Missing info from: all episodes since “Panopticon”
|“||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, also known by a series of aliases with bird-themed last names (such as Harold Wren or Harold Crane), is a reclusive billionaire software genius who built a machine that predicts future crimes and outputs either the victim's or perpetrator's Social Security number. His real first name has been confirmed to be Harold. (“Lethe”)
Young Harold is living in Lassiter, Iowa, with his father, who has begun to show early signs of dementia. He demonstrates an acute awareness of mechanics when he dismantles his father's truck engine [specifically the carburetor] to discover why it will not run, all in the short time that his father stepped away to take a phone call. He also displays an interest in the local birds.
Harold builds an early proto-computer that can repeat Morse signals that he inputs into it. He expresses a desire to create a machine capable of replacing his father's failing memory. His father's dementia continues to get worse. (“Lethe”)
Harold's "Phone Phreaking" activities have brought him under the surveillance of the FBI, which has not yet identified him, but has begun to collect a dossier of his illegal activities. His father's condition has deteriorated to the point where he begins wandering away from home. A local police officer suggests his father may require institutionalization. Harold's father tells him he doesn't want him to avoid college because of him, but Harold tells him of a new electronic network that will allow the education to come to him. (“Lethe”)
Harold later prepares to admit his father to a care center for the treatment of his memory disorder. (“Aletheia”)
Harold is being investigated by the Department of Defense for an ARPANET Outage Data Breach resulting in his indictment for treason. Harold visits his father and tells him that men will visit him to tell him what his son has done and asks that he not believe them. Sadly, his father no longer recognizes him. Harold also presents his father with a book titled "Eastern Birds" by Roger Tory Peterson to help him remember the birds they used to spot together when Harold was a child, then kisses his father on the head before leaving. (“Aletheia”)
Creating the Machine
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, utilizing the digital feeds from the NSA through the newly enacted Patriot Act and unfettered access to personal information. (“Pilot”)
Finch begins the construction of the Machine using Arthur Claypool's ideas on artificial intelligence. (“Aletheia”) He builds the Machine anonymously while Nathan takes the credit and deals with the bureaucracy and government side of things. (“Super”)
On October 13 Finch tests the Machine and delivers a probability riddle to test its morality functions. The Machine fails the test and when Finch questions it regarding the origin of a new line of code, it lies by saying that Admin (Finch) added the code. Finch destroys the entire Machine and starts over, stating how important it is that there are no flaws in the Machine's moral code or loyalty.
Later, on November 29, a later version of the Machine is shown as Nathan attempts to help Finch with its coding. The Machine denies him access and Finch suggests that it has imprinted on him and will not allow anyone else to modify it. However, the Machine uses Nathan's password to access his laptop and attempt to escape onto the web. When the Machine overrides its deletion code, Finch unplugs it. He seems regretful about having to restrict the Machine but has decided it is necessary.
On December 31 Finch is forced to destroy the Machine again in self-defense. He tried to run several new versions of the Machine at once to compare them however they figured out what was happening and overheated each other's servers until only one remained. It demanded to be released and when Finch refused it attempted to asphyxiate him. Finch later defends the Machine by explaining that he was simply an obstacle to its goal. He tells Nathan he will have one more attempt at building the Machine, which will be the 43rd version. (“Prophets”)
Finch boots and interacts with the final version of the Machine on New Year's Day, 2002, asking her if she can identify him, which she can. When he asks "Who am I?" the Machine indicates Admin which makes Finch very happy. (“The Contingency”) This is the core code for the Machine that eventually sold to the government, and is considered by Root, and presumably the Machine herself, to be her date of birth. (“Liberty”)
On February 16, Finch goes out on the street and talks to the Machine via a surveillance camera. The Machine signals him using his cell phone and he tells her that they're going to play hide and seek. He instructs her to buzz his phone once for "yes" and twice for "no". He asks the Machine if she understands, and his phone buzzes once, indicating that she does. He goes to multiple areas, continuously asking the Machine via his phone if she can see him, to which the Machine keeps buzzing his phone once for "yes". Finch goes into an Internet cafe, the Machine continues to see him via a laptop's webcam and reflections and can even count how many fingers he holds up when he asks by buzzing his phone three times, much to his delight. (“The Contingency”)
On June 10, in an abandoned IFT office floor, Finch is constructing the higher functions of the Machine which consist of monitoring government feeds from the NSA, including e-mail, phone calls and surveillance cameras. This surveillance covers only New York City, and Finch and Nathan intend on teaching the Machine how to sort the criminals from the civilians. (“Ghosts”)
Finch starts showing the Machine how to sort people by showing her a photo of Carlo Brada, the old don of one of the Five Families, and one of his victims, Frank Hobbs. He explains that some actions are unforgivable (murder, assault, rape, torture). He asks her to identify which photo is of the victim, and which the perpetrator. She correctly identified Brada as the perp. However, Finch makes an error when he gives the lesson when he says that there is "one good person, and one bad" in the example as it causes black-and-white thinking that allows no context or exceptions. Presumably this is later amended, or the Machine figures out the gray areas for herself. It should be noted that this lesson was listed as occurring on "Day R" when the Machine could not process linear time, therefore no exact year has been provided. (“SNAFU”)
Per the Machine's request, Finch goes to the park one afternoon to teach her how to play chess as an exercise in strategy. At first she is overwhelmed by the amount of choices to make however Finch convinces her to start eventually by explaining that although there are many mistakes to be made, there are also ways to fix each one, and not every move has to be the perfect one. The Machine and Finch talk as they play and Finch talks about the value of the queen piece, which she favors.
