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Joss Carter

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Missing info from:Terra Incognita
Detective Jocelyn Carter


Played byTaraji P. Henson

NameJocelyn Carter




Date of birthMarch 7, 1972

Date of deathNovember 14, 2013

Social Security #XXX-XX-7863

OccupationPolice detective
Police officer (formerly)
U.S. Army Warrant Officer (formerly)

ResidenceNew York, NY, USA

FamilyTaylor Carter (son)
Paul Carter (ex-husband)

AffiliationNew York Police Department
United States Army (Discharged)

AssociatesLionel Fusco
John Reese
Harold Finch
Sameen Shaw

First appearancePilot

Last appearanceTerra Incognita” (Flashback)

FlashbacksGet Carter

Images (154)

I'm Carter. You didn't give us a name.

— Carter, to Reese

Detective Jocelyn "Joss" Carter is a New York Police Department homicide detective who, after crossing paths with John Reese, tried to track him down. However, after being saved by Reese, she gradually decided to become an invaluable asset to Reese and his employer, Harold Finch. She was a single mother of one son, Taylor, to whom she was very close.




Carter's records. (“Title Sequence/Season 1”)

Carter served in the United States Army as a Warrant Officer, first at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan (from February 2, 2002 until February 2, 2003), and was then relocated to Iraq, where she served at Camp Liberty in Baghdad from January 20, 2003 until March 20, 2004, serving as an Army Human Intelligence Collector and top interrogator. She received a Purple Heart in March 2004. (“Get Carter”) (“Title Sequence/Season 1”) She served in 95 Ivy which Reese identifies as military interrogators. Special Agent Donnelly also states that Carter was a senior military interrogator. (“2πR”) (“Prisoner's Dilemma”)

Carter passed the bar exam to become a lawyer in 2004 but gave it up to go back to being a police officer. (“Get Carter”)


POI 0308 CarterFB

Carter as a rookie officer. (“Endgame”)

Carter's ex-husband Paul returned to New York City after 2 years of disappearance following his post-traumatic stress disorder that he refused to get treatment for, causing Joss to leave him. Joss, who was still a rookie officer at the time, went to Paul to talk. They briefly argued, and Joss told Paul that she wouldn't let him see their son, Taylor, unless he sought counseling.

Later that year, Paul entered Joss' house unannounced to see Taylor. The two argued again, and Paul smashed a lamp in anger, causing Joss to reach for her sidearm. She ordered Paul to leave the house and did not see him again for three years. (“Endgame”)


Carter, now a detective, saw Paul again outside her precinct. Paul told Joss that he was now seeking counseling, showing her his VA card, and gave her his number in case she needed any help. (“Endgame”) One of her first cases was a murder involving Chase Patterson. She and Terney went to Patterson's penthouse. Later she can be seen interrogating Patterson about the events of the evening when his relatives were killed. Patterson told that he was in his cabin having problems with his drug addiction. Carter believed that Patterson was not involved. She decided to visit Patterson's cabin. While inside the cabin, she heard a noise. She went out, but no one was there. Later Terney called her and told that Patterson has left the country and that they have a new case. (“Terra Incognita”)


Following an attack on John Reese on the subway by Anton O'Mara and his gang, Carter questioned Reese and, following his refusal to cooperate or give information about his background, collected his fingerprints from the cup he drank from. After analyzing his prints, and discovering his prints were found in six different crime scenes, Carter returned for further questioning, only to discover Reese was released by his attorney.

The second arrest of Anton, along with his father in a shooting during a weapons deal, made Carter realize that they were defeated, yet again, by the same man. Later on, while arresting a corrupt police officer, he claimed to Carter that he and his accomplices were captured by a man in a suit. Unknown to Carter, Reese was mere feet away from her. (“Pilot”) A few days later, at a shooting crime scene, Carter was informed of the shooter being a man, which she assumed was "in a suit." (“Ghosts”)

Carter later began working with Lionel Fusco after Reese blackmailed their corrupt captain into transferring him into the 8th Precint Homicide Task Force. (“Cura Te Ipsum”)

Carter's main objective was to track down and apprehend Reese. Even though she was hunting him, he still saved her life when her number came up. She was grateful, but still didn't understand his motives or M.O. (“Get Carter”) She later helped agent Mark Snow of the CIA (Reese's former boss) to track down Reese, but she didn't know that Snow wanted to kill Reese; she only thought he wanted to question him. After learning she was wrong, she helped a wounded Reese escape to safety. (“Number Crunch”)


