lose to the cancer so she decides to commit suicide. Karen asks Roy to help kill herself but he refuses. Karen blackmails Bree to help her with a promise Bree made to Karen that if there was anything she needed then Bree would do it. When Bree keeps dragging out killing Karen, Karen lies behind Bree's car hoping to be run over but Bree see's Karen's feet. Karen later decide to bake a pie that Roy hates so he won't eat it. Karen fills the pie with sleeping pills and medicine. Bree has several slices so Karen starts to drive Bree to the hospital but Karen keeps stalling so Bree quickly drives. Karen is one of three who might have died in this episode, the other two were Juanita Solis and Mike Delfino but Mike was the one to die. ("You Take for Granted")

Karen attends Mikes funeral with her husband Roy. Karen comforts Lynette when her soon-to-be-ex-husband, Tom comes to the funeral with his girlfriend, Jane Carlson. Lynette tells Karen that she is hoping to win Tom back. Karen wishes Lynette good luck. ("Women and Death")

Karen decides to move into assisted living even though she would prefer to die at home. Susan, Lynette, Bree, and Gaby decide to take turns watching over Karen so she can die at home the way she wanted to. Roy tells the nurses to bring Karen's stuff back inside. While Gaby is taking her shift, Gaby and Carlos fight about the murder cover up and Carlos tells Gaby he is confessing the next day during Bree's trial. Karen hears all of this and is shocked and confused. The next day, at Bree's trial, Karen asks Bree's lawyer, Trip Weston to put her on the stand. Karen tells everyone that she killed Ramon Sanchez and not Bree because Karen knew that Alejandro abused Gaby as a child and she saw him lurking around Gaby's house so Karen did it in self-defense. Due to Karen's age and unhealthy condition, Karen and Bree are both not convicted. Afterwards, there is a party at one of the ladies houses, but Karen doesn't go because she fell asleep but Roy attends. ("Give Me the Blame")


Karen dies.

With Karen passing any day now, Bree helps Karen with her funeral preparations. Karen tells Bree she wants a record player with the record Wonderful, Wonderful to be played at her funeral. Bree has trouble finding the record and Karen see's that Bree is mad at her crush, Trip. Karen decides to mess with her neighbor's life one last time before dying and she gets Trip's number and asks for the record player. Trip finds the record and Karen tells Bree to give Trip a chance because he is a nice guy. Roy plays the record, Wonderful, Wonderful for Karen over and over again until Karen passes away. Roy calls Bree who is at Renee and Ben Faulkner's wedding. Bree and Trip rush to Karen's house and Bree breaks down into tears. While Karen dies, at the same time Julie Mayer has her baby and Renee and Ben are married.


Season 8[]

Karen's ghost watches Susan leave Wisteria Lane. ("Finishing the Hat")

When Susan Delfino decides to leave Wisteria Lane with her children, MJ Delfino and Julie Mayer, and granddaughter, Karen's ghost appeared alongside her son, in front of her old house, and they watched the family as they drove away from the lane and began their new lives together. ("Finishing the Hat")


  • After Season 5, Marc Cherry considered making a spin-off of Desperate Housewives that would star Mrs. McCluskey and her sister, Roberta. However the idea was nixed, possibly due to actress Kathryn Joosten's health. Karen instead became a series regular as of Season 6.
  • Cherry had agreed not to kill off Karen. However, possibly due to actress Kathryn Joosten's own losing battle with lung cancer and in the event of any future incarnations of the show, he decided to have the character die in the series finale.
  • Karen had battled cancer twice.
  • Karen tried to commit suicide in Season 8 Episode 16, and was one of the characters who was close to dying but it was the Mike Delfino character who was killed off.
  • Karen has lived on Wisteria Lane for 35 years.
  • Karen's was the final death of the show.
  • Kathryn Joosten passed away from lung cancer just weeks after her character's onscreen death on June 2, 2012.


Gallery of photographic stills released to promote the character.