Northern Exposure Wiki
Northern Exposure Wiki
Ed Chigliak
Played by Darren E. Burrows
Gender Male
Occupation Gofer
Family Pete Jarvis (father)[1]
half siblings
Nationality Tlingit
First appearance "Pilot"
Last appearance "Tranquility Base"

Ed Chigliak is a denizen of Cicely, Alaska.


was born in Alaska to a Caucasian mother and a Native American father. He was abandoned as an orphan shortly after his birth and was raised by an Tlingit tribe. As the series opens he is 18 years old, lives in a boarding house, and works for Maurice Minnifield as a gofer (Ed has been supported by Maurice since age 12).[2] Ed is perhaps Joel's closest friend as he frequently serves as a confidant. Ed also enjoys spending time with Ruth-Anne.[3]

Ed occasionally receives visits from a spirit guide named "One Who Waits"[4][1] and from the personification of his low self-esteem.[5][6] Ed also has an allergy.[7]


He is not one to show much emotion. When he is uncomfortable, he simply becomes nervous and runs away. One exception is when he walked out on Maurice.

He is amiable, but somewhat slow at understanding what people want of him. [8] [9] He can be tactless, and often forgets social conventions, such as knocking before entering.[10]

However, he is intelligent, and has an amazing memory for facts. He enjoys reading the telephone directory.


Ed and One Who Waits asking the spirit of the wind where Ed's parents are in "The Big Kiss"

Ed tries to find his parents.[4] The tribe elders say his father's last name is Smith. One Who Waits tries to help him but doesn't succeed. However, later in the series, One Who Waits comes back and takes Ed to his real father, a construction worker named Pete Jarvis. Pete has additional children, but Ed did not meet them be cause Northern Exposure was canceled. [1]


Aside from doing odd jobs for Maurice, Ed starts working in Ruth-Anne's general store in season 3. [3] As the series progresses, He helps Marilyn take over the Doctor's office, He does construction work, [1] becomes a shaman-in-training, [11] works at KBHR, [12] [13] tries being a private investigator, [14] and works in the movie theater. [15]


Ed tries his hand at a number of different hobbies over the course of the series. Aside from filmmaking, he also detects bears, detects other people's visions, [16] learns to make wooden flutes, raised an abandoned baby crane named Princess, and has 'an extensive mosquito collection'. [17]


Ed loves movies and has an encyclopedic knowledge of them. He takes to 16mm film-making (with a Paillard Bolex H16 16mm Cine Camera)[18] early in the series, and likes to film anything.

Ed has made at least three movies:

Ed has also filmed:

  • Mimes of the Mummenschanz theatrical group[23]
  • Mike Monroe's pesticide information for his documentary series Apocalypse Now on "the end of life and the world as we know it", only it doesn't turn out well because Mike's skin redness from the store-bought tomato doesn't show on Ed's black-and-white film[24]
  • Mike Monroe leaving[25]
  • Marilyn telling a story of her grandfather Emery's Alaskan encounter with the Russian princess Anastasia[26]

Ed organizes the Dracula film fest at the end of season 5, and shows Dracula, among other vampire films.[27] He also organizes the Cicely film festival[28] and is hired as a film booker by Maggie when she buys the town's movie theater.[15] Ed has numerous scripts, including The Shaman, that clashes with movie producers. [29] [2]

Cinematic insights[]

Ed often quotes from his encyclopedic knowledge of films whenever someone in Cicely confides a problem they're facing to him. Over the course of the series, he comes to see this skill as part of his training and when thanked for his insights will explain, "I'm studying to become a shaman."[30] This is a list (episodes needed) of various films and television shows Ed has quoted a theme from, watched, or synopsized to help others:[31]

Love life[]

Ed has had romantic relationships with Lightfeather Duncan[35] and Heather Haynes.[15][2] His Uncle Anku sets him up in an arranged marriage with a girl named Debbie but it doesn't work out.[42]


"Brains, Know-How, and Native Intelligence" (1-2)

Joel: (enters his office and sees Ed sitting in his seat) Oh, hi Ed! Make yourself comfortable. Can I get you a cup of coffee--maybe a footrest?
Ed: Ehh, no thanks...maybe later. (gets up)

Ed: He is a doctor.
Joel: Oh really? Which kind?
Ed: Witch.
Joel: Which which?
Ed: Which what?
Joel: Which doctor?
Ed: Right.

