John Reese is a former U.S. Army Green Beret and CIA field officer, who works with Harold Finch to stop future crimes using numbers generated by The Machine. His real last name is unknown, but military records indicate John is his real first name. Reese operates under a series of aliases and cover identities, including John Rooney, John Warren, John Anderson and two law-enforcement personas created when he was able to acquire genuine badges. He is also known as "The Man in the Suit" (or sometimes the guy in the suit) by law enforcement pursuing him.
John H. S--, the name on his military records, rose to the rank of U.S. Army sergeant, and served as a Green Beret. He is listed by the army as M.I.A. and most of his military history is labeled as REDACTED in The Machine's databases. (Title Sequence) His military personnel file confirms he is from Puyallup, Washington and enlisted at Fort Lewis, Washington. ("Many Happy Returns") His social security number is 380-00-0050. ("Many Happy Returns")
According to the Machine, Reese joined the Army on January 15, 1993. Over the next nine years, he served four short and one long tour of duty, including service in Afghanistan. (Title Sequence) He appears to have been promoted to the rank of Sergeant on September 15, 1998. (Title Sequence)
Reese left the Army in 2001, prior to a vacation in Mexico with his girlfriend of six months, Jessica Arndt. As the vacation was extended beyond the weekend, Reese surprised Jessica with the news. Moments later, the two witnessed a live television report about the attacks on the World Trade Center, and Reese knew his service was far from over. ("Pilot")
Jessica knew Reese as "John," yet it is not yet known what last name he went by during their relationship. ("Mission Creep") However, photographs taken of him in uniform and the timeline of events leading him to adopt the alias John Reese suggest she knew his real name.
Reese officially ended his service in the military on November 20, 2002. He was discharged as a Sergeant First Class. (Title Sequence)
With the CIAEdit
At some point between 2002 and 2006, Reese joined the CIA.
On February 12, 2006, Reese ran into his former girlfriend Jessica at the airport, and he told her that he had found a new, secretive job. She told him that she was engaged to a man named Peter Arndt, though she would wait for him if he told her to. After a silence, she turned and left. Moments later, Reese whispered the words. ("Mission Creep")
Some time later, Reese then met with Kara Stanton in Hungary to interrogate two men about the whereabouts of Alim Nazir. This was presumably his first CIA mission and Kara is his partner.
Stanton promptly murdered them, knowing that they helped Nazir flee the country after a hefty bribe. Reese, visibly shocked, was told to dispose of the gun and bodies. Stanton reminded him that he doesn't have any old friends, including Jessica, whom Stanton had photos of from the airport. Afterward, she assigned him the cover name 'Reese'. ("Foe")
In Prague, Reese and Kara Stanton kill an American traitor selling drone blueprints to two Chinese nationals, and kill the nationals as well. When Kara cracks a joke, Reese ignores it and she tells him to lighten up. She warns him that he'll have to accept the fact that he's a killer and that he might as well learn to love his work. ("Prisoner's Dilemma")
Stanton, Reese and Mark Snow were operating illegally in New York City, holding a government employee captive after he tried to sell some software to the Chinese. When Reese was given permission to get some R&R, Stanton followed him to a bar and found him meeting with Jessica's husband Peter. She gave him a lecture, telling him that they're no longer like other people, and Reese reluctantly left with her before Jessica spotted them. ("Blue Code")
Reese and Kara go to a bar in Paris and target a couple. They have orders to kill the couple and Reese wonders why, but Kara isn't interested. As they watch the couple flirt, Kara suggests that Reese might play along with their own cover and kiss her occasionally. Once the bar clears out, Kara shoots out the camera and Reese goes over to kill their targets. After killing the couple, Reese and Stanton go back to their apartment and clean out any traces of their presence. Kara tells Reese that they can take a break. However, when he says he's fine, Kara draws a gun on him and tells him to choose between being a boy scout or a killer. She reminds him that he chose the life. Reese slams her into a wall and says that he loves her work, and they kiss. ("Prisoner's Dilemma")
Reese and Stanton were in Tétouan, Morroco, interrogating a suspect. While Stanton was busy with the suspect, Reese received a voice mail call from Jessica, who sounded distraught. Reese called her and said he'd see her within 24 hours. Later, Mark Snow and Alicia Corwin informed Reese and Stanton that they were being sent to China to retrieve a high profile computer virus stolen from the Pentagon from the Chinese. Reese was denied his request for leave, but as Stanton left the room, he received another set of orders from Snow: retire Agent Stanton as soon as the mission was complete, then he could have all the "leave" he could ever want.
