Spinelli is one of the six kids in The Recess Gang and T.J.'s best friend. She is a gruff, tough tomboy, and hates whenever she's referred to by her first name, due to it being associated with the local snobs of the school, the "Ashleys", with whom she wants nothing to do with. She often tries to result in physical violence, with one of her friends usually stopping her. Despite being very violent at times, she is very kind and warmhearted, and roots for the underdog. She and Vince are considered to be T.J.'s "right-hand men" in the show, and it has been revealed many times that she has a crush on T.J. as well. She is also an accomplished artist, as seen in the episode, "Spinelli's Masterpiece". In the episode "Parents' Night", it's shown that she has very embarrassing parents, as they arrive at the school pronouncing her friends' names wrong and also show her friends pictures of her as a baby, we also learn that they are secret agents. She also dislikes her mother's pressure on her to have more "girly" traits. Because of this, she often looks up to her teacher, Miss Grotke, as a mother figure to her. In "Weekend at Muriel's", it is revealed that her parents and her maternal grandmother, Aggie, are family friends of Miss Finster. In fact, Spinelli's grandmother used to have fun with Miss Finster in Guam back in the 1950s.
Recess: School's Out
On the last day of school, Spinelli steals boxes of ice cream that Ms. Finster had hidden all year from a truck to give to the students. After school, T.J. is looking forward to fun things for the six of them to do during the summer, right up until Vince mentions going to baseball camp, to which Spinelli reveals that she is going to a wrestling training camp, and the others mention that they are all going to different camps, much to T.J.'s dismay.
The day after his friends all go to their camps, T.J. notices something weird going on at Third Street School, and then the following day, when his suspicions are dismissed by his parents and the police, and Principal Prickly is dematerialized when he tries to unlock the front entrance, T.J. is left with no other choice but to enlist the help of his friends. As Spinelli is about to perform her "flying press" on her opponent, she is suddenly scooped up by T.J., Gretchen, Vince, and Mikey, after which they pick up Gus. Going to the school, the six observe mysterious men unloading boxes from their vehicles. Spinelli sneaks one of them, but when they open the box, all they find is old school records. Spinelli then jumps to the conclusion that T.J. deceived them just to bring them back, right up until they see a tractor beam emerge from the school roof as they are going back to their camps. The six then spend the night watching the school from T.J.'s treehouse.
As Spinelli and the others return to camp in the morning, T.J. investigates the school again, and stumbles upon Principal Prickly's golf pants, which were thrown in the dumpster. Reuniting again that evening, Gretchen examines the pants and finds a note reading "Help Me!" in the pocket. Going off to the school to rescue Prickly, Spinelli expresses her opinion that breaking into the school is an insane idea. Unbeknowst to them, Randall overhears their plan, and proceeds to tell Ms. Finster.
Once inside, they hide in their former classroom to avoid approaching guards. Hearing voices coming from the vents, they go into the vent and follow it to the auditorium, where they listen in. As they try to run for it after getting caught, they come face to face with Kojak, to which Spinelli calls him “alien scum” and headbutts him in the stomach. After escaping from the school without T.J., and getting laughed at by the police, the gang looks through the box of documents again; Spinelli stumbles upon a date book that speaks of lunar perigee, which she misreads as “Luna Pergum“, and believes her to be an Italian girl, before Gretchen correctly translates it as “Lunaeperigeum”, and explains what it really means.
She is the opposite of Mikey in many ways. While Mikey is kind, good-hearted, sweet, gentle, peaceful, and poetic, Spinelli is tough, aggressive, angry, tomboyish, 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.
She seems to search out female role-models other than her own mother throughout the series, admiring, looking up to, and finding solace in the advice and confidence of Miss Finster, Miss Grotke, and Madame Pavlova, revealing a much more sensitive side.
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 is a Libra, meaning that she was born between the month and dates of September 24 and October 23. And since she is at the age of 9 and the show was made in the year 1997, she was likely born in the year 1988.
Throughout the show's run, various hints have been dropped that Spinelli has feelings for T.J. There are also suggestions that T.J. may well share these feelings.
Spinelli is the only member of The Recess Gang to be voiced by an adult (though in a few foreign dubs, she's voiced by a kid). 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 is mentioned in an episode of Lloyd in Space another show that Paul Germain and Joe Ansolabehere have made.
In the Portuguese dub, Spinelli's first name is changed to Patricia.
Spinelli is the only member of The Recess Gang who isn't drawn with nostrils.
According to the official website for the series, her favorite colors are black and blue.
She was named after her Great Aunt Ashley, who was the first woman to win the Iditarod (in reality, the first woman to win the Iditarod was Libby Riddles in 1985) that was mentioned in "First Name Ashley".
Her first name is Ashley. She admits that she actually does like her first name, but the only reason she does not want to be called Ashley is because she does not want to be part of The Ashleys.