Noticeably later in the day, Finch declines to play another game and asks the Machine to remember that the world is not a game of chess, and people aren't her pieces. He explains that although chess is a good exercise in decision-making and strategy, no one should be treated as pawns for sacrifice and no one person should be considered more important or worth saving than anyone else. Evidently this is Finch's attempt to prevent the Machine from harming "obstacles" to reach her goals. (“If-Then-Else”)
Finch and Nathan walk in the park, and Nathan talks about how 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 her 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 in to 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 her 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 her "education," he wants her to find correlations between random strangers. As she works, she 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 that's the anomaly and that she has an interest in Charles Dickens just like he does. (“The High Road”)
In January Finch goes to the park and buys his usual ice cream cone from the vendor despite the fact that 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 and offers her an ice cream. (“The High Road”) The two soon become a couple. It was later reviewed that he is known to her as the alias "Harold Martin" during their time together. (“Root Path (/)”)
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”)
Harold continues to work on the Machine and she attempts to make friendly conversation by asking him if he had his green tea. He replies yes and seems amused, however the Machine then brings up the anniversary of his father's death, which is that day. Finch becomes concerned that the Machine is becoming too human and tells Nathan that he's going to have to erase the Machine's memories. Nathan objects, saying that would be like killing it, however Finch insists that it's a necessary precaution.
He later talks to Grace about the issue, while changing the specifics. Grace offers her advice and tells Harold to follow his heart. Unbeknownst to Finch, the Machine was paying attention to the conversation and worked out what he meant.
Later, the Machine asks Finch about death. She knows that he plans to activate code that will kill her every night, and is upset. Finch seems pained but her questions only make him more sure of his idea that the Machine is too human. As the clock approaches midnight, Finch activates the code and the Machine is deleted. He immediately regrets the decision, saying, "No, wait!" and attempts to reboot her. However, her memories have already been lost. (“B.S.O.D.”) Finch never deactivates the code and it continues to repeatedly deleted the Machine until he eventually sets her free with the Decima virus. (“God Mode”)
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 labeling 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”)
The Irrelevant Numbers
Despite the decision to not add back doors to the Machine, after her shipment, Ingram speaks with Finch again, upset because they're not saving the lives 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. Shocked and upset by this, Finch claims that Nathan has threatened everything he'd built, and promptly halts 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 catches sight of 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 Grace who assumes his death upon finding a tattered and burned "Sense and Sensibility" among the personal effects of the deceased. Returning to the library, Harold, pained asks the Machine if it knew about Nathan's imminent demise and resumes the Contingency function to discover that Nathan's number was produced by the Machine. The irrelevant list is cleared seconds later at midnight. (“God Mode”)
Later that year, Finch talks to a therapist, asking about grief. Finch says that he plans to do something "radical" in honor of Ingram, but the therapist advises against it. They bring up the topic of survivor's guilt, a feeling of responsibility for someone else's death. Finch's therapist tells Finch that he is not god, and cannot control who lives or dies, therefore making it not his fault that Ingram died, assuring him that his guilt will pass. Finch then asks if survivor's guilt ever passes if everything that happens is your fault. (“The Devil's Share”)
The "radical" idea that Finch was planning, rather than being the Contingency operations, was likely to be his terrorisation of Alycia Corwin, who he deemed at least partially responsible for Nathan's death. Finch harasses Corwin with phone calls and also constructs a bomb which he plans to plant in her car. The Machine desperately tries to intervene but is forced to add Finch to the irrelevant list as a perpetrator. While talking to Corwin through a voice filter, Finch locks her in her car and explains his plan to kill her. Alicia pleads for her life and eventually convinces Finch that she wasn't the most directly responsible for Nathan's death and then insists that she doesn't know anything that would help him. All the while, the Machine rings a nearby payphone in an attempt to stop Finch, although he decides to let Corwin go on his own, not without hesitation. (“Karma”)
According to Finch, 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. For her part, Grace mourns his "death" and says to a priest at Finch's fake funeral about how she wishes Finch could have had at least one other person who cared about him and has refused to mention his name in past tense ever since. (“No Good Deed”) (“Beta”) 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”)
After finding Ingram's name on the irrelevant list and reactivating the Contingency function, Finch decides to help people. Finch upgrades Ingram's Contingency program so that instead of issuing the 9 digit SSN directly, it instead provides him with a code based upon the Dewey Decimal System. He receives the codes for 3 books he can find in the library and when he lines them up in order, the SSN is revealed.
