Rescue Me's characters can be separated into three distinct categories: 1: FDNY ("62 Truck", Other FDNY; 2: The Gavin Family, 3: Non-Gavin/FDNY Recurring Characters (Family Characters Non-Gavin, Non-Related Recurring)
FDNY Senior Firefighter Thomas Michael "Tommy" Gavin
" There's no golden ring at the end of the ride... it's all bullshit."
Thomas Michael Gavin (born December 19, 1960) is a third generation New York City Fire Department Firefighter. He is a tortured character and a often relapsed raging alcoholic, as well as a chain-smoker and prescription-drug addict due to what he saw as a first responder to the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11.
Tommy started his career at a firehouse in the Meatpacking District of Manhattan and has transferred several times to firehouses in both Brooklyn and Staten Island. Tommy is currently the Senior Firefighter of New York City Fire Department Ladder Company 62, also known as "62 Truck", located in the northern Harlem section of Manhattan.
Tommy's fire company, Ladder 62, lost four men during the attacks of 9/11, one of whom was Tommy's cousin, best friend, and fellow firefighter, Jimmy Keefe. Tommy has been a firefighter for over 25 years and is also a motivational speaker/consultant for the FDNY Fire Academy, as seen in the pilot and final episodes.
Tommy is married to his childhood lover Janet Gavin. The two are "divorced" numerous times, but the announcement is occasionally followed by Tommy stating that they never filed for divorce, making the couple technically still married throughout the series. Their relationship is mostly unstable, however at some points they appear to be united. At the start of the series they have three children, two girls, Colleen and Katy, and one boy, Connor. Connor is killed in a hit-and-run accident,
putting further strain on Tommy and Janet's relationship, and causing Tommy to become a fully relapsed alcoholic.
They have a fourth child and second son, Wyatt, however, the child is strongly believed by both Tommy and Janet to be the product of Janet's affair with Tommy's brother, NYPD Detective Johnny, though a paternity test was never done.
They also have a fifth child and third son, Shea Gavin, in the series finale.
Tommy is also throughout the series in an off-and-on affair with his dead cousin's widow, Sheila Keefe. The two are seen sleeping together numerous times on the basis of sharing mutual grief over Jimmy Keefe's death, fueled by Tommy's rocky relationship with Janet.Throughout the series, a recurring theme is that of Tommy being visited by "ghosts," deceased people from his past - most frequently his cousin Jimmy - as well as fire victims he could not save. It is left ambiguous whether these are really ghosts or figments of Tommy's imagination.
- Abusive Parents - While some accusations he receives are unfairly thrown at him. Selling his possible son/nephew for $500,000 to Sheila DEFINITELY slides him into this territory.
- Ambiguous Disorder- Oh, so much.
- Ax-Crazy - Not in any murderous manner, but still.
- Because I'm Good at It
- Berserk Button - Making light of 9/11. Making MONEY off of 9/11. Messing with his children. Or any children for that matter.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer - For all the trouble he causes and all his flaws, he's still an active firefighter because he's really good at it.
- Cannot Spit It Out - Comes from bottling his emotions after dealing with the deaths of several close friends and family members.
- Catch Phrase - "I'm gonna be honest with you..."
- Chronic Hero Syndrome - This tropes should be renamed "Tommy Gavin Syndrome".
- Compressed Abstinence
- Conditioned to Accept Horror - Applies to most firefighters. Even more so for Tommy, as he can deal with the truly horrific situations that freeze up the rest of his crew.
- Crazy Jealous Guy - With Janet.
- Deadpan Snarker - A trait shared by nearly all characters in this show. Tommy is their king.
- Domestic Abuser - Odd example. No mention to any abuse while together, but Tommy definitely abuses Janet after they break-up. From pushing her onto the hood of a car after she tries and stop him from attacking his brother, after discovering that the two of the them had been sleeping together behind his back to raping her
- Is also on the receiving end of this in emotional abuse from nearly every romantic partner he has had. Is also sexual abused by Sheila and one or two other temporary partners.
