Eddie MorraPlayed by Bradley Cooper
A struggling writer who is introduced to a drug called NZT-48. The pill allows him to access his entire brain and he uses this ability to make himself incredibly wealthy and powerful.
He returns in the film's sequel series, having become a US Senator with potential to become the next President of the United States. His machinations form an overarching arc for the TV show.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: Survives an assassination attempt by another NZT user and actually lets himself get grazed by the sniper bullet in order to appear more sympathetic.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: He is conflicted about making a run for the presidency because senators receive an obscene amount of time off.
- The Chessmaster: He reveals to Brian, in the sequel series, that he has to play a very long game and wait for pieces to fall into place before he can debut revolutionary developments (like a strain of rice that would end world hunger) because the average human is too stupid to comprehend the true value of such things and would reject them out of a fear of the unknown.
- He completely dismisses Sands' treachery and the potential mayhem because it has no bearing on his own long-term plan. It's so long term that Brian can't figure it out even when on NZT.
- Commuting on a Bus: Due to Bradley Cooper's movie career, Morra can only make occasional appearances on the sequel series. However, he is one of the show's executive producers.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: From Brian's perspective, after he reads Huston's notes on Morra in "Sands, Agent of Morra".
- Moral Event Horizon: Assuming Sands was under his command at the time, he indirectly murdered Rebecca's father.
- Photographic Memory: NZT allows Morra to access everything he's ever experienced. He even likes to revisit his time as a fetus in his mother's womb because he finds the memories relaxing.
- Secret Test of Character: Puts Brian through one to see if he is merely someone who will follow orders to save his own skin or someone who would do the right think despite personal cost. Brian passes.
- The Unfettered: Admits it himself in "The Assassination of Edward Morra", where he is confused as to why Brian refuses to simply let the superiority he gains from NZT determine his life's course.
Brian FinchPlayed by Jake McDorman
A wannabe rocker who's been drifting through life for the better part of a decade. He becomes caught up in a conspiracy and ends up helping out the FBI as a consultant after a chance encounter with a former bandmate gets him hooked on NZT.
- Big Brother Instinct: There aren't many scenes with his younger siblings, but the few he has with his sister, Rachel, show that he does his best to keep her out of his troubles. Also played with with Rebecca, whom he shares a sibling-like relationship with, though it's sometimes not clear who is supposed to act like the elder sibling.
- Chick Magnet: Right on his first day on NZT, he seduces his supervisor. Other women he works with, including Naz' daughter and Piper, also fall for him.
- The Fettered: As Edward Morra says, Brian stubbornly holds on to his former self before NZT, particularly what Piper Baird calls his "solid moral framework" thanks to his close family ties.
- Going Cold Turkey: After coming back from Russia he is forced to take a drug test, which means they confiscate his bong, and is no longer to smoke marijuana.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: One of the nicest characters in the series. His genuine empathy and goodness is the reason Piper gives the permanent NZT immunity shot solely to him at the end of the series.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: What makes Brian so special among NZT users is that all he wants to do is help people. This allows him to build a significant network of people who want to help him in return.
- I Call It "Vera": He named his bong "Sinbad".
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: As far as we know, NZT affected Brian's moral judgement the least among NZT users. More examples above.
- Instant Expert: Played with. NZT allows him to access old memories and finally understand all the concepts he learned in school but promptly forgot about. He can also take in huge amounts of information while on the drug but has a difficult time calling it up when the effects wear off.
- Manchild: Naz considers Brian, with his flippant and petulant attitude, to be one. She even explicitly compares him to her own children.
- The Mole: To Senator Edward Morra. To be fair, he isn't left with much of a choice, as his family is threatened and his supply to the NZT immunity shot is also cut off if he doesn't comply.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: He doesn't appreciate Ike sleeping with his sister.
- Never My Fault: A character trait that dates back to when he was a child. To his credit, it often wasn't his fault but he still has a tendency to blame others for his misfortunes and use emotional crutches to make himself feel better.
- Nice Guy: In direct contrast to other NZT users. Brian's a fairly selfless person and is more than happy to give other people credit for his work if he feels they deserve it. After spending part of his first trip trying out and showing off his abilities, he then spends the night digging through his brother's medical textbooks to try and figure out his father's medical condition. He also only agrees to help the FBI on the condition that they help with his father's treatment.
