Vanessa Baxter (born 1964) is the wife of Mike Baxter and mother of Kristin Baxter, Mandy Baxter-Anderson, and Eve Baxter. She is portrayed by Nancy Travis and first appeared in the series' pilot episode.

The matriarch of the Baxter family, Vanessa is a dedicated wife to Mike, caring mother/grandmother to her children and grandchildren respectively, and a wisecracking geologist. After taking a break from her career to raise her three children, Vanessa returned to work and received a promotion shortly after, leaving less time for her family, less patience for their problems, and no patience for Mike's "solutions".

In seasons 3 to 4, she decided to leave geology and start going for a teaching degree. She was excited about her daughter marrying and is still as loving as ever.

Political views

Vanessa's political views were left ambiguous until Season 5, where it is revealed that she donated money to the Hillary Clinton campaign, but mostly because she believes that it would help improve women's causes. This gives her a somewhat strawman feminist side. She can not even go one night without a glass of wine in her hand.


  • She and Mike are the only characters to appear in every episode.
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