Michael Alan Westen (Jeffrey Donovan)
Burned spy and all-around badass who loves his mom, sunglasses, yogurt, and things blowing up.
- Affectionate Nickname: Occasionally called "brother" and "Mikey" by Sam.
- Amazon Chaser: Part of his attraction to Fiona is because she's trigger happy. A flashback to their first encounter showed him smiling at Fiona after she physically threatened a man into giving her the money he owed and pointing a gun at Michael when they first talked.
- Anti-Hero: Mostly the Good Is Not Nice sort, with increasing swings toward Pragmatic Hero, and even ventures into Unscrupulous Hero when people he loves are at stake (he will willingly sacrifice himself for a good cause but will go to extremes to save those he cares about).
- Interestingly Michael and Fiona sort of start at opposite end. Early in the show, Michael's more of a classical hero. He's obsessed with helping people - sometimes even to the cost of his own quest to find out what happened. He'll also jump through hoops to limit how much he hurts people and avoid killing people. Fiona meanwhile is far less into the whole helping people and is ready to kill people at the drop of a hat. As the series goes on, Fiona becomes more and more the moral center of the couple, encouraging Michael to help and be altruistic - even sometimes forcing him to help people or doing such thing on her own, while Michael becomes more and more consumed by his career and ruthless.
- The Atoner: The result of having worked with Larry, who turned Mike from an average unexceptional spy into a world-class operative. It's also by the hand of Larry that some of Mike's quirks are what they are. It was Mike blowing up a building with farmers in it in order to get to the warlord they were hiding and him not caring that became a wake up call as to the slippery slope he was traveling down. Hence his Determinator attitude to finishing the job with minimal collateral damage.
- Badass Beard: His cameo in The Fall of Sam Axe. He grows it again during the last season.
- Berserk Button: Michael frequently talks about the need to stay emotionally detached, but he will always take clients solely because kids are involved. It's a sore spot for him and has happened no less than 8 times, and has been exploited once by a villain.Madeline: For two little kids getting smacked around by their father? Michael would take on the entire Chinese army, honey.
- Big Brother Instinct: Michael has this toward Nate.
- Big Brother Mentor: Michael, as above. At least, when Nate is willing to be mentored.
- Broken Ace: Michael is a extremely skilled spy who is known in the covert world because of it. He also came from a dysfunctional family, why he is The Atoner, and a variety of other personal problems.
- Bully Hunter: Pretty much the core of his character.As a spy, it doesn't matter if you're helping rebel forces fight off a dictator or giving combat tips to a third-grader. There's nothing like helping the little guy kick some bully's ass.
- Catchphrase: Whenever his clients ask him if he can help, he usually responds with "I'll see what I can do."
- Character Tics:
I never run around in the bushes in a ski mask when I'm breaking in someplace. Somebody catches you, what are you gonna say? You want to look like a legitimate visitor until the very last minute. If you can't look legit, confused works almost as well. Maybe you get a soda from the fridge, or a yogurt. If you get caught, you just look confused and apologize like crazy for taking the yogurt - nothing could be more innocent...
- Whenever he feels exasperated he bends his neck backwards.
- When secretly breaking into a person's home, Michael tends to snack on food items in the person's kitchen, such as tortilla chips and yogurt. Lampshaded in the pilot; it's a great way to bullshit your way out if you get caught trespassing, especially in tourist traps like Miami where pretty much any house could be a rental.
- Michael tends to whistle whenever he's impressed.
- When things go well for him (particularly when he has someone in a position where they owe him or causing problems for him will make things worse for themselves), he breaks out a very cheeky shit-eating grin.
- Chick Magnet: A number of women have shown to be attracted to him.
- Combat Commentator:Michael: That's why I like bathrooms. Lots of hard surfaces.
- Combat Pragmatist: "Spies are not trained to fight fair. Spies are trained to win."
- Consummate Liar:
- With an interesting subversion: he regularly lies outright to killers, thieves, and drug dealers, but he has trouble fooling his own mom. And when these occasions come up, it's pretty easy for the audience to see too.
- By season three, Michael has all but given up on trying to lie to his mom and resorts to vague language even though both of them know what he's talking about. By the season four premiere, he stops trying to lie to his mom altogether and simply tells her the truth, even the uncomfortable parts.
- Cunning Linguist: Michael speaks a number of Middle Eastern and Slavic languages with varying degrees of proficiency (though not, oddly, Spanish) and is a good enough linguist that in one case he is able to get usable intelligence by speaking to Carla in Arabic (she has a taste for Yemeni coffee) and noticing from her response that her Arabic picked up a Kurdish accent during an earlier assignment.
- Deadpan Snarker: He can't go an episode with at least half a dozen snarky lines.
- Deconstructed Character Archetype: The final season shows what ambitions and pressures can turn a loyal spy into someone who would create a paramilitary splinter cell like the "Burned Spy Organization" in the first place.
- The Dreaded: Among Russian intelligence and special operations units. He's less of a name and more of a mythical figure that everyone thinks is a code name for an entire wetwork team. Which leads to this hilarious line when he goes up against a Spetsnaz (Russian special forces) unit:"He's Michael Westen! There are only five of us!"
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Despite Michael's selflessness, compassion and sometimes very stupid amazing respect for human life, he gets bitched out and given many an undeserved "The Reason You Suck" Speech by people complaining about his morals and decisions, even when there is quite literally no other choice if he wants to save his friends and family. This includes long talkings-to and screaming matches with many upset clients (right up until Michael solves all their problems), Fiona ( a gun runner and arms trader of many years, a profession where collateral damage is impossible to avoid), Sam, Jesse, various psychopaths and sociopaths (who also complain about his morals and decisions), assorted criminals, agents and operatives of illegal intelligence syndicates, the CIA, the FBI, the police... oh, and Michael's own mother, who eventually gives him a horrendous tongue-lashing, blaming him for not only getting Nate killed, despite Michael doing everything he could to prevent him being put in harm's way, but blaming Michael for Nate being the person he was in the first place, for Michael being the person he is, and likening him to a monster (of course, Michael is so damaged by this point that he doesn't call anyone on their bullshit and takes it at face value).
- Eagleland: Utilizes several Type-2 Ugly American stereotypes as his cover identities over the course of the series.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Minor example. Alan, which we don't learn for 7 years.
- Even the Guys Want Him: If the art dealer from the pilot is an indication.
- Faking the Dead: Following the series finale, complete with funeral.
- False Friend: A heroic example, Michael often befriends his marks so they'll take him into their confidence. Said marks are often reprehensible felons, so it's hard to feel sorry for them when Westen betrays them.
- Fatal Flaw:
- His tendency of keeping secrets from others in hopes of protecting them.
- His tendency to do bad things or things which go very much against the wishes of those closest to him, because he believes that when things turn out ok he can make it up to people. Even when things do turn out okay, it tends to make people furious with him. Combine it with his secret keeping/protecting people flaw, and you have a combination that has blown up in his face on a number of occasions.
- The fact that he's Married to the Job. Truth of the matter being burned and having no job reference or money to his name would've barely stopped Michael from living a normal life. Michael has both enough skill, charisma and guile that he could get a very successful job in any number of a dozen domains where his skill would shine if he put his mind to it. But Michael loved the patriotism of being a spy, the lifestyle and resents being burned, and thus can't stop himself from digging deeper and up the chain and constantly take on questionable work in the hope that it might lead to his rehabilitation as a spy. He's also blind that his life has improved since he's been burned. He reconciled with his brother, got along with his mother, him and Fiona are a stable pair, and has a loyal buddy in Sam.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Zig-Zagged. At first glance Michael is the responsible one given Nate was an addicted gambler, but as the series goes on the latter becomes more responsible.
- Freudian Excuse: A very turbulent familial life nudged him towards a career in espionage which would give him a legitimate excuse (It's Not You, It's My Enemies, etc.) to not form deep and potentially hurtful relationships with people while paying him lots of money.
- Gentleman Thief: Michael promises to take care of your car if he steals it, and if he steals it during a workday, to bring it back by five. "Noble Gestures" reveals he's been abandoning them and having his mom report them. She wins an award for crimefighting, and Mike's a little irritated that she's getting credit for his work.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: A pair of scars surrounding his left eye, a lasting memory of dear ol' dad.
- Guile Hero: His preferred method is to use his wits to outsmart his foes.Michael: [Narrating] I'll take a hardware store over a gun any day. Guns make you stupid; better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart.
- Guilt Complex: If Michael is even remotely involved in a problem, he tends to believe that it's his fault or that he could have done something to change it. Despite his nearly Jumping Off the Slippery Slope turning him firmly into The Atoner archetype in the first place, he has a really terrible - and consistent - habit of blaming himself for a situation, or worse, blaming himself for not being in a situation. However you slice it, odds are Michael can find a way to make himself guilty in some way. Of course, he doesn't talk about it, he just buries it deep down and becomes more committed to trying to save everyone. The fact that he gets blamed for a lot of things that are neither his fault nor responsibility does not help the issue (e.g. Nate).
- Has a Type: The three women Michael has been in a relationship with are intelligent women with a plethora of skills.
- Hero's Classic Car: Westen drives his father's 1973 Dodge Charger. Justified in that, thanks to the burn notice, his records are all screwed up so he can't legally purchase a newer vehicle, but because of the car's age and his father's ... approach to vehicular maintenance he's frequently having to repair various things (the DVD featurettes note there's some Reality Subtext here: the vehicle used in the show had regular problems). Michael is forced to bomb the Charger to delay pursuers in the season 4 finale.
- Honor Before Reason: Michael is extremely loyal to anyone that has earned his loyalty. Part of it comes from the fact that his abusive father and other life events have instilled in him a fear of losing people close to him/being alone.
- Hyper-Awareness: Michael explicitly mentions the term but also says that it can play tricks on you, causing you to see things that aren't really there.
- In the pilot Michael makes casual mention to Fiona that he was aware of the three FBI agents watching him at a club.
- On the flip side, during the first few episodes of season 5, Michael mentions that this can happen after an operation is over resulting in constant paranoia and troubled sleep even though you know everything is over, primarily due to having been on edge for so long.
- This even applies to realizing your deep cover is blown in Season 7.
- Indy Ploy: Michael is often forced to use these whenever something unexpected happens, all the time. Arguably, most of his apparent plans are just him Indy Ploy-ing from one simple plan to another.
- Several episodes require Michael figure things out on the fly. The best example was probably an episode where he was being held as a hostage in a bank. He subtly sabotaged the bad guys' plan without them knowing that it was being sabotaged.
- Frequently, his cover is blown, so he keeps talking or takes a hostage while figuring a way to escape.
- In one case, he blew his own cover because the guy he was working with was really a Gentleman Thief.
- Michael almost mentions this trope by name when, after Sam asks him what the plan is, replies with a hasty "I'm making this up as I go."
- Sam lampshades it again in "Blind Spot" with the client, who doesn't think much of their plan: "We pretty much make it up as we go along."
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: To anybody other than family and friends, Michael appears to be a pretty big jerk. However, he has a genuine soft spot for kids, especially when it comes to kids and their relationship to their fathers.
- Keep the Reward: Michael sure does refuse payment a lot, though he usually ends up keeping enough to cover expenses. A maddeningly frequent plot formula is "Michael grudgingly accepts a job because he needs the money. Michael does the job. Michael refuses to take any money."
- The Kirk: Michael is The Captain of the show's Power Trio, with Sam and Fiona rotating between the roles of The Spock and The McCoy.
- Like Father, Like Son: Michael resents the implication, but the first season pointed out several times that Michael really is a good deal like his father. Frank was apparently a master of the Indy Ploy and a Consummate Liar, just like Michael. However, Frank was an abuser, an alcoholic, an asshole, and a petty crook, whereas Michael helps people. When Michael helps Madeline with a role early in the fifth season, both of them are deeply shaken by how well Michael channels his father.
- Married to the Job: A recurring theme is that Michael's obsession with spy work and helping others is an obstacle for most of his relationships.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: In-universe, the name Michael Westen is not one the Russians like to hear getting involved in their affairs. We're never given exact details as to what he did over there, but everything he's accomplished has most Russian operatives and mobsters shaking in their boots at the mention of him."He's Michael Westen! There are only five of us!!!"
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: In the season 6 premiere Michael subjects Anson to a vicious can of whoop-ass in revenge for pressuring Fiona into surrendering to the feds. Alas, Anson weasels his way out and escapes the same way he always does ("back off or your friends die in a giant fireball", etc).
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Jeffrey Donovan puts on a lot of different accents for Michael's guise du jour, but he doesn't bother to shed his native Boston accent when playing Michael, who grew up in Miami. Easily justified, as an accent is difficult to maintain long term and it's an Acceptable Break from Reality. Of course, Florida doesn't really have a unified or distinct accent, so a Generic American accent would probably be more likely than a Southern accent in Miami.
- Offscreen Villainy: The Season 5 opening heavily implies that in the interim between it and the Season 4 finale, Michael's been really cutting loose against the organisation that burned him after getting back into bed with the CIA.
- Omniglot: Played with. Michael is fluent in Arabic, Russian, Persian, and Czech, has recently learned French and German, and even speaks a bit of Urdu (though not well enough to avoid embarrassing himself). However, even though he grew up in Miami, he doesn't speak a lick of Spanish.Michael: En Inglés, por fa... please!
- The season 4 finale reveals Tagalog is also one he doesn't know (or at least can't read).
- He's apparently picked up Spanish by Season 7.
- OOC Is Serious Business:
- Fights a man in an illegal street fight during the season seven opening as part of his cover. Mike actually KILLS HIM once he's already beaten. It's extremely unsettling to see him do it without a second thought when you consider how rarely Mike has directly killed anyone in the first six seasons. Fridge Horror sets in once you remember that Michael has been there for nine months just building his cover.
- Plus his cover is that of an alcoholic petty crook AKA Frank sans the abusive part.
- Papa Wolf: Hurting any member of Team Westen is a big mistake. And Lord help you if you're a criminal who threatens or kidnaps a child.
- Parental Abandonment: Inverted. Due to his father's abuse, his mother's weirdness, his own dangerous line of work and his brother's gambling issue, Michael makes an effort to avoid his family. He mentions that a lot of spies are this way.
- Quick Draw: He's only demonstrated it a couple times, as he prefers not to kill unless he absolutely has to, but he outdrew a man who already had his gun drawn and aimed. It was Strickler, who didn't have his finger on the trigger, because he was attempting to get Michael to stand down. Michael pulled his concealed carry from behind his back and put three bullets in Strickler's chest before he had time to react.
- He repeats the feat again with Sonya.
- Reluctant Retiree: Michael's feeble attempts at domesticity in season five.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: He's all about emotional control, Fiona is the exact opposite.