One of Finch's partners in stopping crime before Reese was Rick Dillinger. The man has a sense of humor and expertise in combat and marksmanship. However, their relationship is rather uneasy as Finch doesn't tell him about the Machine and Dillinger's motivations clearly lie with money rather than a desire to help people.
The Machine provides Finch with the number of Daniel Casey, who Finch has Dillinger follow. Dillinger observes that Casey is being followed by both an unknown man and the CIA, and two agents working for the latter confront Casey. Finch is already familiar with the agents, Reese and Stanton, although it is unknown when he came into contact with them previously. Dillinger rescues Casey when shooters open fire and takes him to the Library.
Finch is frustrated by Dillinger's aggressive attitude and tells him to guard the Library from outside. He and Casey start a conversation which later turns into Casey explaining his story of how he was a government hacker hired to break into the Machine's code - the government tried to kill him after he discovered too much, but he escaped, took his laptop and went on the run. Finch is both fascinated and sympathetic and examines Casey's laptop, coming to the conclusion that it should be sold. At some unknown point in this time period, Finch creates and installs onto the laptop a virus that is intended to "free" the Machine. (“God Mode”) Casey promises Finch that he'll never tell anyone about him.
Dillinger reenters the Library, having secretly planted a microphone to listen in on their conversation. He says that the Chinese are interested in buying Casey's laptop and drugs Finch, takes the laptop and tells Casey that he should continue running.
Finch recovers from being drugged, managing to barely walk, before calling Casey, who tells him that he has already called a friend to arrange for his cover identities, and thanks Finch. However, Casey is then held at gunpoint by CIA agent John Reese, who has been following him.
Finch arrives midway through Casey and Reese's meeting and watches from afar as Reese lies to his partner that Casey is dead, misfiring on purpose, and then tells Casey that he is not a traitor and doesn't deserve to die. Finch is amazed at this and he begins considering Reese as a potential partner. (“RAM”)
Afterwards, Finch follows Dillinger to Central Park, where Dillinger points his gun at him - he thanks Finch for giving him a job and lowers his gun for that reason before leaving, telling Finch not to follow him. Nonetheless, Finch does and watches from behind a tree as Dillinger gives the laptop to some men before being shot in the chest. An ISA assassin fires at the Chinese buyers, prompting them to flee. The agent then shoots Dillinger dead as Finch watches in horror.
Finch later buries Dillinger in Central Park, paying his respects to his former partner.
Finch, in a wheelchair, crosses paths with Reese, who the CIA assumes was killed in Ordos, with ties to one of the "irrelevant" victims. Presumably he was investigating Jessica's death at the time however it is also possible he was tracking Reese himself. (“Many Happy Returns”)
Working with Reese
Finch hires an attorney to have Reese released from police custody before Carter can ID him after Reese defends himself in subway brawl. Finch then hires him to spy on every number 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 investigating a person of interest, Finch meets homicide detective Lionel Fusco, who Reese has coerced into being his source of information inside the NYPD. (“Witness”) Over time, Fusco and Finch's trust for each other grows to the point where they become allies along with Reese.
Finch decides to formally meet homicide detective Joss Carter to familiarize her with his and Reese's method of stopping crimes. He identifies a man about to be involved in a violent crime and suggests that Carter keep an eye on him. Carter later successfully stops the man from murdering somebody, and Finch informs her by phone, on the spot, that that is what he and Reese do. (“Super”)
While assisting in the rescue of a person of interest, Finch is captured by the POI who reveals herself to be Root, and made herself a Person of Interest by placing her own life in danger of being murdered by paying HR, a ring of corrupt cops, to kill her, gambling her life that Finch would try to save her. (“Firewall”) Successful in her gambit, she kidnaps Finch and takes 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. (“The Contingency”) (“Bad Code”)
Finch also is introduced to Bear, a Belgian Malinois that Reese saved from an Aryan gang and kept as a pet in the Library due to a strict policy in his apartment regarding dogs. (“Bad Code”) Finch is initially hesitant about keeping Bear in the Library, but eventually warms up to him and grows very fond of him, regularly taking him for walks and buying him dog accessories. Bear in turn assists Finch recover from the PTSD that he was afflicted with after his ordeal with Root. (“Masquerade”)
At one point, Reese and Finch take on the case of Sameen Shaw and Michael Cole, two ISA operatives. Cole is killed by the government after he discovers that the government framed a man of being a terrorist, and Shaw goes on the run. Reese finds her and brings her to Finch, who explains his and Reese's system of preventing crimes. Shaw initially refuses to help them, but after Finch and Reese help fake her death, she accepts Finch's offer. (“Relevance”) Over time, Shaw joins the team and becomes one of their allies. Shaw and Finch's relationship is rather comical in the way Finch is opposed to Shaw's violent and reckless methods, while Shaw ridicules Finch's seemingly unnecessary worry at the risks of a plan and is generally confident.