As Reese leaves, Kara notices him smiling, says that it's been a while, and tells him that she needs him to be a killer. ("Prisoner's Dilemma") The pair arrived in Ordos, and discovered the site where the program was found. Upon arrival, they discovered the corpses of many software engineers, and much of the building's servers emptied. Reese found a survivor whom Stanton conversed with in Chinese. He said that men had turned up shooting and had stolen The Machine. Upon hearing that, she promptly executed him and withheld what he'd said from Reese. (It is not clear if Reese knew Chinese at the time, or if, since then, he has learned Chinese or the meaning of what the man said.) With much of what they came for already taken, Reese and Stanton had no choice but to wait for their extraction at nightfall.
Meanwhile, they do find a laptop and take it. But they are confused as to what it is and what it holds and why it was left behind.
While Stanton marked the LZ with infra-red chem-lights. Reese had readied his gun to shoot her in the back, but lowered it at the last moment, only for Stanton to turn and shoot him. She apologized, saying she had orders from Snow, and was told Reese had ties to terrorists. Reese laughed, telling her he had the same orders and that they were being set up, with the beacon actually signalling for a shelling, not extraction. Reese then made his escape, leaving Stanton standing in shock. Overhead, a UAV observed as an incoming cruise missile targeted the beacons. The wounded Reese managed to escape the blast radius, and turned back to see the explosion supposedly killing his partner. ("Matsya Nyaya")
In February, a wounded Reese now sporting a beard travelled to New Rochelle, NY to look for Jessica. He discovered that she had died in a car accident two months ago in December. Distraught, he broke into the Arndt residence and watched one of the videos of Jessica and her husband Peter's wedding, realising she had most likely been abused by him. When Peter comes home, Reese confronted the man who he held responsible for her death and attacked him. ("Many Happy Returns")
Reese later began to live anonymously in a homeless encampment. ("Risk")
Working with FinchEdit
Deteriorating mentally and physically, a bearded, homeless Reese was attacked on a subway by a gang. Disarming and defeating them with no effort, Reese was taken into custody. Finch's men collected Reese from the precinct, but not before Reese's prints were run through the database. He was taken to the Queensboro Bridge, where Finch offered Reese the chance to prevent crimes and murders before they happen. Though he refused at first, Reese soon changed his mind when Finch forced him into a situation where he'd be helpless to prevent a murder from happening.
Finch introduced Reese to the Machine — a device Finch built for the government after 9/11, which detected terrorist activity as well as other 'irrelevant' crimes by using thousands of cameras and an advanced database. It would give them a list comprised of Social Security numbers, each belonging to a person involved in a violent crime - either the victim or the perpetrator. Upon the completion of his first case, Reese managed to recruit Detective Lionel Fusco, a dirty cop who would become a useful asset. ("Pilot") As Reese took on more cases regarding these Persons of Interest, he caught the attention of Detective Joss Carter, a homicide detective who Reese had met after the subway attack. He also caught the attention of the CIA, his former organization which had presumed him dead until his prints had been run by Carter. ("Number Crunch")
Mr. Reese has been successful at stopping many murders and solving many "cases". He is a wounded man and one must wonder if he will ever be able trust again. He has been spying on Finch to try to find out more about this mysterious man and how the machine itself communicates with him.
He has been shot and wounded numerous times, he shows physical and mental fortitude and genuine care for the people he is helping. He has thanked Finch several times for giving him a job and said that he "believes everyone deserves a second chance". It's clear he views this job as his second chance and is grateful. There are also many references to the fact that Mr. Reese craves a more conventional life. He wants a family, but he knows that can never be.
Reese feels quite differently for those who have demonstrated moral weakness. Though left open to interpretation, it is suggested that Reese may have talked a sexual predator into committing suicide. ("Cura Te Ipsum")
At the end of "Identity Crisis", a drugged Finch expressed his willingness to answer the questions that Reese has about his employer's past. Reese refused to take advantage of Finch's state to satisfy his curiosity.