- Non-Action Guy: He's had some training in unarmed combat but his handlers make a point of keeping him out of harm's way and he'd prefer talking his way out of trouble than resorting to violence.
- Omniglot: He's able to learn languages almost instantly when on NZT, which means he has the potential to become this. At the very least he can speak Arabic and every language in the South China Sea area.
- Photographic Memory: NZT lets Brian access every memory he has, including all the school lessons he was only half-listening to. He only has this ability when on NZT, however. He repeatedly says that recall is very difficult when he's off the pill.
- Playful Hacker: Becomes this after learning hacking skills. Including hacking a killer's prosthetic arm just to make him Stop Hitting Yourself and giving the code to a Hacktivist group so they can do the same.
- Sherlock Scan: Brian becomes able to do this when on NZT because the drug makes him hyperaware of his surroundings. There are limits to this ability, though. Because he isn't a trained investigator the things he considers to be noteworthy might not necessarily be considered relevant to the FBI agents he's working with, and vice versa.
- Spanner in the Works: Brian is, by nature, a fast talker and a meddler who can't help but insert himself into events. This invariably leads to others' intricate plans going awry.
- The Stoner: His habit got him kicked out of college and he continues to smoke. It's depicted as being more of a crutch and an excuse rather than recreational, though, and other characters are disgusted/dismissive of the habit and believe that it makes him even more of a liability.
- Talking to Himself: In-Universe. Brian will have snarky conversations with an imaginary version of himself, while on NZT, that illustrate his thought process.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Brian's father clearly loves him and has made peace with the fact that his son will constantly struggle through life while trying to find some sort of meaningful calling. Brian, on the other hand, sincerely wants his father to be proud of him and decides that becoming an FBI consultant will be a good way to do it.
- What You Are in the Dark: Brian stands out from other NZT users because he's not primarily motivated by greed. While he's happy to indulge in the abilities the drug gives him, he's more concerned with helping other people and goes out of his way to make sure that those he cares about are safe.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Played with. Brian likes to imagine that he is in a superhero story and tries to act accordingly. However, he is actually in a political thriller with multiple factions trying to use him as a pawn in their schemes. It is not clear if Brian is deluding himself or if he is actually intentionally trying to force a Genre Shift.
Rebbecca HarrisPlayed by Jennifer Carpenter
An FBI agent who comes across Brian while investigating a murder. She becomes Brian's handler and advocates that he be studied to see why he doesn't exhibit any of the negative symptoms associated with NZT use. She's also begun investigating NZT due to her father dying under mysterious circumstances shortly after he began using it.
- Cartwright Curse: Casey, her boyfriend, gets killed directly because of her inability to break up with him face to face. Its' played with, as they break up first...and the break up CAUSES the death.
- Cloud Cuckoolanders Minder: She's constantly trying to rein Brian in because his tendency to become laser-focused on specific problems cause him to do stupid things that can potentially put him and everyone around him in danger.
- Deuteragonist: Ever since the Assassination Of Eddie Morra, she's been running a B-plot of finding out more about Morra...and she is the Hero Antagonist to Brian's attempts to cover UP that truth.
- Disappeared Dad: He vanished for most of her life due to being an addict. When he did reappear it was only briefly; he seemed like he had cleaned up his act, but he had actually begun using NZT. And shortly after that he disappeared again, and didn't reappear until after his death.
- Flat Character: She hasn't had much development other than looking for her father and reining Brian in, despite being the female lead.
- Not So Above It All: As she starts to better understand Brian, she finds herself a little more willing to indulge his idiosyncrasies in order to make the drudge work of criminal investigations a little more palatable for him.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: After the mid-season break? This is her purpose. She rarely, if ever, shares scenes with Brian, instead being busy investigating the thing with her father.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Breaks up with Casey...RIGHT before he was about to squeal on his team for stealing NZT. Annoyed at the break-up... he doesn't squeal; but later, feeling like he had nothing to lose, convinces his teammates to actually take NZT with him.