- See You in Hell: His dad's last words to him, and his last words to Anson in season 5. A mild variant ("I'll see you [at the end of the earth] is spoken to Riley.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Oh yes. He tries to wear tieless light-colored Armani suits whenever possible.
- Showy Invincible Hero: The show is split into 2 storylines. A: Michael helps a Miami local with a problem and, B: Michael tracks down the expert spies and government officials who burned him. A main draw of the show is how well Michael conquers the everyday crooks in the A-line, often having to deal with unpredictable scenarios when the criminals don't do what he expects them to do. Still, he always comes out on top and with style.
- Shrouded in Myth: In Russia at least (and probably elsewhere). As far as the Russians are concerned, he's some sort of mystical boogeyman.Michael: I'm Michael Westen. (Beat) Yes, THAT one.
- At one point an entire hit squad of Russians hesitates to make a move solely on the fact that it's Mike they are dealing with. "He's Michael Westen! There are only four of us!"
- Slowly Slipping Into Evil: Comes dangerously close to this in Season 7 when he goes into deep cover on behalf of the CIA to take down The Family. He comes to agree with the members of The Family and their cause, especially after Michael finds out that the CIA was willing to use Simon of all people against The Family.
- Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Michael is usually stoic and follows the spy code of not forming attachments. However, he's not able to do the latter as much as he thought he could.
- Technical Pacifist: Michael usually justifies avoiding killing people to others as wanting avoid attracting attention from the authorities, but it's made pretty clear he deeply dislikes doing it. He isn't averse to putting people in positions to get themselves killed, but it's very rare for him to pull the trigger himself. If he does, it's usually to protect his friends and family (one of the few times he shot a man dead completely unflinchingly was when Strickler sold Fiona out to ex-IRA extremists). This has been lifted slightly in S5 now that he's working for the CIA again but even still, he rarely gets an onscreen kill.
- Think Nothing of It: See Keep the Reward.
- Took a Level in Badass: Discussed. In order to understand his new "ally", James brings up Michael's history in the government, mentioning how Michael went from a "slightly above average field agent" to the Living Legend he is in the present.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Yogurt, particularly the blueberry-flavored kind....to the point where he did a job and accepted a lifetime of free yogurt at a yogurt shop as his payment. Also tuna tahini, though is mentioned less frequently.
- Tranquil Fury: If Michael's yelling, it's probably because he's pretending to be someone else. If he's not, it certainly doesn't mean he's not pissed. Demonstrated excellently in "Out of the Fire" (toward Larry, who knows exactly how much he's pissed off Michael), and in "Last Stand", when Vaughn reveals he has Madeline held hostage.
- Tuckerization: A variant. Michael used the alias Terry Miller in the season 2 premiere. Terry Miller is one of the show's producers.
- Uptight Loves Wild: The serious, stoic Michael fell for the trigger-happy, emotional Fiona.
- Vigilante Man: Michael can seem like a more elegant form of this at times.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: Gender-flipped. Hurting Fiona is not a wise move.
- Weapon of Choice: Sig-Sauer P228 and later a Heckler And Koch P30.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Michael and Nate spend some time arguing over who should get the Charger in the first season. It's rather subtextual, so perhaps you have to want to see it, but both of them wanted their father to have loved them and left them the car he cared so much for.
- What Have I Become?: Seems to be the theme for Michael in the final season.
- Wig, Dress, Accent:
- Most of Michael's disguises, though he usually just restyles his hair instead of getting a wig. The personae he adopts are what sells them. The shows producers and writers call them "mini-sidles", because it's a mini-role for Donovan to play and they let Michael sidle up to the mark.
- Subverted in "Sins of Omission". Michael is facing a very cunning ex-CIA agent, so he and Fiona break into the man's house and wait for him as...themselves.
- Would Hit a Girl: Doesn't matter the gender of his adversary, he'll attack them if necessary.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: This is well established, and in the final season, he is very upset when he is almost forced to shoot a sleeping girl.
Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar)
Michael's once-and-future girlfriend, an ex-IRA terrorist who LOVES making things go boom.
- Action Girl: Fiona is probably the most dangerous of the three, if only because she is so unpredictable and Trigger Happy. Specifically, she's probably the least well-trained and deadly of the three in hand-to-hand combat and gunplay, but she's the most willing to use them. That said, she's referred to as an expert markswoman, and is capable of precision aiming from a moving car, and occasionally uses a sniper rifle with absurd accuracy.
- Anti-Hero: The dangerous, willing to do anything aside from a few moral boundaries sort.
- Arms Dealer: In her down time, which is how she gets her hands on her hardware.
- Badass in Distress: At the end of season 5, she gives herself up in an attempt to help take down Anson and gets sent to prison. In season 6, it's revealed that someone's trying to kill her in prison.
- Berserk Button:
- Don't hurt a child anywhere near Fiona. It's why she left the IRA and has motivated her in several cases the team has taken.
- She also "has a thing" for lost little sisters, like her own.
- She also seems to have a problem with laughing at the mentally handicapped, as when she saw Sugar's cousin Dougie being ridiculed and him not fully understanding it, she was about ready to grab a gun and shoot the Villain of the Week, breaking her cover be damned.
- The Big Guy: The member of the trio most inclined to swift (and highly destructive) action.
- Characterization Marches On: Fiona had a very thick Irish accent in the first episode. This was handwaved away when she said she was trying to blend in better in Miami. The reasons were... let's just say Gabrielle Anwar can better fake an American Accent. Her brother notices when he visits, and there's some Lampshade Hanging.
- The Chick: When undercover, she tends to play the role of "damsel" and a distraction when sex appeal needs to be used. Otherwise, she pulls double-duty with Sam as the muscle, with her being the primary due to her inclination for guns, bombs and violence.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Has often become jealous of Michael talking to other beautiful women. Even if that woman was an enemy of his.Fiona: I wish our phone conversations were as flirty.
Michael: She threatened to kill me.
Fiona: I can do that.
- Cynicism Catalyst: The death of Fiona's sister Claire and her own guilt about them fighting shortly beforehand were what caused her to join the IRA. Her leaving was when she realized the people she worked with were willing to blow up children to get their way.
- Dude Magnet: Many men have shown to be attracted to her throughout the series.
- Femme Fatale: A competent Affectionate Parody of a typical Bond girl sidekick who's much more Fatale than Femme.
- Fetish: Meta-example in that according to Gabrielle, her ideal Burn Notice episode would involve Fi sneaking into the shoe department of Neiman Marcus and finding Michael naked on the grand piano with a Molotov cocktail in hand.
- Fighting Irish: Fi is quick to recommend that any problem be solved by charging in with guns and bombs blazing, especially when it involves children being endangered. Her suggestions usually get shot down in favor of something less conspicuous, but when the firepower's needed Fi is always ready to provide.
- Girl with Psycho Weapon: With anything you can think of. Special mention must go to her Molotov cocktails in "Fight or Flight".
- Godzilla Threshold: Allowing (or simply being unable to stop) her from letting loose with explosives and firearms is a pretty big sign that Team Westen's situation has gone south in a bad way.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Nearly always in favor of solving the problem with violence, which is frequently Played for Laughs.
- Informed Attractiveness: Not that the actress is anything to scoff at, but many of the teams' plans revolve on her being not just attractive, but to stand out amongst the sea of bikini models at any given Miami hot spot.
- Intimate Marks: As seen briefly in "Hot Spot" she has the letters "IRA" (for Irish Republican Army) tattooed above her butt.
- In-Series Nickname: Usually referred to as "Fi".
- Mad Bomber: Because everyone knows the Irish are good at two things: making bombs and hitting people!
- Morality Chain: While all of Team Westen acts as to Michael, Fiona is arguably the one who can pull him back or at least question his morally dubious actions.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: A huge proponent of this.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent:
- Fiona had a very thick Irish accent in the first episode. This was handwaved away when she said she was trying to blend in better in Miami. The reasons were... let's just say Gabrielle Anwar can better fake an American Accent. Her brother Sean notices when he visits, and there's some Lampshade Hanging that includes Sean saying that Michael's American accent is a bit dodgy.
- In a few episodes, her accent rears its head again, mainly when she's extremely concerned about Michael. Presumably, Fiona is distracted and forgetting her American accent.
- Oireland: Casually violent, anti-authoritarian, IRA connection, played by a British actor... it's like they were ticking off a list.
- Parting Words Regret: While she doesn't elaborate on exactly what she last said to her little sister Claire, she did say they were "vicious things, stupid things" they said to each other due to an argument they had about Fiona spilling cranberry juice on Claire's sweater. Claire stormed out and was gunned down by a British soldier firing into a crowd later on, never even knowing that Fiona made her favorite dessert, bread pudding, as an apology."It tasted dreadful..."
- Psycho for Hire: While a much more sympathetic example than most with her own moral standards, she's an Arms Dealer, Bounty Hunter, and former IRA terrorist.
- Save the Villain: In "Good Intentions", she saves the Villain of the Week from burning to death in a building, despite him kidnapping a man from his family and threatening to kill him, because his actions were motivated by the death of his own daughter and many others at the hands of the company the man worked for, which he intended to attack through his victim.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Michael all about emotional control, Fiona is the exact opposite.
- Second Love: Michael was once with the thief Samantha, but fell out of love with her because he met Fiona, someone who knew him better than she did.Michael: And you don't marry someone when you love someone else.
- Sex Is Violence: Lampshaded by Michael. "Violence is foreplay for you."
- She's Got Legs: Fiona's wardrobe is mostly miniskirts, short shorts and cocktail dresses slit to the waist. Intentional and justified; Word of God has that Gabrielle Anwar (Fi's actress) picks out much of her own wardrobe. It's likely she knows she has great legs and wants to show them off. It's also helpful in-universe, as normally people look at a woman dressed like that and don't expect her to be so particularly dangerousespecially in Miami, where most women her age and younger dress somewhat loosely anyway because it's so hot and humid.
- Shipper on Deck: She deemed Madeline and Virgil's relationship as a "romantic connection".
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: As she once stated, she prefers gentlemen.
- While Fiona is aware of Michael's flaws, she loves him for his selfless, caring, and heroic qualities.
- The men that Fiona dated outside of Michael were friendly and decent men.
- Small Girl, Big Gun: Despite having a figure to make most swimsuit models envious, Fiona always has a shotgun, assault rifle, or a large handgun with her or nearby.
- Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Fiona is a tough and violent woman with an expertise in guns. She also likes wearing stylish clothing and fashion in general.
- Trigger Happy: Even the Opening Narration acknowledges it.
- Vapor Wear: Fi rarely wears a bra. Justified in that she's small-busted, and bras can be wicked uncomfortable in Miami's muggy climate.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: Anyone coming after Michael is pretty much sealing their own death wish. This is deconstructed in season 5, when she places a bomb to take Larry out when Anson convinces her and Sam that he plans to kill Michael. However, it turned out that Anson planned the whole thing, using Fiona's violent tendencies to his advantage.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Sam. They start off barely able to work together and bickering at any disagreement. Over time, she and him became closer and more protective of the other...while still trading the occasional, but much friendlier, jab.
- Waif-Fu: Her slim build doesn't stop her from being a hard hitting Action Girl.
- Weapon of Choice: Commonly uses a Walther PPK and various shotguns.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Similarly to Michael, hurting kids is her Berserk Button. A big reason for her falling out with the IRA despite her Roaring Rampage of Revenge for the death of her little sister Claire was because she learned they were planning to bomb a prep school. She left while making sure those bombs never made it to the target.
Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell)
Former Navy SEAL, current womanizing lush, and Michael's most loyal friend.
- Affectionate Parody: Of the machismo espionage heroes of Cold War action intrigue films. All the hard-drinking and eating has since caught up to his waistline in the modern-day and his devil-may-care playboy attitude has likewise rendered him a frequently homeless gigolo.
- The Alcoholic: Downplayed since he's never actually seen drunk (Though he is seen hungover in one episode). Not that it makes him any less effective, but scenes of him usually either show him drinking or talking about getting one. In fact, whenever he turns down a drink, his friends know something is wrong.
- Anti-Hero: On the lighter end of the anti-hero scale. He'll always do the right thing, he's just snarky about it. Aside from a few times when he's acted more like the Pragmatic Hero type.
- Awesome Mc Coolname: Sam Axe sounds like a superhero name.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Whenever Sam uses his "Chuck Finley" alias (usually as Mafia, CIA, or another suitably high-class occupation), he ditches the Hawaiian shirts and cleans up rather well.
- Badass in Distress: A couple times over the course of the show, most notably in the S1 finale.
- Berserk Button:
- Hurting children.
- To an extent, Sam also has a thing about serious betrayals of friendship or messing with his friends. He will stand by and help his friends even if it means getting into trouble himself. For him, a friend in need is his highest priority and he'll try very hard not to screw over his friends. There are many examples, subtle and otherwise, but it's a large part of "Breach of Faith" and "Dead or Alive".
- Comes up less often, but any tarnishing of his time as a Navy SEAL pisses him off. One bad guy managed to taunt him into getting close enough to snatch Sam's gun by suggesting he wasn't really a SEAL, and Mike asking him to use his SEAL credit to get information from the Coast Guard resulted in one of those rare moments where Sam was actually angry instead of just mildly annoyed or aggravated.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Sam is as friendly and jovial as they come, and does his best not to take life too seriously. However, as an former Navy SEAL, anyone who underestimates him does so at their own peril.
- Big Fun: The most heavyset of the main cast, and generally a cheerful guy who's immensely fun to be around.
- Blue Oni: To Fiona, being less prone to violence and more willing to think things through.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: He's as gifted an operative as Michael, but he's generally happier living off of divorced women and drinking beer.
- Car Fu:"It's funny. You never really know a car until you drive it through a wall."
- Carpet of Virility
- The Casanova: Perfectly understandable.
- "I have a buddy in (insert government agency here)".
- "Sure, I know a guy."
- The Cavalry: Tends to get to be this a lot.
- Chick Magnet: Sam is noted to have a number of "lady friends".
- Chivalrous Pervert: No problem wooing his way into a woman's heart or pants...so long as she's single. In one episode, just as he was about to seal the deal with a lady, he got wind that the woman was married and ended it right there and then.
- Cool Old Guy: Probably the oldest of Team Westen aside from Madeline and a major bro who would happily stick his neck out for his friends and clients.
- Commanding Coolness: Was the rank of Lt. Commander (equivalent to Major) during his Navy days. Thanks to a deal he cut with an Admiral he was allowed to retire at the rank of Commander (equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel) with full pension pay and benefits. Currently he's more or less a retired badass who helps Michael when he needs it.
- Deadpan Snarker: Just watch the opening credits:You know spies - bunch of bitchy little girls.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Inverted. In "Dead or Alive" he grieves his murdered friend, and when offered a beer, he declines. After the case was solved he went with Mike to grab a drink. Later in "Friendly Fire" he's visited by an old SEAL buddy he had a grudge with. He's so angry that he stops drinking, which even Madeline claims is unlike him.
