Rebellious and eccentric, Kelly Cramer came to Llanview after being kicked out of her boarding school in Paris. She lived with her cousin Cassie and her husband, Andrew Carpenter for a while, but felt that they were too strict, so she left the Carpenter household and moved in with her Aunt Dorian.
Kelly spoke of being worldly and having had a lot of experience with men, when in fact she was an innocent. Kelly had her first real relationship with Joey Buchanan, which ended shortly after Joey left to go to school in Paris. Distraught over the "Dear Jane" letter she received from him, Kelly jumped into her car and, due to the rain and her uncontrollable tears, she ran an oncoming car off the road, causing a tragic accident. It turned out that Patrick Thornhart was the driver of the other vehicle, and an expectant Blair was a passenger. Blair, who was severely injured, lost her unborn baby.
Kelly harbored a great deal of guilt trying to come to grips with the aftermath of the accident. Her cousin Blair did not forgive her for a long time and it took a long to for the two of them to become close again. Kelly next dated Ian Armitage, who was killed in a plane crash, and Kelly inherited a huge fortune from him. Kelly's biggest problem seemed to be figuring out what to do with all that money. She dated Drew Buchanan next, but Drew died in late 1998 and everyone thought that Dorian was behind Drew's murder! Dorian was cleared, which relieved Kelly very much.
Months passed and in early months of 1999, Kelly had an affair with Max Holden. She was going to marry him, but she left him at the altar when she realized she still had feelings for Joey. Little did Kelly know that on her supposed to be wedding day to Max, Joey had a one-night stand with Sophia Pelligrino.
Kelly was happy to see her boarding school buddy, and best friend, Grace Monroe come to Llanview. But everyone's, including Kelly's, hearts were shattered when Grace died in November of 1999. Kelly and Kevin (who had been engaged to Grace) found a common interest when they both shared the same pain from Grace's death. Joey was a little jealous because Kelly became very worried about Kevin. In December of 1999, Joey and Kelly got engaged.
On New Years Eve of 1999, after a few drinks with Kevin, Kelly made a big mistake by kissing Kevin and they almost made love. Kevin and Kelly decided to keep the truth from Joey. When Joey learned about Viki's breast cancer in 2000, Joey and Kelly eloped!
After months of working with Kevin to take down Asa, Kelly tried very hard to keep her marriage to Joey a good one, even with her pressing feelings for Kevin always around her. But that didn't last long, because Kelly wanted a baby with Joey to save her marriage. When she didn't become pregnant Kelly spilled the truth about her feelings for Kevin to Joey and they decided to get a divorce.
Because Kelly saw the hit man who tried to kill Ben Davidson, she was in grave danger and both Kevin and Joey moved in with her to protect her. Joey claimed to be moving the divorce along, but he was having a hard time letting go and was actually stalling the divorce. After he and Kevin saved Kelly from Charlie, the hit man, Joey moved to London and left Kelly to enjoy her relationship with Kevin.
But soon after, Kevin went to live in Texas to be near his son Duke and Kelly followed him there to live with him a few months later. Kelly returned for a short time to attend the ceremony of Blair and Todd's wedding in December 2001 and was in Llanview again briefly in January 2002 when Paloma went to the Mill House looking for Blair and found Kelly instead.
In 2003, Kelly would return to Llanview shortly after Kevin, who was delving into politics. Though the couple was now married, it was clear that there were problems with even Kelly questioning Kevin's fidelity. However, Kelly was determined to hold on to her marriage by becoming pregnant even at the risk of her own life. Kelly's desperation reached enormous heights when Kevin told her that he wanted a divorce. Determined to hang on to her marriage, Kelly was elated to find herself pregnant. Unfortunately, Kelly lost the child. Then as if on cue, Kelly's recently discovered half-brother, Paul, summoned her to the nearby town of Pine Valley and presented her with an unwanted baby boy. Having told no one of her recent miscarriage, Kelly brought the child home, introducing him as her own son.
When Kelly and Kevin's marriage crumbled, Kevin fought Kelly for custody of the boy and won. This was the start of a devastating downward spiral for Kelly, but she recovered enough to finally realize that she needed to return the baby to his natural mother, whom she had discovered was Babe Chandler. Kevin was still determined to keep the boy he viewed as his, but Kelly finally convinced him that the boy needed his mother. Despite all that had come between them, Kelly found herself still caring for her husband, and the two began dating.