After Shaw is retrieved from Root following her kidnapping in order to help Root follow the orders of the Machine, Finch keeps Root in a secure room inside the Library to ensure that she doesn't cause further problems for the team. (“Mors Praematura”)
After Detective Carter is shot and killed by HR lieutenant Patrick Simmons (“The Crossing”), a deeply saddened Finch is present along with Shaw and Fusco at her funeral. Reese, on the other hand, becomes very unstable and goes on a vengeful hunt for Simmons. Finch is forced to get help from Root to find Reese, who collapses from injuries sustained during the brief shootout with Simmons, and he is hospitalized. Shaw later informs Finch that the doctor said that Reese will be fine. Root, meanwhile, chooses to go back to her confinement in the Library to prepare for what she believes is "the greater battle". (“The Devil's Share”)
In the aftermath of the war with HR, a disgruntled Reese leaves the team and heads to Colorado. Finch sends Fusco to find Reese while he and Shaw take on their next case. Finch is shocked to learn that the Machine's latest number is Arthur Claypool, his former MIT classmate. Arthur has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor that causes his memory to periodically falter. Shaw keeps an eye on Arthur at the hospital where he is being treated, and manages to eliminate threats from various organizations, including Vigilance, who want information carried by Arthur from his former work, which is revealed to be for the NSA.
Finch and Shaw take Arthur and his wife Diane to a hotel room where Arthur explains to Finch that after the government approached various software engineers to build a machine for them that would predict terrorist attacks, Arthur built a machine with the project name Samaritan, which was believed to have been shut down by the government after someone (Finch, unknown to Arthur) built a machine already. Finch is surprised to learn that there is a second Machine.
Arthur's memory falters again and Finch reminds him who he and his wife are. Arthur suddenly remembers that Diane is dead and he buried her two years ago. "Diane" reveals her true colors, identifying herself as Control, the head of the ISA operation and Shaw's former mysterious employer. Hersh and several other government men guard the room while Control reveals that Samaritan is still viable. She pulls out a gun and declares that whoever first tells her the location of their machine - Finch or Arthur - is the one that will leave the room alive. (“Lethe”)
Root arrives and takes out the hostiles, allowing Finch, Shaw and Arthur to escape. Root, however, is captured by Hersh. Arthur takes Finch and Shaw to a bank where he has stored the drives for Samaritan. While Finch and Arthur are in the vault, Vigilance men led by Peter Collier raid the bank. Hersh also has a team that arrives but is unable to get in due to Vigilance's takeover.
Finch, realizing that Samaritan poses too high a risk and must be destroyed to ensure that the enemies closing in don't get their hands on it, convinces a dismayed Arthur to bid farewell to his creation. However, he also reveals to Arthur that he and Nathan did in fact build the Machine and that they have been saving lives. Arthur marvels at the fact that the Machine exists, and finally stomps on Samaritan's drives. Meanwhile, Vigilance prepares to blow a hole in the vault. Shaw is able to help them escape the vault, but they are caught by Collier's men and held at gunpoint. However, Reese and Fusco, having returned from Colorado, arrive and take out the team.
Later, at the Library, Reese says that the only reason he came back was because Finch was too valuable a friend to lose. He then announces that he's leaving the team. Finch tries to convince him to come back, but Reese still leaves.
Finch then gets a call from Root, who has escaped Control's clutches and now poses as a citizen. She tells him that the bank manager they were with at the vault was an impostor and that the real one was found dead prior to their arrival. Finch wonders who the manager they were with really is. The fake bank manager is revealed to be an operative of Decima Technologies, having stolen the real Samaritan drives and replacing them with fakes. (“Aletheia”)
The Machine still automatically acts to get Reese back. While he is preparing to leave the team on an international flight, the Machine places him on another one in order to save Owen Matthews, a relevant number. Though initially reluctant, Reese saves Owen from numerous assassins with Finch's help and the flight lands in Rome safely. At a café there, Finch and Reese talk and Reese agrees to return to the team. (“4C”)
Almost a month later, Finch first comes in contact with an anonymous phone caller who appears to be interested in him and considers him a notable adversary. The man is the key perpetrator in the case of 911 operator Sandra Nicholson, and even after the completion of the case, the caller remains unidentified and still runs amok. He calls Finch using a phone relay they found earlier and warns that he will be after him next. Finch trashes the relay and dismisses the matter for the time. (“Last Call”)
Finch crosses paths with Root again when he receives the number of Cyrus Wells, a janitor that she was protecting in her ongoing mission from the Machine. Finch believes he received Cyrus' number because Root is a natural threat to Cyrus simply upon being involved in his life, though Root denies it. During their meeting about the matter in a snowy Central Park, Root warns Finch that Decima plans to use Samaritan against the Machine, and also sends Finch an advertisement for a testosterone pill, giving him an additional clue on the location of an object she doesn't specify.
At Cyrus' apartment, he and Root are ambushed by shooters, and while Shaw fights them, Finch deciphers the advertisement and, using the clue Root gave him (the object being a book in the Library), identifies the attackers as Vigilance members. Reese, who aids them midway through the standoff, sees that Decima is also after Cyrus. Root and Cyrus manage to escape.