- Drowning My Sorrows - The primary cause of his alcoholism and a major issue he must overcome.
- Extreme Doormat - Takes a myriad of abuse from his family. Tends to forgive them pretty quickly or brush it off all-together.
- Fearless Fool - Often cause for trouble for Tommy.
- Guilt Complex
- Heroic BSOD - Is constantly battling with himself to avoid having one of these. Due to the universe really wanting Tommy to experience this. he is nearly always one second away from BSOD.
- Humans Are Flawed
- In Harm's Way - Truly loves his "curse".
- Iron Woobie - GOOD! FUCKING! LORD! Tommy has the worst 10 year span in the history of any fiction set in the real world. Lets do a note with a list of all the crap that happens to Tommy in the 10-year window we get see of his life. WARNING!!! HEAVY SPOILERS IN NOTE: note and he still muscles through his life, the same way, every day.
- Leeroy Jenkins - Avert this trope, most of the time, due to sheer dumb luck. Franko, unfortunately was there when Tommy's luck ran out.
- Love Hungry - As emotionless as he is perceived by his family and friends, Tommy spends most of his free time trying to get or stay in his families good graces. His fight against his alcoholism is fueled by this.
- Love Martyr - His devotion to Janet after her emotional treatment of him.
- Married to the Job - Reason for his separation from Janet.
- Mood-Swinger - When going through emotional turmoil can be this.
- No Social Skills - The reason his retirement doesn't last.
- Open Mouth, Insert Foot
- Overprotective Dad - Don't screw with Tommy's kids. Averted with Connor.
- Papa Wolf
- Rebellious Spirit
- Revenge Before Reason - After hearing a French writer criticize America's thirst for revenge over 9/11, Tommy fully admits to wanting revenge for 9/11.
- Schemer - Thinks up many schemes to try and get back together with his wife.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot
- Socially-Awkward Hero - No fear of burning buildings, hates social conventions.
- Stopped Caring - Wants people to think he is this.
- The Tell - He closes his eyes when he's lying or bullshitting.
- Trash Talk
- Trauma Conga Line: Scroll up and look at that Iron Woobie entry again. That's just the season highlights. Each episode usually has him go through a minor Conga as well.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy - Reveals he constantly wanted his father's approval.
- What You Are in the Dark - Has many inter-mind moments of him acting on his suppressed urges, often resulting in Arson.
FDNY Lieutenant Kenneth "Lou" Shea
"Ask yourself this, Tom: If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to see it or hear it, would you still be such an asshole?"
Affectionately called "Lou" on account of his rank, he is among the smartest of the crew as well as the resident "philosopher" of the group. Lou is known as the "King of The One Liners" for his sarcasm.
FDNY Firefighter/Lieutenant Franco Rivera
"Yeah, it's a science, and I'm the mad scientist."
One of the most skilled and reliable members of the crew. Franco is of Puerto Rican/Mexican descent as well as Tommy's former protégé within the main group of firefighters. As the resident ladies' man of 62 Truck, he finds out that he has a 5-year old daughter named Keela, whose mother died of a cocaine overdose in a nightclub.
Franco gets injured after a ceiling collapses over top of him,
while trying to help a disoriented Tommy. This causes conflict between Tommy and Franco, which was eventually solved when Tommy transferred back to 62 Truck. While injured,
fellow firefighter Laura Miles helps Franco with Keela. This leads to a romantic relationship between the two. When Franco and Laura break up later in the season, Laura quietly transfers out of 62 Truck, causing Franco's emotional breakdown in front of her old apartment.
Sometime later, Franco loses custody of Keela
to a wealthy former girlfriend. when she finds out that he had custody of Keela despite signing away his parental rights.
He is revealed as one who believes that 9/11 was an inside job, which causes controversy inside and outside the firehouse. This also led to a physical confrontation between 62 Truck and a bunch of other firefighters from different firehouses.