Although Kelly and Kevin were back together, it didn't take much to split them up again. Soon after breaking up with Kevin (again), Kelly started dating Spencer Truman, the new doctor in town. After being warned by many of his shady dealings, Kelly left Spencer and started dating Kevin again. She later found out that Spencer found a surgery that Kelly could undergo that would help her conceive a baby. She convinced Spencer to perform the surgery and with Kevin's blessing, she got the treatment that could cure her relationship problems with Kevin. As Kelly was recovering from the surgery, Kevin proposed to her and they got engaged. Spencer, however, had something against the Buchanan's and gave Kevin a virus that eventually rendered him sterile and unable to conceive a child with Kelly, who was now fertile. This caused Kevin to fall into a depression and start drinking. During this time, Duke, Kevin's son, was doing his best to console Kelly and be there for her. Duke eventually fell in love with Kelly and told her one night when he was drunk. She and Duke both denied this to Kevin when he became suspicious. In the end, Kevin and Kelly's relationship was so strained by the infertility problem that they broke up again. Duke found Kelly upset and crying and attempted to console her but the two ended up making love in the rectory. As a tornado hit Llanview, the rectory collapsed and both Duke and Kelly were left unconscious. Kevin found them both and had to choose which would go into surgery first, ultimately, deciding who would live and die. Kevin chose Kelly to go into surgery first and Duke died in his arms.
The Buchanans were mourning Duke's death when Kelly found out that she was pregnant. She was reluctant to take the pregnancy test but eventually confessed to Hugh that she was pregnant with Duke's child. Knowing that the truth would come out eventually, she also made this confession to Kevin, who swore he would never forgive her. Kelly then decided that it was time to leave Llanview. Realizing that she was spotting, Kelly got scared that she could be losing her baby and went to a clinic to find out if the baby was healthy. Kevin found Kelly there and together, they found out that the baby was healthy. Kevin asked Kelly to return to Llanview with him and she did. Kelly went into premature labor with Kevin by her side and had her baby. Together, Kelly and Kevin worried about the health of the baby, which they later named Zane. Zane brought the couple back together and they decided to become a real family. Kevin wanted Kelly to start a new life with him but they realized that this would not be possible in Llanview and decided to move to London.
Kelly resurfaced in Paris in February 2010 when she ran into her cousin, Adrianna, in a restaurant. Kelly explained that Kevin had taken Zane on a skiing trip, and she had gone to Paris to shop. The two gossiped about goings-on in Llanview and caught the attention of an attractive Frenchman who bought them champagne. Kelly encouraged Adriana to get to know the man, since she hadn't been with anyone since Rex, and convinced her to let the man take her home. Kelly then got a frantic call from her cousin Cassie Carpenter, warning her that the Cramer girls were in danger from Mitch Laurence, and Kelly worried that she had just sent Adrianna off with a killer. When Adriana couldn't be reached by phone, Kelly reached David Vickers in London and convinced him to meet her in Paris to help search for Adriana. The pair tracked down Adriana at a hotel, where it turned out she was engaging in kinky sex with the harmless Frenchman. Kelly told Adriana that Dorian was concerned for their safety, and they agreed to visit Llanview.
Kelly got a warm reception from Dorian but an icy greeting from Blair, who obviously still harbored resentment against Kelly for the car crash that killed Blair's unborn son Brendan many years earlier. When Cassie and Andrew arrived, they shared the tragic news that Kelly's mother Melinda had died of a heart attack while at a California sanitarium. Kevin returned to Llanview for Melinda's funeral and proposed to Kelly, but she turned him down and Kevin returned to London. Kelly planned to return to London as well, but then got a tempting offer from Todd to join the Sun. Kelly initially turned down the offer, but after realizing how much it bothered Blair, she took the job on the condition that she would get Todd's office and anything else she wanted. Todd repeatedly propositioned Kelly for sex, but she told him she wasn't interested.
Dorian suspected that Mitch was behind Melinda's death, and soon Kelly began to receive mysterious phone calls from a man claiming that Melinda was murdered. She and Todd went to Statesville Prison to question Mitch, but he denied any involvement. Mitch's disciple Allison Perkins admitted to Kelly that she had gone to California to kill Melinda but claimed she was already dead when Allison arrived. Kelly enlisted help from John McBain, who discovered that the phone calls to Kelly were coming from the sanitarium. They flew to California and questioned the administrator, who presented them with phone logs showing that the calls came from her office. The administrator denied any knowledge of wrongdoing, but a mute patient named Rodney seemed to know something. After returning to Llanview, Kelly was shocked when Rodney showed up at her office and told her that Melinda was murdered. Kelly went to call for help and returned to find Rodney dead. John investigated and determined that Rodney died of natural causes, but he warned Kelly that whoever killed her mother could now be in Llanview.
