Carl G. Elias is the leader of an organized crime syndicate intent on reuniting the five Italian mob families and taking over the organized crime business in New York. His secondary goal was to remove the growing Russian mob influence from Brighton Beach.
In 1973, eight-year-old Carl Elias discovers the body of his murdered mother, Marlene Elias.
Some time afterwards, Elias lives in a group home with Anthony Marconi and Bruce Moran among others, the three being close friends but being treated to harsh discipline. (“The Devil You Know”) Elias eventually enters the foster system, and eventually moves in with his foster mother, Gloria Recinto, a manicurist. In 1981, he is treated for wounds sustained during a fight which broke out after another child called him a bastard.
Recinto is a loving foster mother who treats Elias well. When he is assigned a project researching his family tree, he asks his foster mother if she is willing to help him research his father. Knowing who he is, she encourages him to let it go. Elias feels like he has no identity, but Recinto teaches him that he can create his own identity rather than getting it from the family he never knew. It was to become a critical lesson in his life. (“Flesh and Blood”)
Despite his foster mother's urgings, Elias wants to know who his father is, believing he can be part of a family. In 1991, Elias meets his father, Don Gianni Moretti, a mafia Don with whom his mother had an affair, at a restaurant. Moretti recognizes his illegitimate son and promises Elias a place in his organization as long as he remains loyal, tenacious, and capable. Behind Elias's back, Moretti dismisses him as the throw-away son of one of his women on the side.
Elias begins working in Moretti's organization, learning the ropes, and is eager to earn his approval. Although he appears to be advancing in the ranks, in time, Elias discovers that Moretti has lied to him, and had ordered his execution. He is taken into the woods by two of Moretti's hit men, but Elias fights back, killing his executioners and escaping, sustaining a wound which creates a scar across the palm of one of his hands when he grabs the garrote around his throat. (“Flesh and Blood”) The experience solidifies Elias's determination to seek revenge against the father who rejected him.
Emergence as a Mob Figure
In 2011, Elias is living in quiet anonymity, solidifying his power base behind the scenes. Reese and Finch first become aware of Elias when he hires Sam Latimer and his team, including an undercover Reese, to steal a file box labeled "Elias, M." from the NYPD records office.
This file contains the evidence and investigation records into the murder of Marlene Elias, including the murder weapon, a kitchen knife. Latimer delivered the file, but is killed, presumably by Elias or his deputy. (“Mission Creep”)
After Elias acquires the file, he learns his mother was killed by former mobster Vincent DeLuca, and decides to seek revenge. He arranges the stabbing death of DeLuca with the same knife DeLuca used to kill Elias' mother.
Later, when Elias realizes that retired detective Bernie Sullivan, who investigated his mother's murder, is back on the case, Elias has him killed. However, Elias is unaware that Sullivan was in communication with Detective Joss Carter until she arrives at Sullivan's home, finding his body. A shootout occurs, leaving Elias's blood at the scene, the first clue to his identity Carter finds. (“The Fix”)
Reese comes into direct contact with Elias while he is living under the identity "Charlie Burton". As part of his Burton identity, Elias becomes a high school history teacher in Brighton Beach. He spends several years living among the Russian families in Brighton Beach, studying the families of his students associated with organized crime. His number is generated when he is pursued by the rival Yogorov crime family, thinking he is the witness to the shooting of a Russian mafia figure. When Reese meets Charlie Burton, he is unaware of his actual identity.
Burton and Reese become fast friends while trying to escape from the Yogorov family hit-men. With Finch's help, they escape Brighton Beach having captured one of the Yogorov sons. Only then, on a ferry to Manhattan, does Reese learn Burton's true identity and his plans to reunite the Italian mafia families. He forces Reese to tie himself up and leaves the scene with one of his associates, Anthony Marconi, then known only as Scarface. Elias is later seen escaping with his men, after having Scarface execute Ivan Yogorov, as he describes his goal to reunite the five families. (“Witness”)
Solidification of Power
Elias remains quiet for a time, until be becomes a possible threat when Carter's number comes up. Elias hires Carter's confidential informant Bottlecap to kill her, but Reese is able to save her. Elias signs his work by leaving a vase of flowers on Carter's desk with a message mourning her loss before stealing his case file from her desk. (“Get Carter”)
After a dormant period, Elias is implicated as the financier behind the Tritak investment scam, which the team exposes. Reese contacts Elias using a phone left in a trash can by Scarface, who is impersonating a police officer, and who later kills a criminal working for the SEC making it appear to be a suicide.(“Risk”)
Elias's main goal is to seek revenge against his imprisoned father and his half-brother, the Don's heir apparent. Upon his father's release from prison, Elias orders some of his men to kidnap the old Don. His plan fails when Carter and Reese intervene and take Moretti into protective custody.
