"Let me introduce you to my good friend Madame Fist!"

Ashley Funicello Spinelli, usually referred to as just Spinelli, is the tomboyish substitute ringleader of the Recess Gang in Recess. She goes by her surname, because she does not want to be a member of the Ashleys. Spinelli is Italian-American.


She watches wrestling and is known as the toughest kid on the playground. Despite her appearance, she is stubborn, obstinate and frequently uses violence or threats when something is troubling her. However, she appears to have a soft side, such as stopping herself from clobbering Randall J. Weems with a dirt clod to get a kitten out of a tree (which she gently talks to get it to come to her) which turns out to be Miss Finster's cat. T.J. also mentions that even though she is tough, she will stand up for any kid on the playground who needs help. She hates talking about her parents because they embarrass her all the time. Spinelli's parents are infamous for telling her friends about her feelings or showing them her childhood photos. She is also intending to keep up with the latest trend, as revealed in "Schoolworld", when she says she likes the SAL 3000 for being new, and in "Weekend at Muriel's", when Miss Finster, having turned, on the car radio on the way to the latter's house, says that "everyone likes the oldies", and Spinelli says, "Actually, I like the newies." She is implied to have a crush on T.J. Detweiler. She is the most aggressive and antagonistic kid of the gang. The other members of the Recess Gang are not exempted from this kind of treatment from Spinelli.

Relationships with the other members of the gang

T.J. Detweiler

Main article: T.J. and Spinelli's relationship

Throughout the course of the series; T.J. has been shown to have a crush on Spinelli, and vice versa. Many episodes have moments where he wraps his arm around her shoulders; or puts a hand on her shoulder, for usually no real reason at all just to show his affections towards her. In the episode "More Like Gretchen", he even tells Spinelli "My heart goes out to you"; which semi-confirms his affection and, on several occasions, Spinelli has returned these affections. Moreover, on parent/teacher day her mother even comments that Spinelli told her that T.J. is the boy on which she has a crush. She is also T.J.'s unofficial second-in-command and has been said to take over when he is not around.

Mikey Blumberg

Mikey and Spinelli are polar opposite; Mikey is large and peaceful, while Spinelli is small and violent, Mikey's sincerity and calm demeanor sometimes get in the way with Spinelli's attitude; the two share a rare moment of friendship in the episode "Dance Lessons", where Spinelli puts aside her tough attitude for Mikey's sake. She also was ready to defend Mikey when Randall made jokes about him in "Stand Up Randall"; which Mikey appreciated but said it was not necessary.

Gretchen Grundler

Being the only two girls in the group Gretchen and Spinelli are very close; Gretchen was Spinelli's first choice to go with her to the museum in "More Like Gretchen", and their friendship goes through a rough patch in the middle of the episode with a confused Gretchen but Gretchen helps make things better between Spinelli and her parents. Gretchen also invited Spinelli to go with her in the "Young Adventurer's Fair" ("Bad Hair Day"); Spinelli helped Gretchen in her campaign in "The Candidates" as her assistant, they also shared revenge against T.J. in "My Funny Valentines" when he gave them both fake Valentine's cards from him.

Vince LaSalle

Both Vince and Spinelli are considered T.J.'s Right Hand. They are good friends but do not interact as much as they do with other members of the gang.

Gus Griswald

Spinelli and Gus do not interact often but are shown to care for each other in a number of episodes; Spinelli is shown to bully him for being a weak and a Scaredy-cat, like in "A Genius Among Us". She said "How can I get this ball into the hands of someone I can smear", before handing the ball to Gus, then chasing him. In Recess: School's Out, she was impressed by his leadership and even accepted a compliment from him for a wrestling move she did.


Her immediate family includes her father Robert ("Bob"), her mother Florence ("Flo"), and her two older brothers Vito, from whom she got her boots; and Joseph ("Joey"), who has been mentioned by Spinelli here and there throughout the show. Neither have made an appearance on the show. Spinelli also mentioned something about having an uncle named Manfred "Manny" and a cousin named Gordon ("Gordo") in two separate episodes, but they were never spoken of again nor shown at all in the show. They call her "Pooky" and have a tendency to embarrass Spinelli in public. It is shown in the episode "Parents' Night" that her parents are both secret agents. It is a fact unknown to all the other characters. It is revealed in the episode "Weekend at Muriel's" that Spinelli's grandmother 'Aggie' and Miss Finster were good friends "back in Guam". As a result, Muriel is a family friend, and the perfect choice to babysit Spinelli. Muriel also becomes a bit of a grandmother figure to Spinelli, as she becomes a source of wisdom and input for Spinelli in later episodes.

