Harold Finch, also known by a series of aliases with bird-themed last names (such as Harold Wren or Harold Crane) is a billionaire and software-engineer genius who built a machine that predicts future crimes and outputs either the victim's or perpetrator's Social Security number.
Ingram informs Finch about the attack on the World Trade Center and reminds him that they had intentions to change the world when they created IFT, but instead, they only became rich and haven't changed anything. ("One Percent") Following the incident, the American government hires Nathan to build a machine that would predict future mass attacks on the United States, using coverage of cameras and access to personal information. ("Pilot")
On June 10, in an abandoned IFT office floor, Finch is building an early version of the Machine, which consists of government feeds from the NSA, including mail, phone calls and surveillance cameras. This prototype covers only New York, and Finch, along with Ingram, intends on teaching the Machine how to sort the criminals from the civilians. ("Ghosts")
Finch and Nathan walk in the park and Nathan talks about he and his wife are still in a trial separation but don't want to talk divorce. He wonders how anyone knows when they've found the one special person in their life and Finch admits that he has no idea. They sit down at a bench and Finch uses a laptop to check in with the Machine and use it to provide a demonstration. He shows Nathan how the Machine has determined that a nearby man, an apparent homeless person, is actually a former violin prodigy with the Philharmonic who gave into drink. Finch explains that he has programmed the Machine to search for outliers. Nathan doesn't believe that level of programming is possible and Finch shows his partner that the Machine has detected that Nathan is dating a graduate student during his separation from his wife. He explains that he has programmed the Machine to understand human behavior by watching everyone, even its creators.
The Machine suddenly brings up a file on a nearby woman, Grace Hendricks, who is painting by the river. Finch can't find any anomalies in her history and suspects that there's a bug in the Machine's programming. Nathan comments that the Machine has good taste and Finch gives the woman a second look. ("The High Road")
Finch goes out into the streets of NYC and checks in with the Machine via his laptop. As the next step in its "education," he wants it to find out correlations between random strangers. As it works, it flags Grace as an anomaly again as she walks by. Finch assumes that it's a bug and checks her record, confirming that she has no dark or sinister past. He realizes that's the anomaly and that she has an interest in Charles Dickens just like he does. ("The High Road")
Finch goes to the park and buys his usual ice cream cone from the vendor despite the fact it's winter. The vendor has been keeping some ice cream just for Finch, his regular customer, and points out that Finch doesn't deny himself small pleasures. Surprised and pleased at the man's perception, Finch receives a text message from the Machine. It simply mentions Grace's name, and Finch goes over to talk to the woman. Finch meets Grace, a magazine illustrator, and the two soon become a couple. ("The High Road")
Finch and Grace meet at a coffee shop and she talks about how she saw the famous painting The Red Tower when she went to Italy. She talks about how it inspired her to become an artist and explore mysteries, and she asks Finch where he's traveled. He admits that he made it to Venice after college but avoids saying anything else. ("Til Death")
Finch meets Nathan at a restaurant and his partner comments that he's running late. He jokingly asks if Finch had a date and then realizes that he did. Finch avoids talking about it and Nathan goes along with it, telling his partner that a little mystery goes a long way. Finch asks about Nathan's wife Olivia and Nathan admits that he saw her recently and couldn't even remember all of the lies that he told her. He tells Finch that the truth inevitably catches up with everyone. ("Til Death")
Grace is waiting for Finch at a restaurant when a bike messenger gives her an envelope. It's from Finch, inviting her on a birthday scavenger hunt. She eagerly sets out across the city, following the clues at each new location, and finally ends up at the Guggenheim Museum. Finch is waiting for Grace inside the closed museum. She thanks him for the birthday surprise but he says that it isn't over yet and takes her through the empty halls to the art gallery. Hanging on the wall is The Red Tower and Finch claims that an anonymous donor gave it to the museum. Smiling, Finch wishes Grace a happy birthday. Grace and Finch leave the Guggenheim and she realizes that he's upset about something. They sit down and Finch tells her that she should know what he does for a living. Grace assures him that nothing he could say would change her feelings for him, but suggests that he do it when he isn't upset. Finch agrees and Grace tells him that they'll discover the mysteries of life together, and then kisses him. ("Til Death")
At the same abandoned office floor from five years ago, Ingram confronts Finch about the Machine's way of sorting crimes - focusing on the mass-terror threats, while labelling smaller crimes as "irrelevant," and deleting them every night at midnight. Finch claims they built the Machine not to save "someone," but rather "everyone." ("Ghosts")