Reese later calls Elias, requesting his help to find Leila Smith, an infant kidnapped by an Eastern European gang. Elias agrees to help, but threatens the child once Reese finds her. Locked in a refrigerated storage container by Elias, Reese is forced to give up Moretti's location in exchange for Leila's life. Reese tried to protect Moretti, but Elias succeeds in capturing his father. (“Baby Blue”)
Elias's plan to unite the five families requires him to kill the current head of each of them, each of whom has little interest in his plans.
He recruites HR, a cabal of dirty cops, and uses them to help him take down the Dons. After killing one Don with a car bomb planted by Scarface and gunning one Don down in front of Detective Carter, she and Fusco take the remaining three Dons into protective custody, barely escaping Elias's men.
In response, Elias orders the kidnapping of Taylor Carter. He is unaware however, that Finch has shown Officer Simmons, a beat cop in league with HR, photos of Elias's men watching the families of other cops who are part of HR. HR severs its ties with Elias and several clean police officers arrive at the hideout, forcing Elias to surrender. (“Flesh and Blood”)
Life Behind Bars
Elias is taken to Rikers Island, where he is to be held pending trial. After being processed and put in jail, Elias makes one final phone call to Gianni Moretti, telling his father he wishes he could be there to see him. Moretti's car is then blown up by Scarface with a bomb supplied by Raoul, killing Moretti and his son Gianni Moretti, Jr.. (“Flesh and Blood”)
Despite being in prison, Elias is still able to run New York's biggest criminal organization. After George Massey puts a hit out on Riley Cavanaugh, Finch visits Elias in prison in hopes of ending Massey's bounty. Finch tells Elias he helped to save the life of "Charlie Burton" and Elias realizes that Finch is Reese's boss. Finch tells Elias about Massey, causing Elias to ask if Reese killed Massey's son. Finch fills Elias in on the situation with Riley and Annie Delaney and asks that Elias use his influence to call off Massey's bounty hunters. Elias agrees in exchange for a game of chess with Finch. Afterwards, Elias makes Massey's bounty "forbidden fruit" so that anyone going after Riley and Annie will have to answer to him. However, Ochoa ignores Elias' orders and goes after the two anyway. (“Triggerman”).
HR later decides to approach Elias, who is still the de facto mob boss of the city even behind bars, to reestablish ties in order to get funding to rebuild HR. Meeting with Scarface, Simmons offers Elias Luciano Grifoni, the last Mafia don that he wasn't able to kill before being arrested. Scarface contacts Elias and tells Simmons that Elias agrees to the deal if HR takes out Grifoni for him. Instead, Elias tips off Grifoni who has one of his men kill Bowman and then passes on Elias' message for HR to "go to hell." Fusco later passes Elias' message to Simmons and seconds it, severing his own ties with HR. (“C.O.D.”)
After Reese is arrested by Agent Donnelly in his hunt for "the Man in a Suit", he is taken to Rikers Island where Elias has one of his men bring Reese over and pulls him into a "dead-zone" where no cameras can reach so they can talk with each other. Elias tells Reese he knows of Donnelly's hunt for Reese but has no intentions of exposing Reese to Donnelly, stating that while he was pissed at first that Reese sent him to jail, he will always see him as the man who came out of nowhere and saved his life. Elias asks Reese to see him as a friend and offers any help he can give him. Reese is reluctant to accept Elias' help as Donnelly once suspected him of working for Elias, but points out Hersh to him. Elias suggests that he can kill Hersh for Reese, but Reese refuses as he thinks Hersh is similar to him and Elias wouldn't stand a chance. Instead, Reese asks Elias to get a picture of Hersh out to Finch which Elias agrees to, excited about working together with Reese. The picture Elias sends Finch enables him to identify Hersh as a government operative with Fusco's help.
When Byron and his gang later attack Reese, Reese doesn't fight back to avoid exposing his skills. In response, Elias calls off Byron's gang, saving Reese. Reese shares a grateful nod with Elias before being led back inside. (“Prisoner's Dilemma”)
Breaking with HR
Finch visits Elias in prison and plays chess with him once again. Through his chess moves, Elias tells Finch that the deaths of Detective Bill Szymanski and ADA Melinda Wright benefited his enemy Peter Yogorov and many of his associates have been transferred from Rikers Island, leaving him more vulnerable. Finch realizes Elias is now at a disadvantage and asks who he's playing against, if its the Russians or HR. Elias taps Finch's king and tells him he's playing against "a ghost", someone he wants to identify greatly. Finch points out that Elias losing seems to be a foregone conclusion, but Elias tells Finch not to count him out, that he may still have a few moves left.