- Feeling Their Age: It's a major part of Sam's character, highlighted in the prequel movie Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe. He is no less reliable but in comparison to the main character and much younger Michael Westen, Sam is noticeably wearier and has gained a few pounds since his prime.
- The Fixer: Sam has contacts that can do background checks and research and provide whatever generic intel Team Westen needs for a given episode, and has a seemingly endless pool of acquaintances whom he can tap for resources such as disposable vehicles, or secluded locations. His catchphrases all relate to his access to people. In fact watching through the series it gets sort impressive the sheer amount of contacts and favors he must've been owed for all the stuff he pulls.
- Friendly Sniper: Though all four members of Team Westen are capable of it, Sam most often takes this role. Put to epic and awesome Big Damn Heroes use in "Out of the Fire" when just as Larry's going to kill Michael, a red dot appears on his chest and Sam calls Michael's cell begging to shoot the guy.
- He's okay with shooting people who have it coming, but he doesn't like killing in general. In "Down Wind," Sam has no choice but to kill some random mook in order to preserve Michael's cover. He's pretty badly shaken by the experience, and insists on seeing the operation through from that point on, so he can be sure that he didn't commit cold-blooded murder for no good reason.
- Friend on the Force: Not one himself, but he seems to have an endless list of buddies in any agency you care to name. Except NASA.
- Go-to Alias: Chuck Finley. Named after the left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball, who was a friend of Bruce Campbell's dad back in the day, according to ''The Press Democrat''.
- Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Always wearing one unless he needs to get cleaned up.
- The Heart: He tends to be the moral center of the group that reels in Michael and, to a lesser extent, Fi when they're getting close to the line.
- Heroic Vow: He takes his given word very seriously.
- Hypocritical Humor: He doesn't have a high opinion on intelligence agencies, but he employs so many of their techniques that he might as well be a spy.
- The Kirk: Compared to Michael and Fi, Sam wears his heart on his sleeve more.
- The Lancer: He's Michael's Number Two and tends to take command when Michael isn't available for some reason. He can also pull double-duty as extra muscle with Fiona.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: naturally, it is Bruce Campbell after all.
- The Mole: In season 1 the FBI thinks they've got Sam playing this role, spying on Michael for them, but Sam's only telling them what he and Michael think they should know.
- Morality Chain: For all his drinking and womanizing, Sam's usually the one to remind Michael and Fi not to cross any lines, to the point characters refer to the soused bedhopper as a boy scout. This fits with their backgrounds, as Mike's a spy, Fi's a criminal, and Sam's a soldier. That's like being a boy scout for adults. (A boozing, womanizing boy scout, but a boy scout nonetheless.)
- Nice Guy: Very much so and usually the only one around.
- The Nicknamer: Played subtly. While everyone else calls Michael Westen "Michael", even Fiona, Nate, and Maddie, Sam calls him "Mike" or "Mikey". He also calls Madeline "Maddie" while Fi tends to go with "your mom" or "Madeline" and Jesse prefers the more formal "Mrs. Westen".
- Older Sidekick: He's got at least a decade on Michael and Fiona, yet usually follows the former's lead.
- OOC Is Serious Business: You know things have hit the fan when Sam refuses alcohol.
- Oops! I Forgot I Was Married: Sam Axe, ever the sharp tack, only remembers this little detail after his girlfriend pops the question. Well, he never had a need to mention it to the other members of Team Westen before then so whether he explicitly forgot is arguable. He was definitely taken by surprise by the proposal.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Probably the best of Team Westen at this, and embodies it completely. The initial impression one gets of him is a slightly overweight womanizer who chugs beers and has about as much insight as a sixth grader. While the first part is fairly accurate, one learns over the course of the series that he's a former Navy SEAL, has numerous contacts across multiple government agencies, and can be just as manipulative and technologically proficient as Michael or Fi.
- Retired Badass: At the start of the series. The Sam-centric TV movie takes place before he's washed out of the Navy.
- The Scrounger: Sam doesn't really pay for food or booze much.
- Shipper on Deck: After Virgil and Madeline head out on a date, Sam tells Michael that Virgil would make a decent step-dad.
- The Sneaky Guy: He's huge, but his core skill set involves intelligence gathering, misdirection, and sabotage.
- Trademark Favorite Drink: Sam likes his mojitos and beer.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: With Fiona. They start off barely able to work together and bickering at any disagreement. Over time, he and her became closer and more protective of the other...while still trading the occasional, but much friendlier, jab.
- Watch the Paint Job: His cars inevitably get totaled by Michael in the line of duty.
- Weapon of Choice: A Beretta 92FS and various sniper rifles.
- We Need a Distraction: Sam specializes in making distractions, often the hammiest and most audacious possible. Further justified in that if a beautiful woman like Fi tries this, odds are the macho guards will want her to stay around; in comparison, a hammy and boisterous man like Sam will annoy them and they just want him to leave. Even further justified by the fact that...IT'S BRUCE FREAKING CAMPBELL.
- Would Hit a Girl: But only after she tried to take away his shotgun and beat him up.
Jesse Porter (Coby Bell)
A former spy (technically, counter-intelligence), introduced in Season Four as a foil for Michael. Over the fourth and fifth seasons, he's become an important part of the team. Though subtle, his role as a foil and being the only real clean cut responsible one of the team, has put him and Michael in something of a both a sibling and a mentor relationship.
- Ambiguously Brown: The actor who plays Jesse is bi-racial. Based on the picture of his mother that he showed to Maddie, Jesse may not be. Word of God mentions that this is in part intentional; since you really can't peg Coby Bell as one thing or another, this allows him (and by proxy, Jesse) to play different sorts of characters.
- Bald of Awesome: Bald and a skilled counter-intelligence agent.
- Chick Magnet: During an op, Jesse can be seen having more than 3 women flirting with him. Fi even notes on how cute he is.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Which got in the way of him being a field agent and eventually resulted in him being demoted to a desk job. Eventually, the influence of Team Westen results in him leaving said job after clearing his name.
- Cowboy Cop: Subverted in Season 7, as when the others are in favor of a direct approach (usually involving pulling Michael out of some sticky situation), he is usually the one to make everyone stop and think of a plan.
- Dark and Troubled Past: His mother was killed in a robbery when he was nine. He then spent the next 25 years trying to solve his mother's murder but did not reach any leads.
- Et Tu, Brute?: He took it very badly when he found out Michael had gotten him burned.
- Fake Guest Star Until season 6.
- Family of Choice: Team Westen - Maddie and Charlie in particular - have become this to him. Though implied for everyone, Jesse is the first to get called "Uncle" onscreen in regards to Charlie.
- Go-to Alias: Virgil Tibbs. Named after the character in In the Heat of the Night.
- Hopeless Suitor: To Fiona in the first part of season 4. Fi is attracted to Jesse and having one of her rocky patches with Michael, but as Maddie has to explain, at the end of the day none of that's going to get between Michael and Fiona.
- Missing Mom: Not missing but dead. But it had enough of an effect on him that he takes to Madeline pretty quickly and vice versa, enough that one could almost call Jesse Maddie's responsible son.
- Motor Mouth: A lot of his cover IDs are this, and the results are usually hilarious.
- One-Hour Work Week: Even after finding a new job, Jesse still has plenty of time to help team Westen.
- Only Sane Man: A little more than most of the others due to his more straight laced background. Outside the team such as to the CIA, he often seems this way (to the team's benefit usually) since unlike the other members, he's basically still in good standing with the CIA as opposed to being thought of as a washed up drunk who used blackmail to escape time in a military jail, a potential terrorist, or a dubious ex-burned spy.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: As of season six, he's now a part of the opening narration.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Which is why he got pulled out of field work before getting burned. Some people are able to watch the innocent get hurt or a woman be beaten in order to maintain a cover identity. Not Jesse.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: In season five, since he's got a high-profile security job.
- Sixth Ranger: Je spends a good part of the show with the team after they get established in their old dynamics and takes a little while to really integrate with them afterwards.
- The Smart Guy: He crunches data better than anyone, which is something of a play, since out of the main cast, he's the tallest and most athletically built, attributes more commonly associated with other archetypes. Because his analysis and technical skills are far better than the other members of the team, he typically comes up with more concrete plans versus Michael's Indy Ploys and often acts as Mission Control by default.
- Tragic Keepsake: Jesse wears a religious pendant that belonged to his mother.
- What, Exactly, Is His Job?: In the fifth season Jesse decide to leave intelligence work and gets a high paying gig for a private security company. Said job is nebulous enough in nature to give him access to all sorts of things, a One-Hour Work Week and with varied enough duties to give team Westen new adventures. And he's got enough leeway and security clearance to still do contract work for the CIA under Michael.
- Wild Card: In Season 4, he fluctuates between being a tremendous asset to the trio or being The Load. Sometimes in the span of the same episode.
Madeline Westen (Sharon Gless)
Michael's chain-smoking, meddlesome mother. She is the only thing that scares him.
- Almighty Mom: Spy or not, Michael takes her seriously when she lays the rules down, and she's decent at helping him in some of his later adventures.
- Beware the Nice Ones: She can kick ass with the best of Team Westen when given the opportunity.
- Consummate Liar: Lies shamelessly if she thinks it'll help her loved ones in the long run.
- Cool Old Lady:Maddie: What kind of sissy wouldn't sleep with a gun under his pillow, anyway?
- Domestic Abuse: Maddie was the victim of it from her husband, and had to watch her husband beat Michael and Nate.
- "Bloodlines" throws this into sharp relief, as Michael takes on a persona identical to his father and Maddie must remain undercover while allowing Michael to slap her around.
- Face Death with Dignity: Calmly smoking a cigarette before checking out with C4.
- Famous Last Words: "This is for my boys."
- Heroic Sacrifice: In the series finale, to protect Charlie and Jesse.
- Hypochondria: A characterization that didn't really stick past the first episode. Her pills are still part of the set dressing, but it's not actually a part of the character any more. Though this may be because it was a call for Michael's attention. She doesn't need it anymore since he's back in Miami.
- Lethal Chef: She gradually improves over time, but the low quality of her chocolate-chip cookies is a Running Gag. On the other hand, she does appear to have a good recipe for iced tea.
- Mama Bear: Threats to her sons might get you slapped or threatened with serious violence.
- Meddling Parents: Maddie starts out as this. It does not help that Fiona encourages her. She's gotten a lot better, though. Of course, with Jesse around, she picks it up again due to Jesse's Honor Before Reason tendencies.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Her part and parcel. She plays up the neurotic, chain smoking old lady angle to get people to underestimate her. As early as the second episode, where she leaves an agent alone in her house long enough to plant a bug, it's questionable whether she was playing him or not as she is immediately able to point out the house the listening crew is in when Michael asks.
- One Last Smoke: Right before she blows herself up.
- OOC Is Serious Business: She finally quits smoking when she adopts Charlie.
- Outliving One's Offspring: When her youngest son, Nate, dies.
- Parental Substitute: To Jesse. He lost his mother young and she cares more for him than Michael does.
- Shipper on Deck: For Michael/Fiona. She often encourages Michael to go on dates with Fiona and is saddened whenever there is friction between the couple.
- Team Mom: Even though she can't cook.
- Took a Level in Badass: The poster girl for the trope. We've lost count of the actual levels she's taken, but she starts out a nagging, hypochondriac chain-smoker in the pilot and over three seasons, has become virtually equivalent to a spy herself.
- Best demonstrated in "The Hunter", where Sam and Fiona are interrogating a pilot to find out where Michael has been taken. Sam gives up the questioning when the pilot makes it clear he's not afraid of anything, and goes to think through new options with Fiona. Madeline calmly walks out to the garage where he's being kept, lights a cigarette, and comes back 4 minutes later with the coordinates, having not even had to TOUCH the pilot.
- There's an excellent moment in the season 3.5 opener, "A Dark Road", when she outright blackmails a woman she's become friends with because the woman possesses information that Michael needs to save lives. She hates it, but she stonewalls the woman and gets the files.
- She shows off her Mama Bear status in the season three finale when she stalls and misdirects a set of government agents who only very slowly come to realize that she's not an innocent old woman. She tips Michael off that the FBI is at the house, then sends the feds on a wild goose chase. This whole time she is interrogated in her own home, given photographs of bad stuff Michael has supposedly done and she doesn't even flinch, but she pretends to crack to keep the agents fooled. When they finally threaten to arrest her for aiding and abetting, she practically puts the handcuffs on herself, and oh, yes - slaps a federal agent.
- To show her new badassery, when Michael tells Sam and Fiona that she's trying to hold them off, Sam says "She's good, but she's not that good." When a former Navy SEAL thinks you're tough, that's saying something.
- Of course, this isn't the first time said Navy SEAL acknowledges her badassery - from "The Hunter":Madeline: Sam, let me remind you you're sleeping in my guestroom. You call me or God as my witness I will smother you in your sleep.
Sam: Okay, we'll call!
- Of course, this isn't the first time said Navy SEAL acknowledges her badassery - from "The Hunter":
- Season Four has her delivering multiple What the Hell, Hero? moments to Michael, helping Sam blackmail a congressman, searching a suspect's house, distracting a cemetery guard for Fiona, and pulling a Funny Moment/Moment of Awesome Stealth Hi/Bye on Michael and Jesse. Maddie has become a full-fledged badass.
- Season Five's "Bloodlines" sets a whole new record for Maddie. Successful undercover operation, where she poses as a nurse to a Yakuza drug lord? Check. Keeping her cover while her son masquerades as his father and reenacts the abuse she used to suffer? Check. Pulling a faked escape with said drug lord and after he leads Team Westen to his hideout, triple-crossing him and holding him at gunpoint with a shotgun? CHECK.
- Later in S5, she's searching a house for evidence and picking the locks in the process.
- In the Season 6 Premiere Anson sics a paranoid-schizophrenic on her to lure Michael away, allowing him to escape. Jesse goes instead to rescue her. She ends up saving Jesse. With a double-barreled shotgun. Through the floor of the attic into the downstairs living room.
Nate Westen (Seth Peterson)
Michael's younger brother and Madeline's youngest son. He started out as a Con Man with a gambling problem, but now owns his own limo business, has a wife and kid, and sometimes is a support member in Michael's jobs.
- Always Someone Better: It becomes increasingly apparent that his conman persona is an earnest but ultimately futile attempt to emulate his brother's superior criminal and espionage expertise.
- The Atoner: Never treated as a bad guy in the show but is trying to put his past transgressions behind him.
- Broken Pedestal: While he does love his brother, after getting roped into a few of Michael's missions, it soon dawns on him that his brother's supposedly glamorous life of intrigue is dirty, dangerous, and self-destructive, so much so that he moves out of Miami to stop getting roped into his antics and even tries to convince their mother to leave as well. Michael for one encourages this since it means he's less likely to get hurt.
