I Never Promised You An Olive Garden is the 9th episode of the second season and the 31st overall.

While having dinner with friends, Will and Grace get acquainted with an eccentric couple. Jack is terrified when Karen asks him to come with her to a meeting at her stepchildren's school.



During dinner with Rob and Ellen, Will and Grace befriend Kai and Naomi, a hip couple whose company they actually prefer more. They invite Will and Grace to an underground club, and then later to an Elvis Costello concert; however these plans clash with Rob and Ellen's dinner plans at the Olive Garden. Grace lies to Ellen and tells them that Will is sick so they can go out with Kai and Naomi.

Thinking they have evaded trouble and leave to go clubbing, Will and Grace run into Rob and Ellen who have brought soup for Will. They try to explain that they occasionally want something more exciting to do with their friends but Rob and Ellen storm off offended by this.

After a night of hard clubbing, Will and Grace are badly hungover and realize they don't have the stamina to keep up with Kai and Naomi's lifestyle. Guiltily, they make amends with Rob and Ellen and dine with them at the Olive Garden and begrudgingly apologize.

Little Jack McFairyland

Jack accompanies Karen to a parent teacher conference and encounters John, a ten-year old aspiring performer and playwright who is being bullied. Jack is able to overcome his childhood fears of bullies and scares them off, and is able to give the John the title for his one-man show, Just John, an identical concept of Just Jack. Karen on the other hand, is dismayed that her stepchildren have made the honor roll.





  • This episode was originally supposed to air on October 19, 1999 as the season's third episode, but it was pre-empted by Major League baseball and ended up airing on December 14, 1999.
  • The title is a reference to country song (I Never Promised You) a Rose Garden (1970).
  • Ellen mentions that she and Rob have been friends with Will and Grace for 15 years, meaning they became friends shortly before starting college in 1985.
  • This is the only episode to feature a scene in Rob and Ellen's apartment.
  • A 13-year-old Penn Badgley appears as one of the bullies at the school. He would later gain recognition for his role in the teen series Gossip Girl (2007–12).

Cultural references

  • Will mentions running into rock singer Peter Gabriel at the underground club, and remarks "talk about shocking the monkey", a reference to Gabriel's 1982 song Shock the Monkey.
  • Planning to pose as members of the press, Will tells Grace that she should pretend to be from "Naugahyde Weekly", making fun of her leather outfit. Naugahyde is an American brand of artificial leather.
  • After lying to their friends to go to Elvis Costello's concert, Will and Grace sing and dance to Costello's Pump It Up (1978).
  • While in the middle of the repartee with his friends, Will says "and I'll be in Scotland 'afore ye'", a line from the traditional Scottish song The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond.
  • At the school, Karen says that after she buys the school a new Science wing, "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo! Everybody's happy!". This is a reference to the phrase the fairy godmother says (and sings) in the animated film Cinderella (1950) before she uses magic.


Why can't life be like this? Why can't they bring around cart with guys on little plates? That way you could sample a little, before you committed to a whole one. This one's too spicy, this one's too mealy. I'm gonna hate myself in the morning for eating that one. Will

Ellen:Why do we have to sit with all the weirdos?
Grace:No, it's fun. It's family style.
Will:Yeah, it's family style! Later, the waiters come over and tell you and tell you what a disappointment you are to them.
Grace:Kai has been arrested with Greenpeace three times! I wanna get arrested.
Jack and Karen:Go outside in that outfit.
Karen:Why is she always hanging around here?
Jack:She does whatever Will does. He would be the alpha cow.
about Grace in the office
Grace:They're gonna need toilet paper!
Will:Ok, You get the toilet paper!
Grace:You get my jacket!
Will:And I'll be in Scotland 'afore ye!

I thought I could handle being here, but it's too much. Oh, I'm having post-traumatic stress disorder! This was my 'Nam, man! Jackat the elementary school

This macho bully schoolyard crap is so 1983 I could vomit. Now, scram! Jackfacing his childhood fears

Who cares about dodge ball? You ever see that on a résumé: "Special skills: Dodge ball"? That's about as useful as American history. Jack

Who'd have thought that after 2 a.m., Tiki Donuts becomes a Latino drag queen bar? Will

You call me down to this godforsaken place, to tell me my kids made the honor roll?! Honey, my time is precious! Call me when one of them gives birth at the prom! Karen

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