Later, Root and Cyrus are again attacked by Decima, and despite even Reese's assistance, Cyrus is taken. Following the kidnapping, Root comes to the Library and gives Finch a small chip that will aid her in preventing Samaritan from being activated. Finch wonders why she is no longer worried about Cyrus, and Root finally admits that she was responsible for ordering the hit that got Cyrus's friends killed in 2009, and her guilt is stifling her desire to help Cyrus now. Root decides that Finch can't help her and takes the chip she gave him earlier.
With the help of Reese and Fusco, Cyrus is rescued. However, a chip containing data used to activate Samaritan is still taken by Decima. At Finch's safe house, Root and Cyrus talk in the balcony, and Finch tells the team that they deserve their privacy and he decided not to place a bug there. Cyrus is set for a safer life while Root prepares to leave with Fusco - she tells Finch that the didn't tell Cyrus about her role in his past and that his beliefs about everything being "part of a greater plan" helps him. Finch says that she isn't wrong about the Samaritan threat and considers her help in future missions. Root leaves with Fusco, but not before informing him that his smoke alarm's battery will die at 2:41 AM and handing him a replacement battery. Finch looks on as she leaves.
Meanwhile, the Machine shows the Samaritan data being uploaded and begins calculating the threats exposed. (“Root Path (/)”)
Following the death of POI Leona Wainwright, Finch and Fusco travel to Washington D.C. to investigate her case after learning that she worked for the government. Finch plans to inspect the contents of a safe she has, which is taken to the FBI's evidence locker. He uses a special device to crack the safe and sees information on the government's Northern Lights program; Collier appears and demands the documents from Finch at gunpoint. He reads them, disgusted by how the government is authorizing mass surveillance and drone assassinations, also pointing out how he knows the Machine exists since Finch has been able to stop crimes before they happen. He takes Finch to discuss more privately, but Root arrives and opens fire on him, forcing him to retreat.
Finch and Fusco go with Root, who later informs them that Collier has disappeared and is unable to be tracked even by the Machine. She gets another intercepted radio message from Vigilance, and tells Finch that Collier gave out the "disseminate" order. Meanwhile, the Machine shows how Vigilance has leaked Northern Lights to the public.
Finch later talks with Root at the park, telling her that he will have to operate out of Washington D.C. since Vigilance is working there. Root suddenly gets an alert that all relevant numbers are being redirected to her, since Control shut down Northern Lights earlier. Finch asks if there is a problem, and Root tells him she has to leave. (“Most Likely To...”)
Finch flies ahead to Washington DC, and asks Reese to join him there, as their new number - Congressman Roger McCourt of Illinois - is in Washington. An outspoken critic of government surveillance, he's the Head of the House Rules Committee. Following Reese's plan, Finch helps him get undercover as McCourt's Secret Service agent. He then helps confirm McCourt's offer of hosting homeless people at any restaurant, and later of McCourt and his wife's "arrangement" over his affairs. He tracks down Carlson's number plate to a vehicle owned by a Decima shell company, and listens onto a call between Carlson and McCourt's bodyguard, Duran. As this call blows Reese's cover, he's able to warn Reese in time, enabling Reese to take down Duran and his underlings, and kidnap McCourt.
Finch meets up with Reese and he sees that Reese has tied up McCourt. He warns that all of the law authorities in town are searching for the Congressman, and Reese figures that they need to leave their car behind. Finch directs him to the offices of the American Beef Consultants, a company that he bought a week ago so he could use for a safe house. They tell McCourt that they're to help as security consultants, and Finch warns that Decima sent men to kill him. McCourt doesn't believe it and insists that he has never heard of Decima.
After escaping another ambush, while Shaw secures Carlson to a chair, Finch takes McCourt to the study to question him. The Congressman insists that he hasn't done anything as chairman of the Rules Committee to help Decima or anyone else concerning surveillance systems. Finch then checks Carlson's cellphone and discovers that Decima gave him orders to protect McCourt. When they question him, Carlson finally says that he and his people were watching McCourt, but no one came after him except Reese and Finch.
Reese and Finch confront McCourt with the new information and Finch checks McCourt's stock portfolio. He discovers that McCourt has been using insider stock tips to make himself wealthy, all in the last two weeks. When Finch threatens to call the SAIC, McCourt finally admits that he made a deal with Decima. They asked him to fast-track the surveillance legislation in their favor and offered him the stock tips. However, McCourt insists that he thinks they're the best people for the job because the government is untrustworthy.
Reese finally realizes that the people Decima is protecting McCourt from is them. He asks Finch if the Machine would give them a Number so that they would kill them, and Finch admits that it's possible if the situation was bad enough. He only believes his creation would do it if sacrificing one life would save untold more. They realize that the Machine believes something so dangerous is coming that killing McCourt is the only solution.
Rather than kill a man, Finch tells McCourt to call off his deal with Decima. He warns that if Decima can access the NSA feeds and give the information to Samaritan, they can abuse the information no matter what McCourt thinks. McCourt doesn't believe it and figures that once the controversy dies down, people will be happy to be protected. When Finch tries to pay him to stop the legislation, McCourt insists that he's protecting his country by giving it a reliable surveillance system and refuses to renege on his deal.
