- "You must be B.J. (T.J.) He's the one our little honey-boney (Spinelli) has the crush on."
- ―Spinelli's Mother
Throughout the series, it has been stated that Spinelli has a crush on T.J., and it has been hinted that he has similar feelings for her. This has caused much of the Recess fandom to "ship" the characters or supporting romantic theories between the characters. Shipping between T.J. and Spinelli is notably the most popular pairing among Recess fans.
Please note that shipping can be very subjective among fans of anything. As such, this article is subjective and others may or may not agree with the pairing.
Things They Both Have In Common
- Both are the only two members of the gang who have a three syllable last name: "Det-wie-ler" and "Spi-nel-li"
- Both dislike something about their name: Spinelli does not like her first name "Ashey" and T.J. doesn't like "Jasper" in his whole name.
- Both wear a hat and a jacket.
- Both have hung out with the kindergarteners: T.J. as "Big Kid" and Spinelli as "Queen Spanoodie."
- Both live in a yellow colored house in the same neighborhood on the same street.
- Both have an older teenaged sibling: T.J.'s sister Becky and Spinelli's brother Joey
- Both own a beloved stuffed monkey named "Mr. Munk-Munk."
- Both have bonded with an adult enemy who works at the school: Spinelli with Miss Finster and T.J. with Principal Prickley.
- "The Trial" - When T.J. tells Spinelli that she needs to defend herself, they have a brief stare-off, followed by Spinelli saying, "Jeez, T.J., why do I let you talk me into these things?".
- "The Break In" - When just the 5 kids who are attempting to free T.J. from detention; during their recess go to seek help from King Bob, who seemed uninterested in helping out a 9 year old 4th grader, insulting the boy by calling him "Some Dumb kid", which seems to really get under Spinelli's skin; as she then tells him off with some big speech just as T.J. would, clearly Spinelli does not like it when people talk rudely of T.J.
- "Parents' Night" - This episode confirms Spinelli's crush on T.J. When her mother Flo sees the gang, she begins by getting the gang's names wrong. As soon as she gets to T.J., she mentions to Bob that "He's T.J. the one our little honey-bunch has the crush on!".
- "Weekend at Muriel's" - When Spinelli is upset about being at Miss Finster's house and feels the need to call one of her friends, she calls, out of every member of the gang, T.J.
- "The Biggest Trouble Ever" - When the Recess Gang are scrubbing the school floors with toothbrushes, T.J. decides to joke around, which causes Spinelli to giggle in a very girly, flirtacious way which she never did before in the series (and never does again). T.J. is notably the only character to make her laugh like that.
- "Swing on Thru to the Side" - During lunch time in the cafeteria when Spinelli and Mikey have separated themselves from the rest of the gang to eat with some other kids and talk about how Swinger Girl ate her food, T.J. then goes over to their table and asked Spinelli if he could have a talk with her. Spinelli kindly turns him down not wanting to talk at the moment; which makes T.J. tell her that it is "important",and Spinelli then replies "Oh Theodore; sweet, gentle Theodore you only think it's Important" in a soft pleasant voice.
- Recess: School's Out - When T.J. is trying to contact the gang from his walkie-talkie to the one in the treehouse, his line goes dead. When he stops talking to the gang, Spinelli is the first to freak out and grabs the walkie-talkie, screaming his name twice with concern and horror.
- Recess: School's Out - In the movie, there's a part where the 6 main kids are running through the dark school at night; and being chased by the bad guys who recently caught them snooping around, while they are running around trying to avoid being captured they try to make it out one of the exit doors but are cut off by 3 ninjas dressed in black and holding nunchuck weapons. So they have to make quick sharp turn and continue running down another hall; if you watch close and pay good attention you will see Spinelli quickly take hold of T.J. by his jacket around on the shoulder area with her hand as they are turning to run, I guess Spinelli wanted to make sure that T.J. was right by her at all times.
- "Swing on Thru to the Other Side" - Right after Gus goes and tells T.J., Vince and Gretchen about Spinelli who was about to attempt swinging through to the other side; The four of them then rush to where Spinelli has as stacked 2 tall ladders and is getting ready to climb up them both, as Mikey hoists up the swing she will use with a long rope. T.J. who is clearly frightened about the idea; and worried about what Spinelli is about to do, then tries to talk some sense into her by saying. "But Spinelli you called fall off and get yourself killed!"
- "Swing on Thru to the Other Side" - Towards the end of the episode, Spinelli is sitting on the merry-go-round looking dejected after her Swinger Girl cult was destroyed and the gang go over to her and comfort her. T.J. is the first one to ask if she's okay while directly sitting next to her and putting his hand on her shoulder.
