A pretty brunette player with a charming freshness and likability, Shiri Appleby racked up a number of television credits before landing the role of Liz Parker, a teenage girl who is miraculously healed of a gunshot wound by a smitten classmate who confesses he is really an alien, on The WB sci-fi teen drama "Roswell". Appleby got her start in commercials at age four and from there landed her first series acting job, a recurring part on the NBC daytime drama "Santa Barbara" in 1985. Two years later the child performer made her TV-movie debut, with an appearance in NBC's "Blood Vows: The Story of a Mafia Wife" and could be seen in the following year's CBS drama "Go Toward the Light", about a young boy who contracts AIDS through a blood transfusion. Appleby made her big screen debut in the forgettable "Curse II: The Bite" (1989) the same year she was featured in the short-lived NBC sitcom "Knight & Daye". In 1990, the young actress appeared in Lawrence Kasdan's comedy "I Love You to Death" before landing a regular role on the Norman Lear comedy "Sunday Dinner" (CBS, 1991). The series' brevity (airing only six episodes) failed to make the show a substantial vehicle for the actress' breakthrough. In 1992, Appleby was featured in the USA Network movie "Perfect Family" and was a frequent guest performer, playing teens on series ranging from the popular "Doogie Howser, M.D." (ABC) to the all but forgotten "Against the Grain" (NBC). She returned to films with a featured part in "Family Prayers" (1993), playing the potential girlfriend of a young Jewish boy in this 1969-set coming-of-age drama.
In addition to appearing in the 1994 premiere of popular NBC medical series "ER" in 1994, Appleby could be seen portraying a young woman caught up in a street gang on a 1997 episode of "7th Heaven". During the 1998-99 season, Appleby had an amusing recurring role on "Xena: Warrior Princess" playing Tara, an aspiring young warrior who seeks to take Gabrielle's place as Xena's sidekick. After supporting roles in the 1999 features "The Other Sister" and the time-travel thriller "The Thirteenth Floor", she landed a starring role in the cult hit "Roswell" (The WB, 1999-2001; UPN, 2001- ), playing Liz Parker, a high school student and part-time waitress in the New Mexico town known as the site of an alleged 1947 UFO crash. Trouble comes to the restaurant where Liz works (owned by her father), and she is shot but miraculously healed by mysterious classmate Max (Jason Behr), an alien who has taken human form. Liz must then keep his secret, helping him and his alien compatriots Isabel (Katherine Heigl) and Michael (Brendan Fehr) dodge suspecting authorities. Part sci-fi adventure and part teen drama, the series proved an enjoyable hybrid, with Appleby's portrayal of the confused and sympathetic young woman serving as a particular highlight.