While following Reese and trying to avoid help from the CIA, Carter met with Harold Finch, who explained to her how they stop crimes before happening, and directed her towards a man who was about to kill someone. She arrested the man, and Finch called her to inform her that that is what they do. (“Super”) Carter also formally met with Reese for the first time at a diner, and helped him save their most recent number. (“Legacy”)

Carter began to work alongside Reese and Finch, even though she was unsatisfied with the lack of information they gave her, and she disapproved of their methods. Carter tried to sever ties with Reese after he was forced to cut a deal with Carl Elias to save an infant's life by giving up the address of a safe house of someone Elias was trying to kill and Carter was trying to protect. (“Baby Blue”) However, Carter's son was later taken hostage by Elias and Reese was the only one who could get him back. (“Flesh and Blood”) Carter got back on board with Reese and Finch and did whatever she could to help them.

Carter later worked alongside Agent Nicholas Donnelly and the FBI while they tried to track down Reese. She put the pieces together and realized that Reese was once involved with Jessica Arndt. She obtained Reese's military file and reviewed it; she later shredded the file, keeping only the picture of Jessica and Reese that she found in Jessica's belongings. (“Many Happy Returns”)

Carter was sidetracked by the FBI again just as she was leaving to go help Reese escape from a hotel that was being closed in on. She had to stay at the police headquarters watching as the FBI tried to catch Reese. HR was working simultaneously to find and kill the POI that Reese was trying to protect. Carter sent Reese a series of text messages, saving him from being captured or killed as he tried to find an escape route out of the hotel.

Later on, Carter confronted Fusco, thinking that he was helping HR kill Reese, only to be told that he was working for "the Man in the Suit". Carter realized that Fusco was working for Reese and Finch and began assisting him while he helped them. (“Firewall”)

Sometime in the early season 2 in Reese's flashback, he and Carter can be seen together stalking a person who was stealing from HR. They were talking about different things: Reese's and Carter's military past and their future. Reese says that people like him never change and they have no future. (“Terra Incognita”)

In the FBI search for the Man in the Suit, Donnelly offered Carter a temporary assignment to the FBI task force hoping that she would help catching Reese. Carter accepted the offer but still continued to assist Finch and Reese. (“Shadow Box”) She and Finch worked together to get Reese out of jail with Carter destroying the records of Reese's fingerprints and switching out his DNA sample with another as a first step. (“2πR”) Carter was brought in to interrogate the four suspects and framed Wayne Packer but Donnelly caught Reese and Carter and prepared to take them to a safe house after having realized the two were working together. They were intercepted by Reese's former CIA handler Kara Stanton, who killed Donnelly and kidnapped Reese. (“Prisoner's Dilemma”) Carter reluctantly fled the scene and attempted to use her military knowledge to aid Reese in disarming his bomb vest. Reese convinced her to flee instead but Finch was able to disarm the bomb instead. Following the deaths of Stanton and Mark Snow, Carter was informed by SAIC Brian Moss that the FBI had identified Snow as "the Man in the Suit" and closed the investigation. Carter remained skeptical on whether it was truly over however. (“Dead Reckoning”)


After Donnelly's death, SAIC Brian Moss of the FBI looked over some files and found Donnelly's recommendation for Carter to join the FBI, and she took a polygraph test, which she passed. She was eventually turned down because of her relationship with Cal Beecher, who was under investigation by the NYPD's Internal Affairs. (“Booked Solid”)

After Detective Bill Szymanski was framed by HR and later killed (“All In”), Carter grew increasingly suspicious of Beecher, as he got a false tip about dirty money in Szymanski's possession. She realized that Beecher was played by HR after Fusco recorded a conversation between Beecher and Elias, revealing this information. HR found out about Beecher's meeting, and had him killed. Carter arrived too late and was devastated to find Beecher dead. (“Trojan Horse”)

Carter used Bear to locate and remove the buried body of James Stills from its location in Oyster Bay before the IAB could find it, which would have led to Fusco's arrest for murder and other charges from his past life as a criminal. (“In Extremis”)

POI 0301 CopCarter2

Carter in her officer uniform. (“Liberty”)

Carter was later framed by HR for shooting an allegedly unarmed criminal. (“Zero Day”) Due to this incident, she was demoted down to a patrol officer. (“Liberty”)

After longtime associate Raymond Terney revealed his true colors to her, Carter saved Elias from being assassinated by Terney and Russian mob leader Peter Yogorov (“God Mode”), and then arranged for him to enter into hiding at a secure basement. She did not inform Finch or Reese of the arrangements she had made for Elias' living arrangements.