After Needles and Lou see Franco in the basement pounding on a punching bag, they recruit Franco for the department's underground boxing organization. During this time, he starts dating a fellow female boxer who later turns out to be a lesbian.
Franco also helps out Janet with the kids and around the house while Tommy is hospitalized after Teddy Gavin shot him. Franco becomes close to Janet to the point where the two almost kiss.
This leads to conflicts with both Tommy and "Black Shawn", with Franco and Shawn having a physical altercation.
Later on Franco is a little more fearless and outspoken towards his fellow firemen, including his superiors. As Lou's health is failing, Tommy is suspended for cursing on national television, and Chief Needles
appears to be doing nothing to change things, Franco steps up and suggests he would be a better leader.
After one more disagreement between Lou and Franco, Lou (out of anger) suggests that Needles appoint Franco to Acting Lieutenant.
Even though Franco has the house cleaned and well-organized, he shows poor judgment during a call. Lou tells Franco that he's not ready to wear the lieutenant's shirt, and Franco's temporary leadership role ends. Despite this, Franco passes the Lieutenant's exam, and waits for his new assignment. After Lou dies in an arson fire, Tommy is initially promoted to Lieutenant but then resigns from active duty. Franco takes over the Lieutenant's post permanently, much to Tommy's respect as the two salute each other at the end of the series.
Franco's final moment in the series is drilling the newly-graduated probationary firefighters, shortly after Tommy gives them a speech about life lessons after 9/11.
FDNY Firefighter Sean Garrity
" It's like my dick is some sort of weapon of mass destruction."
A young firefighter who is known for his dim-witted yet kind-hearted nature, but he is very intelligent and brave when it comes to the fire alarms. Garrity dons a EMT patch on his bunker jacket, hinting that he is EMT trained. It was revealed in a minisode that Garrity was the probie of 62 truck before 9/11. He begins a relationship with Tommy's sister Maggie in Season 3, ultimately marrying her despite her antagonistic personality (only to divorce later).
It is heavily implied that he is sexually aroused by the female Gavins. Subsequent back problems ultimately lead to the revelation that Sean has developed renal carcinoma (kidney cancer),
most likely 9/11-related. In fear that he will be discharged from the FDNY if he uses the department insurance, Sean skims off the bar profits
to pay medical expenses. He has since recovered.
Later, he develops a romantic relationship with a woman that turns out to be a post-coital flatulater, as Sean smells a terrible stench after their moments of sex. Sean asks her to marry him and she says yes.
After the big fire at the end of the series, Sean puts in a transfer request.
However, after Lou's postmortem letter that requests that the crew stays together, Sean stays with 62 Truck.
FDNY Probational Firefighter/Firefighter Mike Siletti
FDNY 15th Battalion Chief Jerry Reilly
"What in the sweet chocolate Christ is a metrosexual? "
FDNY Probational Firefighter/Firefighter Bart “Black Shawn” Johnston
" She said you said somethin' about Bill Clinton. ... I just find that shit, very, very disturbing."
FDNY 30th Battalion Chief William “Needles” Nelson
"No, I'll talk to him. Dick, I'm not your old pal, which means I don't have to sit here and eat your shit sandwich with a big smile on my face."
FDNY 75th Battalion Chief/Deputy Chief Sidney Feinberg
" I know we got a couple of bad apples. I'm not gonna deny that."
FDNY Probationary Firefighter/Firefighter Laura Miles
"I know you guys are talkin' about my tits and my ass. Just in case you are wondering, I'm a 34-C cup, my nipples are slightly larger than average and stand up like top-hats when aroused. My ass is tight as a snare drum but still soft to the touch. Any more questions?"
FDNY Firefighter Billy Warren
"It wasn't the camera I minded....it was the crew..."
FDNY Firefighter/Chauffeur Niels Jorgensen
Black Shawn: "Neils Knows?"
FDNY Senior Firefighter James "Jimmy" Xavier Keefe
" The fact that you even have a face repertoire makes you... suspect. "