- "Mama's Girl" In the beginning of the episode when all the students in Miss Grotkee's class happily rush out of the room to go to recess; Spinelli is the last one out and is eager to play a game of "Maul Ball" until the teacher calls her back into the classroom wanting to talk to her about her homework, as the rest of the gang assume that Spinelli is in trouble and even T.J. puts his hand on her shoulder and says to her "Uh-oh Spinelli, looks like she's gonna give it to you again!" as Spinelli looks at him right before the others offer to back her up. After Spinelli called Miss Grotkee "Mama" during recess in front of all the kids who laughed at her; she also had to put up with some mean remarks and rude comments in the cafeteria during lunch right, before sitting at the table where friends were and right next to T.J. who smiled at her as she sat down.
- "Mama's Girl" - When their third attempt of trying to get other kids to say "Mama" falls through; T.J. and the gang go over to the outside picnic tables where Spinelli is to see how she's doing; T.J. is the first one to ask if she is okay as he puts his arm around her shoulders, then later in the episode T.J. sticks up for Spinelli by also calling Miss Grotke "mama" and eventually getting all the other kids to do it in order to make Spinelli feel better. Finally at the end of the school when all the students are happily running out of the building; Spinelli who is very grateful for what her friends did for back in the class says that she doesn't how to thank them, T.J. then puts his arm around her and tells her no problem as they both smile at each while walking down the front school steps.
- "Operation Stuart" - Right after the mangy stray cat that the kids find ends up escaping from them somewhere out on the playground; the kids have to use their recess time to try and find it again, T.J. decides to split up his friends in sets of two to cover more ground. He puts Vince with Gus; Mikey with Gretchen, and what do you know he put Spinelli with himself and even said to her "Spinelli you're with me." T.J. could have put Spinelli with someone else in the gang; but he wanted her with him, that's big proof right there.
- "Officer Mikey" - When Mikey's friends are talking to Captain Brad and his two aides; to see if they can help Mikey become a "crossing guard" like he wants, are laughed at by Brad who yells at Mikey by telling him that he will "Never!" become a crossing guard. Spinelli who does not like the guy's attitude and how he is being mean to poor Mikey; then says to him "Hey pal; it's his dream!", he then looks down at her and replies in a harsh tone. Hey I know you,you're that j-walking anarchist!" This get Spinelli upset; as she then attempts to attack Brad with her fist, but then is instantly stopped by T.J. who grabs her to hold her back. Also, at the end of the episode the kids who went through a lot of trouble just to try and help Mikey become a crossing guard like he had been wishing for, are surprised to find him in the cafeteria eating rather than out on the streets patrolling. When they question him as to why he's not doing his duty; he tells them that he has Quit his job as a Crossing Guard and complains to them about all the boring stuff he had to do and all the unpleasant things he had gone through, saying that he was "not cut from the cloth." apparently. Spinell who is clearly not too happy about all the trouble she and the gang had to put up with just to satisfy Mikey, then replies in an annoyed tone; "Not cut from the Cloth?" and clenches her fist in anger, T.J. then calms her down by placing his hand on Spinelli's shoulder before asking Mikey as to why he quit his job.
- "Parents' Night" - Right after Spinelli's friend get to meet her fake parents and seem to be impressed by them both; the gang then goes over to Spinelli to complement her on her "cool parents", and as they do T.J. once again puts one of his hands on one of Spinelli's shoulders.
- "Soccer Boy" - Right after Mikey announces to 3 of his friends that he will be playing "goalie" on Lawson's soccer team he then walks away from them; Vince, T.J. and Spinelli are at first a little surprised by the news but then find the very idea funny as they burst out laughing, and as they do T.J. just randomly puts his hand on Spinelli's shoulder just for the heck of it supposedly.
- "Good Luck Charm" - After Spinelli loses Vince's "lucky marble" down the sewer drain; and can not get it back out, T.J. put his arm around her shoulders to try and comfort her.
- "Big Ol' Mikey" - While Gretchen is using her little computer gadget companion "Galileo" to help predict the future heights of the most of the gang members like Gus then Vince; when it's Spinelli's turn she is told that she will be "5 feet and 6 inches" when she is an adult, to which she replies with a smirk "5'6" plus 2 ; it's more then I'll need." Then T.J. get his chance and finds out that he will "5 feet & 9 inches" when he grows up; and to this he says "I've got a plan already" as he looks over at Spinelli standing behind him, with the sly smile on his face.
- "Partners in Crime" - When the gang and a whole lot of other kids decide to play a rousing game of "Battle Tag"; both Vince and T.J. make themselves Team Captains for either side right before going back and forth and calling out the names of the people that they want on their team, T.J. who is first to speak up immediately chooses Spinelli as his very first choice and without any hesitation at all. He calls out "Team Blue, I pick Spinelli;" Maybe T.J. picked Spinelli solely on the fact that she is really good at the game and his team will have much better chance at winning with her playing for them, or maybe that's what he would want others to think.
