- ❝Witter words of wisdom. Priceless.❞
- —Will Krudski[src]
Pacey Witter is a high school sophomore. He is an academic underachiever who uses humour and sarcasm to relate to people, as well as to hide his emotional pain stemming from his very unhappy childhood. Because of Pacey's underachiever status in school and jokester nature, he is constantly labeled by his family as a "black sheep" or "great embarrassment".
Both of his parents frequently call him a loser right in front of him, which has led to his very low self-esteem. Pacey's father is an alcoholic who either ignores or bullies Pacey every chance he gets. Pacey's late grandfather apparently died from alcoholism years before Pacey was born. Alcoholism and emotional abuse seems to be a pattern among the males in the Witter family.
Pacey's best friend is Dawson Leery, and he appears in a few of Dawson's early films. Pacey is a romantic at heart, seeking from women the love and affection that he never receives from his parents. Some of Pacey's romantic interests were Tamara Jacobs, Andie McPhee and Joey Potter – his true love.
When Pacey is first introduced, he is a charming joker with low self esteem, who is always searching for adventure. After meeting her in the video store where he and Dawson work, Pacey falls in love with and loses his virginity to his English teacher, Tamara Jacobs (Leann Hunley). Unfortunately for Pacey, Dawson accidentally films Pacey's first time with Ms. Jacobs during a getaway to the ruins with Jen. When Pacey relays the details of his sexual encounter with Ms. Jacobs to Dawson in a school bathroom, the conversation is overheard by another boy smoking marijuana in the next stall. Rumors quickly begin to spread about the nature of Pacey's relationship with the 36-year-old teacher and the ensuing scandal eventually forces Ms. Jacobs end their relationship and leave town.
Following his relationship with Tamara, Pacey spends most of his time hanging out with Jen, Dawson and Joey. Forced to partner on a biology project, Pacey and Joey spend a whole day together and Pacey finds himself romantically interested in Joey. He realizes that maybe he could like her and asks Dawson if he can ask Joey out, which forces Dawson to assess his own feelings toward Joey. Pacey kisses Joey, but she turns him down. Pacey also comically enters a beauty pageant and performs a skit from Braveheart.
As the summer comes to an end, Pacey has trouble finding his place in his social circle and in Capeside overall. He wants to reinvent himself, dying his hair and trying to get close to his longtime crush, Kristy Livingstone, which unfortunately does not work out. He decides to throw his 16th birthday party at the docks in an effort to change the general perception of him, but is dismal as nobody knows it's his party and Dawson forgets his birthday all together – luckily Dawson realizes this and later makes up for it. Pacey goes through a radical change when he meets Andie McPhee, an academic overachiever who is new to Capeside. They come out of the gate sparring and slowly develop a romance, though this progress is halted when Pacey's ex-girlfriend, Tamara, returns to Capeside. Pacey and Tamara kiss, but ultimately part ways and Pacey is able to finally get some closure on his first love. Pacey's low self esteem is boosted by the support and encouragement Andie gives him, and he slowly starts believing that he can do whatever he wishes in life and is able to improve academically.
Andie offers to help Pacey reform his study habits and Pacey begins to do well in school, achieving his first-ever A. The two grow closer, embarking on a sexual relationship as well. Pacey is, at first, overcome with emotion by all of these changes to his life and the lack of predictability that had become the only stable force in his life, but though it terrifies him, comes to terms with how important Andie is to him and how much he loves her. His recent inspiration for changing his life also makes the psychological abuse of his family all the more straining, which culminates in a fishing trip Pacey and Dawson take with their fathers – and Jack, who Pacey invites along in spite of Dawson's jealousy and subsequent ire. Pacey spends the entire trip doing his best to do as his father tells him and stay out of harms way, but is constantly berated for his efforts. At the end of the trip Pacey catches a big fish and wins a competition upon their return to Capeside, but his father manages to ruin the victory by telling Pacey that he probably won't have many more moments like that.
After a summer apart, Pacey is anxiously awaiting the return of Andie, all the while encouraging Dawson to make things happen with Eve. After Dawson rejects Joey he asks Pacey to look out for her for a while. Wanting to surprise Andie, Pacey brings Joey along to pick Andie up early at the facility where's she has been treated over the summer. Andie acts very distant from Pacey from the moment she sees him and eventually tells him that she had an affair and, devastated, Pacey breaks up with her. Pacey buys and works on restoring a wrecked boat, occupying himself with the project to get over Andie. While Andie dating a guy who she says attacked her briefly bring her and Pacey together, he tells her that they cannot get back together. Heartbroken, Pacey is looking for consolation and he and Jen agree to attempt a friends-with-benefits fling. After realizing they are better off as friends, and as Jen suspects Pacey's burgeoning feelings for Joey, they decide to end it.