Kelly was surprised when Reed Wagner, a charming Brit who worked at the Buchanan Enterprises London office, showed up at her doorstep. Reed had attempted to date Kelly back in London but she declined, even though she and Kevin were living together platonically. Kelly agreed to go out on a date with Reed, but a wary Dorian ordered Shaun Evans to be Kelly's bodyguard until Melinda's murderer was apprehended. Reed hoped to get Kelly into bed, but Kelly said she wanted to take things slow. Shaun caught Reed alone in Kelly's office at The Sun and figured he was up to something. Kelly was suspicious but gave him the benefit of the doubt when Reed said he was only there to see if she wanted to go out with him. Kelly said she was too busy to go out, and Reed sensed she wasn't interested in him. Reed smashed a vase to get a rise out of Kelly, not realizing it was a vase Melinda had made for Kelly before she died. Reed apologized and left for London, leaving Kelly to pick up the pieces of the vase. She discovered a piece of paper inside one of the broken shards containing a name - Bennett Thompson - and told John she believed this was the man responsible for her mother's death.
John was busy dealing with other police matters, so Kelly hired Rex Balsom to track down Bennett Thompson. Rex began his search in Boston, where Rodney was from, and Kelly followed him there after Rex failed to return her calls. Rex realized he had been drugged by Bennett Thompson, who pretended to be Rex to steal files from the records clerk that would have implicated him in Melinda's murder. Kelly shared this news with John, who sent a picture to the records clerk to get a positive identification of Bennett Thompson. Kelly intercepted the picture and realized it was Eli Clarke, her cousin Blair's fiancé. The records clerk turned up dead before he could identify Eli, and John warned Kelly to keep quiet until he had the evidence to arrest Eli. Kelly went directly to Blair, however, and told her that she couldn't marry Eli because he was a suspected serial killer. Blair refused to believe it, even after John confirmed that he was investigating Eli as part of an ongoing case. Kelly nearly got caught in Eli's room, but managed to escape with shredded documents Eli had stolen that once belonged to Evangeline Williamson.
Police reconstructed a shredded photo of Eli that turned out to be a mug shot of him as Craig Pattison, who was arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife. Kelly then convinced Robert Ford to admit that he knew Eli as Bennett Thompson because he was having an affair with Bennett's wife Olivia, who went missing shortly before Bennett arrived in Llanview as Eli. The evidence was enough to get an arrest warrant for Eli, who had fled to Tahiti with Blair. Kelly managed to reach Blair in Tahiti and told her everything the police had discovered about Eli. Kelly soon learned that Eli was believed dead in a fire, and Blair told Kelly he had confessed everything before he died. Kelly was relieved to have gotten closure for her mother and scattered Melinda's ashes in a river.
After David left Dorian at the altar and fled town, Kelly hired Rex to find him, convinced that confronting him would be the only way for Dorian to get the closure she needed. Kelly was disappointed when Rex told her that David didn't want to be found. Gigi confronted Kelly about all the time she was spending with Rex and asked if she was interested in Rex, but Kelly assured Gigi that she and Rex were only friends.
Rex invited Kelly to go with him to Todd and Téa's post-wedding reception since Gigi was out of town. Kelly got very drunk and impulsively kissed Rex, although they quickly agreed to just remain friends. Kelly realized that she was at her happiest when she was with Joey Buchanan, her first love. She left a series of rambling phone messages for Joey and then decided to fly to London to see him, only to find ex-husband Kevin there instead. Kelly confided in Kevin that she wanted to try again with Joey and she headed back to Llanview after learning that Joey had gone there. On the plane, she met a woman named Aubrey who was going to Llanview to be with her boyfriend. Kelly ran into Aubrey again in Llanview and the two discovered that they went to the same boarding school in Paris. Kelly made plans to meet Joey for lunch so she could tell him how she felt, unaware that Joey was dating Aubrey.
Kelly met Joey at the Palace Hotel and jumped to conclusions when she saw Joey with an engagement ring, thinking he was going to ask her to marry him. Joey was shocked at the mere notion that he would want to marry Kelly again. When Joey introduced Kelly to Aubrey, he was surprised they already knew each other. Before Aubrey could say anything, Kelly blurted out how happy she was for both of them and stood by as Joey proposed marriage again and Aubrey accepted. When Joey asked Kelly what she had wanted to talk to Joey about, Kelly lied that she was getting back together with his brother Kevin.