Despite the decision to not add back doors to the machine, after its shipment, Ingram speaks with Finch again, upset because they're not saving the life of people that are in imminent danger. Finch wants both to move on and start working in something new, although his partner seems worried about the issue. ("One Percent")
On Day 3178 of the Machine's operation, or September 13, 2010, he proposes to Grace by hiding a ring inside "Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen. She says yes. ("Zero Day")
Finch would go on to tell Ingram about his engagement, only to follow him into The Library. He discovers that Ingram had created a backdoor into the Machine to give him access to the irrelevant list. Disheartened by this, Finch claims that Nathan has threatened everything he'd built, and promptly deletes Ingram's contingency function. The operation terminates the same moment that Ingram's own number appeared, going unnoticed by either party. ("Zero Day")
Two weeks later (Day 3190), Harold asks why Ingram hasn't been in the office or returned his calls. Ingram claims he quit IFT, and is meeting a reporter the next day to tell him about the Machine. Harold asks what he can do to prevent this, and Nathan demands access to the irrelevant list once more. Refusing his request, Nathan says he will meet the reporter, and that Harold should meet him at the ferry terminal. ("God Mode")
The next day, Harold briefly meets with Nathan at the ferry terminal before a car bomb detonates nearby. Nathan is killed in the blast, and Harold is severely injured. Awakening at a field hospital set up in a gym, Harold sees Nathan pronounced dead, and two government officials confirming his death on the phone to an unknown party. Realizing who was responsible, Harold quickly escapes, but not before avoiding his fiancee Grace who assumes his death upon finding "Sense and Sensibility" among the personal effects of the deceased. Returning to the library, Harold resumes the contingency function and discovers Nathan's number was produced by the Machine. The irrelevant list is cleared seconds later at midnight. ("God Mode")
According to him, he faked his death to protect Grace from the people who know of the Machine. Unbeknownst to her, Finch started watching her from afar and probably arranging work for her to support herself as a freelance artist. ("No Good Deed") According to X-rays analyzed by Megan Tillman, Finch had a spinal fusion surgery as a result of his injury during this time period due to the bombing. ("Cura Te Ipsum") ("Ghosts")
After faking his death, Finch is horrified to realize that Nathan Ingram was one of the "irrelevant" numbers that would have been saved... so he uses a back-door in the Machine that allows him to access the list of the "irrelevant" crimes, which was installed by Ingram. To avoid attention, Finch can only access the Social Security number of a person involved in the crime, though it is unknown if it is the victim or the perpetrator. ("Pilot") ("No Good Deed") ("Zero Day")
After observing the death of his best friend, Nathan Ingram who was one of the "irrelevant" victims, a distraught Finch, in a wheelchair, tracks John Reese, a former CIA agent, with ties to one of the "irrelevant" victims. ("Many Happy Returns")
Finch helps Reese leave police custody in a police station with the help of a lawyer after he (Reese) defends himself in subway brawl. Finch then hires him to spy on every possible victim the Machine supplies, and prevent or save them from the upcoming attack. ("Pilot") After Reese discovers Finch's employment at IFT, Finch quits his job without any notice. ("Ghosts")
While assisting in the rescue of a person of interest, Finch is captured by Root, who made herself a Person of Interest by placing her own life in danger of being murdered by paying HR to kill her, gambling her life that Finch would try to save her. ("Firewall") Successful in her gambit, she kidnaps Finch and take him to various locations to try and determine the location of the Machine, and how to access it. He is later rescued by Reese, with help from Detective Carter and the Machine. ("Bad Code")
- On a few occasions, Finch mentions that he previously lost someone, most likely either Nathan, since he was his partner and died, or Grace, since he had to leave her, or possibly both. ("Pilot") ("Ghosts")
- When asked why he tries to save people he states, "I have my reasons." ("Pilot") ("Cura Te Ipsum")
- Finch's Social Security number is XXX-XX-5492. ("The Contingency")
- After searching all known databases, the Machine recognizes Finch as [UNKNOWN]. It makes a note to check additional databases. (Title Sequence) The Machine later recognizes Finch as SYSADMIN at the end of the episode "Wolf and Cub" when Reese and Fusco are discussing him. The Machine recognizes him as ADMIN when Finch asks "Who am I"?. ("The Contingency")
- It is suggested that Finch was the hacker who exposed the code of the, at the time, military-controlled computer network ARPANET, leading to the eventual creation of the World Wide Web, a feat he accomplished as "[...]kid with a homemade computer[...]" ("2πR"). In Wolf and Cub, Detective Fusco mentions that in a background investigation, he found out that 'Harold Wren', the name with which he enrolled in MIT in the '70s, was also a false name. This could mean that for his own safety and avoiding the suspicion of the government, he has been using false identities ever since he exposed ARPANET. In a conversation with Nathan Ingram about Finch's intention to propose marriage to Grace, Ingram reveals that Finch is wanted for sedition ("Zero Day").
