Harold Finch (Person of Interest)

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Harold Finch
Person of Interest character
First appearance"Pilot"
Portrayed byMichael Emerson
Parker Brightman (young)
Chris Bert (teenager)
Information
Nickname(s)Mr. Finch
AliasesHarold Crane ("Risk", "Triggerman", "Critical", "Til Death")
Harold Crow ("Identity Crisis")
Harold Gull ("Proteus")
Harold Quail ("All In")
Harold Starling ("Trojan Horse")
Harold Swift ("2πR")
Harold Wren ("Wolf and Cub", "Shadow Box", "Lady Killer", "The Devil's Share", "Provenance")
Norman Burdett ("Mission Creep", "Cura Te Ipsum")
Mr. Partridge ("The Fix")
Arthur Bellenger ("Ghosts")
Lucas Bennett ("Baby Blue")
Walt Trowbridge ("Judgment")
GenderMale
OccupationSoftware engineer
Significant other(s)Grace Hendricks
NationalityAmerican
 
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Harold Finch
Person of Interest character
First appearance"Pilot"
Portrayed byMichael Emerson
Parker Brightman (young)
Chris Bert (teenager)
Information
Nickname(s)Mr. Finch
AliasesHarold Crane ("Risk", "Triggerman", "Critical", "Til Death")
Harold Crow ("Identity Crisis")
Harold Gull ("Proteus")
Harold Quail ("All In")
Harold Starling ("Trojan Horse")
Harold Swift ("2πR")
Harold Wren ("Wolf and Cub", "Shadow Box", "Lady Killer", "The Devil's Share", "Provenance")
Norman Burdett ("Mission Creep", "Cura Te Ipsum")
Mr. Partridge ("The Fix")
Arthur Bellenger ("Ghosts")
Lucas Bennett ("Baby Blue")
Walt Trowbridge ("Judgment")
GenderMale
OccupationSoftware engineer
Significant other(s)Grace Hendricks
NationalityAmerican

Harold Finch is a fictional character on the CBS crime drama television series Person of Interest. He is played by Michael Emerson. Finch is a reclusive private billionaire software genius who developed and created a machine that can isolate the Social Security numbers of people with either premeditated homicidal intent or who will be homicide victims, based on its analysis of surveillance data. He recruits John Reese, a former Green Beret and CIA operative, to help him prevent a violent crime related to the person of interest the Machine identifies. His friendship with Reese evolves throughout the series as they come to trust one another, and then gradually became friends. He is also known by a series of aliases, using various species of birds as the last name. Finch displays some sense of humor in strange situations. He is an enigmatic character, as Finch is shown to be very secretive and highly conscious of digital security while he constantly rebuffs Reese's numerous attempts to learn more about him.

Background[edit]

Born in Lassiter, Iowa, Finch's real name is unknown. His first name has been confirmed to be Harold. When he was a child, he was raised by his father who is diagnosed with early signs of dementia.[1][2] Records indicate he attended MIT in the late 70s under the name of Harold Wren,[3] where he graduated at the top of his class. He implies that, during his youth, he was a hacker who used a homemade computer to expose the code of the then military-controlled internet precursor ARPANET to the public, which would eventually lead to the creation of the World Wide Web.[4]

In 1983, Finch along with his classmate Nathan Ingram, founded IFT, a technology company,[5] with the intention of using technology to benefit humanity.[6] At the time of the September 11 attacks, they reflect on that goal, recognizing they only became rich while not changing anything.[7] Soon after, unknown elements of the U.S. government hire IFT to build a machine that will predict potential terrorist attacks on the U.S. by evaluating video data and personal digital information.[8] Finch, along with Ingram, intends their Machine to sort out criminals from civilians, allowing the government to take preventative action. The two agree to a fee of $1.00 for the Machine, believing it will save innocent lives.

On June 10, 2002, Finch begins building a prototype of the Machine on an abandoned IFT office floor. The early version of the Machine processes government feeds from the NSA (including mail, phone calls, and surveillance cameras). This first Machine covers only New York. During the early development of the Machine, he discovers that it does not have access to enough information to make accurate deductions. To combat this, Finch created the first Social Networking website, a phenomenon which took off in Western culture, and allowed the Machine access to vast amounts of personal information about individuals.[9] In 2007, Ingram confronts Finch about the Machine's method of sorting crimes–focusing on mass-terror threats, while labeling smaller crimes as "irrelevant," and deleting them each night at midnight, while Finch defends their work as intended to save not just "someone", but "everyone".[10]

After handing off the Machine to the government, Finch hopes to move on and start working on a new project, but Ingram continues to be frustrated that they aren't using the Machine to save the life of people in imminent danger. [11] Shortly after Finch proposes to artist Grace Hendricks, he discovers that Ingram secretly programmed a backdoor into the Machine, finding Ingram and the computer used to access the backdoor hidden in an abandoned library (the same library Finch himself would later use as a headquarters when working with Reese). Just before Finch closes the backdoor and locks both he and Ingram out of the system, the Machine indicates Ingram is in danger, but neither of them notice.

Still upset, Ingram takes Finch to a meeting with a journalist where Ingram intends to reveal the Machine to the public. Discovering Ingram's plans through the Machine and believing them to be a threat to national security, the government allows a suicide bomber also discovered through the Machine to blow up the ferry where Ingram's meeting is taking place. In the aftermath of the explosion, Finch sees Nathan dead and government agents arriving to confirm that he was also killed. Realizing that Grace might eventually be endangered through her relationship to him, Finch allows both Grace and the government to believe he was killed in the bombing and goes underground, thereafter suffering from a severe limp due to his injuries in the explosion. [12] When Finch realizes the Machine knew about the attack he lifts his lock on the backdoor so it can send him a single Social Security number of a person who will soon be involved in a crime.