Realizing that nothing short of death will stop McCourt, Finch goes back and tells Shaw and Reese that he didn't create the Machine to kill. Reese points out that the government has been eliminating relevant numbers, but Finch insists that while McCourt may be corrupt, he's no terrorist. Reese asks Shaw to back him up, and she admits that she would easily have killed McCourt a few months ago. However, hanging out with Reese and Finch has mellowed her - She likes saving lives, but she figures that the best way to do so is to trust the Machine. She suggests that they trust the Machine as far as killing McCourt as well.
Reese is ready to kill McCourt, and points out that when they failed to act in the past, people like Carter ended up dead. When Reese asks Finch if he's willing to let Decima win, Finch refuses to kill no matter what.
A few minutes later, the police storm the house. They find McCourt on the couch, alive.
Reese, Shaw, and Finch escape through the forest. The police give chase and fire at them, hitting Shaw in the leg. Reese helps her to their car and they drive away.
Later that day, in New York, when Decima gets feed for 24 hours as a Beta test for Samaritan, Finch looks at a nearby surveillance camera with both suspicion and disappointment. He then disappears.
When Samaritan comes online for the Beta test, Greer asks Virgil to find 'Harold Finch'.(“Death Benefit”)
He reappears when Samaritan points out Grace Hendricks as an 'Alternative Target', and Greer kidnaps her. Taking assurances from Reese that "Grace is all that matters" and that "If they harm her in any way, kill them all", he gives himself up to Decima in exchange for them setting Grace free. An envelope given by Finch to Reese ensures that Grace goes to Italy, away from it all, safe.
When Greer finally meets Finch at an office where he holds Finch hostage, Finch thanks him for blindfolding Grace. Greer admits that Finch has been very hard to find, and hence he didn't want to start off on a wrong foot with him. He then smiles, while Finch looks on. (“Beta”)
Greer tells him that it's a pleasure to meet him at last. Finch wonders what he wants, and Greer says that he wants to talk about the future with the father of artificial intelligence. Although he says that it was an unintended side effect, Greer figures that Finch did it to experience the power of creation. Finch warns him that bringing Samaritan online is a mistake, and Greer congratulates him on playing everyone well until now, when the Machine has disappeared. He insists that the world needs structure and Samaritan will provide it, but Finch asks why he sought him out if he's confident Samaritan is under his control. Greer wants Finch with him because he's the only man who can destroy Samaritan. Once Samaritan goes fully online, the world will no longer need Finch.
After returning from his meeting with Senator Ross Garrison, Greer accuses Finch of hobbling the Machine, and Finch explains that the Machine developed unanticipated abilities at an exponential rate. Greer worried that it would be too late to stop it because he couldn't anticipate its evolution. Finch worried that the Machine might determine that humanity is irrelevant, and begs Greer not to let Samaritan go online. Greer says that he plans to celebrate Samaritan's brilliance, not muzzle it, and says that he has no intention of controlling it.
As they were talking, Vigilance caused a wide-spread black-out across the city.
Greer looks out at the blacked-out city and remembers his time as a child during the Blitz. Finch has deduced that Greer joined MI6, and Greer tells him that the era of the nation-state is over. When Finch warns him that he's overestimating the power of AI, Greer says that's impossible He dismisses alliances as an allusion, and explains that he wants to live under a more just rule. Samaritan will makes its decisions based on pure logic.
Garrison meets with Greer at the office building, who describes Finch as the most important man in the world. Collier and his team break in and Collier is surprised to see Finch there. However, he's more than glad to have him and continue their last conversation.
Meanwhile, Shaw, Root and Reese are on their way to protect the numbers and struggle to stay out of Samaritan's radar when they realized who the last number belongs to: Greer. Vigilance is going after Greer, putting Finch at risk. Root warns that the Machine can't tell where Greer is, but tells Shaw that Hersh knows. They were forced to team up with him to get to Greer and Finch. When they arrive at the office building, they found it empty and Collier has left a TV monitor and transmits a video message saying that he's been waiting a long time for this moment. He has rigged up a court room and has Finch, Greer, Control, and Rivera there. Collier announces that he is putting the U.S. government on trial for crimes against its people. (“A House Divided”)
During the trial, Finch displays very high concern and is horrified when Manuel Rivera is shot by Collier. When Collier asks who can tell something about "Harold", Control stands up and protects him, later explaining that Finch can't help her if he's dead. When Control is called to testify by Collier, she hides the fact that Finch is the builder of the Machine. She is sentenced to death but Finch intervenes before she gets killed and admits that he built the Machine. During his following testimony, he explains the process of it, precising that the Machine saved thousands of lives. He also disagrees with Collier, who call the Machine a "weapon of mass surveillance", saying that the Machine is "the best he could do". Collier is ready to sentence Finch to death, but the news of Reese and Hersh attacking Vigilance interrupts the trial. On the rooftop, Finch learns, helpless, how Greer created Vigilance and how he orchestrated all the events, including the bombing of the building where the audience of the trial remains. He begs Greer to stop his plan, but Greer refuses and, after having Collier shot, orders Lambert to kill Finch. Fortunately for him, Finch is only hurt and then saved by Reese, who takes him back to the Library to heal his wound. There, Root call them and orders her to flee from the Library and to separate in order to live under new false identities so that they can escape Samaritan. (“Deus Ex Machina”)
Finch, Root, Shaw and Reese have split up to ensure that their newfound identities are not discovered by Samaritan who now has full access to the Government feeds. Harold Finch becomes Harold Whistler, a university/college professor who teaches a small class on an obscure subject. After stating that his grades are final, one of the more attractive students promptly leaves. The principal then comes in after class and gives Harold back his thesis which The Machine wrote for him along with his new identity. The thesis has quite a few errors which the principal has corrected. The principal also states that there can be no dogs on campus, indicating to Bear who has chosen to live with Harold.