Spinelli also has a Great-Aunt named Ashley, who was mentioned to be the first woman to win the Iditarod Dog Sled Race in Alaska, as well as a family hero[1].


Spinelli prototype

Spinelli's appearance in the unaired 1996 pilot

Spinelli is small in size and light in weight, and before Gus’ arrival, she was the shortest of the main group; now she‘s the second. She is shown to be tomboyish with a petite slender figure with shoulder-length raven black hair and chocolate brown eyes, plus full lips and olive-colored skin. Her outfit consists of a light orange cotton ski cap upon her head; her hair up in pig-tails on either side each held by a small red hair tie. She wears an unzipped opened black leather biker jacket over a red cotton knee-length shirt dress with short sleeves and a round neckline, a pair of light orange stockings with thin red stripes on them, and finally a pair of over-sized black rubber biker boots with buckles on them that were hand-me-downs from her older brother.
Young Spinelli

A young Spinelli in Recess: All Growed Down.

In the original pilot version of "The Break In", Spinelli was smaller and had her hair in multiple pigtails. She also wore a pale yellow t-shirt, tan overalls, and dark brown shoes. In her adult years, she will grow up to be 5 feet 6 inches tall.

Foreign Voice Actresses

  • Arabic: Marwa El Sawy/Ola Roshdy
  • Brazilian Portuguese: Angélica Santos
  • Castilian Spanish: María Ribó
  • Danish: Amalie Ihle Alstrup
  • Dutch: Thyrza Ravesteijn
  • Finnish: Hanna Savikko
  • French: Ludivine Sagnier
  • German: Anja Stadlober
  • Hindi: Pari Telang
  • Hungarian: Mánya Zsófi
  • Italian: Domitilla D'Amico
  • Japanese: Chiyako Shibahara
  • Latin Spanish: Lucero Garza López
  • Polish: Joanna Krejzler
  • Portuguese: Ana Paula Mota
  • Norwegian: Renate Moen
  • Swedish: Elina Raeder Oloffson
  • Taiwanese: Lin Fangxue