- Character Development: Starts off a petty, irresponsible criminal but later becomes more responsible.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: To a certain extent. Nate's more naive than stupid. He isn't a spy, criminal, or soldier like the main three, but he's got serious car-boosting skills and his improv at playing a cover has saved the day several times. More or less, he's Michael without the badass attitude or proper training.
- Deadpan Snarker: Must be a Westen family trait.
- Deliberately Bad Example: In much of the first 2 seasons or so, Nate tends to show what would happen if a normal person tried to do what Michael does. It tends to end up with him getting death threats by bad guys, beaten up, or being a Distressed Dude a lot.
- Distressed Dude: Whether or not it's his own doing, he's often ended up like this.
- Five-Finger Discount: Even early on, he was able to do this to Michael- he was never totally useless. He's even better than Michael at stealing cars.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Zig-Zagged. At first glance Michael is the responsible one given Nate was an addicted gambler, but as the series goes on the latter becomes more responsible.
- Kill the Cutie: Arguably the most loveable and innocent recurring character in the show, his death sets the stage for season 6 getting very, very dark.
- Nice Guy: Gambling and criminal ways aside, he's the type of guy who wears his heart on his sleeve and really does want to do right by his family.
- Papa Wolf: He flies across the country to take a job finding stolen cars when he learns his wife is pregnant.
- Professional Gambler: In the beginning. While he had the perpetual financial problems associated with the former, he also had some of the skills associated with the latter. They came in useful on one of Michael's jobs.
- Reckless Sidekick: In some episodes Nate takes a direct role in helping Michael and is decently skilled, but a little too impulsive for Michael's taste and doesn't seem to get the principal of Know When to Fold 'Em
- Red Oni: To Michael when they work together.
- Spanner in the Works: In "Enemies Closer".
- Trailers Always Spoil: The teaser for "Shock Wave" all but went out of its way to foreshadow Nate's impending death, and then fully invoked this trope in the last 10 minutes of the episode when Michael relied on him to catch Anson. Also a rather egregious case of Dead Star Walking.
- Tropaholics Anonymous: Begins going to Gambler's Anonymous after he couldn't make himself leave the card table even as his baby was being born.
- Unwitting Pawn: Occasionally, particularly in "End Run".
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Even though they were just recently divorced, Nate's wife Ruby was nowhere to be seen at his funeral.
- Season 7 offers slight handwaves for her absence: an offhand comment talks about Ruby having fallen Off the Wagon entirely, hinting that an addiction may have been kicking in just after, or even before, Nate's death. Furthermore, the very next episode sees Madeline having to confront one of Nate's old bookies, because he couldn't find Ruby to shake down.
Charlie Westen (Wilson Pennel)
Nate's adorable son, born during his short-lived marriage. Adopted by Madeline after Nate's death.
- Heartwarming Orphan: After Nate dies.
- Parental Abandonment: Not exactly Nate's fault, but Ruby dropped him off in foster care before taking off.
- Raised by Grandparents: Madeline cares for him for most of his screen time.
Michael: Well, last time I talked to him, he said "I'll see you in hell, boy," so I figured we had something on the books.
Though long dead by the beginning of the series, the (abusive, short-tempered) patriarch of the Westen family nevertheless remains something of a central mythical figure in the series due to the incredible influence he has over the Westen family, even after he died of a heart attack prior to the series. This influence only grows as of season 5 with The Reveal that Anson used Frank to gain information on Michael and arranged for his heart attack.
Michael is "visited" by a drug-induced hallucination of Frank in season 7 (played by Tim Griffin).
- Abusive Parent/Domestic Abuse: Verbally and physically abused his family on a regular basis.
- Chekhov's Gunman: He's the only reason Michael beats and survives James's interrogation. In fact, not just due to the terrifying confrontation with "ghost" Frank, but a Eureka Moment provided by Mike's younger self:Adult Michael: What did you tell him?
Young Michael: Nothing. I never tell him anything.
- Doom It Yourself: By all rights a terrible mechanic, and not much better at being a father. Didn't fare much better as an electrician, if stealing wiring out of a neighbor's air conditioner counts.
- The Ghost: Other than the occasional appearance of a family photo in Madeline's house, with a man in the picture that may be Frank, he remains unseen until Michael hallucinates Frank berating him in "Psychological Warfare".
- Heel Realization: Shortly before his death, spending time with a therapist helped him realize how truly awful he'd been as a husband and father.
- HeelFace Door-Slam: Anson murdered him because he was thinking of going Face.
- It May Help You on Your Quest: Bequeathed his Dodge Charger to Michael. Sort of. Actually, it was a ploy by Madeline to make Michael think his dad gave a crap.Madeline: I remember what fun you two had always working on cars in the garage.
Michael: Fun? I remember him making me fake a seizure at Mr. Goodwrench so he could steal spark plugs.
- Jerkass: A big part of Michael's upbringing and issues can be traced back to his less than ideal parenting.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Anson had him killed.
- Posthumous Character: He's been dead for years before the series started.
Phillip Cowan (Richard Schiff)
The man who signed off on Michael's burn notice. Michael spends much of the first season trying to figure out why and get in touch with him, thinking that's where he can find answers. Unfortunately for Michael, Cowan is just the tip of the iceberg...
- Arc Villain: Season 1.
- Bait-and-Switch: Set up to be Big Bad, but really was simply the first of many an Arc Villain Michael would confront.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: By the Organization, who decided Cowan had become too much of a loose end.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Played with. Cowan is the one who signed the burn notice, but when they finally meet, he chides Michael for thinking only one man was responsible for forcing him out, freezing his assets, and so forth.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: His name only exists for a fee episodes in the first season, and we only see his face once before he's immediately killed off.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: He admits he didn't expect Michael to fight the burn notice so hard or make progress getting answers.
- You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness: After getting discovered by Michael and sending an assassin to cover his ass, the Organization was most displeased. A sniper kills Cowan when he starts telling Michael the truth about his situation.
Carla (Tricia Helfer)
Agent of the shadowy organization that burned Michael. Spent Season 2 as Michael's primary source of "do this or we'll kill you" tasks. In spy parlance, that makes her Michael's handler, or evil agency contact.
- Arc Villain: Season 2.
- Designated Girl Fight: Fi's the one who finally takes her out. (Not much of a fight - Carla gets picked off with a sniper rifle.)
- Dropped a Bridge on Her: She's killed off rather abruptly at the end of season two. She and her goon squad have Michael and Victor cornered on his boat, but then Fiona shoots her through the gut from behind with a sniper rifle.Fiona: Finally.
- Faux Affably Evil: She keeps up the facade of politeness and is usually rather calm and relaxed, but most of her dialogue to Michael involves subtly and not-so-subtly threatening him, his friends and his family if he doesn't do what she wants.
- The Handler: To Michael for Season 2.
- I Have Your Wife: Michael's first job for her involved assisting someone she was controlling this way.
- Hoist by Her Own Petard: Her usage of the Organization's resources to fund her own side work is what Victor planned to use as insurance against her. More potently, it's Victor and Michael, the two men who she's threatened and hurt, that ultimately bring her operation crashing down around her.
- Manipulative Bastard: One of the first and few who have ever managed to stay a step ahead of Michael for most of a season. And who knows how long she played Victor for the fool about his family's death.
- Mundane Utility: She used the Burned Spy Organizations resources to get out of parking tickets. Unfortunately for her, Management doesn't take kindly to use of their resources like that, which is why she keeps it quiet and Victor kept it as blackmail.
- OOC Is Serious Business: She's often calm and relaxed, but "Do No Harm" (where her operation has been severely compromised) is the first time she's on edge. The Season 2 finale has her completely break down.
- Only One Name: Subverted. While she is always referred to as Carla, Michael's investigation into her previous cover as an irrigation specialist turns up a business card. The card shows that her name is listed as Carla Baxter, though it is possible that was a fake name for the cover identity.
- Resignations Not Accepted: Her idea of a "resignation" is to murder someone.
- Rogue Agent: In addition to the things she does for the Organization, she's also using its resources to do side projects of her own. It's this information that Victor kept as insurance and Michael uses to stay alive when he meets Management.
- Shadow Archetype: She is what Michael would have wound up like if he joined the BSO. She lampshades it at one point during a talk with Michael, telling him she was like him when she was first burned.
- The Spook: Almost nothing is known about Carla's past save what she herself has divulged and what little Team Westen could dig up.
- Villainous Demotivator: "Oh, the usual- do what we say or we'll work our way through your friends and family with a nine-millimeter." And as Victor can attest to, it's no empty threat.
- The Woman Behind the Man: To Cowan.
- Would Hurt a Child: She threatens to do this to a man's daughter if Michael didn't do what he was told. Victor later revealed that she orchestrated the death of his family, which included his 4-year-old son.
Victor Stecker-Epps (Michael Shanks)
Agent of the shadowy organization that burned Michael, working under Carla. Calls himself a "wrangler" of the burned spies, though it turns out he has a bit of a bone of his own to pick with the Organization.
- Ax-Crazy: "Careful. The last person to make fun of my shirt had to fish pieces of his tongue out of a garbage disposal."
- Deadpan Snarker: When he's not being Laughing Mad.
- A Death in the Limelight: The final death of Season 2, and it gets a great deal of focus when compared to say, Carla.
- Defeat Means Friendship: He develops a rapport with Michael in the final episodes of Season 2 after he survives being killed and captures Victor.
- Dies Wide Open: Michael shuts them after he shoots him.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: He appeared once in the first half of Season 2 as a mook for Carla, but the second half of the season is driven by him turning on the Organization.
- Enemy Mine: With Michael and the gang to take on Carla and the Organization.
- Fatal Family Photo: A variant. It's not meant to make us feel sorry for the family who will have to do without him, since they're already dead, but to make us feel sorry for Victor and care about his angst and, of course, his inevitable death.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Well, he could have, but Michael would have a better chance if he did it for him.
- Large Ham: He's very dramatic when he gets going.
- Laughing Mad: When he tells Michael how he learned the Awful Truth about his family's death.Victor:: You wanna know the punchline? The really funny bit? It was Carla. She had my family killed as part of my recruitment.
- Le Parkour: Ran across the top of storage units and over a razor-wired fence to escape Michael once. He even tells Michael he should do more cardio.
- The Nicknamer: Michael is "sport".
- Nothing Personal: What he tells Michael when confronted about attempting to blow him up.Victor: You were a cog in the machine. I just hit that machine with a baseball bat.
- Redemption Equals Death: Dies in the very same episode he makes a HeelFace Turn, and while he would have died either way, he had Michael finish him so he'd have a better shot of getting out of meeting with Management alive.
- Red Oni: To Michael's blue.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When he found out what Carla had done to his family, he tried to kill every member of the organization that he knew about. Unfortunately for Michael, that included fellow pawns.
- Shadow Archetype: He's "a lot like you, only with rabies", according to Sam. In actuality, he's what Michael could have become if the burn notice had taken not only his job but everyone he loved.
- Technically a Smile: Good Lord, he looks like he's about to bite you!
- Terms of Endangerment: To Michael, so much. See also: Foe Yay.
- Tragic Villain: He's a psychopath who tried to kill Michael and killed who knows how many others before him given his nonchalantness towards the idea, but he was a good guy at one point whose entire desire for revenge was motivated by the deaths of his wife and son.
- Trigger Happy: His go-to solution to a problem? Shoot it until it stops moving.
- Unwitting Pawn: Worked for the people who murdered his family, in the hopes of finding the people who murdered his family. When he finally found out, he wasn't happy.
A high ranking member of the Burned Spies Organization, and Carla's boss, who she fears will come down on her for her extracurricular activities. Later revealed by Anson to be a co-founder of the Organization and presumably the head of the group.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: With Anson.
- Did Not See That Coming: He believes that Michael's old enemies coming out of the woodwork would start harassing him in Season 3, but while that does happen, it's Simon one of his former assets, who winds up being the principle antagonist for most of its episodes.
- Even Evil Has Standards/Enemy Mine: Considers Simon a bigger threat to the organization than Michael's antics, enough to agree to help Michael in capturing him. Which is precisely what Simon was counting on."Michael: [voiceover] Work in intelligence long enough, you hang on to phone numbers. No matter who your enemy is there's a chance you'll need them tomorrow. Churchill and Stalin weren't chummy in 1941, but once the Nazis marched on Moscow they got past their differences.
- Evil Old Folks: One of the founders of the Organization, and no nicer than the people he employs. He signs off on it, in fact.
- Left Hanging: Looking more and more unlikely with every passing season that his plot thread will be resolved.
- The Man Behind the Man: Michael, Victor, Carla, they're the operatives and handlers of the operatives. He's the one who controls them from behind the scenes.
- Non-Action Big Bad: Justified in being an old man. His bodyguards and the power of his Organization is what makes him so threatening.
- No Name Given: Still a mystery what his name is. Even Anson only calls him "Management".
- Sinister Shades: Always wearing them.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Even though Anson specifically mentions Management as the man he founded the organization with, he has utterly disappeared from the series since the end of season 3, without explanation. In the interim between seasons 4 and 5, it's implied that Michael and the CIA hunted down and arrested or killed every member of the organization except Anson, presumably including Management.
Simon Escher (Garret Dillahunt)
A burned spy, like Michael. Unlike Michael, he deserved it, as he did most of the things that Michael is accused of doing in his burn notice. Eventually the Burned Spies Organization deemed him too unstable and uncontrollable and in his words, threw him in a hole. He has something to say about that, and is willing to wreak all kinds of havoc in revenge.
- Ax-Crazy: Not as hammy as equivalent villains in this series, but arguably the most unhinged. All the crimes Michael was accused of in his burn notice? All proudly done by him, or at least all the "best" parts.
- Back for the Dead: 2 episodes from the end.
- Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: For the CIA in his last appearance.
- Batman Gambit: He attacks Michael in "Hard Times" not out of revenge, but to get him out of Vaughn's listening range so he can reveal a key piece of information.
- Breaking Speech: One of the last things he says to Michael's face is a sarcastic lecture for having a problem with the trail of bodies he's leaving in his wake, enemy or not.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Threatening to bomb the living daylights out of Miami is just another Tuesday to Simon. To prove this point, before he even shows his face, he treats Michael to file tape of various atrocites he's commited elsewhere.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Simon is completely up front about the sort of monster he is, which makes quite the rarity among the more subtle villains.
- Crazy-Prepared: After his falling out with the Organization, he coded a Bible to reveal their identities. He knew he couldn't make significant use of it, so he made a deal with Barrett in order to play that card effectively.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: In the end, he pushes Michael's Berserk Button so hard that for his trouble, Simon gets his nose smashed in (with graphic nosebleed), his eyes nearly gouged out, and is slowly stabbed through the chest with a dagger.