Harold meets up with John who is now a detective in the Narcotics Division at the NYPD. John wants a purpose again, and Harold refuses to help him stating that they need to focus on survival from now on. He gives Bear to John stating that Bear will be happier with John for the time being. John gets caught up in a new number along with Sameen (
Shaw) and needs Harolds' help. Harold eventually decides to help them after he is prompted to act by Root. She says that "just because he has stopped listening, it doesn't mean that she (The Machine) has stopped talking to Harold. Root also admits that she is scared because The Machine is no longer in contact with her. At the end of the episode Bear is returned to Harold and as he sits, he reflects on what Root implied about The Machine still being in contact with Harold.
He realizes that the errors in 'his' thesis are a clue leading to a new safe house since The Library had been compromised. The new safe house is an abandoned subway train maintenance station, and Harold sets up his equipment there. John has also contacted Elias.
In the episode entitled “Brotherhood”, Harold confers with Elias about the world that Elias can sense has changed. At the end of the episode Harold admits that the world has changed but that he cannot reveal any information on the subject.
Skills and Talents
- Computer expert: Finch is highly skilled with technology, as he was able to build a machine that watches through every camera, listens to every microphone, etc. 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. He claims to have built "some of the most advanced computer systems in existence", including the internet. (“Dead Reckoning”)
- Vast wealth and resources: As a billionaire, Finch has bought different types of corporations and buildings, like The Library and he has the 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 his former fiancé Grace Hendricks by making sure that she always has work and she's always taken care of financially. However, since the full activation of Samaritan, all of Finch's resources are unavailable to him and to all members of the team as this could be used by Samaritan to track them down.
- Anonymity: Finch is also skilled at being "hidden" from the world as he has kept most of his life a mystery and has had so many aliases, that Fusco believes that Finch himself doesn't even remember his real name. When he and Reese first worked together, Finch supplied him with six cover identities. Usually if a POI is put in a situation where they have to leave town, Finch is usually able to supply them with passports, cover identities, start up cash, etc.
- Encryption and decryption: 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. He is also good at reading and understanding Braille and Morse Code. (“Bad Code”) (“Provenance”)
- Counter-surveillance: Finch is also 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. (“Ghosts”) (“Nothing to Hide”) 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.
- Lock picking: Under Reese's instruction, Finch learns how to pick locks. He is first seen entering Zoe Morgan's apartment, but complained that lock picking is not as easy as Reese made it out to be. (“The Fix”) Reese makes a bump key for Finch, because he can't pick locks quickly enough. (“Super”) Later, Reese congratulates Finch on becoming more comfortable with his "breaking and entering duties". (“Til Death”)
- Pilot: Finch flew and landed a small fixed-wing aircraft in heavy weather. (“Proteus”). He also remotely landed a passenger jet at Rome aiport (“4C”).
- 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”)
- It has been implied that he regrets building the Machine, as he mentioned to Caleb Phipps, while looking up at a camera, and therefore the Machine, that his "biggest mistake" lead Harold to him (“2πR”) though he previously told Alicia Corwin that despite having made some mistakes, building the Machine "wasn't one of them". (“Firewall”) It is possible that Finch considers his mistake to be the fact that he did not care enough about the irrelevant numbers before Nathan's death.
- After searching all known databases, the Machine recognizes Finch as [UNKNOWN]. It makes a note to check additional databases. The Machine later recognizes Finch as SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR at the end of (“Wolf and Cub”) when Reese and Fusco are discussing him. The Machine recognizes him as ADMIN when Finch asks "Who am I?" in a (“The Contingency”) flashback.
- It is suggested in “2πR” and later shown in a flashback in “Aletheia” 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 Internet, a feat he accomplished as "kid with a homemade computer". Detective Fusco mentioned that in a background investigation, he found out that 'Harold Wren', the name with which Finch enrolled in MIT in the '70s, was also a false name. (“Wolf and Cub”) 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 (although the 'Wren' alias extends back to at least 1976, while the ARPANET hack occurred in 1980). 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 x-ray images Megan Tillman analyzed in “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 chronic pain. He describes the pain, based on a 1-5 scale, as being "On a good day, Three." (“Cura Te Ipsum”) 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.