Ed: Indians don't knock; it's rude.
Joel: No? What the hell do Indians do?
Ed: Use the key.

"Soapy Sanderson" (1-3)

Ed: (to Laurie) I don't think you should bug Dr. Fleischman because he's from New York, and they have a thing about paparazzi.

Ed (to Joel): I don't think I'm ever gonna look at life the same after this.

"Dreams, Schemes and Putting Greens" (1-4)

Joel: You up here for some specific reason, or was it a little slow in the woods today?
Ed: No, they're about the same as always.

Joel: Hey Ed, what is this--is this a track?
Ed: Looks like a track.
Joel: Looks fresh. You know, not that I know what a fresh track looks like, but that...that's big, whatever it is. What? What is it? What's wrong?
Ed: It's a bare footprint.
Joel: As in grizzly bear footprint?
Ed: No, more like as in a person with no shoes on.

"Russian Flu" (1-4)

Ed: This is Ed for Chris, who woke up on the funky side of the bed this morning; so he asked Will Cutter to fill in for him, but Cutter came down with a fever. So did Annie Hendrix, Holling Vincoeur and Bill Casebear. So, I volunteered to cover the request lines. So, if there's anything you wanna say or hear, you can say or hear it right here on the Minnifield Communications Network. And... I hope you all get to feeling better, and that goes double and triple for you Maurice. And this is something I've wanted to do for a long time. So, here it goes. GOOOOOOD MORNING CICELY!! (laughs)

Ed (to Joel): People get mean when they get sick, but they don't mean it. But you really held your ground up there tonight, Dr. Fleischman. And, despite everything, I think everyone learned a lot of really good stuff tonight?
Joel: Really?
Ed: Oh, yeah! I mean, I never knew there was a power struggle in the Kremlin after Andropov died.
Joel: (chuckles) Good night, Ed.

Ed: Still covering the request lines for the Chris in the Morning Show. Who's this?
Jules: This is Jules up on the Koyuk River.
Ed: Hey, Jules. How ya doin'?
Jules: Lousy with a capital 'Z'.
Ed: Yeah. It's going around. What can I do for you Jules?
Jules: I disagree with the last caller. Even if Dr. Fleischman is incompetent, that's not a reason to ship him to Siberia.

Ed: So, Woody gets in on the 12th floor. Doesn't even wait for me to shut the doors. He says, 'Ed. I'm burnt out, Ed. My movies are dying at the box office, Ed. I need a collaborator. I'm just not funny anymore.'
Joel: The poor schmo. Where'd you leave it with him?
Ed: Well, I said I'd read his biography on Kierkegaard and get back to him.
Joel: If I ever wake up, we'll do lunch.
Ed: Ciao, babe.

"Aurora Borealis" (1-8)

Ed: Are you lost?
Bernard: No! I just don't know where I am.

Ed: So, you're black.
Bernard: Yeah?
Ed: We had a black logger here, but he left.
Bernard: Why is that?
Ed: I guess he wasn't into drinking beer and fighting.

"What I Did for Love" (2-4)

Ed: (walks into The Brick, approaches the bar, and sits down) Dr. Fleischman?
Joel: (looks up from reading) Ed?
Shelly: (interrupts) Two moose burgers, medium-well...
Ed: Now I've lost my train of thought.
Joel: You said, "Dr. Fleischman".
Ed: Oh, right.

"Spring Break" (2-5)

Ed: Somebody stole Dr. Fleischman's radio.
Marilyn: White people. They get crazy.

"Only You" (3-2)

Joel (about Chris): Do you believe this; have you ever seen a man with this kind of incredible irresistible magnetism for the opposite sex?
Ed: James Bond
Joel: That, that's the movies Ed; try reality.
Ed: No, thanks.

