The series ran for a single season of twelve episodes, and has since been released on DVD. The Sci Fi Channel announced on August 3, 2007 that The Dresden Files would not be renewed for a second season.
Paul Blackthorne as Harry Dresden – a reluctant hero, a professional wizard who often helps the police with cases involving "unusual" circumstances and others who seek his help. Harry's mother Burdine Dresden, a powerful witch, died when he was young. He was raised by his father, a stage magician. When he was about eleven, his powers began to emerge, and his uncle Justin Morningway wanted to take him and teach him about his abilities, so he murdered Harry's father with black magic when his father did not relinquish Harry to him. Bob makes reference to Harry "self-defensing" his uncle to death. Justin Morningway left a programmed doppelgänger behind to resurrect him if he died. It is later revealed Harry inherited a large amount of money that he gave to charity and owns the Morningway estate, in which he refuses to live.
Valerie Cruz as Lt. Karin Murphy – the Chicago police officer who often seeks out Harry's help with cases that are hard to solve and may be supernaturally related — although she refuses to outright believe in magic, because such things do not fit with her "rules." She is dedicated and takes her job seriously, even going as far as seeking out the only wizard in the phonebook to help with cases. Lt. Murphy is a tough, no-nonsense woman who is divorced and has a daughter (Anna) who she says spends a lot of time with her father because of the long hours she has to work. Connie apparently has some romantic feelings toward Harry. She pointed out at the end of season one that if he kissed her again, she wouldn't slap him.
Terrence Mann as Hrothbert "Bob" of Bainbridge – the old spirit owned by Dresden. He was once owned by Dresden's uncle, Justin Morningway, before Dresden "self-defensed" him to death. He advises Dresden on both personal and magical matters. Bob is an invaluable source of knowledge which Dresden taps to solve supernatural crimes. In the first episode, Bob is seen redesigning a "Doom Box," which he describes as "a supernatural jack-in-the-box" containing and amplifying magical energy. The original Doom Box formula was included in a grimoire Bob wrote while he was alive; the book had been in Justin's possession until Harry burned it. Bob's current state is a punishment: he was executed, his soul sealed into his own skull for all eternity, for using black magic to bring a sorceress he had loved (Winnifred) back from the dead several hundred years ago. Bob died from an axe blow to the back of the head in the year 900 AD.
Conrad Coates as Warden Donald Morgan – a Warden of the High Council, the governing body of the wizarding community, and is assigned to the Chicago area. He is a stickler for the rules, powerful, and will often confront Harry because of their differing ideals and personalities; nonetheless, he will often work with Harry - albeit under the table - where innocents are involved.
Raoul Bhaneja as Det. Sid Kirmani - an original character who appears to be an amalgamation of all the skeptical detectives who doubted Harry in the novels. A sarcastic cop who is deeply suspicious of Dresden, Kirmani often functions as Murphy's partner, or lead detective, and more than once has implicated Dresden to be guilty of the crimes he is investigating, more than once arresting the wizard simply due to the crime being otherwise unexplainable.
Matt Gordon as M.E. Waldo Butters – a Chicago PD medical examiner who has assisted Lt. Murphy on several of her more bizarre cases.
Daniel Kash as Justin Morningway – warden of the High Council and Dresden's uncle, believed to be dead.
Joanne Kelly as Bianca – one of the most powerful vampires in Chicago, and a member of the Red Court.
Jane McLean and Elizabeth Thai as Ancient Mai – the High Council's "top dog" who handles contact with other supernatural powers.
Natalie Lisinska as Laura Ellis – a waitress in a local diner, Harry's love interest in two episodes.
Minor magical characters
Dylan Everett as Scott Sharp – a ten-year-old adoptee with magical talent who was targeted by a skinwalker.
Kathleen Munroe as Heather Bram – a recently converted lycanthrope who has left Chicago to face her new condition on her own.
Kim Coates as Sirota – an earth-bound demon responsible for converting humans into hellspawn.
In 2005, the SciFi Channel announced that it had optioned The Dresden Files as a two-hour film and backdoor pilot. Nicolas Cage executive produced alongside Hans Beimler, Robert Hewitt Wolfe, Norm Golightly, and Morgan Gendel. It was produced by Lionsgate Television in association with Cage's Saturn Films. Production began during the Autumn of 2005. Originally, a Summer 2006 release was anticipated, but on May 23, 2006, a January 2007 airdate and 11 episode pick-up was announced on JBAnnounce, the official Jim Butcher announcement list. It was confirmed the next day by Sci-Fi.
The pilot film was made from a screenplay by television writers Hans Beimler and Robert Hewitt Wolfe, and based on Butcher's novel Storm Front. David Carson directed and shooting took place in Toronto. It was announced in November 2005 that Paul Blackthorne had been cast in the lead role. The two-hour pilot was originally intended to serve as the premiere, but certain last minute developmental and casting changes delayed its completion. Episode three (in production order) was aired in its place. Along with the re-shooting of several scenes, the two-hour pilot has been cut to an hour and was the eighth episode to air. The full version of the pilot was broadcast late at night on March 7, 2008 by SciFi Channel but did not adhere to later Television revised continuity.
Most notable in the re-edited version of the pilot was the fact that Bob, played by Terrance Mann in the series as a full apparition, was limited to only a disembodied voice who was centered around the familiar rune covered skull with animated lighting to symbolize the spirit within, more akin to the Bob of the novels. This re-editing was done later in the series as Mann did not join the series until after the original filming of the pilot had already been concluded. The full pilot version of "Storm Front" was not included in the original DVD release of the complete series.
Departure from novels
In a forum post Jim Butcher stated "The show is not the books. It is not meant to follow the same story. It is meant as an alternate world, where the overall background and story-world is similar, but not all the same things happen. The show is not attempting to recreate the books on a chapter-by-chapter or even story-by-story basis." continuing by saying that viewers should not expect a duplicate of the books, and those expecting it would be disappointed.