Spelman BoylePlayed by Hill Harper
Harris's partner. He enjoys needling Brian about the fact that Brian is kept on an extremely tight leash while on NZT.
- Ambiguous Situation: Last seen pocketing an NZT pill, at the ending of "This is Your Brian on Drugs".
- It comes in over it's head when he reveals to Rebecca he still has it with him. The reason he took it in the first place was so he can give his aging mother a great day to remember before she dies. But, he couldn't go through with it, having been keeping this secret for a while.
- By-the-Book Cop: Or FBI Agent. He is not fond of having Brian around, even when he gets the job done. For one he's an untrained civilian, and furthermore his presence means the possibility that all his training may be for naught since the FBI might decide to just start giving everyone NZT.
- The Dutiful Son: He takes care of his ailing mother, cooking for her and feeding her in the mornings and hiring a nurse to be with her when he's at work. He has to be home by 7pm most days because the nurse has to leave and his grandmother can't be left alone.
- Flat Character: Doesn't contribute to the plot much other than being fed-up with Brian...at first.
- Character Development: The Bruntouchables moment, combined with helping handle Naz's replacement, give him more character. It's also made clear he cares about Brain, as he's offered a chance to run the CJCC...if he helps get Brian sent to a lab.
- Named After Somebody Famous: Or somewhere, rather. His grandmother was the first in his family to graduate from Spelman College.
- Not So Above It All: He begrudgingly adds Brian's much-desired exclamation point (on a post-it note) to the H.Q. label on his headquarters at the end of "Headquarters!"
Nasreen PouranPlayed by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
The Special Agent in Charge of the Cross-Jurisdictional Command and Harris and Boyle's supervisor. She's eager to study Brian's abilities and his seeming immunity to NZT but is frustrated by his antics.
- Affectionate Nickname: She's known as "Naz" by those who are friendly with her.
- Mama Bear: She seems to think as Brian as a energetic child, but when he was illegally taken to be used for the CIA she reassures Brian this would never happen again and goes to the top to find out who did this.
- Non-Idle Rich: She's revealed to come from money and is seen to be able to afford a palatial apartment in New York and a multi-million dollar ransom but she's also in charge of an elite group of agents and is seen working extremely long hours.
- Not So Above It All:
- She's serious most of the time, though even she can't resist making a jab at ADIC Johnson's little problem.
- When Brian sets off the catch the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted, she can't help but be giddy at how the Bruntouchables, and the CJC by extension, managed to one-up the entire Bureau, leading her to provide Brian with his own office space (albeit called an H.Q. and not a Headquarters! like he wanted).
- She takes rather perverse pleasure in forcing Brian to take random drug tests and having his bong confiscated.
- She only finds out about Rebecca and Casey Rooks relationship after his death. Dating a coworker in the CJC requires quite a bit of paperwork and it has to be accounted for properly, so she gets Rebecca to sign these papers that are backdated with the excuse that "the paperwork got lost". When Rebecca asks Naz why, Naz responds that she too had also had some shenanigans with male co-workers.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: She's willing to put up with (most) of Brian's shenanigans, so long as they're not interfering with anything important. She also went out of her way to ensure that whoever put him in harms way when the CIA kidnapped him was found out.
- Secret Test of Character: She brought Rebecca into her unit with the hope that she could eventually read Rebecca into a top secret project. Brian's arrival and trouble-making nature puts a kink in her plans.
Mike and IkePlayed by Michael James Shaw and Tom Degnan
Two junior FBI agents who shadow Brian and provide him with his daily NZT pill. They also provide assistance when Brian's doing the more mundane legwork associated with criminal investigations.
- Butt-Monkey: Ike was the bottom of his class and immediately stationed in Alaska, where he washed out and was subsequently sent to be Brian's bodyguard. In "Headquarters!" Brian sends him to a research outpost in Greenland (while Mike gets to go to Costa Rica) where he spends two weeks without realizing that he's been living with the criminal he was sent to catch.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Is called by his real name, and gets a commendation. And gets to hook up with Rachel later on.
- Carpet of Virility: Mike has an impressively hairy chest. Much to the disgust of the rest of the team who see a close up of it.