- Enemy Mine: Once with Michael during his (second) imprisonment by the Organization. Again near the end of the series, where it's forced on Michael under circumstances where Simon is the worst kind of help imaginable.
- Evil Counterpart: To Michael. This is especially hammered home in his final appearance where he and Michael are wearing the exact same outfit, but Michael is in white and Simon's in dark grey.
- In a sense, even Larry. This is because Larry has enough of a personal obsession with Michael to be (temporarily) talked down from killing his way through everything. Simon tunes out Michael's protests and does whatever.
- Eviler Than Thou: The Organization fired and imprisoned Simon due to him being out of control.
- Friendly Enemy: As the Organization's prisoner. (There's not much violence he can get up to in two pairs of shackles.)
- Foreshadowing: It takes four seasons for this to truly set in.
- Gut Punch: His abrupt "rescue" of Michael while in deep cover proves that the CIA is just as bad as the people they're making Mike catch, setting off a four-alarm Heroic BSoD.
- In Love with Your Carnage: He really loves the killing and the Stuff Blowing Up.
- Kick the Dog: Tortures a surviving agent of James's organization to help sell Michael's cover... then shoots him anyway when his purpose is served.
- Lack of Empathy: Really doesn't give one for anyone and everyone he's killed, be they people he hates or just ones caught in the crossfire.
- Mad Bomber: Explosives seem to be his speciality.
- Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: He didn't have much trouble planning his escape while in it with Gilroy's assistance. Though Season 4 reveals Simon had help on the outside from John Barrett.
- Psycho for Hire: Naturally, but the last season reveals even the CIA fished him out of prison for dirty work. He racks up the body count on their behalf for 2 years.
- Put on a Bus: There are long gaps between his appearances, but when he does show up he makes a memorable spectacle of himself.
- Small Role, Big Impact: He appears three times total and each time has far-reaching consequences:
- His actions in Season 3's "Devil You Know" ultimately lead to the Organization getting its hooks in Michael again and working more proactively with him, which (among other things) gets Jesse burned.
- He makes one appearance in Season 4 ("Hard Times"), but in addition to filling in some key details to the current story arc, the entire season hinges on the deal he made with Barrett and the Bible he coded, which reveals the identities of those in the Organization. This, of course, adversely changes the status quo in Season 5.
- His final appearance lasts only 10 minutes. It's the most important 10 minutes of the season.
- The Sociopath: Simon might very well be the best example of anyone on the show. He cares for no one save himself, revels in whatever brings him joy and entertainment, and has zero remorse for any sort of suffering he causes as a result.
- Wild Card: Even his subtitle on his first appearance is, simply, "?".
Vaughn (Robert Wisdom)
Michael's handler in season 4. A high ranking member of the Burned Spies Organization, he tries to convince Michael to willingly work with them against a corrupt group that engages in War for Fun and Profit. Tries to frame past members of the Organization like Carla and Victor as bad apples in a group that, while underhanded and ruthless, is still essentially trying to do good. Of course, as Michael digs deeper and pushes his buttons, it becomes clear that Vaughn has much more in common with those "bad apples" than he publicly admits.
- Arc Villain: For Season 4. Obvious as it seems, it doesn't become entirely apparent that he is this until the second half.
- Bait the Dog: From his first appearance onward, Vaughn seems to be one of the more reasonable, if not moral, members of the organization. He eventually reveals himself to be just as brutal as Carla, if not more so.
- Bald, Black Leader Guy: Well, pretty high up on the food chain anyway.
- Bald of Evil: Considering what he threatened to do during the season finale to Maddie.
- Enemy Mine: Offers Michael a chance to use the Organization's resources to go after other bad people in order to keep Michael under their thumb, of course.
- Evil Sounds Deep: It got even lower and threatening when he finally dropped the pretense.
- Faux Affably Evil: Puts a lot of effort into the pretense and doesn't take exception to things like Michael kicking him out into a hurricane, but he's nowhere near as pleasant as he tries to come off. As revealed by a taped conversation courtesy of Simon, Vaughn was one of the very people who helped pull the trigger on Michael's burn notice, and he doesn't shy away from using excessive force to kill Michael and his friends and family once he finally has enough.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: When he spent the first half of Season 4 apparently being on Michael's side, this was how everyone felt about him.
- Left Hanging: For several seasons, fans never knew whether Michael really did arrange for Vaughn to be thrown into prison alongside both Simon and an unseen Belgian assassin that Vaughn ratted on to reduce his sentence. In the final season, we learn that the CIA almost immediately got Simon out of prison and put him back to work for The Company. While Vaughn was apparently spared being in prison with Simon, we still don't know if the same holds true for the assassin he betrayed.
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: When Michael earns his wrath.
- Only One Name: Subverted. Vaughn's full name is never given in season 4. However, in season 5, Michael and Fiona find files with assets associated with Vaughn in DC. The paper shown on screen gives his name as Vaughn Anderson. Whether that is his real name or a fake is never explained.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Takes pains to come off as this to Michael.
- Scary Black Man: Can be, once Michael invokes his ire.
- Spear Counterpart: Of Carla. Made especially apparent when it's revealed by Simon's tape to Michael that Vaughn, despite him claiming earlier in the season he had nothing specifically with Michael's burn notice, told Simon in a recorded conversation that they would be replacing him with Michael "and if he doesn't work out, there'll be another", just like how Carla lied to Victor about being responsible for burning him and killing his family.
- Villainous Breakdown: Suffers it in his last appearance, because of the threat of Michael leaving him at Simon's mercy in federal prison.
Anson Fullerton (Jere Burns)
DIA psychiatrist and latest victim of Dead Larry, who is holding his wife hostage in exchange for helping break into the British consulate. He is later revealed as the "client" who hired Larry for the job in the first place. After blackmailing Michael to do his bidding, he outs himself as the founder (and last remaining member) of the Burned Spies organization. He gets gunned down by the same bullet that kills Nate just a few episodes into season 6.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Averted, he's probably the least capable recurring character in the show's history — including Maddy. That said, when he has the psychological advantage, he can at least delay someone like Michael long enough in a fight to come up with an exit strategy.
- Batman Gambit: His first appearance has him pulling a hell of a big one. He hires Larry to break into the British Consulate, counting on Larry to rope his real target, Michael, into the operation. Then he plants a bomb in the lobby of said consulate to amplify the explosion that he successfully predicts Fiona will use to kill Larry once he's sufficiently pissed her off. Then he records Fiona's tearful confession in Michael's loft with a bug he'd planted earlier, when Sam and Fi brought him there to question him. Every single part of his plan required his targets to behave in exactly the ways he expected them to, though this is justified: for a psychiatrist whose job is analyzing spies to determine whether they should be burned, predicting behavior is a necessary skill.
- Best Served Cold: Not terribly happy about Michael dismantling his organization.
- Big Bad: Arguably the whole series, as he was one of the main architects of the Burned Spies Organization. Somewhat unusually in what is otherwise very close to being a World of Badass, he's a Non-Action Big Bad, as being the chess master and playing mental games is his specialty. The only thing that may undermine his claim to be the Big Bad is after he spends the second half of Season 5 tormenting Team Westen and the first half dozen episodes of Season 6 on the run from both Michael and the intelligence community, he is suddenly killed off and the group must deal with several further antagonists. So despite the far reaching consequences of his actions, which completely reshaped the lives of Michael and everyone, it may demote him to the rank of Arc Villain.
- Bullying a Dragon: He started the organization with Management recruiting burned spies that no conventional espionage agency would hire. It's only when he started trying to manufacture them through frame-ups and contrived scenarios like with Victor, Michael, and Simon that his group started messing with the kind of people who would ultimately take his network down.
- The Chessmaster: Has had a personal interest in Michael for years prior to the first episode. To put this in perspective, Madeleine complains to Michael that he missed his father's funeral by eight years. Anson was using Frank to learn about Michael and was the one who had him killed.
- Crazy-Prepared: Anson demonstrates such an insanely meticulous degree of awareness/paranoia that when anything in his schemes goes wrong, he's either got something else up his sleeve, and/or enough leverage against Michael to force him into a Heads I Win, Tails You Lose conundrum.
- Decoy Damsel: He tearfully arrives on the scene, pleading to Michael to save his wife. After her death, he admits he knew her only as "some lady," setting her up to die solely to show how well he can manipulate the cast.
- Diabolical Mastermind: The only thing he enjoys more than ruining Michael's life is bragging about how he could helped him instead.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Unceremoniously killed in a blink.
- Enemy Mine: In "Depth Perception", Michael is forced to work with Anson to help Beatriz.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He works HARD at averting this trope, in Episode 16 of Season Five. And gets Michael to understand the villain.
- Famous Last Words: "Enjoy the moment, Fredo. I'll be out in a week."
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Despite being a capable therapist, has absolutely no empathy. He even mocks the idea by feigning interest in Michael's relationship with his father.
- He Knows Too Much: The reason he's killed by a sniper literally seconds before he can be taken into CIA custody.
- Hidden Villain: Although he built and had a hand in directing the Burned Spies Organization, he never appeared until Season 5.
- Internal Affairs: Before becoming disenchanted with his job. "Hated to see all that talentnote go to waste."
- Jerkass: Revealed at the end of "Acceptable Loss" that Frank Westen wanted to make up with his son shortly before his organization decided he knew too much and killed him, apparently for no other reason than to hurt Michael.
- There is also an argument to be made that he really thought he was helping Mike get closure on his Dad. He is, after all, honestly interested in Mike's mind and mental health, and pointed out that Mike did used to say he wanted his dad dead.
- Karma Houdini: And you thought Larry was bad.
- Karma Houdini Warranty: But it wears off surprisingly fast in season 6.
- Mad Bomber: His preferred method of killing.
- The Man Behind the Man: Turns out there wasn't any "wife" being held for ransom. "I think her name was Some Lady."
- Manipulative Bastard: He literally asks Michael to tell him insights into his psychology as part of payment for an Enemy Mine situation.
- Pornstache: Until he shaves it off in season 6.
- Parental Substitute: Tries to cultivate this dynamic between him and Michael. He isn't very successful at it in the long run but of all the father figures Michael has, Anson is the one most prone to acting like a proper parent, often addressing Michael calmly and patiently.
- Psycho Psychologist: While affiliated with Internal Affairs, he analyzed spies like Michael to determine whether they should be burned; This became the seed for the burned spies organization. Unbeknown to Michael, he also stood in as his parents' therapist.
- Smug Snake: Becomes incredibly smug and cocky when his true nature is revealed. Given his sheer skill at manipulation, he may have the right to.
- Villainous Breakdown: It takes a lot of doing, but when Michael and the CIA start to make the walls close in on him in season 6, he is visibly flustered and starts making uncharacteristic mistakes.
- NOTE: Please limit inclusion here to characters who either have at least three appearances or a significant role in a seasonal arc or half season arc. Also, please order the characters according to when they first appeared on the show.
Larry Sizemore (Tim Matheson)
Michael's whackjob former partner/mentor during Michaels' black ops days. He faked his death years ago, and became a freelance assassin for hire. It's a Running Gag that it's impossible to make him actually die for real... but he may have finally been killed off for good at the end of Season 5.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Not only is he a violent nutcase for hire, but he'll also raid Michael's fridge and eat his yogurt without asking. You Bastard!.
- Ax-Crazy: Acknowledged by everyone who's survived a meeting with him.Michael: If I let him out of my sight, that's when he starts killing everyone.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: One of the perks of being a highly paid assassin is that he can always afford to walk around in a nice suit.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: With Brennen in "Out of the Fire."
- Belated Backstory: A season six episode explains how things were like back when he was with Michael.
- Body-Count Competition: One of Larry's pastimes.Sam: That's a Santa Marta tattoo. Six tears. The guy's a pro with half a dozen kills.
Larry: 'Pro'? That's kinda generous. Six is a promising start, I guess.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Almost no one is safe from Larry. He'll kill his own clients if he feels like it and even if they pay him as requested. Michael's the one person he usually won't try to kill, but that doesn't mean he'll try to screw him over in another fashion, all in the name of getting him to come to his side, of course.
- Clean Food, Poisoned Fork: Tried to kill Michael's client by spraying her fork with atropine.
- The Corrupter: His apparent mission in life is to talk Michael into crossing the Moral Event Horizon.
- Cutting the Knot: Due to guilt over his past misdeeds and the lives those misdeeds cost, Michael favors complex strategies that are (usually) non-lethal or cause a target to be the cause of his own undoing. Larry, who is pretty much amoral and Ax-Crazy, (and thus immune to Curious Qualms of Conscience) just kills whoever is in his way and moves on.You are so busy looking 10 moves ahead that you don't see the move that is right in front of you.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Michael has screwed Larry over several times. Larry would kill a dozen people to get out of a parking ticket but he won't kill Michael. Word of God says Larry loves Michael. Not like that. Well, maybe a little like that. Who knows? Larry's crazy.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: He really does believe that Michael and he are alike, which is usually his downfall.Michael: You know the difference between us? I really do understand you. You only think you understand me.
- Evil Counterpart: Larry is what Michael might have turned into if he'd stayed in black ops.
- Pointed out in season 3 that Larry also has a personal intimate relationship with Michael, like Fiona.
- Evil Mentor: Larry faked his own death in Bosnia and is now a Psycho for Hire Professional Killer who truly believes that Murder Is the Best Solution. Larry also likes to invoke Not So Different in regards to himself and Michael. Particularly notable in the season 4 finale when Larry wonders where all the darkness and anger Michael had went. On par for being the evil mentor, Larry also laments that Michael is losing the things that made him able to do bad things with a smile.
- Faking the Dead: "Fifteen people watched Larry walk into an oil refinery right before it blew up. Apparently, it was his way of taking early retirement." Also, he was foiled this way in his first appearance as a Professional Killer, as Michael was able to fake the death of Larry's target and get her safely out of the way.
- Faux Affably Evil: Naturally. He's played by Tim Matheson, who specializes in this trope. Meeting Larry at a party, you'd probably think he was charming, funny, and the sort of guy that you'd like to hang out and have a few laughs with over drinks. Then he'd stick a knife in your side without missing a beat or dropping his smile.
- Friendly Enemy: At least until his appearance in the 5th season summer finale. Apparently, spending time in an Albanian prison made him just a little bit upset with Michael.
- In-Series Nickname: "Dead Larry," and "Undead Spy."
- Joker Immunity: In fact, the subtitles took to calling him things like "Spy With Nine Lives".
- Karma Houdini: Despite killing more people per episode than some Myth Arc villains do in a whole season, he never received any comeuppance until his third appearance. It's definitively deconstructed with his fourth episode as Anson had arranged his supposedly miraculous escape from prison to use him against Michael in a manner he was fairly sure would get Larry killed.)
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Brennen and some of his other victims really did have it coming.