- "That Stinking Feeling" - During recess when the gang is getting ready to pull a prank on Principle Prickly just for the fun of it; T.J. tells each of his friends what he wants them to do except for Spinelli, who then eagerly asked him what he has assigned for her. T.J. who feels that it would be best for Spinelli to not be included in on the prank; then smiles at her and says as he gently tilts up her chin with his finger "That's okay Spinelli; don't you worry your pretty little head, you just keep on thinking about songs and junk.", T.J. continues to explain more of the prank to the rest of the gang as poor Spinelli just walks away feeling rejected and left out.
- "More Like Gretchen" - When Spinelli complains to the gang about going to the Glamor Puss Museum, T.J. says that his heart goes out to her.
- Recess: School's Out - During the movie there's a part where T.J. and Prickly who have just escaped from being captured by the bad guys; are reunited with the rest of the gang and happy to see them again, When T.J. walks over his friends he puts his hand on Spinelli's shoulder.
- Recess: School's Out - That music video that the gang performs at the end of the movie;where Mikey uses his deep voice to sing that song 'Green Tambourine' while the others each play an instrument, you Spinelli dancing with her eyes closed and T.J. just staring at her with a big smile on his face has he plays the sitar that he has.
- Recess: Taking the Fifth Grade - In the Halloween episode of the DVD Spinelli convinces her friends to come in with her into the old abandon "Gordon House" for some fun; after entering inside the gang ends up becoming trapped in the scary old house and start to panic when they hear creepy noises, then they even see a door open with a light shining from it. Spinelli who apparently feels guilty and responsible for everything decides that it's up to her to go check out the light. When she walks over towards the doorway and steps in she tells her friends that it's a "cellar" and that she is "going down"; she then disappears out of sight right before the light turns off causing her to let out a scared sounding scream which makes the others scream in fear as well, the cellar door then slams shut seemingly trapping Spinelli inside causing T.J. to worry about her as he calls out her name in panic and rushes over to the cellar door in an attempt to go rescue his friend. It turns out that in the end Spinelli was never in any kind of danger nor were the others; and it was all just a big act and performance put on by Spinelli with the help of some adults from school just to have some scary fun with her friends, but the fact that T.J. did show great concern towards his friend when he thought that she in some kind of danger still stand out of course.
- " First Name's Ashley " - At the end of this episode, Spinelli is shown chasing after Randall, as she runs out of frame T.J says "There's a lot of Ashleys out there, but there's only one Spinelli." Then as the episode ends the screen zeros in on T.J's face.
Hints on both sides
- "The Experiment" - As Spinelli and T.J. are kissing each other during the "experiment"; the playground briefly turns into a pretty rainbow-filled grassy green landscape, which clearly means that they are really enjoying the kiss. After the kiss finally ends the two of them briefly look at each other with dreamy eyes; right before shouting out "EEWW!!" and appearing to be grossed-out by the kiss, though it's also hinted that they may have done this to protect their reputations since the kiss lasted about 15 seconds.
- "The Candidates" - Even though it was supposed to be Gretchen running against Vince for "Class President"; it felt more like it was a friendly battle between Spinelli and T.J., who in a way were using each of their friends as a pawn.
- "The Rating Game" Spinelli and TJ, were apparently the only two who knew that the whole "Rating" idea was ridiculous and when T.J. took a stand up against the 'Ashleys' Spinelli was the first to stand behind him.
- "Recess Christmas: Miracle on Third Street" - At the beginning of the movie when all the kids are outside happily playing in the snow on the school playground; there is a moment where Vince is shown pushing a sled with T.J. and Spinelli riding on, and Spinelli is sitting on top of T.J.'s back in a saddle position while he his lying down on his stomach.
- "Yes Mikey Santa Does Shave" - During the recess gang's rendition of the song 'Jingle Bells'; at the very beginning of the song Mikey's who his singing in his deep voice and is dressed up as Santa Claus, is riding in a sleigh that his being pulled by both Spinelli and T.J. pretending to be the reindeer for him. Also during the song T.J. and Spinelli are shown together again; singing while they have fun building a snow woman that resembles Miss Fintster, until Mikey pops his head up and ruins it all in good fun. Towards the end of the song the 5 kids all form a circle in the snow around Mikey which is shown from an overhead veiw; once again Spinelli and T.J. are next to one another as they and the other 3 all join hands, before looking up at the sky then falling down on their backs to make snow angels.
- "This Brain For Hire" - While Gretchen is riding around the neighborhood on her bicycle and towing a red wagon full of school books to tutor with; she first goes to the Detweiler house to see T.J. and his told by his mother that her son and Spinelli are both up in T.J.'s bedroom.