Carter undertook a personal vendetta against HR after Beecher's death and had created an organizational chart of HR's structure, which she hid in a closet in her apartment. (“Liberty”)

Carter was assigned a new rookie officer named Mike Laskey, who she was initially reluctant to work with, but warmed up to him later on. (“Nothing to Hide”)

3x05 - Put it down

Carter confronts Laskey. (“Razgovor”)

On request from Laskey, Carter met with him at a bar to discuss a problem he was having with someone in the workforce. Laskey said that that person was Carter, and asked about "the Man in the Suit". Carter revealed to Laskey that she knew about his activities with HR, and that the bartender was a corrupt lieutenant working as backup to Laskey. She killed the bartender with a gun that Laskey purchased from New Jersey, and told him that he worked for her now. (“Razgovor”)

Carter had Laskey call in sick to spy on HR officer Patrick Simmons and photograph everyone he met with. Laskey later showed Carter the pictures at his apartment, when Detective Terney came in with a gun. Terney killed Laskey, and Carter shot Terney almost instantly afterwards. She begged a dying Terney to tell her if the head of HR was in one of Laskey's pictures, and Terney placed his bloodstained finger on the image of Alonzo Quinn before dying. (“The Perfect Mark”)

With Quinn exposed, Carter became more determined than ever to bring down HR for good, and took measures that grew increasingly objectionable to Reese and Finch. With help from Sameen Shaw, she intercepted a drug delivery carried out by the Russian mob, causing the Russians to blame HR for it. Carter then used a sniper rifle to fire at Quinn while he was at his office, causing HR to suspect the Russians, and sparking a war between the two crime organizations. Carter then took the leader of the Russian mob, Peter Yogorov, into custody and obtained an arrest warrant for Quinn. Though she was eventually captured and held at gunpoint by Quinn's men, Reese saved her and Carter was able to apprehend the head of HR. (“Endgame”)

Carter, planning to take Quinn to a federal building, went with Reese while evading thugs, as HR put a bounty on Reese's head. They escaped an area being patrolled by HR and went to a morgue, where they kept Quinn sedated while the two talked about their past lives and shared a kiss. Reese took down two HR cops who were after him and helped Carter escape the building, but was arrested by two honest cops.

Carter took Quinn to the federal building, where he was arrested and awaiting trial. Carter was promoted back to a detective, and Finch came to congratulate her. She told him that she figured he built "a super-computer" that tells him when a crime is about to happen, by which Finch was impressed. Carter met with Reese in the same room they were in during their first time meeting each other (“Pilot”), quoting their words during that time, and Carter got Reese out of the precinct. With 98% of HR down, Carter told Reese that Simmons was the last one remaining, right when Simmons showed up and shot them both as Carter shot him back. Reese embraced a dying Carter while Finch watched in horror, and Carter told Reese to keep Taylor safe before dying and her last words, to Reese, were "Don't let this change you."(“The Crossing”)

POI 0310 Carter

Carter's picture at her funeral.

Carter was buried with full police honors, including a seven-gun salute. Her funeral service was well attended with Paul and Taylor sitting in front, where Taylor was presented the flag from her coffin. Fusco sat off to the side, bruised and angry while Finch and Shaw stood quietly, well away from the group, with Finch's face reflecting the pain he felt. Carter's death prompted Reese to go on a vengeful hunt for Simmons. (“The Devil's Share”)

For the last time, Carter is seen in Reese's hallucinations. She tells him that he has no time left, that he is dying. A moment later Reese is seen bleeding and inside Chase's car. When he asks Carter what happened, she tells that he has killed Gil. Carter tells that Reese needs medical attention, or otherwise he will die by freezing. Carter convinces him to move forward in order to get Patterson's car keys. She tells that Reese has hypothermia and no one can save him. Reese than explains the reasons of leaving his girlfriend Jessica. Carter responds that John need to let other people be closer to him and that someday he will become happy. (“Terra Incognita”)