Also suffering falling grades, Pacey has to complete an English Class project – starring in a school production of Barefoot in the Park. Coincidentally, Andie is the Assistant Director on the play and they eventually manage to work well on the project together. Although semi-coerced into doing the play, Pacey eventually finds that he enjoys it and has fun playing the character of Paul. After the show, he and Andie talk a bit and mend fences, deciding to start anew as friends. As the season progresses, Pacey realizes he may have feelings for Joey. He gets into a fight with a bully who admits to vandalizing a mural Joey paints for the school and as punishment he is assigned to mentor a young, neglected boy with a rebellious attitude not unlike Pacey's. Pacey eventually acts on his feelings and kisses Joey and despite their worries about Dawson and Andie, as well as Joey's hesitation, she gives into her feelings for Pacey during a spring break visit to Dawson's Aunt Gwen in Stolen Kisses. Pacey's childhood friend Will Krudski, who used to live in Capeside and also knows Joey and Dawson, comes to visit Pacey for spring break and comes along on the trip to Aunt Gwen's.
When Dawson learns of Pacey and Joey's relationship in the episode The Longest Day and Joey subsequently breaks things off with Pacey, Will is there to support Pacey and encourages him not to give up on Joey, after which Will departs Capeside. Pacey decides to leave Capeside and spend the summer sailing, but not before making one last grand gesture to Joey. Realizing that she is in love with Pacey, Joey races to meet him before he sets sail. Pacey and Joey then leave Capeside for the summer on his boat, the True Love.
Pacey and Joey return from their summer at sea and are still madly in love. At this point it seems that Pacey's relationship with Dawson has been irrevocably altered. Pacey's older sister, Gretchen, returns to Capeside from college and they move in together into a beach house that Gretchen rents. Pacey and Joey adjust to life back in Capeside as a couple. Pacey continues to struggle with school as he and Joey ponder their futures beyond Capeside. Throughout the majority of the season they re-affirm their commitment to one another and are chosen "Class Couple". On the senior class ski trip, Pacey and Joey consummate their relationship. Pacey is later hurt to learn that Joey lies to Dawson about this at first, though she eventually tells him the truth. Towards the end of the season, Pacey and Joey begin having difficulties stemming from the future beyond high school. Believing that he's holding Joey back and growing frustrated with himself and what he sees as his lack of prospects beyond high school, Pacey eventually breaks up with Joey at the Prom. Despite their strong feelings for each other, both sadly go their separate ways. The season ends with Pacey graduating high school and taking a job on a yacht and leaving Capeside once again.
After working as a deck hand on a yacht all summer following graduation from high school, Pacey settles in Boston and takes a job working as a chef in a fancy restaurant, Civilization. When Jen discovers that he's in town Pacey asks her not to tell the others, but Joey sees him at the restaurant. They share a sweet reunion on Pacey's boat, as friends. Pacey has a relationship with one of the waitresses at Civilization, Karen. This turns out to be problematic as she is having an affair with the head chef, Danny, a married man that Pacey considers a mentor.
He also tries to help out Dawson after the death of Mitch Leery. He and Audrey (Joey's roommate) become interested in each other and quickly embark on a physical relationship. During the gang's spring break trip to Florida, Audrey and Pacey decide to make their relationship official. Pacey's mentor, Danny, leaves Civilization and a new manager, Alex Pearl (Sherilyn Fenn), takes over. Alex alienates the restaurant staff causing Pacey leads a walk-out en masse during a meeting with local investors to protest Alex's management policies. As a result, the restaurant is shut down and both Pacey and Alex are fired. As summer approaches, Pacey returns to Capeside to work as a security guard at the Capeside Yacht Club, but leaves to attempt to rekindle things with Audrey. He eventually convinces her to take him back and the two drive cross-country to Audrey's home in L.A.
Pacey finds financial success as a stockbroker in Boston, which is set up by Audrey's father. Audrey breaks things off with him as his new job has a dramatic effect on his lifestyle, which clashes with hers. Soon after, Pacey admits that he is not completely over Joey. They share a kiss at a party at Jack & Pacey's apartment and in a later episode both are marooned overnight in a K-Mart. Being locked in together overnight, the situation forces the two to discuss their past (and current) relationship, with both admitting that they miss each other. They attempt a reconciliation but Joey ends things when her recent ex-boyfriend, Eddie, suddenly reappears.