Activities with John Reese[edit]

I recognize, Mr. Reese, that there's a disparity between how much I know about you and how much you know about me. I know you'll be trying to close that gap as quickly as possible. But I should tell you... I'm a really private person.

—Harold Finch, Pilot

After observing the demise of an unknown number of the "irrelevant" victims, Finch, in a wheelchair, tracks down John Reese. When Reese gets involved in a brawl in the subway, he is arrested and questioned by Detective Joss Carter. Finch gets him out of police custody with the help of a lawyer, who turns out to be one of Finch’s associates. Finch claims that he knows "everything" about Reese, recalling painful memories from his past before telling him that he needs a purpose and a job. He offers Reese a "chance to be there in time"; knowing that Reese’s skills could be useful in his crusade if he accepts the offer. Reese, at first, refuses as he described Finch as a "bored rich guy" who would have staged the whole situation for his own amusement. Reese then agrees with Finch's offer and begins on his first case to spy on Diane Hansen, an assistant district attorney. As Reese undertakes his investigation, he and Finch establish their working model: Reese in the field and Finch on the computer continuously connected by cell phone and ear bud as each report to the other. As their first case progresses, Reese discovers corrupt police are involved, and realizes he's in a more complex situation than he expected. He presses Finch for more details about where he gets his information. They walk through a park and Reese listens as Finch tells him about the Machine, his role in its development, and how it creates the relevant and irrelevant lists. Reese blackmails Detective Lionel Fusco to be their informant in the NYPD. When Reese completes the case, Finch told him, "The names never stop coming" (knowing that there will be infinite Social Security numbers and cases to solve). After Reese discovers Finch's employment at IFT, Finch quits his job without any notice.[13] Over time, Reese and Finch's relationship develops as they come to trust one another, then to become friends. As Reese continues to obtain pieces of information about him, Finch told him that he had he too had suffered and experienced a tragic loss like Reese. As their friendship evolves, Reese becomes increasingly protective of Finch, particularly following Finch's kidnapping by Root (who tricks the Machine into thinking she is a person of interest).[14] Reese gives Finch his dog Bear as a companion, but also as a means to protect Finch when Reese is not around.[15]

Finch suffered a major injury in the government-orchestrated bombing incident that caused Nathan Ingram's death as Ingram was about to talk to the press about the Machine. As a result of the injury and subsequent spinal fusion surgery,[16] he is unable to fully turn his head, has rigid posture and walks with a limp; the injury also causes him to be in chronic pain. Regardless, he is able to walk with relative ease. For his part, Reese gives little if any indication that he sees Finch's injuries as a limitation, and has gradually drawn Finch into field work. Although reluctant at first, Finch has increasingly begun to assist Reese in the field, growing in confidence as he does. Following Reese's shooting, Finch took the lead on the case of a chef being stalked by a restaurant owner.[17]

Skills[edit]

Finch is highly proficient with computers and technology. He has also built several devices for Reese, such as bugs for listening in on people, SIM card readers to clone phones, and a Bluetooth headset which allows them to be in contact. When Finch and Reese first worked together, he supplied him with six cover identities.[18] In some episodes, if a person of interest is put in a situation where they have to leave town, Finch is able to supply them with passports, cover identities, startup cash, etc. In addition to his computer hacking skills, Finch is skilled at creating and decrypting coded messages. He programmed the Machine to send him numbers in a code using the Dewey Decimal System with the books in the Library. When he was held hostage by Root, he left a message for Reese on a phone in tap code, which Reese later found and decoded.[19][20]

As a billionaire, Finch has bought different types of corporations and buildings and resources needed to back cover stories and buy an interest in a company. He also has several business connections and it is implied that he uses them to help Grace by making sure that she always has been taken care of financially and also to make sure that she is safe without endangerment.

Like Reese, Finch is shown to be an expert in counter-surveillance tactics. When Reese and Shaw each first joined him, they each tried to follow him, only to lose him around a corner. He has also been able to detect even the most subtle interrogation tactics, such as when Reese asked what's good for breakfast at the restaurant they were meeting and Finch deduced that Reese was trying to figure out if he was a regular and thus, if he lived nearby. In contrast to Reese, he has lacked hand-to-hand combat techniques due to his physical limitations, but he prefers to use self-defense and a non-lethal weapon (such as a Taser when he stunned a NYPD officer inside the morgue in order to help Reese and Carter escape from HR).[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lethe", Season 3, Episode 11
  2. ^ "Aletheia", Season 3, Episode 12
  3. ^ "Wolf and Cub", Season 1, Episode 14
  4. ^ "2πR", Season 2, Episode 11
  5. ^ "Ghosts", Season 1, Episode 2
  6. ^ "The One Percent", Season 2, Episode 13
  7. ^ "One Percent", Season 2, Episode 14
  8. ^ "Pilot", Season 1, Episode 1
  9. ^ "One Percent", Season 2, Episode 14
  10. ^ "Ghosts, Season 1, Episode 2
  11. ^ "One Percent", Season 2, Episode 14
  12. ^ "No Good Deed", Season 1, Episode 22
  13. ^ "Ghosts", Season 1, Episode 2
  14. ^ "Firewall", Season 1, Episode 23
  15. ^ "Masquerade", Season 2, Episode 3
  16. ^ "Cura Te Ipsum", Season 1, Episode 3
  17. ^ "Super", Season 1, Episode 11
  18. ^ "Pilot", Season 1, Episode 1
  19. ^ "The Contingency", Season 2, Episode 1
  20. ^ "Bad Code", Season 2, Episode 2
  21. ^ "The Crossing", Season 3, Episode 9

As of this edit, this article uses content from "Harold Finch", which is licensed in a way that permits reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, but not under the GFDL. All relevant terms must be followed.

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