- Kill 'Em All: His modus operdani.
- Knife Nut: His preferred melee weapon, and he's made good use of it as Brennen can attest.
- Laughably Evil: He's quite funny and likable. He's also quite Ax-Crazy.
- Like a Son to Me: To Michael Westen, this is not a positive statement.
- Manipulative Bastard: While he usually prefers violent and bloody ways to get what he wants, in "Enemies Closer" Larry proves he can be just as wily and guileful as Michael himself when he feels like it. After switching out Michael's phone card, and programming it to only calls to Larry would be answered, Larry starts stirring up conflict between him and his friends, making him feel isolated. Then he steals the money Michael was trying to return to the cartel, leaving him in danger. Then he actually manages to convince him to kill the cartel leader and go on the run with him. Even though Michael should have known better, he doesn't catch to what Larry's doing until Nate visits him, asking why he hasn't been returning the latter's calls. This leads to Michael finding the Sim card.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: He swears by it. Although it soon transpires that relying homicide as his go-to espionage strategy has caused much of his genuine cleverness in the art of subterfuge to atrophy, making it so that Michael (and more lethally, Fiona and Anson) is able to outsmart him again and again.
- Never Found the Body: Played rather subtly in the Season 5 summer finale - after Fiona blows up the office that Larry's in and (with a little help from the new Myth Arc villain) inadvertently destroys a little more than she meant to, the paper at the end of the episode says "2 people killed" (namely, the two security guards). Later another character refers to Larry in the past tense and while we have a scene or two where we see him in flashbacks, we don't ever see him in the present again.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: He justifies killing people for money on the basis that people die anyway, and he all but calls himself an Übermensch while talking to Michael in "Enemies Closer."
- No One Could Survive That!: His fate as of mid-Season 5. Though, since "surviving that" is how he got his nickname, he's probably still not dead.
- Not Quite Dead: It's his M.O. His subtitles have referred to him as "Larry: Undead Spy", "Larry: Spy with Nine Lives", and "Larry: Unfriendly Ghost."
- Not So Different: He and Michael did run a lot of missions together, doing a lot of the same things...
- Professional Killer: Definitely an assassin.
- Psycho for Hire: He was already a psycho as a spy; faking his death was just his way of going into retirement so he could get paid for it.
- Running Gag: Yes, dead Larry.
- Slasher Smile: In contrast to Michael The Stoic.
- Smug Snake: Leads to his downfall again and again. His death even involved him being tricked into standing in front of a bomb by a relatively simple ruse.
- The Unfettered: He gives Michael a speech about it in his second appearance.
- Unwitting Pawn: For Anson in "Dead to Rights."
- We Can Rule Together: His entire motivation is to get Michael to work with him again. He'll do anything to get Michael to work with him again.
Tyler Brennen (Jay Karnes)
A former Military Intelligence officer turned arms dealer. Michael first encounters him in season 2, where he foiled a deal Brennan had going with some South Americans. Ever since then Brennan has wanted revenge and to use Michael's formidable talents for his own ends. One of the very few foes Michael cannot outwit, or at least not with significant difficulty.
- Arms Dealer: His calling after leaving Military Intelligence. The first time he and Michael met was after Brennen coaxed Michael's former friend/lover into stealing a valuable data chip, which was purely business on his end. After that deal goes bust thanks to Mikey, however, it gets personal.
- Asshole Victim: One of the few times the audience can cheer when Larry kills someone.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Not much for combat, but he's Michael's equal in scheming and dresses just as nicely.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: With Larry in "Out of the Fire." Larry decides he likes sharing the spotlight alone.
- "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: But at least he'll just come out and say it, as shown in his quote.
- Bullying a Dragon: Towards Michael, to his misfortune. And then more passive-aggressively to Larry., which leads to his death.
- The Chessmaster: One of the few who have been able to consistently match and even outplay Michael.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Everyone else in the show tends to fall to the Instant Death Bullet or being in an explosion. Brennan spends a solid minute with Larry twisting a blade in his chest and bleeding like a stuck pig.
- Deadpan Snarker: He's Michael's equal in wit and their exchanges reflect this.
- Didn't See That Coming: His death. Larry puts it well:You are so busy looking 10 moves ahead that you don't see the move that is right in front of you.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: How some fans feel about his death.
- Establishing Character Moment: Strapping a bomb with a dead-man's switch to a kid, just to show he meant business.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Michael beats him in "End Run" by locating his daughter and bluffing that he's sent an assassin to kill her if Brennen goes through with his plan to kill Michael and Nate. Brennen is completely furious about his daughter being threatened and has to back off.
- Evil Counterpart: Brennen is what post-burning Michael might have become if he hadn't been surrounded by Morality Pets.
- Hostage for MacGuffin: Does this in every single episode he's in.
- Insufferable Genius: Even Larry thinks he's "kind of a dick."
- Last-Name Basis: Michael doesn't even learn his first name until the end of his second appearance.
- Moral Myopia: He is totally outraged that Michael would threaten to have his daughter murdered if he doesn't do what he's told, despite, as several tropes above show, that is basically his own M.O.
- Papa Wolf: When Michael bluffs about sending an assassin to kill his daughter, Brennen viciously warns Michael to make his life hell if anything happens to her.
- Pragmatic Villainy: He'll cut his losses when he realizes that Michael has pushed him into an unwinnable situation
- Skewed Priorities: In his final moments, he tries to be Defiant to the End by telling Michael that, at the very least, he didn't beat him this time while Larry is gradually stabbing him to death.
- Smug Snake: For all his mastery of mental combat that has let him get the better of Michael, Brennen is far too overconfident in his abilities, which always leads to his defeat and eventual death.
- Underestimating Badassery: Deconstructed. When he finally wises up and starts lavishing the lion's share of his suspicion and attention on Michael during their showdown in Season 4, it causes him to pretty much ignore how dangerous Larry is.
- Villain Ball: Despite being cunning in many other ways, he keeps making the same mistake over and over: leaving Michael unattended for long periods of time.
- For that matter, when teaming up with Larry he makes the mistake of leaving Michael's mentor unattended or with Michael for long periods of time. Larry may be evil, but Brennan obviously did not expect how much Larry really just wants to turn Michael to the dark side.
- Would Hurt a Child: As mentioned above, he strapped a bomb onto a child.
Tom Strickler (Ben Shenkman)
So-called "Agent to the Spies", he's essentially a manager to talent like burned spies, ex-special forces, etc. He sets them up with gigs paid for by shadowy figures that he has contacts with, and in return he gets 10%. He appears in Season 3 offering to cut Michael in on a similar deal and promising that he has the connections to help Michael with the burn notice. Unfortunately, he is not the sort of guy who is trustworthy. At all.
- Arc Villain: First half of season 3, although he doesn't actually become antagonistic until his final appearance.
- Character Death: One of the extremely few people that Michael willingly kills with his own hands.
- Knowledge Broker: He has his fingers deep in both the government and the criminal underworld, which is why he can get Michael's burn notice moving. Diego Garza, Michael's contact, states he's so knowledgeable that he has pull in at least one government agency Diego didn't even know existed until he started asking around.
- Last-Name Basis: Is called Strickler almost exclusively.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Michael may have been wavering given his own feelings for Fi and the increasing shaddiness of Strickler's offers, but he was still willing to play by Strickler's rules. Unfortunately for Strickler, he got too impatient and tried to cut out the middleman (Fi), and paid for it with his life by a vengeful Michael's hand.
- Only in It for the Money: He'll do many things for the money, and part of his friction with Michael is that he doesn't play that way.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: He actually does manage to get some movement going on Michael's burn notice, much to the shock of Michael's contact Diego Garza. He also has all sort of unsavory underworld connections, which causes Garza to freak out when he learns that Michael was working with Strickler.
- Poisonous Friend: Even when he's being helpful to Michael, Team Westen tends to regard him as this. They were very much right to do so.
- They Were Holding You Back: His opinion of Michael's relationship with Fiona. Michael made his objection to that quite clear.
- Toxic Friend Influence: Everyone, but especially Fiona, is convinced that getting into bed with Strickler won't end well for Michael at all, and even Michael clearly shows doubts as more and more dubious things come up about the man.
Mason Gilroy (Chris Vance)
One of the people that Strickler represented. He's a ruthless former black ops agent who has turned freelance, working for anyone and any cause if they pay him well enough, regardless of how much potential damage it may do to the world.
- Ambiguously Gay: It's unclear if he's genuine or just trying to psyche Michael out, but a lot of his mannerisms and words to Michael implies he'd like him to be his partner in more than just "business".
- Arc Villain: Second half of season 3. Until Simon explosively upends him.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: After all the build up he was finally going to do something... and someone we hadn't even met yet mortally wounds him off screen. Granted, that someone turned out to be Simon, and doing something like that is exactly Simon's modus operandi.
- Evil Brit: Very British and a bonafide psychopath.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Can only understand selfish motives such as greed, which is why he falls for Michael pretending to be like him.
- Expy: Of Ian Fleming's original James Bond. A deceptively suave but ultimately ruthless glorified wetworks espionage agent. His abrupt demise,helps cement the idea that Michael's a better sort of spy.
- Famous Last Words: "You'd best run along."
- Faux Affably Evil: Unfailingly polite, and will smile in your face while shooting you dead.
- Go Out with a Smile: Despite being shot by Simon, handcuffed and unable to do anything about the explosive device attached to him, he still gives Michael his Famous Last Words with a smile.
- Only in It for the Money: Michael believes and Gilroy hints that he'll do any job if the money is right. Gilroy also hints, however, that he'll do a job if it entertains him enough.
- Psycho for Hire: To quote Michael:"This man is a freelance psychopath."
- The Sociopath: Repeatedly referred to as one, and Michael thinks that Gilroy is worse than the people who burned him. So far as he knows, they don't sell nuclear secrets on the black market.
- The Unfettered: Honestly, just look at his character quote.
- The Worf Effect: A variation, instead of dying in combat, he is unceremoniously strapped to a bomb vest to show just how dangerous Simon is.
- You Have Failed Me: Pulls this on Claude, a thief Gilroy hired and who (unbeknownst to Claude and Gilroy) had been sabotaged by Michael. Apparently Claude did not survive the complications resulting from a broken ankle.
- You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness: Done to him by Simon.
Kendra (Navi Rawat)
An assassin under the payroll of John Barrett, tasked with cleaning up the failures of those who don't meet expectations. Having come to Miami as part of her contract to kill four such failures, one of which was Jesse's first lead into the conspiracy around Drake Technologies, she runs headlong against Team Westen early in season 4 and ends up providing much-needed info in learning more about Barrett.
- Ax-Crazy: Even though she seems to care more for the money than anything else, she is pretty eager to get into a fight.
- Best Served Cold: When she thinks that Barrett's betrayed her and drained the money from her accounts thanks to some Barry-magic, she agrees to tell Team Westen what she knows in exchange for them getting to him.
- Dark Action Girl: Professional assassin and capable of getting the drop on Michael.
- Hired Guns: Unlike Gilroy or Larry, she doesn't kill for the pleasure but for the money alone. She didn't even know Barrett's name, but did what was told because he was signing her the fat checks.
- Knife Nut: Tries to kill Michael with a Japanese tanto knife.
- Only One Name: She's only called "Kendra", no known last name.
- Professional Killer: She's been on Barrett's payroll for a long while now.
John Barrett (Robert Patrick)
The CEO of Drake Technologies, a telecom, technology, and infrastructure company that has been part of a conspiracy to foment wars and destabilize entire countries so that Drake Technologies can then go in and rebuild everything afterward at massive profit. Jesse was investigating his activities prior to being burned, and the Burned Spies Organization views him as a dangerous threat to its agenda.
- Arc Villain: First half of of season 4.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: His hat.
- The Corrupter: Strongly hinted that his money, resources and connections make him this, especially when he sends an active duty Army Colonel to try to snatch a MacGuffin out of the hands of Team Westen.
- Filler Villain: In the grand scheme of things, he served mostly as a plot device sandwiched between Vaughn's agenda and Michael.
- Only in It for the Money: And he's perfectly willing to do anything for more.
- Reality Ensues: He's an out of shape middle-aged man who takes part in a massive gunfight between his mooks, Team Westen, and Vaughn's men. Regardless of how much he's been built up as a potential Big Bad, it makes sense that he'd be dead by the end of the fight. (Although he almost managed to escape.)
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Money is how he bribed all those officials, made his business, and hired the assassins to do his dirty work, after all.
- War for Fun and Profit: Although the rebuilding afterward is where he makes his money.
- X Must Not Win: He's the X in question as far as the Burned Spies Organization and Team Westen is concerned.
Tyler Gray (Kenny Johnson)
A former US Marine sniper, and one of the foremost snipers in the world. After ending his time in the Marines, Gray became a mercenary for cash, except when good old Uncle Sam needs him, at which point he'll do whatever job is asked of him, no questions asked. It's hinted that Card regularly offered him unofficial, off the books work to further Card's agenda. When Card was afraid that Anson would spill the beans on the links between the two and how Card had used the Burned Spies Organization for his own pro-America purposes, he had Gray kill Anson, resulting in Nate also being killed by the same bullet.
- Cold Sniper: Gray is a ruthless sniper who kills Nate with a sense of belief he's right and takes a lot to be convinced otherwise.
- Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit: Card apparently planned to use him for this. Michael tried to prevent it, but Gray was killed anyway and Michael subsequently killed Card.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Of the sudden, unexpected death variety.
- Evil Counterpart: Of a sort, to Michael. Both are badass operatives with military service histories who were trained by Tom Card. But where Michael was and is a stellar intelligence agent who was wrongfully burned and uses his skills and training for good, Gray became a mercenary who didn't particularly care about collateral damage and sold his services to the highest bidder.
- HeelFace Door-Slam: He is suddenly killed in the process of trying to help Team Westen, and before his character arc goes any further.]]
- HeelFace Turn: Begins to cooperate with Team Westen and maybe looking at changing his worldview, but...
- Jerkass Has a Point: Michael tells him off for shooting Anson with Nate, an innocent, in the way. Gray then relates the conditions under which he made the shot on Anson. He is not exaggerating when calls it a once in a lifetime shot, and on top of that he had no idea who the hell Nate was at the time. Gray was so far away he would have had to take the curvature of the world into account as he pulled the trigger. At nineteen hundred yards, the shot would have been among the top ten longest recorded sniper kills in history.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Gray comes to realize his mistake over killing Nate."If I could take that shot back..."
- The Power of Friendship: He's won over to Michael's side in large part due to this. Gray entirely believes that Michael is the monster that his file and Card make Michael out to be... until he sees Michael lying under torture to cover for the rest of Team Westen. As Gray himself says, the man who did the things from Michael's file would have never put himself on the line for others like that.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Is subjected to minor versions from both Michael and Madeline, due to his willingness to shoot someone other than his target. He lays one on Michael while still under the impression that Michael's the monster he was made to look like.