Afterwards, Pacey somewhat makes amends with his estranged father when he visits him in Capeside after his father suffers a mild heart attack. With Pacey's father too sick to work anymore because of multiple health problems from his life-long alcoholism, Pacey's brother, Doug, takes over as acting police chief of Capeside. While working as a stockbroker, Pacey clashes several times with his slick, arrogant boss, Rich Renaldi (Dana Ashbrook). Pacey loses his job following a significant financial loss after a bio-tech stock bust. Unfortunately, he also loses a all of Dawson's savings, as Pacey had invested them for him. This causes a serious argument between them, spilling over into them reconsidering their friendship. Joey decides it is about time for Pacey and Dawson to work out their issues without her in the middle and sets the two up to meet following their argument. Pacey returns to Capeside and temporarily moves in with Doug, all the while raising what money he can with the help of community members to start paying Dawson back.
Five years later, a 25-year-old Pacey is now the proprietor of The Icehouse, a successful restaurant in Capeside bearing the same name as the one Joey's family used to operate. When everyone returns to Capeside for Gale Leery's wedding, sparks fly between Pacey and Joey, but their reunion is interrupted when they discover that Jen is dying.
The two spend time together in Capeside while Jen is hospitalized. Following Jen's death, they admit that things have kept them apart over the years, but they realize that they're still in love with each other. The series ends with Pacey and Joey romantically together, watching the season finale of Dawson's television series, The Creek, which is based on their childhood in Capeside.
A rant posted on CapeNet in 2000
- Have you ever had a day that you wish you could permanently eradicate from your memory? You know, one of those unbelievably bad experiences you keep hoping is a bad dream that you're going to wake up from any blissful second? Well, lucky me. I get one such day every single freaking year. It's also known as my birthday.
- I could go back to seven, when my dad "accidentally" shot me with a bebe gun and thought it was really funny. Okay the bullet grazed me, as he is wont to point out. But the difference is pretty minimal when you're seven. And I put "accidentally" in quotation marks for a reason. Then there was the year I turned twelve and puked on the girl I had a crush on. But maybe that was because Dawson cleaned her up and she told him she liked him… much better than Pacey Pukey. When I turned thirteen I had a swim party at the local pool which is never, ever a good idea when you're thirteen and girls are invited because when everyone starts pointing at your swim trunks and laughing, you'll pretty much want to drown yourself. I speak from experience.
- Then of course there was the dog incident at fourteen… Fifteen I spent in a hospital waiting room with a hundred and four fever… and sixteen, well, I threw myself the worst party ever to compensate for the fact that all my friends had forgotten my birthday. Not to mention, I failed my driving test. Which brings us to seventeen, which I nearly forgot myself, considering it was tech week for Barefoot in the Park and my celebration was a dress rehearsal where the heat went out in the theater and Andie had to fight with Mr. Broderick just to let us wear coats over our costumes so that we didn't all end up with pneumonia by performance night.
- And finally, tonight I turned 18. That's supposed to be a good thing, right? I can finally vote, that is if I can figure out the ballots… I can sign things without my parents' permission, which is something of a victory, though it's dampened by the knowledge that my parents barely seem to have noticed that I already moved out. And they won't care, either, until they realize they can't claim me as a dependent on their taxes anymore. And what happened this year? Let's see. My mom served my brother's favorite dinner, my sister kissed my best friend, and my Dad didn't even bother to come up with new and different ways to torment me; instead he stuck to the same old tired routine he's been playing for as long as I can remember.
- Unfortunately, in conclusion, I have no solution. But I think I'm going to start changing my birthday to a different day every year… just so that maybe it will escape by without anyone noticing it.
- Pacey Witter makes a cameo appearance along with Joey Potter in the 1999 film Muppets From Space.
- Creator Kevin Williamson named the character after a real life friend. "Pacey came from a friend of a friend named Pacey and I'd never met anyone with that name and thought it was a cool name."
- Williamson stated about Pacey and Mrs. Jacobs' controversial storyline, "Jamie Kellner, who was the president of The WB at that time, didn't say we couldn't do it but he was the father figure who would come in and ask, 'How long is this storyline going to last?' [Laughs] We told him six episodes and he responded: 'OK, that'd be a good thing.' [Laughs] There was a lot of criticism about that storyline and he was having to take all the flak for it. But no, I wouldn't change it because it served its purpose and it was based on a storyline from my own childhood. If I was writing the show today I probably would not have it in the story."
- The scene Pacey spits on the teacher's face was inspired by a real life event from writer Greg Berlanti's high school years.
- Actor Joshua Jackson was considered for the role of Dawson before being cast as Pacey.