William Paul "Will" Gardner was a named partner at Lockhart/Gardner and an old friend of Alicia Florrick. In "Dramatics, Your Honor", one of his clients, who is accused of murder, shoots him dead during a court session.
Will and Alicia met when they were both in Law School at Georgetown; this connection allows Alicia to get a job as a Junior Associate at Lockhart/Gardner where Will is a named partner.
Will is shown to be a sports fan, often playing basketball with his friends or simply tossing a baseball around in his office. When the firm suffers financial troubles, a major sacrifice Will makes is to give up his season tickets for the games. Because of the same financial woes, Will and his collegue Diane Lockhart must decide who to hire between the two junior associates Alicia Florrick and Cary Agos.
In the early episodes of the first season, Will works with Alicia a lot. When Diane accuses him of favoring Alicia over Cary, he decides that he doesn't want to to have to fire any of the litigators. When he approaches Diane with this idea, he tells her that their fellow partner Jonas Stern costs them about as much as all of the other lawyers combined. Diane accuses him of wanting to take away the partner that votes with her. When fellow named partner Jonas Stern returns to the law firm hoping to represent himself after being charged with a DUI and battery, Will decides that this is an opportunity to push Stern out. He tries to get Alicia to tell him what she had discovered while representing Stern, but the information that Stern is suffering from dementia is protected by attorney/client privilege so Alicia can't tell Will. Stern decides his partners have betrayed him and quits the firm, taking his clients and a third of their business with him, determined to destroy the firm. This results in further financial difficulties for Diane and Will.
Will is shown to be a complex character. When Diane is approached by the Chief Justice to become a Judge and Will is the one person she tells, he celebrates the possibility of being the sole owner of their law firm if she leaves. However, Diane and Will are also shown to be each other's confidantes in Season 1. This changes in Season 2 when both decide to split the firm.
He is a loyal friend, shown especially in his relationship with Judge Baxter whom Alicia accuses of racism after one of her young clients is sent to a juvenile detention center. Will stringently defends his friend, until he makes the connection that Baxter has made a deal with the detention center to receive money from all those boys he sends there. He confronts Baxter and tells him he is going to jail.
While Will is clearly attracted to Alicia, he is also shown to be somewhat of a ladies man. He has various love affairs and when Alicia stands him up at dinner, he calls another woman. He also has several girlfriends throughout the series.
Throughout the series, Will shows an attraction to Alicia Florrick. In the episode "Heart", Will and Alicia share a passionate kiss in his office as Alicia is comforting Will after a case. After the kiss, Alicia runs out. Realizing she has made a mistake, she does return, only to have missed Will because he had stepped out. Running into one of the firm's assistants, she tells her she was simply returning for her laptop. When the assistant asks Will if Alicia retrieved her laptop, Will knows that there is hope. The two are set to have a dinner date in "Boom", but because Peter Florrick runs after Alicia to stop her going out, setting his monitoring alarm off, Alicia is forced to cancel. After this Will starts dating a Law student, but it is clear he still has feelings for Alicia. In the last episode of Season One he calls Alicia to tell her he loves her, but before he can she tells him she needs a plan if their relationship is to work. Caught off guard Will has nothing to say and Alicia, who is at her husband's press conference, is called at that moment to take the stage with Peter.
In the Season 2 premiere Will phones again and gets her voice mail. At the same moment he sees a news broadcast showing Alicia standing beside Peter in front of the press, causing him to tell her she is right and he doesn't have a plan. However, he then calls back and tells her that he loves her and they can make a plan together. Eli Gold has taken Alicia's phone from her and he deletes the second message. When Alicia listens to wire-taps made by the FBI she realizes that Will has left her a second voice message. She goes to his office to ask him about it, but Tammy is there. When Alicia confronts Will about the second message, he lies to her and says that he thinks she made the right choice staying with Peter. After Alicia's discovers that Peter had sex with Kalinda, she separates from him. After winning a case, Will and Alicia go out to celebrate. Whilst drinking tequila Will asks her, "What if we were to suddenly have good timing? What would that look like?" Alicia responds and says, "That would look like an exceptional moment." They then book the presidential suite in a hotel and spend the night together.
Will and Alicia then start a secret relationship in Season 3. Diane becomes suspicious of the relationship and encourages Will to end it before they become a target of the States Attorneys Office, once again lead by Peter Florrick. The relationship ended when Alicia's daughter Grace had gone missing. Alicia blamed herself for being irresponsible and decided that she needed to focus on her children. She goes to Will's office and says she is sorry and breaks down in tears. Will holds her momentarily and Alicia walks away.
In Season 4, Peter runs for governor and Alicia's relationship with Will returns to that of boss and employee. Meanwhile, a former military lawyer begins to work at Peter's Office through Alicia's introduction.
Tammy Linnata Edit
Will begins to date Tammy, a sports news journalist, in Season 2. Tammy is said to be the sister of a girl that Will dated. She tells him that she will leave him as soon as he falls in love with her. In the finale of Season 2, Tammy leaves for London hoping that Will would stop her from leaving, only to be caught up in a case with Alicia. Tammy returns in Season 3 and during an interview with Alicia, blames her for their break up.
Will and Diane have an intense, but longstanding, friendship and business partnership. Though they achieved a great working balance and lead well together, they sometimes found themselves in explosive arguments regarding business and personal decisions.
After Will's death, in season 5, episode 16, "The Last Call," Diane refers to him as her "best friend," and remarks to Alicia, "I loved him." His death profoundly affects her professional life, and she finds herself with little time to mourn as the firm keeps moving. Louis Canning and David Lee almost immediately move to oust her, feeling that without Will she is "unprotected." Like Alicia, Diane is frustrated with the fragility colleagues attempt to ascribe to her after Will's death.
Throughout the series, particularly seasons 5 and 6, a parallel is drawn between the relationship between Will and Diane, and that of Cary and Alicia.
Will Gardner is played by actor Josh Charles.