"Animals R Us" (3-4)

Ed: Marty says he likes things a little unfocused. When he started Mean Streets all he had was the East Village and a hat he found.
Joel: Wait a minute. You're talking about Marty Scorsese the director of Mean Streets and Goodfellas?
Ed: Yeah.
Joel: (unconvinced) You know Martin Scorsese the director?
Ed: Not really but we're pen pals.
Joel: You and Martin Scorsese the director are pen pals?
Ed: Yup. (holds up a letter)
Joel: (reads letter) "Dear Ed, Good luck with your movie. -Marty"
Ed: (holds up another letter) This one's from Woody. When Annie Hall was threatened with the lobster he wanted me to see how much he rewrites on the set. (holds up a baseball cap) I got this hat from Universal Studios. Steven said it brought him luck. Of course, that was a couple of movies ago... You're right, Dr. Fleischman. I can't give up. I've just gotta think this thing through to the bitter end.
Joel: Yeah, right.
Ed: Thanks, Dr. Fleischman. You'll never know how much you've helped me.

"The Body in Question" (3-6)

Ed: (walks into the general store) Mornin', Ruth-Anne!
Ruth-Anne: Oh, hi Ed...I can put your name on a waiting list. (begins writing his name down on the list)
Ed: Ohhh, thanks Ruth-Anne!
Ruth-Anne: Number 17.
Ed: What's the list for?
Ruth-Anne (looks at him oddly): You didn't come in for books on Napoleon?
Ed: (inspired) No but that's an excellent idea!
Ruth-Anne: Well, what can I get you then?
Ed: Oh, I came in because of the sign in the window.
Ruth-Anne: "Special on Huggies"?
Ed: No, the "Help Wanted" sign.

(Ed and Ruth-Anne after having dinner in his apartment)
Ed: Where are your kids now?
Ruth-Anne: Rudy's in Portland. He drives a truck. He writes pastoral poetry in his spare time. (sighs) And Matthew...that boy had such promise...
Ed: What happened to him?
Ruth-Anne: He's in Chicago...he's an investment banker...
Ed: I'm sorry...
Ruth-Anne: Life's full of surpises, Ed--some happy and some not.
Ed: Yea...

(Ed tells Ruth-Anne about his script rejection)
Ruth-Anne: What are you going to do?
Ed: I think this is what they call a "critical juncture" in a young man's career.
Ruth-Anne: Ed?
Ed: Yea?
Ruth-Anne: Remember my son I told you about, the investment banker?
Ed: Rudy.
Ruth-Anne: Matthew...that boy could've been a musician. You should've heard him play the trumpet...just like Bix Beiderbecke; warm, round tone...and I ruined it for him. To this day I feel guilty.
Ed: You-you told him to quit?
Ruth-Anne: No...I told him to play all the time. I told him how good he was. You see, Ed, I didn't put anything in his way... An artist needs obstacles. He needs to contend; to find out what he's made out of. Matthew didn't have to fight for his art. Eventually, he forgot the horn, went to business school, and you know the rest.
Ed: Was he really good?
Ruth-Anne: Well, I don't know whether he could've earned a living...but I do know...that when he left his music behind he left part of his soul.

(Ed slowly lines up a label dispenser on a can)
Ruth-Anne: Give it here.
(Ruth-Ann quickly labels the cans)
Ed: Wow!
(Ruth-Anne presents her arm to Ed)
Ruth-Anne: Feel that.
(Ed feels her wrist muscle)
Ed: Bands of steel.
Ruth-Anne: Years of labeling.
Ed: Think I could ever learn to do that, Ruth-Anne?
Ruth-Anne (looks sternly at him): Ed, I think you can do anything that you put your mind to.
Ed: ...Why?
Ruth-Anne: Why not?
Ed: No one ever said that to me before, Ruth-Anne...
Ruth-Anne: What've other folks got that you haven't got?
Ed: Parents.
Ruth-Anne: They can be as much a hindrance as a help, Ed, believe me. Remember what I was telling you yesterday?
Ed: (nodding) There's this screenwriter, William Goldman--he wrote Butch Cassidy, um, All the President's Men...Misery...
Ruth-Anne: Sounds top-notch.
Ed: Oh, he is. You know, he said, "nobody in Hollywood knows anything". But I know something.
Ruth-Anne: What's that?
Ed: I'm never paying anyone $200 to read my scripts again. They can stand in line and see the movie just like everyone else.
Ruth-Anne (with a fist pump): That's the spirit!
Ed: (smiling) Pass the labeler please.