After being rattled by Fusco, Detective Cal Beecher visits Elias in prison to find out if Szymanski was on Elias' payroll. Elias continues his chess game and is disinterested in Beecher who Elias says is interrupting his concentration. After Beecher asks if Szymanski was on Elias' payroll, Elias tells him he made a bad move and to ask better questions: "who benefits from Szymanski's arrest and murder? How could one arrange these acts without being suspected? Who's at the center of the strings that were quietly pulled?" Elias suggests that Beecher knows something that even Beecher doesn't realize he knows and is playing a chess game of his own. Elias finally tells Beecher that he did give money to Szymanski who threw it in his face. Elias explains that Szymanski was clean and Beecher got played by HR before leaving and warning Beecher to watch his back. Unknown to either Beecher or Elias, Fusco used a forced pairing of Beecher's phone to record the conversation and show it to Carter, exonerating Beecher from her suspicions of him. (“Trojan Horse”)
In retaliation, HR and the Russian mafia have two of Elias's men killed outside a bodega, along with a bystander. Carter later remarks to Reese that the Russians are worse than Elias, having fewer rules and more manpower. (“Zero Day”)
Soon after, one of Elias's lieutenants, possibly Scarface, is shot and taken to the hospital under police guard. Elias immediately arranges for his body guards to be paroled. Instead, he is released on the pretense of a prisoner transfer and taken to the woods by HR member Raymond Terney, who is accompanied by Peter Yogorov, who intend to execute him. Before they can, Carter appears and saves him. He asks Carter where they're going, and she says she doesn't know. (“God Mode”)
Elias, along with Scarface, keep a low profile in a well guarded basement. He bristles at his self-imposed confinement but agrees to keep it a secret from Finch and Reese. He points Carter towards a fence who specializes in uncut diamonds and then sends Scarface to collect the gems after Reese and Shaw engage in a violent shoot out in the fence's shop, indicating he is still manipulating events to his own advantage. (“Liberty”)
Elias, still in his basement sanctuary, provides Carter with a detailed summation of HR's latest money laundering scheme for their ill-gotten revenue. (“The Perfect Mark”)
Carter later calls Elias for another favor. In a restaurant, Elias cooks ravioli for Peter Yogorov, and puts a bullet inside it. An angry Yogorov bursts into the kitchen, where he finds Elias waiting for him. Scarface and several other henchman of Elias hold Yogorov and his partner Nikolai at gunpoint, and Elias explains how he wants to watch HR suffer. His men hand Yogorov some documents containing pictures and information on every member of HR. Elias later calls Carter in a car, telling her that it would've been easier to just kill Yogorov. Carter disagrees before hanging up. (“Endgame”)
When HR puts a hit on Reese, Elias calls Finch to warn him of the bounty, and orders his men to refuse the hit. (“The Crossing”)
Elias temporarily comes out of hiding to visit Simmons in the hospital where he is being held. He says there is a debt to pay for killing Carter, before having Scarface strangle him with a garrote wire. (“The Devil's Share”)
Emergence of The Brotherhood
Elias is still hiding out in a basement when Reese comes to visit him, and asks for his help finding a number's kidnapped son. Elias directs him to "The Whale", a heroin shipment coming from Mexico to The Brotherhood, to a house where the son is likely being held. He also permits Reese to hire him and his assistant, Scarface. (“Panopticon”)
Elias meets with Finch in the subway to give him advice on dealing with The Brotherhood. Later Finch gives Elias the location of one of Dominic's old heroin stores and HG Wells' "The invisible man". (“Brotherhood”)
Reese meets with Elias after their most recent number appears to be caught up in the arms trade and is almost kidnapped by Scarface. With Reese's support, Elias takes over an arms shipment and hands them over to police. Later on he has a face to face with Dominic as he was responsible for the mayhem going on. They then go their separate ways. (“Pretenders”)
Elias meets with his old friend and accountant Bruce Moran on Brighton beach. He is being watched by Link, for Dominic who is emboldened by the recent information gleaned from the NYPD's files on Elias. He is approached by Reese due to his number being up and disregards his offer of help until one of his own men tries to take a shot at him. He soon discovers that many of his people have flipped sides to support Dominic. He retreats to Bruce's office to retrieve something from a safe but fails and Scarface is caught in the process. After Reese leaves the building, he locks the door on him and proceeds to hand himself over to Dominic. Dominic demands the code to the safe, which after some coercion Elias gives. The safe detonates, killing many Brotherhood members, injuring Link and killing Anthony aka Scarface. Elias is saved by Reese and proceeds to instruct Bruce to stay out of the country. He then calls Finch and tells him that in the future, when he goes for revenge on Dominic, to stay out of his way. (“The Devil You Know”)
The gang war between Elias and Dominic continues to escalate. When Elias slaughters a number of the Brotherhood's soldiers Dominic retaliates by storming his hideout and capturing him along with Reese and Fusco, who were there to protect him.