- "The Pest" - While Gretchen is at home in bed sleeping in her room she starts to have a nightmare; where she is forcibly getting married to that annoying boy "Geoffrey" who won't leave her alone already, her friends are there in the church as well as some other random school kids who are also attending the wedding.On the right side of the isle sitting in the pews you see Mikey, Vince and Gus; and on the left side of the isle sitting up front in the pews you see Spinelli and T.J. right next to each other, even in other people's dreams they are together.
- "Gus's Last Stand" - When the children all realize that the big bully "Gelman" will be looking for a new kid to pick on since that his old one recently moved away; they all decide to quickly get out of sight to avoid being his next victim, T.J. first yells out "Scatter!" as warning to all the other kids on the playground to go and hide right before he and Spinelli run off in one direction together while Vince, Mikey and Gretchen all go in the other direction.
- " Rumor Mill" Towards the end of the episode when Mikey's friends believe that Randal is the one responsible for starting up the mean rumor about him; Spinelli and T.J. each go over and grab hold of Randal's arms with both hands and threaten to take him into the girl's bathroom as a punishment, but then Mikey who thinks that is a cruel punishment demands that they stop and let him go as he walks over and uses both arms to pick up both T.J. and Spinelli. Who are quite stunned as they listen to Mikey tell Randal that he can go free, before putting his two friends back down on the ground again.
- " Economics of Recess" At the beginning of the episode when T.J. is dropped off at school by his mother after being out sick for a few days; his friends all approach and happily greet him right before Gretchen says to him “Spinelli sort of took over in your absence while you were gone.”, as if Spinelli was second in command of the gang whenever T.J. was not present at all and self-proclaimed of course. Sort of like a King and Queen thing going on; except Spinelli may not be that good of a leader seeing Gus also told T.J. “She’s a lot less willing to try things out.” while rubbing the arm that had probably been punched by you know who.
- "Germ Warfare" After Gus scares all the children into thinking that playground is infested with germs; they all end up wearing surgical masks and rubber gloves while thoroughly cleaning the playing, as all the kids are busy scrubbing away T.J. and Spinelli are standing together by "Old Rusty" and both cleaning the bottom of the swirly slide.
- "Buried Treasure" After Mikey tells Randal about the secret of the buried school treasure and makes him a part of finding it; Spinelli and T.J. are both over by The Ashley's clubhouse and are not too happy about Randall now knowing about the treasure, that's it really just them being alone together with nobody else around at all.
- "Recess: School's Out" - There's a part in the movie where the kids are outside the school and secretly watching the bad guys take some boxes out of a van from the back doors; when the bad guys leave the kids want to see just what's in one of the boxes, so they lower Spinelli down from the school roof hanging from a long rope and into the open sunroof of the same van. The kids then pull the rope back up again; and raise Spinelli back out of the van from the sunroof again, this time Spinelli has tied one of the boxes to the rope and rides on top of as her friends pull her back to the school roof. When Spinelli gets back up to the top of the school; Mikey and Gus take hold of the box while Gretchen and T.J. both reach out to Spinelli and take hold of her arms as they help her back onto the top of the school, for a brief moment you see Spinelli and T.J. just staring at each for some reason.
- Most Recess merchandise often places T.J. and Spinelli very close to each other, which does not happen with any other members of the gang with the two characters (With the exception of merchandise only featuring Gretchen and Spinelli; usually clothing and accessories aimed towards young girls). Some pieces of merchandise only had Spinelli and T.J. together without any of the other members of the gang.
- When the Recess Gang appeared on the cover of Disney Adventures in September 1998, T.J. has his hand on Spinelli's shoulder.
- T.J. and Spinelli are apparently the only two members of the gang who live very close to each other; like within walking distance of their two house, in the episode 'Parents Night' when T.J. mentions never have seeing Spinelli parents before and Vince reminds him that he lives "right down the street from Spinelli." Plus in the episode 'The Experiment'; you can clearly see that T.J.'s home is just 3 houses away from Spinelli's home, perhaps the creators wanted these 2 to always be very close to one another
- Thought the series and in a good amount of episodes T.J. is seen either placing just a hand on Spinelli's shoulder or putting his whole arm around both of them; and even giving each other the occasional high five, T.J. as done this to all his other friends but it's seems to mostly directed towards Spinelli. Almost as if he enjoys touching her without using the obvious and awkward feeling of a hug or hand holding at all; also in most episodes where the students all have to go to the auditorium to watch some show being peformed during an assembly T.J. and Spinelli are usually seen sitting right next to each other, and most of the time whenever Spinelli is about to attack someone she is mad at or has already pounced on them T.J. is usually the one to either hold her back or pull her off of the victim.