"A-Hunting We Will Go" (3-8)

Ed: What would you give a woman who doesn't seem to want anything?
Chris: Oh yea, the great question: what do women want?
Ed: I don't know, do you?
Chris: Same things we do, only in prettier colors.

(Ruth-Anne opens Ed's birthday gift to her: a jar of dirt)
Ed:'s for your grave.
Ruth-Anne: My grave?! You bought me a grave for my birthday?
Ed: Do you like it?
Ruth-Anne: Yes...yes, I do, Ed. It's a great spot to spend eternity.

"Love's Labour Mislaid" (4-17)

Ed: Is this a bad time, Dr. Fleischman?
Joel: Ed, how long have we known each other?>
Ed: About two years, come June.
Joel: When do you think it might sink in that I do not appreciate being ambushed by unannounced guests?
Ed: You want me to leave.

"Kaddish for Uncle Manny" (4-22)

(knocking on Joel's cabin door)
Joel: Yea, it's open!
(door opens--it's Ed)
Joel: Ed! You actually knocked!
Ed (looks at door): Yea, guess I did...sorry!

"Jaws of Life" (5-3)

Ed (on-air): Something I've been wondering about lately...mirrors, ya know... (holds up hands flat close together) You hold two of 'em facin' each other...and what's on 'em? I don't know. If you have any ideas, feel free to give me a call...


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Duets" (4-13)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Balls" (6-19)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Body in Question" (3-6)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "The Big Kiss" (2-2)
  5. "Heal Thyself" (5-18)
  6. "Gran Prix" (5-22)
  7. "Family Feud" (4-19)
  8. Season 5, Episode 11. ... Baby Blues. ... He completely misses the point regarding a man's recent death.
  9. Season 5, Episode 14. ... Hello, I Love You. ... He can not catch up to Maggie's conversation, and is delighted when she tells him to forget about whatever it was she said.
  10. In "Kaddish for Uncle Manny" (4-22) he knocks on Joel's cabin door--then apologizes when Joel points it out.
  11. "Three Doctors" (5-1)
  12. Episode 5.
  13. "Jaws of Life" (5-3) and others
  14. "Eye of the Beholder" (6-2)
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 "The Graduate" (6-17)
  16. Season 6, Episode 4. ... The Letter.
  17. "The Bad Seed" (4-7)
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Nothing's Perfect" (4-3)
  19. "Animals R Us" (3-4)
  20. "Things Become Extinct" (3-13)
  21. "Heroes" (4-4)
  22. "Sleeping With The Enemy" (4-24)
  23. 23.0 23.1 "On Your Own" (4-6)
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Survival of the Species" (4-11) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "4-11" defined multiple times with different content
  25. "Homesick" (4-20)
  26. "Zarya" (6-6)
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 "Blood Ties" (5-23)
  28. "Rosebud" (5-7)
  29. Season 5, Episode 14.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 "Mite Makes Right" (5-13)
  32. "Brains, Know-How, and Native Intelligence" (1-2)
  33. 33.0 33.1 "Goodbye to All That" (2-1)
  34. "Spring Break" (2-5)
  35. 35.0 35.1 "War And Peace" (2-6)
  36. "Slow Dance" (2-7)
  37. "Burning Down the House" (3-14)
  38. "Lost and Found" (3-17)
  39. "My Mother, My Sister" (3-18)
  40. "The Final Frontier" (3-20)
  41. "Revelations" (4-12)
  42. 42.0 42.1 "Love's Labour Mislaid" (4-17)
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 43.3 "A Bolt from the Blue" (5-14)
  44. 44.0 44.1 "Una Volta in L'Inverno" (5-17)
  45. 45.0 45.1 "A Wing and a Prayer" (5-20)
  46. "Lovers and Madmen" (5-24)
  47. 47.0 47.1 "Horns" (6-13)