- Judging from the x-ray images Megan Tillman analysed ("Cura Te Ipsum"), it appears that Finch has had a cervical spinal fusion of the C3, C4 and C5 vertebrae, more precisely, a 2-level posterolateral fusion. In this type of fusion surgery bone graft is placed between the transverse processes in the back of the spine. To provide stability, the vertebrae are then fixed using metal screws or wires attached to a metal rod on each side of the vertebrae. As a result of this procedure and the preceding accident, Finch displays a range of physical disabilities such as the inability to turn his head, rigid posture, a limp, and possible chronic pain. Despite that, these injuries do not seem to limit Finch's mobility much in any way. He can be seen doing push-ups ("Mission Creep"), climbing stairs ("Pilot") and is frequently assisting Reese out in the field.
Aliases and other namesEdit
- Main article: Harold Finch/Aliases
- As Norman Burdett, he works as a paralegal at Marmostein Ribner. His phone number is listed as (917) 555-0131. ("Cura Te Ipsum")
- As Harold Wren, he works at Universal Heritage Insurance. The address is 930 W 57th Street, Suite (unknown), New York, NY, 10019. The phone number is (202) 555-0112. ("Many Happy Returns")
- As Harold Crow, he works as a private investigator. His business address is 920 E 68th Street, Suite 500, New York, NY, 10065. The phone number is (212) 555-0179. ("Identity Crisis")
- As Harold Starling, he works as an Information Technology Manager at Rylatech. His employee I.D. number is 237412874. ("Trojan Horse")
- His current alias "Harold Finch" has been mentioned twice so far, by Alicia Corwin ("Firewall"), and Greer ("Dead Reckoning")/(""). He is usually called either "Finch" or "Harold", or uses a different alias.
- His aliases are often associated with birds, as shown with Finch, Partridge, Wren, Crane, Crow and Swift, as well as the previously mentioned alias, Burdett.
- Other nicknames include "Mr. Glasses" (Fusco, (1x22)), "imaginary friend" (Zoe Morgan, (1x06)) "tech support" (Nathan Ingram (1x11), Reese (1x14)), Mr. Four-Eyes and Mr. Vocabulary (Fusco (2x01)), Mr. Good News (Fusco's phone)
- While on set, the character is referred to as Harold Finch.
- Showed knowledge of ranging and windage when asked by Reese to spot him while he shot the hood off a car. (1x08)
- Is skilled at Chess (2x04) (2x19)
- Collects rare books (first editions),180 gram vinyl records and Xerox Alto computers (when he can get one).
- Doesn't drink coffee. (1x08) He prefers Sencha green tea (with one sugar). (1x08) (1x22)
- Drives a black Lincoln Town Car with a New York license plate (LXQ-2038).
- His phone number or some other form of numeric identification is located in the first 3000 digits of Pi. (2x11)
- Harold has a voicemail box number @ (917)-285-7362. Note this is not in the first 3000 digits of PI.
- Harold demonstrates good knowledge of large multiplication (1x20).
- Harold either invented, or was instrumental in inventing social networking, to assist the Machine with establishing interpersonal relationships. He notes that it was difficult to link people together until he discovered they were more than willing to provide the information themselves.
- Appears to be interested in baseball. (2x08)