- Unwitting Pawn: Is one for Card.
- Walking Spoiler: It's impossible to talk about Gray without tripping over several other plot twists.
- We ARE Struggling Together: Even when he's won over to Team Westen's side, they do not exactly work together well.
Randall Burke (Adrian Pasdar)
- The Dragon: After being set up for 3 episodes to be the new Arc Villain, he turns out to be the Dragon for the mysterious leader of the organization, rather than the leader himself.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Blows himself up to kill the leader of the Russian blacksite, and make a hole in the wall for Micheal and Sonya to use.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: One of his associates, with whom he planned to steal a truck full of valuable computer equipment, finds out what the stuff is actually worth and hikes the price of his services accordingly. Burke is not amused and "politely" urges him to think twice. The associate brandishes a knife which Burke promptly jams into the guy's spleen.
- Would Hurt a Child: Via proxy, but he had zero problem ordering Michael to shoot a drug lord's daughter.
Sonya Lubjenko (Alona Tal)
- Action Girl: She is seemingly the main combatant of James group.
- Badass in Distress: In her first episode she's a prisoner in a Russian Black Site.
- The Dragon: Appears to be this to James, now that Burke is dead.
- Foil: To Michael. She has the same keen analytical mind, Determinator streak, legendary reputation, and private regrets about sacrificing any chance for a normal life.
- Living MacGuffin: Burke says she's the "key to everything."
- Not So Different: Shares a few of these moments with Michael, which draws them to sleep together.
- Shrouded in Myth: After busting her out, Sam and Jessie realize that she's probably a certain legendary Russian operative who wreaked havoc at the CIA a few years ago.
James Kendrick (John Pyper Ferguson)
- Affably Evil: He's a charming guy most of the time, trying to have personal connections with his people and working for generally noble goals. But he's also a Knight Templar who is willing to casually kill those who disagree with him and his goals.
- Big Bad: Of season 7.
- The Corrupter: Toyed with. He inspires an almost cult-like loyalty in his troops, coming as close to averting There Are No Therapists as this show ever does and digging out what each person's trauma is to help them forgive themselves for the questionable things they've had to do in the line of duty. He and his crew certainly don't see it as corruption. His affection and loyalty to the members of his organization nearly pulls Michael completely over to his side.
- A Father to His Men: An evil variation on this; he is fiercely devoted to the members of his organization, and he inspires the same in his people. Of course, if one of his people doesn't show that same level of devotion to the team, James will quite calmly shoot him in the head.
- Final Boss: The final main villain of the series.
- The Man Behind the Man: To Burke, the public face of the organization. No one, not even Agent Strong who'd been working for years to take the organization down, even knew he existed until Michael got to him.
- No One Gets Left Behind: His motto for missions, to the point where he'll execute someone if they leave a team member behind.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: His backstory is something of a Deconstruction of this concept. Facing a situation where he had to choose between following his orders and following his conscience, he chose his conscience...and wound up having to do things that were just as bad, if not worse, than what he'd been ordered to do (murdering several of his fellow soldiers, who were reluctantly willing to go through with order to kill civilians). The consequences of doing the "right" thing in a Morally Grey world where there is no objectively "right" decision forced him to snap and go rogue. By the time we meet him, he's long past justifying his actions and lives by his own moral code.
- Taking You with Me: Tries to pull this off with his death in the series finale. He fails to take Michael and Fiona with him. Barely.
- Villainous Breakdown: Has a surprisingly brief one when Michael shoots Sonya, before he slips into Tranquil Fury and starts issuing orders to his men.
- Visionary Villain: He may do unsavory things but he has a definite vision of how to make the world a better place and is so strongly committed to it he'd even willingly sacrifice himself to ensure the Family can carry on.
- We Can Rule Together: Tries to pull this on Michael. It almost works.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: James believes that he's working for a greater good with all his murders, and he isn't always wrong.
- Would Hit a Girl: Was ready to kill Sonya when he thinks that she betrayed him. He was also ready to kill Madeline when Michael made it clear he wouldn't work for him.
- Would Hurt a Child: Found no problems with attempting to kill Michael's three-year-old nephew.
Agent Harris & Agent Lane
Two FBI agents tasked with leaning on Sam in season 1 to conduct surveillance on Michael. Sam, in turn, acts as Michael's double agent to only feed them just enough info to keep Harris and Lane's superiors happy (and help get a real crook or two turned in). They eventually get reassigned once Michael stirs up enough trouble to be someone else's problem, but one or both of them turn up as allies of Michael in later seasons.
- The Bus Came Back: Three times so far.
- Defeat Equals Friendship: Not actually defeated, per se - somebody higher up the food chain, ominously, had them taken off the assignment. They're also not really his friends.
- Put on a Bus: A couple episodes before season 1 ended.
- Those Two Guys: Tow somewhat interchangeable, casually laidback federal agents.
Jason Bly (Alex Carter)
A CIC agent sent in ostensibly to investigate Michael in season 1 when Michael is freshly burned, but really to convince him to sit down and shut up about wanting his job back. Michael eventually puts together information to blackmail Bly into leaving him alone, although Bly attempts to return the favor in season 2, at which point the two call a truce. He reappears again in season 6.
- The Bus Came Back: In the Season 6 premiere "Scorched Earth", interrogating Fi.
- Fire-Forged Friends: After the events of "Bad Breaks", he actually helps Michael and they part amicably.
- Foreshadowing: When Michael tries to tell him he didn't really deserve to be burned, Bly momentarily loses his cool and tells Michael he should be in jail. Later we find out what the government thinks Michael did. Bly was really understating the case.
- Hero Antagonist: For all he's a Smug Snake, he really is on the side of angels and the dossier he has on Michael would make anyone think Michael was a monster.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Or at least of a somewhat reasonable person.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: He isn't one himself, but he really knows how to make use of them, seeking to inflict "a slow death, drowning in red tape" on Michael.
- Out-Gambitted: A bunch of things he thought were going well for him turned out to be Michael setting him up to look corrupt. And to rub it in, after dumping The Reveal about this in Bly's lap, Michael drives off in the Mustang that Bly thought was his!
- Punch-Clock Villain: Sure, he's obnoxious about it, but he's just doing his job.
- Put on a Bus: Michael blackmails him into boarding one in S1, only to see him return with a grudge (which gets resolved) in "Bad Breaks". Disappeared afterward, until...
- Sacrificial Lion: In the sixth season finale.
- Smug Snake: When he has (or thinks he has) the upper hand on Michael. Cue MacGyvering or other such plot development to prove him wrong.
Detective Michelle Paxson (Moon Bloodgood)
A Miami Detective who shows up investigating Michael at the start of season 3, almost immediately after he turned down Management's offer to help him stay off the radar. She makes the connection between Michael and some of the group's flashier pyrotechnics, and promptly starts hounding the team and staking out all the spots where they store their equipment. She keeps the pressure up for several episodes, causing a number of problems for Team Westen before Michael helps her catch a dangerous criminal she's been trying to bring down for years. She reluctantly backs off at that point, but notes that if Michael slips or she ever hears of him becoming a criminal for real, she'll arrest him.
- By-the-Book Cop: As by the book and honest as you can possibly get.
- Due to the Dead: She's seen attending the funeral of an Innocent Bystander murdered by the subject of another of her cases.
- Enemy Mine: And to make charges stick on said enemy, she has to swear that he was using the explosives she was trying to tie to Michael and Fiona.
- Fair Cop: Is played by a model.
- Foe Romance Subtext: Michael and Fiona comment on this, although Michael denies it.Fiona: Was that flirting or does she hate you?
Michael: I am not her type.
- Put on a Bus: After Michael convinces her he's not a villain, she backs off and never shows up again.
- Spanner in the Works: Deliberately shows up during one of Michael's jobs to throw it off (while not knowing exactly what it is) to put the heat on him in retaliation for Michael getting her partner fired (or suspended) by giving the two fake information implicating a political in criminal activity. This causes Michael to decide to engineerings an Enemy Mine situation with her to clear that up.
- Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: She's a pain in the ass obstacle for the Team, but in real life if Team Westen was making all those explosions go off in your city, you'd want them arrested too.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: She seems to think Michael is a Karmic Thief going over the top rather than more of a Vigilante Man.
Diego Garza (Otto Sanchez)
A laid back CIA field agent who is quite happy with his position working undercover at the Miami Airport overseeing an import/export business instead of risking his life in the field. He reluctantly becomes Michael's official Agency contact during the first half of Season 3, and finds much more than he bargained for concerning a certain Tom Strickler...
- He Knows Too Much: Gilroy certainly thought so.
- Mauve Shirt: He gets a few episodes to showcase himself beyond simply being a one-off character and is then killed to really drive home how bad killing Strickler really was for Michael.
- Never Suicide: His death is officially ruled as one, and given he's shown chugging some alcoholic beverage in a panic right before his offscreen demise, it's not completely implausible to a medical examiner...
- Oh, Crap!: Once he realizes just how deep Strickler really was. And what it would mean for anyone digging in his business.What the hell were you doing working with Strickler? Do you know what sort of people he was in bed with?!
- Retired Badass: He essentially considers his current job a paid retirement, and he is not rocking the boat.I have 20 years with the company. I've seen villages burned, kids orphaned. I've been shot. Twice. Then they transferred me here. Now, you know what the hardest part of this job is? That forklift over there turns funny. Now, if I report back that I made contact with a burned spy, do you know where they'll send me? Me neither.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Other agents would view his current position as this. Garza, who has had enough danger in his life, loves it.
Congressman Bill Cowley (John Doman)
Cowley: Yeah, but just one. *Rolls up window and drives away*
A blowhard congressman on the House Intelligence Committee with ambitions of reaching higher office. The team first encounters him midway through season 4, when they attempt to blackmail him into helping their client, a retired CIA Agent, get into Witness Protection. Cowley isn't interested in helping, but is forced to due to circumstances of the episode. In a last ditch effort to get the existence and identity list of the Burned Spies Organization into the open, Sam approaches him and tries to enlist him. Cowley is eventually convinced of the truth and brings a group of Marines to save the rest of Team Westen from certain death at Vaughn's hands.
- The Cavalry: In the season 4 finale.
- Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Done en masse to Vaughn and his mooks.
- Corrupt Politician: Illegally sent troops into Columbia in '86, which turned out to be a disastrous bloodbath. He shrugs off both the deaths of the soldiers who took part in this and attempts to use the information against him, stating that he has someone ready to take the fall for him.
- Jerkass: Just look at the way they established his character in the quote.
- The Load: In both episodes, although it's somewhat alleviated when he brings The Cavalry to save Team Westen.
- Photo Op with the Dog: Team Westen keeps approaching him at these...
- Skeptic No Longer: In both episodes he offhandedly dismisses what Team Westen says, then his eyes get opened.
- Villain with Good Publicity: And at least partially thanks to Team Westen, much to their chagrin.
Marvin "Marv" Paterson (Robert Kind)
A veteran counterintelligence agent at the DOD who has worked counter-intel for nearly 30 years. He was also Jesse's former handler, and although he believes Jesse was given a raw deal when he was burned, Marv doesn't dare speak up about it for fear of losing everything. Despite his reluctance to have anything to do with burned spies in general and Team Westen in particular, with a little arm twisting he helps them several times with information and resources. When Michael uncovers the full list of members of the Burned Spies Organization, he tries to convince Marv to help them bring it to the government. Unfortunately Brennan and Larry threaten Marv's family and force him to turn it over to them instead, and kill Marv along the way.
- Friend on the Force: Essentially becomes a reluctant, Intelligence version for the team.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Brennan's mooks kill Marv about five seconds after he hands them the thumb drive with the Burned Spies Organization roster.
Max (Grant Show)
A capable and friendly CIA operative who becomes Michaels' partner in hunting down the members of the Burned Spies Organization early in season 5. After that he continues to be Michael's partner on some small scale CIA work while Michael is gradually worked back into the Agency. Is very suddenly murdered in an attempt to frame Michael.
- Almost Dead Guy: And unlike the norm, he doesn't have anything cryptic to say as he's dying - just musings about his wife. It takes a bit before it's realized in-universe that Max was just an unwitting fall guy.
- By-the-Book Cop: Although he does, with some convincing, give Michael some help with Michael's side jobs.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He's a friendly guy who gives the team some leeway and appreciates what their trying to do.
Agent Dani Pearce (Lauren Stamile)
Initially assigned to look into the death of Max, Pearce eventually becomes Michael's de facto handler in the CIA and takes over the role of Sixth Ranger from Jesse. Because she's an agent in good standing unlike Jesse who quit due to his idealism and Michael due to his Cowboy Cop-like attitude, Pearce has both a lot more resources at her disposal but also a lot more responsibilities riding on her shoulders. Nevertheless, while her relationship with Team Westen has not always been smooth, by season 6, Pearce has come to owe them a lot. As a result, she has taken to helping them out - often without any CIA knowledge and usually by bending rules (helping the team out by helping out on other agency business in the same location). In this role, she serves in a similar capacity as Jesse when Jesse is unavailable or in the field himself - Mission Control and analytics. Eventually she breaks too many rules trying to help the team, and is Reassigned to Antarctica.
- Action Girl: She's able to keep up with Michael in a fight.
- Best Served Cold: She finds out that the man who killed her fiancee is now a protected CIA asset, convinces him that he's dying, arranges for him to unknowingly give up the information he's holding, and then reveals what she's done done complete with Cruel Mercy.I'm not killing you, Ahmed, but believe me, your life is over.
- Brainy Brunette: A smart brunette who often is able to figure out what Michael is up to.
- Cowboy Cop: Isn't called a "CIA Bloodhound" for nothing. It finally catches up with her in season 6.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Her fiancee was murdered years ago.
- Determinator: She's like a pit bull when it comes to an investigation.
- Heroic Sacrifice: A non-lethal version. She willingly takes the fall for Team Westen blackmailing a man at an intelligence conference, without even telling Michael before she's already done it. Her last order to him as his senior officer is for him to not reveal the truth.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: Reassigned to Mumbai after breaking another rule for Westen. She mentions it could have been worse, as the CIA was looking to fill an ice station post in Reykjavik.
- Revenge Before Reason: She was fully willing to destroy her career to get revenge.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Eventually comes more and more to this mindset after hanging around Team Westen long enough.
Rebecca Lang (Kristanna Loken)
A CIA field operative who is introduced as part of a team that Pearce assembles for Michael to command in his first major operation back in the CIA. Is secretly being blackmailed by Anson (who is threatening to turn over information about her brother's whereabouts to a criminal organization that wants to kill her brother) and is one of the agents he intends to use in rebuilding the Burned Spies Organization. She eventually winds up helping Michael and the CIA track down Anson, although she disappears anyway, claiming she doesn't trust the CIA to protect her brother and is going to make sure it gets done.