Kelly, who was suspicious of Aubrey's true motives, discovered a photograph in a French magazine that showed Aubrey out with another man after she had begun dating Joey. Kelly showed the magazine to Joey, who dismissed the picture and then criticized Kelly for telling him about it.
Kelly was incredulous when Joey told her that the man in the photo with Aubrey was actually her brother, Cutter Wentworth. Dorian encouraged Kelly to make the moves on Cutter to try to expose him as a fraud. All Kelly ended up doing was upsetting Joey, who still believed that Kelly and Kevin were dating. Kelly lied that they had broken up and then called Kevin to fill him in on the story. After Kelly told Dorian that Aubrey used to go to the same Paris boarding school as Kelly, Dorian had Adriana mail her a copy of the yearbook from when Aubrey was enrolled there. However, the yearbook photo proved Aubrey attended school there. During a bachelor party for John and Brody, who were set to marry Natalie and Jessica in a double wedding, Joey and Kelly were locked in a storage room at Rodi's by a well-intentioned Shaun and Vivian. Kelly confessed that she still loved Joey, but Joey said it was too late since he was already with Aubrey.
During the wedding, all hell broke loose when it was revealed that Clint had tampered with DNA evidence to change the results of tests that proved he was Rex's father and Ford was the father of Jessica's baby. As Clint was being arrested, he gave Kelly a flash drive and told her to make sure Joey saw what was on it. But when Joey loaded up the drive, the footage showed Aubrey and Cutter in her hotel room talking about how much she loved Joey. Joey accused Kelly of secretly filming Aubrey and wouldn't listen as Kelly tried to explain that the flash drive actually came from Clint. Aubrey suggested that she and Joey marry right then, and Joey agreed - much to Kelly's dismay. Kelly ended up at Rodi's bar, where a despondent John showed up after learning that Brody was the father of Natalie's baby and not him. The two drowned their sorrows in shot after shot, eventually ending up at a dive bar on the outskirts of town where they nearly got beaten up by a group of bikers. Kelly and John retreated to a nearby motel room and found comfort in each other's arms. The next morning, Kelly tried to convince John that them having sex was a mistake and that he really loved Natalie. But John didn't care to listen and had no remorse for his actions. When Natalie showed up and found Kelly there in a towel, John admitted they had slept together and Natalie lashed out at Kelly.
Kelly tried to sneak into Llanfair to deliver a cake and apologize to Natalie, but Joey confronted her about sleeping with John and she ended up smashing the cake in Joey's face. Kelly ran into the Llanfair foyer and into John's arms. When Joey appeared, he ordered John not to lay a finger on Kelly and punched John in the face after John smartly retorted that he had laid more than a finger on her. After another roll in the hay, Kelly was mortified when Roxy burst into the apartment assuming she was Natalie. John enjoyed being with Kelly and even asked her out on a date. Kelly lashed out at Joey in front of Aubrey and mentioned how they had made out before his wedding - something Aubrey didn't know. Later Kelly went to Clint, demanding to know what dirt he had on Aubrey, and he told her that the hard drive from Aubrey's room proved that she and Cutter were con artists. But Kelly felt helpless, realizing that Joey wouldn't believe a word that came out of her mouth. Kelly was stunned when Marty showed up at her office, demanding that she stay away from John and then threatening to break them up just like she had broken up Natalie and John. Confused, Kelly called John and warned him that Marty seemed unstable.
Blair was searching for Todd's medical insurance card when she found an envelope taped to his desk that contained a document written in a secret code along with a picture of Todd before he had plastic surgery. Kelly scanned the document into the computer and ran code-detection software to figure out what the document said. Unsuccessful, Kelly turned over the encrypted document to John.
In May 2011, Kelly went to John's room at the Angel Square Motel to prepare him dinner when she was accosted by Marty. Marty reminded Kelly that she had warned her to stay away from John, saying that John was with Marty now. Kelly grabbed a large kitchen knife for protection, but Marty saw it and went after her with a smashed beer bottle. Kelly ended up in the bathroom, where Marty stabbed her with the knife and left her for dead. John found Kelly in a pool of blood and Kelly identified Marty as her attacker. The doctors told Kelly that she would survive because the knife had only punctured her liver. Joey rushed to Kelly's bedside and told Kelly that he knew that Aubrey was a fraud who was only after his money.
After Kelly's near-death experience, Joey realized he truly loved her and wanted to be with her. Kelly at first resisted, not wanting to be Joey's fall back girl, but Joey eventually won her over and they rekindled their relationship. Kelly and Joey visited Zane in London. When Kelly returned, she told Joey she missed Zane too much to stay away and was going back to London - permanently. Joey said he would move back with her.