After Dominic viciously tortures the three of them regarding a mole in his organization, Elias feigns defeat and tricks Dominic into believing that Link is the traitor. As Dominic guns down Link in his rage, Elias starts laughing and reveals his ruse, telling Dominic that there is no mole and that this was an elaborate ploy to avenge Scarface's death. (“Asylum”)
As Dominic is about to kill Elias, Reese with the help of The Machine breaks out of his bonds and defeats all the Brotherhood soldiers, Dominic tries to escape but is arrested by Fusco and the NYPD.
Before being transported to prison Elias thanks Reese for saving his life. On the way to prison the van carrying Elias, Dominic and Fusco is rammed by one of Elias' men. As Elias tries to escape, Dominic tracks him down and after killing the man prepares to shoot Elias only to be stopped by Fusco. As Fusco convinces Dominic to surrender he is shot and killed by a Samaritan sniper as part of The Correction, Elias warns Fusco to hide and tries to escape in a car but is shot in the chest by the same sniper, while Fusco is spared. (“YHWH”)
According to the NYPD report, Elias was declared officially dead. (“B.S.O.D.”) The NYPD transport car burned up, and it was presumed by the authorities that he was killed in the fire, which explains why they were unaware that it was Elias who had the car T-boned for escape and not Dominic. Samaritan was also lead to believe that Elias was dead.
Life after The Correction
However, it was later revealed that Fusco rescued him from the line of fire, apparently while evading Samaritan's notice. He took him to the safehouse, where Reese and Finch patched his wound and helped to save his life. Elias stays in the safehouse for several months, and during this time he learns of Samaritan's existence and its threat to his life. When Bruce Moran kidnaps Reese in an attempt to get answers and avenge his friend's death, Reese reveals that Elias is still alive. Elias tells Bruce that it is impossible for them to continue trying to rule New York's underworld, but doesn't state explicitly why, only saying that they face an adversary that they are ill-equipped to challenge. (“ShotSeeker”)
After coming into conflict with the Voice once more, Finch decides to turn to Elias for help in tracking the man down. Elias reveals he's come into contact with the Voice before, but doesn't know who he really is, calling him "a ghost." Elias suggests visiting one of the Voice's known associates to locate him and asks in return to come with Finch to help. Elias tells Finch he's already lost two of his only friends and he can't afford to lose another. Elias leads Finch to an abandoned school that acts a headquarters for a bomb maker named Raoul who supplies the Voice with his bombs and supplied Elias with the bomb he used to kill his father. After being threatened by Elias, Raoul helps them find all of the Voice's bombs while Finch manages to track the detonation signal for the Voice's bombs to a warehouse. Elias and Finch discover it to be the Voice's headquarters and manage to put together that Terry Easton, their Person of Interest, is in fact the Voice. As Finch confronts the Voice, Elias aims a gun at him to keep the Voice from murdering Finch. The Voice eventually drives off, believing himself to be triumphant, but Elias has rigged a bomb he got from Raoul to the Voice's car. Once the Voice is far enough away, Elias blows up his car, killing him. Elias then suggests that Finch knew Elias would kill the Voice and brought him along for that reason, something Finch doesn't dispute. (“Sotto Voce”)
While trying to help Finch survive, Elias took him to the buildings in which we were first introduced to Elias. After killing a number of Samaritan's operatives, Elias ushered Finch into the backseat of a car, only to find the driver dead. When Elias tries to reach the front of the car, another Samaritan operative shot him in the head, killing him. The operative then drove away with Finch.
Following Elias' death, Reese and Fusco were called to the scene and as a gesture of respect, Reese removed Elias' glasses and shut his eyes. A gang member then approached them with a picture of the car that abducted Finch, telling them that he respected Elias who respected Finch in return. While being chased by Samaritan operatives, including the man who killed Elias, Finch is shown to be upset by Elias death, leading to Root telling him that the Machine has been watching them all and those it watched the closest, including Elias, are a part of the Machine now. (“The Day the World Went Away”)
- Elias is the second most frequently appearing recurring character on the show. His first appearance was in the seventh episode of the first season. His has appeared in 23 episodes.