While bearing one of Kara Stanton's bomb vests, he was greatly concerned with keeping bystanders safe should the bomb be triggered. He considered sacrificing himself when abandoned by Stanton while the bomb was armed. He was also distressed by Mark Snow's ruthless treatment of guards they had to neutralize while infiltrating a DoD cyber-security installation. ("Dead Reckoning")
Awards and DecorationsEdit
Shoulder Sign Insignia on Left side:
|Combat Infantryman Badge|
|1stRow||Bronze Star Medal "V"Valor Device|
|2ndRow||Purple Heart||Meritorious Service Medal|
|3rdRow||Joint Service Commendation Medal||
Army Commendation Medal
|4thRow||Army Achievment Medal||Good Conduct Medal||National Defense Service Medal|
|5thRow||Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal||Southwest Asia Service Medal Two Bronze Service Stars||Armed Forces Service Medal|
|6thRow||Humanitarian Sevice Medal||Army Service Ribbon||Overseas Service Ribbon|
|7thRow||Multinational Force and Observers Medal||Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)||Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)|
Shoulder Sign Insignia on Right side:
- Reese's regimental crest
- Army Meritorious Unit Commendation
- Reese's name plate
- Army Ranger Tab
- Army Special Forces Tab
- Airborne Tab
- One of his medals is the Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia), awarded between January 17, 1991 and February 28, 1991. From this is can be concluded that Reese served during Operation Desert Storm.
- To enter the Army Special Forces, one must be 20 years old.
- According to the Machine, Reese joined the military on January 15, 1993, though the ribbons on his uniform show that he joined the military a few years earlier (either 1989 or 1990).
- His uniform shows 'Airborne', 'Ranger' and 'Special Forces' shoulder tabs, it is possible that Reese had followed Ranger School, earning the Ranger Tab that indicates combat leadership qualification for small-unit tactics, typical for (senior) NCOs in Special Forces.
- John's uniform also shows the green Combat Leadership Tab that is issued to senior NonCommissioned Officers in Special Forces teams.
- Reese has a keen interest in shooting many of his enemies in the kneecaps.
- In John's unit in Tikrit (Iraq) they used Belgian Malinois dogs. They only use Dutch commands and John knows some of those commands. ("The Contingency")
- Reese can speak fluent Spanish ("Cura Te Ipsum") and seems to understand Chinese ("Matsya Nyaya").
- It is probable that Reese was a Weapons Sergeant (18B - usually Sergeants First Class) in the Special Forces, as he shows extensive knowledge of firearms and explosives, and can wield many types of firearms.
- Seen in "Pilot" Finch supplies Reese with fake identities: 6 cover identities (a glimpse of an Canadian passport), and drivers licenses from South Carolina, Alabama, Illinois and 2 from New York State.
- John uses both Detective Stills and Marshall Jennings' badge and name several times. He also uses a police uniform in "No Good Deed" and full SWAT gear in "Get Carter" as he plans to intervene in a possible assassination attempt on Detective Carter during a police raid.
- For his birthday in 2012, Finch gave Reese an apartment at 810 Baxter Street, Apartment 5A. ("Many Happy Returns")
- The prefix in his social security number (380) suggests that Reese received his SSN from Michigan.
- It is established that John Reese is originally from Puyallup, Washington, which is 95 miles away from Mount Vernon, Washington, the real life birthplace of Jim Caviezel, who portrays Reese.
- Reese wears a Resco Patriot RDP09P-BL watch.
- Reese drives a 2012 Ducati Diavel Carbon with NY plate PQ72NB.
- John knows how to play baccarat ("All In")
- He is the new ADMIN for the machine since "Zero Day", replacing Harold. (For 24 hours)
Nicknames and AliasesEdit
- Main article: John Reese/Aliases
With John being his real name ("Many Happy Returns"), he often uses the name to introduce himself to people he is involved with. Carter and Snow only refer to him as John while Finch usually calls him Mr. Reese.
- Before he met Carter formally for the first time, she referred to him as "the man in a suit".
- Fusco occasionally calls him "Wonderboy". ("Many Happy Returns") He has only called Reese by his first name twice ("Bury the Lede") ("Prisoner's Dilemma").
- When he was working undercover with a person of interest, Tommy Clay, he was nicknamed Johnny. ("Matsya Nyaya")
- Among all aliases, the identity "John Warren" is the only clean one and the one that is most close to Reese's real past. He has only used this alias once so far. ("Prisoner's Dilemma")
Images of John Reese