- Blackmail: Is the victim of it, courtesy of Anson.
- Dark Action Girl: She does a good job fighting both against and alongside Michael and the others, and while not necessarily a bad person by choice, is serving Anson in a decidedly villainous capacity for a lot of her screen time.
- The Dragon: Essentially this to Anson in early season 6.
- HeelFace Turn: ... for a given value of face, anyway.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: And she has suspiciously bad timing about it, since she bolts right around the time that Anson and Nate are both killed. Michael tracks her down and puts a bullet in her shoulder before she convinces him that she had nothing to do with it.
- Sympathy for the Hero: Shows some for Michael after Nate dies, even after he'd just shot her in the shoulder.
- Villain: Exit, Stage Left: She's done some terrible stuff for Anson and takes a bullet for it, but she gets to walk away.
Tom Card (John C. McGinley)
Michael's training officer. As with Frank and Larry, Tom serves as something of a father figure to Michael. He acts as a middle ground between the two extremes of Frank and Larry. Like Frank, the relationship between Michael and Tom is at times antagonistic and based more around what the other can do for them. Like Larry, Tom taught Michael the skills he would need later in life. His contribution to Michael's life comes in transitioning Michael from petty criminal escaping his home life by entering the military to budding young spy with enough potential to attract Larry's mentorship and Anson's eye.
- Arc Villain: First half of season 6.
- Catchphrase: "I'm proud of you, son."
- Consummate Liar: Card is constantly manipulating Michael and the others with falsehoods in a convincing manner.
- Dragon with an Agenda: This is more or less Card's version of events about his partnership with Anson and the Burned Spies Organization. After trying to use the Organization to do the right thing while avoiding bureaucracy, he became another of Anson's blackmail targets/tools, and had to take Anson out (and Nate, incidentally/accidentally) to protect his career and keep serving his country... albeit illegally.
- Expy: Of Dr. Cox. Tom has so many of the same mannerisms as Dr. Cox (the "attention whistle" and the way he rants) that you almost expect him to call Michael a girl's name or "newbie." It probably helps that they are played by the same actor. Subverted in the end however, as Cox is a Knight in Sour Armor crossed with Good Is Not Nice, while Card is ultimately a self serving manipulator only looking out for himself and his agenda.
- Fair-Weather Mentor: He acts like a caring and devoted teacher to Michael but will throw him under the bus or hurt people close to him for self-preservation.
- Famous Last Words To Michael: "I'm so proud of you, son." A few episodes earlier Gray had explained how Card always used Michael's Daddy Issues to manipulate him. Hearing Card do it again, just after committing cold-blooded murder, made Michael snap and immediately kill Card.
- A Father to His Men: ... a distant, strict, demanding, jerkish father.
- It's All About Me: In his first appearance, Michael deduces from Card's impatient attitude that he needs one of his ops to end sunny side up in order to save his slipping CIA career. Reinforced hard after The Reveal that he paid Nate's killer to lure Michael into a suicide mission, just out of fear that Michael might find out he was in cahoots with Anson.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Subverted. That's the mask he wears. In truth, he's a MASSIVE Jerk with a Heart of Jerk.
- Knight Templar: His pre-mortem Breaking Speech is all about this.
- The Man Behind the Man: In a sense. Card was one of Anson's "clients" on certain unspecified black ops, and most likely, was the one who supplied Anson with the encrypted communications device found in his apartment during season 5.
- Motor Mouth: Quite the fast talker.
- Pet the Dog: His speech to Maddy, even though it's subverted a few minutes later when he calmly orders Michael's assassination after lying to both of them. Also, in his first appearance he seemed genuinely disgusted by the Corrupt Agent and passionate about doing the job right.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!
- The Uriah Gambit: Attempted this in the Season 6 mid season finale. Although he didn't intend to marry Fiona.
- Walking Spoiler: Talking about him is difficult without revealing his role as an Arc Villain.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: One of several father figures that inspires Michael to be this. He's as bad as the rest of them. Michael has really shitty luck in this department.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He claims that people like him and Michael have to 'make calls' and for all his treachery, he seemed like he legitimately wanted to advanced the goals of and protect the interests of the United States.
Olivia Riley (Sonja Sohn)
Counter-Intel legend send in to capture Michael Westen after the murder of Tom Card. Judging from her actions, she seems to be another person manipulated by Card, as she took it quite personal upon learning of his death.
- Anti-Hero: CIA operative and specialist of counter-intelligence who wants to bring down Michael badly. Even after telling their side of the story, including the bit about Card collaborating with Anson, she couldn't care less.
- Arc Villain: Second half of season 6. Though she starts off relatively sympathetic, by the end she's plunged into outright villainy by betraying the CIA and the DEA to a cartel just to kill Team Westen without ruining her career.
- Bad Boss: A mild version in that when a field agent comments that there are live explosives and they have no real protection against that (eg bomb defusal equipment), she remarks that she'll just find an actual field agent that will do it. That is she seemed more interested in catching Westen right then and there.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: With a heavy helping of Smug Snake about it. Sends one of her guys to beat up Jessie than blames it on said guy, claims she has the document on his mother's murder, when it was just a bunch of empty papers and never planned on helping; then loses what little sympathy she had left when enlists the help of a Drug Cartel just to have Westen killed, and later tortures Sam in the hospital just for kicks. Why did she do all of this? Was it because he killed a CIA agent despite knowing it was in self defence? Nope, it was because he was ruining her reputation.
- Bullying a Dragon: Sam outright tells Riley this is what she did when she sent a Cartel Hit Squad after Michael's mother. Stating she no longer had to try to find Michael, as he was now coming after her.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Know the voiceovers we hear before utilizing them against the perp? Contextually, it's kind of similar here, except now Westen is on the receiving end of them. Olivia is able to utilize conventional and unconventional means of catching, trailing, and interrogating perps. She successfully catches Sam's lies and plans out defensive and offensive strategies against Team Westen.
- Distaff Counterpart: To Michael.
- Determinator: Pretty much her defining character trait as she claims she'd travel to the ends of the earth to catch Michael.
- The Dreaded: Both Michael and Jessie exchange Oh, Crap! faces when they realize who they're up against. After they explain to Fi that she's literally wrote the book on counter-intelligence, it doesn't really make the situation any better.
- Foil: To Michael, moreso than any antagonist in the series to date. To an extent, she's also something of a foil to Jesse who had a similar history with Michael. This aspect of her character is particularly notable in the latter part of season six. It's been stated by Word of God that Michael tends to (or use to) value his own reputation and such over that of others. Olivia shares this with him... but will cross more lines than he will to preserve it, given that she lacks the family he does.
- Hero Antagonist: When she has Michael cornered, she orders her team to take the shot no matter what... even when the field agents can clearly see that Michael is unarmed and surrendering.
- Hyper-Awareness: Much like Michael, she is able to notice tiny features that can tell whether a perp is lying or not. This is evident when she catches Sam wince when she analyzes that Michael is bound to be at a weapons storage as opposed to where Michael is.
- I Never Said When: Catches Sam in a lie when he tries to say the boat picture was taken a couple of weeks ago when the scar on the side of the boat was done six months ago.
- Inspector Javert: Though at the end she even loses this aspect. Where a Javert will still follow and believe he is following the law, Riley goes as far as to hire a Drug Cartel hit squad and deliberately betraying the CIA and DIA to kill Westen and his team rather than bring them in. She even clearly makes reference to the fact she knows what she is doing is illegal.
- Jerkass: More so with every episode.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Steadily becomes more of a jerkass throughout season 6, before outright torturing Jesse and Sam and betraying the CIA and DEA to a cartel. Even her own men clearly notice a more extreme aspect in her personality since she has been chasing them, starting to believe she would be capable of trying anything.
- Knight of Cerebus: She's damn good at her job, and it shows in her debut episode. See also Cerebus Syndrome.
- Shadow Archetype: Think of her as Michael if he were fully manipulated by Tom Card.
- Perp Sweating: Several kinds, legal and illegal.
- Maddie: arrests her and lets her stew (emphasis on "stew") in an interrogation room for some length of time, then smokes a cigarette when she finally does start asking questions, just to make Maddie (the chain smoker, mind) even more upset.
- Jesse: when he acts like a smartass during his detainment, sends in a burly underling to beat the crap out of him until she feels he "understands the gravity of the situation".
- Which in a way shows the differences between her and Westen. Where She would allow her guys to use torture, Westen and his team would only suggest using this to scare them and never actually hurt them.
- Sam: subverted; she barely even tries to get answers out of him. Instead, since he's laid up in the hospital and can't resist, she switches his morphine for a "stimulant" that increases his sensitivity to pain... for no reason!
- Smoking Is Cool
- Tragic Villain: When she first appears, she is just an agent doing her job since she doesn't know all the facts. However, she continues to pursue Michael after he explains what Card was planning. Her obsession with catching Team Westen leads to her crossing major lines and becomes her downfall.
- Two First Names: Her last name, "Riley", can be used as a first name.
- We Will Meet Again: Tells Michael as such after their first encounter.
Andrew Strong (Jack Coleman)
- Bad Boss: Plays it painfully straight with Michael, but subverted with the rest of his team who don't seem to mind him. His boss, the Deputy Director of the CIA, proves to be even less charming and may explain Strong's more desperate acts.
- Blackmail: It's his Establishing Character Moment, even.
- Horrible Judge of Character: He might not have been responsible for pulling Simon out of prison, but he sure did see nothing wrong with sending him to aid Michael, provided the job got done. Commence everything imaginable going wrong.
- Inspector Javert: His years-long obsession with catching Randall Burke prompted his wife to take the kids and split. Then again, he isn't the most pleasant person on Earth as it is...
- Karma Houdini: Doesn't really get any comeuppance for his Jerkass ways or questionable methods.
- Knight Templar: Contrasted against James. Both are willing to throw law and due diligence to the winds for their goals, but Strong has more or less elevated it to the level of a personal vendetta.
- Married to the Job: Strong was so focused on taking down The Family it ended his actual marriage.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: "Overkill" doesn't begin to describe what Simon does for Michael on Strong's paycheck. Rather than catching James, quite the opposite happens.
- An Offer You Can't Refuse: To paraphrase: Go on this physically, psychologically and morally draining deep cover op to apprehend this extremely cautious terrorist for us; refuse and you, the most notorious/hated spy in the CIA, spend the rest of your days with your friends & family in a detention facility. A clean slate awaits everyone if you succeed but failure or death is unacceptable. No pressure.
- Pet the Dog:
- Unpleasant looming presence though he is, Strong is a decently skilled field agent and is responsible for talking down James's former Special Forces squadmate from blowing up Jesse.
- Gets a repeat performance in the series finale by getting Jesse and Sam released from custody despite a lot of people wanting them in jail. And plays hardball in order to get Michael a star on the CIA Memorial Wall.
Raymond "Sugar" Mosley
The drug dealer who lived downstairs from Michael in the pilot, until Michael shoots him and convinces him to move. He shows up later asking for help, and after a turn as the client of the week he becomes friendly with Team Westen. Afterward he becomes a source of information and insight into Miami's drug world.
- Defeat Means Friendship: After Michael shots out his leg, he grows to respect him, almost to fanboy-levels.
- Heel Realization: Pre-series — He used to bully and neglect his mentally challenged cousin Dougie. When Dougie rescued him from some hostiles despite the mistreatment, Sugar realised what a Jerkass he had been towards him.
- Hidden Depths: Sugar has a mentally challenged cousin named Dougie that Sugar would die to protect... at least in part because Sugar used to pick on Dougie, but Dougie saved Sugar anyway when Sugar needed it.
- The Informant: After his turn as a Team Westen client, he gets called on several times to give the team info on targets in the drug world. Mostly this just adds up to telling them what bad news the latest Villain of the Week is.
- Leeroy Jenkins: He spends the entire episode as a Client being a Leeroy.
- The Load: He tends to get shot whenever he gets involved, and Team Westen usually has to drag him out of the line of fire.
- Noodle Incident: Got released, and Team Westen helps make it up to him.
- Put on a Bus to Hell: After the aforementioned season 6 cameo, Jason Bly tells Michael in the finale that Riley found out about the phone call anyway, arrested Sugar, and is doing god-knows-what to him in some unknown prison. This becomes Fridge Horror when it's later seen what she's willing to do to Jesse and Sam.
- Stupid Crook: Initially. In one of the most iconic MacGyvering scenes of the series, Michael outwits him with duct tape.note Gradually wises up with every appearance, though.
A metrosexual money launderer who nevertheless manages to look like a graying Guy Fieri with extra piercings. Team Westen goes to him for information and financial advice time and time again, and he has been the key to making a number of their plans work.
- Big Fun: He's got a noticeable gut, and despite being a money launderer he never fails to be polite to Michael and the gang, even helping them with many jobs.
- The Bus Came Back: Got released, and Team Westen helps make it up to him.
- Put on a Bus to Hell: Got sent to prison for four months.
- Camp Straight: He's fussy at times and often nicely dressed and groomed, but is into girls and not guys.
- The Fixer: As a money launder, Barry is an endless source of connections to the Miami underworld. His financial expertise also comes in handy to Michael for many of his cases, often to make someone appear corrupt, or to give the appearance of wealth.
- Knowledge Broker: He's a money launderer, so he needs to be this to stay in business and alive. He's Team Westen's go-to guy when Sam's and Fiona's contacts can't get them everything they need.
- Spiky Hair: Almost never seen without it.
A rather flighty gun runner that Michael encounters in the second season, he has useful connections in the world of gun runners and specialty guns. His aforementioned flighty and weird nature (and his tendency to draw Michael into his problems, including shootouts with other crooks) is somewhat less useful.
- Bad Boss: He calls his bodyguard Jackass. Need more be said? To be fair, the man in question is not very bright.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: He's...odd, to say the least.
- Genius Ditz: While he is an idiot most of the time he does seem skilled at modifying weapons somewhat as he makes water shells for Mike to shoot through a demo trap. He also manages to stay in business so he isn't quite as dumb as he looks. His "jackass" bodyguard on the other hand is a complete moron.
- New-Age Retro Hippie: Conforms to the value of tai-chi.
- Shipper on Deck: He makes matching custom daggers for Mike and Fi and tells them they should be together.
- Stupid Crook: Not as bad as Sugar, but one wonders how the hell he's stayed alive and become so successful.
Ann "Ayn" Rand
- Adult Fear: She has a son she's worried about losing to social services.
- Affectionate Nickname: Her nickname, Ayn stands for Anything You Need and references her scrounging skills.
- Friend in the Black Market: Ayn is the prison smuggler, something Fiona uses to her advantage.
- The Stool Pigeon: Subverted, Fiona has her sell out information that she wants found out to get Ayn a release.