Unusually, the two shows in which the Grant character features are in completely different genres. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a half-hour-long light-hearted situation comedy while Lou Grant was an hour-long serious dramatic series which frequently engaged in social commentary.
Lou lived in Minneapolis most of his life, beginning his work in newspaper journalism, and was married to Edie MacKenzie (Priscilla Morrill). They divorced in Minneapolis in 1973; and Edie remarried. They had three daughters. Lou's nephew, Allen tried to put the move on Mary Richards; which earned him Lou's wrath. "Listen you, let me remind you of something, and remember this forever," Lou said sternly, "I think of this girl here as if she were my own daughter and that means she is your cousin, you get my drift?!"
When he first interviewed Mary, he liked her because she had spunk, even though he hated spunk. He offered her the job of associate producer, which paid less than the secretarial position for which she'd initially interviewed, but she approved it, saying that she could only afford being an associate producer. (Lou had jokingly offered her a position as producer for even less money.)
He had several dates after he and Edie divorced, he went with a woman named Charlene (Sheree North); Mary's best friend Rhoda Morgenstern; Mary's infrequent next-door neighbor, Paula Kovacks (Penny Marshall); Mary's Aunt Flo (Eileen Heckart); and even with Mary herself in the next-to-last episode. The last episode shows that Lou, along with Mary, Murray Slaughter and Sue Ann Nivens had been fired due to the low ratings. Lou's sometime-nemesis, Ted Baxter, primarily the real cause for the news' awful ratings was retained.
As such, he was asked by an old friend, Charlie Hume (Mason Adams), to relocate to Los Angeles, to help work with him at the fictitious Los Angeles Tribune, as the paper's City Editor, returning him to newspaper work. His subordinates at that time included staff reporters Joe Rossi (Robert Walden); Billie Newman (Linda Kelsey); her predecessor, Carla Mardigian (Rebecca Balding); and photographer Dennis "Animal" Price (Daryl Anderson). His assistant was Art Donovan (Jack Bannon); and his supervisor was publisher Margaret Pynchon (Nancy Marchand). They, like those in his prior work at WJM, became his family as well.
In a 1984 episode of Saturday Night Live, Lou hired a team of mercenaries to "rescue" Mary Richards after she got stuck in the 70s in syndicated reruns. But Mary refused rescue on the grounds that she never ages and never gains weight, and that people still like her.