- Flat Character: Initially they had very little characterization beyond the fact that they resent their current assignment and only do it out of the hope that it'll put them in line for promotion. Brian didn't even bother learning their names, even while on NZT (which should give him perfect recall). Later episodes give them more definitive character traits
- In-Series Nickname: Their names aren't actually Mike and Ike, but Brian has called them such so often that other agents (or at least Rebecca) have taken to it as well.
- Kicked Upstairs: While Mike was promised a choice assignment after a year of babysitting Brian, Ike was given no such assurances and strongly suspects that the posting is a way to get him out of the field permanently. He has nightmares of spending the rest of his career taking care of Brian while a succession of "Mikes" come and go.
- No Name Given: The show goes out of its way to not reveal their names.
- Brian cares so little for them that he never bothered to learn their names. Rebbecca starts to address Ike as "Mr. -" but the name itself is cut off by Brian asking Ike to "save the red ones" (they were sharing a box of Mike and Ikes).
- "This is Your Brian on Drugs" shows flashes of their ID cards with "ACTUAL NAME WITHHELD" prominently on them. When a pharmacist addresses Mike by name, she's bleeped out and her mouth is obscured.
- Ike is eventually revealed to be actually named "Jason". He admits that he got used to being addressed as "Ike".
- The season one finale reveals that Mike's first name is Darryl.
- Not So Above It All: As the series progresses, they indulge in more and more of Brian's shenanigans.
- In "Fundamentals of Naked Portraiture", they're shown preparing a Brian-esque presentation about Spike, complete with sketches, models, and puppets.
- Odd Couple: Aside from the obvious ethnic differences, Mike and Ike are a study in contrasts.
- Mike is cool, stoic, and mildly threatening. He was an award-winning cadet at Quantico and looks at his current assignment guarding Finch as an unpleasant chore he has to complete before getting his much-desired promotion. He starts off each morning with a workout routine and some sort of juice for breakfast while reading textbooks.
- Ike is friendly, meek, and a Butt-Monkey. He was at the bottom of his class at Quantico and sees himself as having been permanently dumped into being Brian's errand boy. This causes him to experience such severe anxiety that he develops a rash and has to make repeated trips to the doctor before work.
- Punishment Detail: Implied for both of them since the beginning. Ike later tells Brian that he was bottom of his class at Quantico and assigned to the Alaska branch immediately, and was summarily sent back to handle Brian after he kept falling asleep during the stakeouts.
- Second Episode Introduction: They aren't around in the pilot, mainly because Brian doesn't join the FBI until the second episode and therefore they're not needed.
- Those Two Guys: Whenever they appear together. They usually alternate episodes.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: They finally get bumped up from being Brian's errand boys and are given investigative responsibilities in the first season finale.
- You, Get Me Coffee: Their job is to give Brian his daily pill and to keep him out of trouble. Brian abuses this mercilessly by turning them into his personal errand boys and having them due menial tasks like feeding his neighbor's cat while she is away.
An FBI computer technician and the person Brian turns to for tech-related matters he can't be bothered to do on NZT.
- Affectionate Nickname: Brian and the rest of the CJC take to calling him "James Tech".
- Butt-Monkey: James tends to come out for the worse whenever Brian gives him an assignment beyond the scope of his computer duties. This is not out of malice, however,but due to simple bad luck.
- He's once sent out to infiltrate a cult but ends up buying into the cult's logic and has to be deprogrammed by Bureau psychologists.
- Brian once forgot to tell him that an assignment had ended and he got serious cold burns after spending an entire night in freezing temperatures.
One of Eddie Morra's agents and the go-between for Morra and Brian.
- Bald of Evil
- Big Bad: Of Season One.
- Debt Detester: Warns Brian about the hitman he sent after him and Rebecca simply because Brian helped save his son. He states that after that they were even.
- Dragon Ascendant: It turns out that he was running his own game while under Morra's employ and now has access to his own supply of NZT, the enzyme that prevents side effects, and a cabal of NZT-supplied operatives.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Sands reveals to Brian in "Sands, Agent of Morra" that he was romantically involved to an aid worker named Anastasia and had a son with her. Tanner would then murder Anastasia in a hit and run. Seven years later, he would kidnap their son to force Sands to kill his comrades in his mercenary unit.