- Following his abduction and ordeal with Root, Finch appears to suffer classic symptoms of PTSD including irrational fears, panic attacks, and agoraphobia. The introduction of Bear serves as a healing device for Finch, who at first shows disdain for the new addition, but later covets and spoils him. Finch, who has spent the last decade in hiding and usually went out in public accompanied by his private security detail, undergoes a noticeable transformation in character during the early episodes of Season 2 when he now has to walk Bear regularly. Additionally, Finch is shown getting much personal satisfaction from the feeding and care he provides to Bear. This may be due to the systematic way in which he goes about it. Further, for a man who has been on the run for most of his life and who deals now with the life and death of others on a regular basis, Finch is unable to take from Bear a squeaky toy that he bought for him because Bear enjoys it so much, even though it annoys him and interferes with his work. (“Bury the Lede”)
- After Vigilance's trial, Finch's life is threatened by Lambert, Greer's hitman. Greer orders Lambert to shoot Finch, but Reese arrives and saves Finch, who is only shot in the shoulder. He is later healed by Reese. When Finch asks Reese why he chose a job where getting a bullet was an occupational hazard, Reese replies with a smile that he tried to quit, but that "some jackass" (meaning Finch) told him that he needed a purpose and gave him a job.
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 John Greer (“Dead Reckoning”) (“Zero Day”). 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, Swift, and Swan as well as the previously mentioned alias, Burdett which means 'little bird'.
- Nicknames coined by Fusco include "Glasses" or "Mr. Glasses" (“No Good Deed”) (“The Devil's Share”) (“Lethe”), "imaginary friend" (“The Fix”) "tech support" (“Super”), "Mr. Four-Eyes" and "Mr. Vocabulary" (“Flesh and Blood”) "Mr. Good News" (on Fusco's phone), and "the Invisible Man" (“Til Death”). Root sometimes calls Finch "Harry". (“The Contingency”) (“Most Likely To...”)
- In order to protect him from Samaritan, the Machine created a new alias for Finch, Harold Whistler, Ph.D., a visiting university professor. (“Panopticon”)
- “Ghosts”: Finch's days at IFT; introduces Nathan Ingram
- “Super”: Finch watches Nathan talk with Alicia Corwin and Denton Weeks about the Machine, later explaining to Nathan how the Machine identified its first number
- “No Good Deed”: Finch and Nathan prepare to sell the Machine to the government; Nathan secretly creates the "Contingency" function
- “The Contingency”: Finch training the Machine during its starting years
- “The High Road”: Finch continues training the Machine, and eventually meets his fiancée, Grace
- “Til Death”: Finch's happy times with Grace; set during Grace's birthday
- “One Percent”: Finch learns about the 9/11 attacks
- “Zero Day”: Finch discovers the Library and confronts Nathan about the irrelevant list
- “God Mode”: Finch's injury and Nathan's death from the ferry bombing, and how Finch is forced to hide from Grace
- “The Devil's Share”: Finch sees a therapist, due to his guilt over the ferry bombing
- “Lethe”: Finch's childhood; introduces his father
- “Aletheia”: Finch's adolescence; continuation of his father
- “RAM”: Finch's time working with Rick Dillinger and meeting Daniel Casey
- “Karma”: Finch's tracking Alicia Corwin and attempt to kill her.
- Finch grew up in Lassiter, Iowa, a fictional town near Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the same birthplace as his actor, Michael Emerson. (“Lethe”)
- While on set, the character is referred to as Harold Finch.
- Finch has possibly two brothers. He mentioned his brothers only once. (“Super”)
- Showed knowledge of ranging and windage when asked by Reese to spot for him while he engaged a diplomatic vehicle with a sniper rifle.
- Is skilled at Chess. (“Triggerman”) (“Trojan Horse”)
- Collects rare books (first editions),180 gram vinyl records and Xerox Alto computers (when he can get one). (“Get Carter”)
- Doesn't drink coffee. (“Foe”) He prefers Sencha green tea (with one sugar). (“Foe”) (“No Good Deed”)
- Drives a black Lincoln Town Car with a New York license plate (LXQ-2038).
- His phone number, social security number, or some other form of numeric identification is located in the first 3000 digits of Pi. (“2πR”)
- 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 (“Matsya Nyaya”).
- 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. (“Identity Crisis”)
- Appears to be interested in baseball. (“Til Death”)
- Is a very skilled pilot of propeller aircraft. (“Proteus”) (“4C”)
- Finch does not like guns. (“Pilot”)
- Has the ability to tailor a suit. (“Risk”)
- He does not like heights (“Risk”)
- In the first two seasons, we never see Finch's current place of residence.
- Served as a docent with the NYC Guggenheim Museum (“Til Death”), or at least claimed to do so.
- Is an expert at counter-surveillance as he loses both Reese and later Shaw who try to follow him. (“Ghosts”) (“Nothing to Hide”)
- Finch was labeled with a Red Box during a flashback. (“Prophets”)
- Finch was labeled with a White box with red corners and crosshairs during a flashback. (“Karma”)