Character Notes

  • At the time of the pilot, Carter had 37 opens cases and 14 active cases. (“Title Sequence/Season 1”)
  • One of Carter's open cases was a cold case from 1960. (Rosenstock) (“Zero Day”)
  • Carter's phone number was (212) 555-0487. (“Title Sequence/Season 1”)
  • Carter's sidearm was a Glock 26 in Season 1 before switching to a Glock 19. She kept the Glock 26 as a backup gun.
  • Carter's smartphone was the HTC Desire HD and later in season 2 the HTC Evo 4G LTE.
  • Carter's New York State Driver's License number was 119-49305. (“Title Sequence/Season 1”)
  • Carter's home address was 3001 E 5th Street, Apt 2A, NY, NY 10003. (“Title Sequence/Season 1”)
POI 0109 Man1
  • The neighborhood crime index at Carter's address is 3.3. (“Title Sequence/Season 1”)
  • Carter studied at Milton University. (“Title Sequence/Season 1”)
  • Carter applied to the NYPD Police Academy on December 10, 2004 [Redacted Name]. (“Title Sequence/Season 1”)
  • When Finch is in Carter's car, a picture falls. (“Get Carter”) It shows a man in uniform (possibly her husband and the father of her son). These are the awards and decorations visible on his uniform in order of precedence: Combat Infantryman Badge : 1st row ; Achievement Medal, National Defence Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon.
  • Carter displayed an NYPD Unit Citation ribbon above her badge after she was demoted to patrol officer.
  • In season 1 Carter uses a burner phone given to her by Reese to communicate with him and Finch (“Legacy”) except on one occasion when they tried to call her regular cell phone and she didn't answer due to distancing herself from them. (“Identity Crisis”) Starting in season 2, she stops using the burner phone and starts getting calls from them on her regular cell phone. (“Masquerade”) She only uses the burner one more time afterwards before abandoning it for good. (“Triggerman”)
  • Due to her time in the military, Carter possesses an array of skills including interrogation (“Foe”) (“Prisoner's Dilemma”) and infiltration and espionage. (“2πR”) Carter stated a belief that she could disarm Kara Stanton's bomb vest after having seen many while in the military, but this skill is unconfirmed as Reese refused to let her try. (“Dead Reckoning”)
  • After Agent Donnelly starts closing in on Reese, Carter removes his fingerprints from the system which she had collected herself and replaced his DNA sample. While aware she's crossing a big line in doing so, Carter says that by that point, she had crossed the line a long time before. (“2πR”)
  • Despite making many enemies in the criminal underworld, Carter also gained the respect of Elias and Peter Yogorov to the point that Elias and possibly Peter worked to avenge her death.


  • Carter appeared in every episode from her introduction in “Pilot” until her death in “The Crossing”.
  • Her shield number is 55432. (“Liberty”)
  • Carter was able to help get Fermin Ordoñez's family into the country from Cuba. When setting it up, Carter told Secret Service agent Regina Vickers that all they needed was some cash and a little help from the Coast Guard. When questioned about how she pulled it off by Reese, she just told him she had her own bag of tricks. (“C.O.D.”)
  • Carter is the only non-hostile character to deduce the existence of the machine based on Finch and Reese's activities. After she talks to Finch to confirm her suspicion, The Machine changed her box from white to yellow. She is also identified by the Machine as an asset.
  • She is also one of four people whose number has come up more than once since the show began.
  • Carter appears in Reese's hallucinations, when he is shot by Gil and in a flashback during an earlier stake-out that forms part of his hallucinations.
POI 0512 Simulation Lieutenant Joss Carter's Desk

Lieutenant Joss Carter's desk. (“.exe”)

  • In the simulation where the Machine was not created, Carter managed to lock down high-ranking HR members (including Quinn, Simmons, Stills and Terney). As a result, she was promoted and became a lieutenant. (“.exe”)
  • After once being asked if she had any more guns besides her sidearm, Carter revealed a box of guns in her police car's trunk to Reese. Impressed, Reese commented "girl after my own heart." (“Blue Code”)

The Decision to Kill Carter

In an Entertainment Weekly interview with Producers Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman, Nolan said, "We felt from the beginning that this is where we’d want to go with Carter by the third season. Real characters have real journeys, and that means that requires an end. We’ve consistently had these midseason moments where we put our characters in jeopardy, but if we did another one of those and it wasn't the real thing, you get to a point where the audience is starting to get turned down on us."

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