- Evil Brit: He used to be an MI-6 agent.
- The Heavy: To Morra.
- Hitman with a Heart: see the Pet the Dog entry for an example.
- It Is Pronounced Tropay: He pronounces NZT as "N-Zed-T". Justified in the actor's case because he is British and the British English spoken language pronounces "z" as "zed" rather than "zee".
- Just Following Orders: He will follow any order given to him by Morra.
- Knight of Cerebus: Anytime he shows up the episode is about to make a dark turn.
- Pet the Dog: After Brian killed his target and is quite traumatized by itnote , Sands pours Brian a drink and tells him a story about his past to help him through it.
- Subverted in "Sands, Agent of Morra"... After a lot of development, learning his backstory...we learn he murdered Rebecca's father.
- Shame If Something Happened: How he usually talks to Brian to get him to do what he wants.
- Wicked Cultured: Always dressed in a nice suit and always complains that Brian never has any good scotch.
Dennis FinchPlayed by Ron Rifkin
Brian's father. A retired lawyer who used to work with the ACLU. He dearly loves his son but also wishes that Brian would try something with his own abilities rather than chase after dreams while blaming everyone else for his misfortunes.
- Armor-Piercing Question: After having one of his attacks Brian offered to come home to take care of him. With no malice in his words he asked Brian "what could you do?" This made Brian realize there wasn't anything he could do and if his dad died he would never see his son as having accomplished anything.
- Berserk Button: The FBI seems to have become one to him since the start of the the series, recalling the time they claimed that his son murdered his best friend then later are practically using his son as a drug guinea pig. When Rebecca comes over to his house again he shows her nothing but contempt and tells her to leave.
- Brutal Honesty: Can be this sometimes. He flat out states that Brian is essentially a drug addict while in this program.
- Papa Wolf: Outright states that he'd die for Brian if it would mean keeping his son safe. He also threatens to go after Naz with everything he has if she lets any harm fall on Brian.
- Rules Lawyer: He uses the legal concept of Parens Patriae (that the State has an obligation to ensure the welfare of its citizens, especially those who can't take care of themselves) to argue that the CJC and the FBI must take care of Brian rather than simply exploit his son's abilities while on NZT. If Brian does get hurt in any way, Dennis says that he will use this argument to go after everyone involved for criminal negligence.
Piper BairdPlayed by Georgina Haig
Formerly one of the scientists who developed the enzyme to suppress the side effects of NZT for Edward Morra. However, convinced that she was framed by Morra for her boyfriend's murder, she went rogue and stole some NZT pills and a year's worth of the enzyme from his lab. She is introduced in "The Assassination of Edward Morra" as the sniper who made an attempt on his life.
- Anti-Villain: She believes that if Edward Morra's rise to power was left unchecked, the world would become a much more dangerous place.
- Boyfriend Bluff: This is how she introduces herself to Brian's parents, when she wants to test whether Eddie Morra's associate is a trushworthy person. Later on she really becomes Brian's lover and girlfriend, though she has to leave eventually.
- But Now I Must Go: At the end of the series, she leaves Brian to hide from the government, as she has the formula to make someone permanently immune to NZT's side effects and doesn't want anyone other than Brian to get it.
- Death Faked for You: Brian helps her fake her death so she can continue trying to recreate the enzyme without being threatened by Sands or Morra.
- Femme Fatale: Using a relatively standard sniper rifle, and with a little help from NZT, she attempts a kill shot that would have massively outdone the current record-holder. It would have been impressive if her target didn't have the same pharmacological advantage too, though.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: She was just one of several scientists hired by Edward Morra to develop the enzyme before her boyfriend was murdered and she got framed for it. Now she's determined to stop Edward Morra from carrying out his plans.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: She falls for Brian and enters into a relationship with him after he rescues her from prison. As a parting gift, after he rescues Piper again, she gives him an NZT immunity shot that lasts indefinitely.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Her scenes with Brian have a bit of a Ship Tease vibe to them, particularly in how she tends to initiate physical contact with him.