- There are several discrepancies regarding Elias' year of birth and age. The Machine's data, as well as his statement that he was born in 1965 conflicts with other sources of information. Events suggest he was actually born in 1969.
- According to the “Flesh and Blood” press release, Elias' flashbacks showed him when he was 12 and 22. If he was born in 1965, he should have been 16 in 1981 and 26 in 1991.
- News accounts of Marlene Elias' death stated that Elias was 3 years old in 1973, putting his date of birth in 1969 or 1970.
- Elias himself tells Gianni Moretti that he was four at the time of Marlene's murder.
- Elias knows Finch as Harold Crane. (“Triggerman”)
- He is also one of four people whose number has come up more than once since the show began, the other three being Logan Pierce, Leon Tao and Joss Carter. However, Pierce's number came up twice in one episode, while Leon's, Elias' and Carter's have come up across multiple episodes.
- When he was staying at an orphanage as a child, he suffered corporal punishment alongside Scarface and the other chidren there.
- After the Correction and the deaths of Scarface and Bruce Moran, Elias becomes protective of the team, particularly Finch. He tells Finch he owes him and Reese especially and considers the Team the only friends he has left, ones he can't afford to lose. (“Sotto Voce”)
- Moments after Root tells Finch that Elias lives on through the Machine, she takes out his killer either by blowing his SUV's hood in his face or in the crash and explosion of the SUV. (“The Day the World Went Away”)
- Despite being enemies much of the time, Reese and Elias display a certain respect for each other. In their first encounter, Elias offers Reese a job and doesn't kill him despite knowing how dangerous he is. (“Witness”) Scarface later tells Reese that Elias "has a soft spot" for him while Scarface would just kill him. (“Baby Blue”) While Reese is in prison, Elias goes so far as to protect him and prevent Reese from being exposed as "the Man in the Suit". (“Prisoner's Dilemma”) After the Correction, Elias refers to both Reese and Finch as his friends and is willing to go to any length to protect them as a result. (“Sotto Voce”) (“The Day the World Went Away”) Reese also maintains a degree of respect for Elias to the point that he removes the man's glasses and shuts his eyes after Elias is killed. (“The Day the World Went Away”)
Elias either killed or ordered the killing of:
- Two unnamed assassins: killed in self-defense (“Flesh and Blood”)
- Sam Latimer: shot twice in the chest (“Mission Creep”)
- Vincent DeLuca: stabbed in the chest with the same knife Vincent used to kill his mother (“The Fix”)
- Bernie Sullivan: shot to death (“The Fix”)
- Joss Carter: shot while escaping from Bernie's apartment and later tried to have her CI, Bottlecap kill her (“The Fix”) (“Get Carter”)
- Ivan Yogorov's brother: killed by Benny D'Agostino (“Witness”)
- Six unnamed Russian mobsters: killed by Elias' hitmen (“Witness”)
- Ivan Yogorov: shot twice in the chest by his enforcer, Scarface (“Witness”)
- Sydney Baylor: bludgeoned to death by hitman (“Risk”)
- Adam Saunders: attempted to have him killed and framed for Sydney's murder; failed on both ends (“Risk”)
- Doug Rasmussen: shot once in the head by his enforcer, Scarface and made to look like a suicide (“Risk”)
- Two unnamed bodyguards: both killed by Elias' hitmen (“Baby Blue”)
- Taylor Carter: abducted by Elias' men; rescued (“Flesh and Blood”)
- Unnamed security guard: shot to death by Scarface (“Flesh and Blood”)
- The Mafia Don Massacre (“Flesh and Blood”)
- The first car bombing: four fatalities; committed by Scarface
- Three unnamed bodyguards
- One innocent bystander: injured only
- Basile: shot to death by a hitman
- Luciano Grifoni: attempted to have killed; failed
- The second car bombing: two fatalities; committed by Scarface
- The first car bombing: four fatalities; committed by Scarface
- Detective Bowman: shot once in the heart by Luciano Grifoni's enforcer after being tipped off by Elias. (“C.O.D.”)
- Patrick Simmons: garroted to death by Scarface on his orders while he sat and watched (“The Devil's Share”)
- Unknown number of unnamed Brotherhood gangsters: Manipulated them into detonating a bomb disguised as a safe. (“The Devil You Know”)
- A number of Brotherhood soldiers: Killed under his orders. (“Asylum”)
- Link: In the bombed office, survived with a broken arm(“The Devil You Know”). Again, by convincing Dominic that Link was a mole, causing Dominic to shoot him three times in the chest. (“Asylum”)
- The Voice: killed by a bomb planed on his car by Elias. (“Sotto Voce”)
- Multiple unnamed Samaritan agents. (“The Day the World Went Away”)