  • She is the opposite of Mikey in many ways. While Mikey is kind, good-hearted, sweet, gentle, peaceful, tall, and poetic, Spinelli is tough, aggressive, angry, tomboyish, short, and somewhat rebellious.
    • Mikey is interested in poetry, singing, art, philosophy, and is more interested in arts and culture, while Spinelli is interested in wrestling, fighting, sports, and physical activity. While Mikey's interests are spiritual, Spinelli's interests are more physical and manly. Also, Mikey's interests are considered more suitable for females, while Spinelli's interests are considered more suitable for males. While Mikey is sensitive, tolerant, and forgiving, Spinelli is rough, less tolerant, and less forgiving.
    • Mikey is a talented Baritone singer, while Spinelli does not sing as good as Mikey (At the beginning of "The Voice", Mikey mentions to the gang that he could think about singing almost as bad as Spinelli. However, in episodes and movies where Spinelli sings, her singing does not sound bad at all and can sing normally, meaning that it is probably a dialogue/continuity/consistency error. It is later revealed in Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade that Spinelli does not like to sing very much because she answered to Miss Finster's question that she thanks for the suggestion, but she does not want to sing for the Halloween tradition.).
  • In "First Name Ashley", Spinelli mentions that her first name was named after her Great-Aunt Ashley. She also admits that she honestly does not have a problem with the name "Ashley" itself -- Spinelli explains that her problem is that, for as long as she could remember, every other girl she is ever met who was also named "Ashley" were Ashley A., Ashley B., Ashley Q., and Ashley T., the girls in which she dislikes due to their unique and girly lifestyle and snobby behavior.
  • According to "Lawson and his Crew", she is acrophobic or afraid of heights.
  • She seems to search out female role-models other than her own mother throughout the series, finding solace in the advice and confidence of Miss Finster, Miss Grotke, and Mademoiselle Pavlova, revealing a much more sensitive side.
    • This may be since her mother tries to make Spinelli more feminine, whereas Spinelli prefers to be tomboyish. She may search for other female role models that accept her for who she is.
      • Miss Finster is an old family friend and shares interests with Spinelli, such as wrestling.
      • Mademoiselle Pavlova teaches Spinelli she can be tough but also use her skills in other forms such as ballet. Spinelli also reminds Madame of her younger self.
  • She is an accomplished artist. During the episode "Spinelli's Masterpiece", she creates an expansive piece of artwork across the blacktop which Gretchen describes as resembling "one of those giant Aboriginal petroglyphs that can only be viewed from the sky." Had it survived the incident with the hose, she would have been offered a lucrative grant from Collette Découpage.
  • Spinelli's birth date is never revealed but Miss Grotke mentions in the episode "Mama's Girl" that she and Spinelli are Libras. Since she is at the age of 9 and the episode took place on October 1997; she must have been born in late-September 1988, making her the youngest of The Recess Gang.
  • Throughout the show's run, various hints have been dropped that Spinelli has feelings for T.J., and has been fully confirmed in "Parents' Night" when Flo refers to T.J. as the boy Spinelli has "the crush on". There are also suggestions that T.J. may well share these feelings.
  • Spinelli and T.J. are the only main characters who commonly wear jackets.
  • Spinelli is the only member of the Recess Gang to be voiced by an adult (though in a few foreign dubs, she is voiced by a child). Also, like Gretchen and Vince, she is one of the only members of the main six to keep her voice actress for the entire series run, including movies and the Lilo & Stitch crossover.
  • Spinelli was based on a girl who Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere knew from college.
  • In the Fillmore! episode, "Codename: Electric Haircut", Spinelli made a cameo among the students in the lunchroom, along with fellow Disney character Kim Possible.
  • In the Portuguese dub, Spinelli's first name is changed to Patricia.
  • Spinelli is the only member of The Recess Gang who is not drawn with nostrils.
  • According to the official website for the series, her favorite colors are black and blue.
    • This could possibly be since bruises are commonly black and blue
  • One of Spinelli's grandfathers is hard of hearing.
  • Spinelli has a Cousin Nick that goes to Fifth Street School.
  • Spinelli's grandfather was a Navy SEAL.
  • Her pee wee pal was Cindy, who she taught to be tough and challenged her to arm-wrestle.
  • She is one of the only two members of The Recess Gang to have black hair. The other one was Vince.
  • She can get angry really easy, unlike the other members of the gang.
  • She has two older brothers named Joey and Vito.
  • In the Arabic dub, her name is changed to Nelly [نيللي].
  • She is apparently short for her age being called "Midget Girl" by King Bob in the episode "The Break In", and in the episode "Here Comes Mr. Perfect", after Jarred beat Spinelli in arm wrestling he said to her "You did very well considering your size."


  1. Recess - Season 1, Episode 7 - "First Name Ashley"


Photos The Recess Wiki has a collection of images about Ashley Spinelli


Media: Recess (Episode List) | Recess: School's Out | Recess: All Growed Down | Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade | Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street

Characters: T.J. Detweiler | Vince LaSalle | Ashley Spinelli | Mikey Blumberg | Gretchen Grundler | Gus Griswald | Captain Bradley | Cornchip Girl | The Diggers | Hustler Kid | Erwin Lawson | Miss Grotke | Muriel Finster | Becky Detweiler | Dr. Phillium Benedict | Menlo | Brock | Peter Prickly | Bald Guy | Butch | Ashley Armbruster | Ashley Boulet | Ashley Quinlan | Ashley Tomassian | Fenwick | Brandon the Singer | Gelman | King Bob | Chucko | Jocko | Randall Weems | King Freddy II | Chewy | Spencer | Swinger Girl | Upside-Down Girl | Gordy | Hector | Miss Lemon | Lunchlady Irma | Tubby | Jordan & Jerome | Flo Spinelli | Bob Spinelli | Guru Kid

Songs: Recess Theme Song | "We Shall Not Be Moved" | "Jingle Bells" (Recess Version) | "The Otter Dance" | Bonky Theme Song

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