Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt is a fictional character in the BBC One fantasy police drama Life on Mars, and its spin-off, Ashes to Ashes. He is played by Philip Glenister.
Gene's father was an abusive drinker and the series does not reveal much about his mother (although dialogue suggests that she is still alive and living in Manchester during the events of Life on Mars). His brother was addicted to drugs, and ran away after Gene tried to reform him. Gene tracked him down but discovered that he was too late and his brother had died.
Gene did his national service, before joining the police force at the age of 19 and rising through the ranks. As a young Manchester beat cop he soon discovered that his mentor Harry Outhwaite, a decorated war hero and local legend, was on the take. Hunt turned him in and unable to bear the humiliation, Outhwaite committed suicide; this event greatly shaped Hunt's outlook on policing and loyalty, and a month later Hunt took his first backhander.
Gene became the Detective Inspector under DCI Harry Woolfe, a man whom he greatly respects. Gene married prior to the events of the series, but is not shown to have any children.
Gene became the Detective Chief Inspector at CID and is respected by the other members of his team. When Sam Tyler first arrives at the CID, in "The Crash" (under the mistaken impression that he was the DCI) Gene makes it quickly clear that Sam was his subordinate and that he should never "waltz into my kingdom acting king of the jungle."
Unlike Sam, Gene is convinced that a good policeman sometimes takes from criminals in order to get something from them. It is a practice that comes to haunt him when he wakes up after a night drinking in a man's apartment with him dead ("The Shooting"). Gene stops this practice when helping Sam taking down Stephen Warren, a major criminal who had often tipped the police to his own benefit, after a girl was murdered by Warren for helping Sam ("A Conflict of Interests"). However, in "The Safe-Cracker", when it's discovered that his mentor Harry Woolfe is corrupt and was the mastermind behind several robberies, Gene, despite his fierce loyalty, brings Harry down.
Gene's major rival in the police force is DCI Litton, who likes to brag about the achievements of his department. Although Hunt's method of policing tends to be rather brutal at times, he is very clear as to how far the police can go. In "Wrongful Death (Life on Mars)", when a man dies in police custody during Gene and Sam's absence, Gene is determined to keep the matter behind closed doors and brush it off as an accident, much to the chagrin of Sam Tyler. Knowing that Sam won't let the matter rest, Gene sets him up to resolve the matter because "I can hardly go and investigate my own team, can I? Bad for morale."
Gene does not seem happy about having women on his team. When Annie Cartwright approaches him because she's uncomfortable holding a gun without having had any arms training, he sneers, "Y'see, this is why birds and CID don't mix. Give a bloke a gun, it's a dream come true. Give a girl one, and she moans it doesn't go with her dress! Now start behaving like a detective and show some balls!"(She, in turn, "threatened" to shoot him) However, in "Helpless", he does give Cartwright the opportunity to join CID as the first woman on the team and later learns to value her input.
It is revealed in Ashes to Ashes that following the events of Life on Mars, Gene worked with Sam for another seven years before his apparent death during a high-speed pursuit. Gene appears to have been greatly affected by Sam's death.
In 1981 Gene is divorced, and has replaced his Ford Cortina with an imported Audi Quattro. He has transferred to London's Metropolitan Police along with his loyal colleagues Ray Carling and Chris Skelton.
Gene is as determined as ever to crack down on crime in his patch, but appears to have become somewhat more professional in his behaviour, secure in his authority and organised in his approach since the 1970s. He has embraced some aspects of modern policing but is convinced that the knives are out for old-school coppers.
He meets Alex Drake during a police drugs raid on a party. Believing her to be a prostitute, he takes her in for questioning, only to discover that she is his new DI.
Gene Hunt is portrayed as being, by modern standards, extremely politically incorrect. Something of an 'old school' police officer (in a similar fashion to other fictional seventies police officers such as Jack Regan on The Sweeney), he frequently beats suspects until they confess and often displays a lax approach to his job, usually being quite happy to arrest and sometimes frame any criminal he happens to believe is guilty (or at least deserving of incarceration), regardless of whether the evidence points to them or not. At least initially, he also maintains a morally ambivalent attitude to accepting bribes and other forms of institutionalised corruption (such as manufacturing or destroying evidence), reasoning that they can be justified in the pursuit of a greater good. An enthusiastic drinker, his behaviour is often uncouth and boorish, and his attitudes, whilst common for the time, are extremely homophobic and sexist. As a result, he frequently clashes with and is often vocally dismissive of DI Sam Tyler, his immediate subordinate and second-in-command, whose politically correct and methodical approach is distinctly opposed to his own and who once described him as an "overweight, over-the-hill, nicotine-stained, borderline alcoholic homophobe with a superiority complex and an unhealthy obsession with male bonding". (To this criticism, Hunt replied, "You make that sound like a bad thing.")
Despite his faults, Gene is also depicted as being intensely loyal, affectionate and highly intelligent. A team player, he often gives credit when it's due and is willing to follow Sam's methods if sufficiently convinced of their validity. His sexism has limits: he countenances Annie Cartwright's appointment as the first woman detective in the force, although he is initially dismissive of her chances of success and not beyond sending her to get him coffee and Garibaldis. Despite his shades-of-grey approach to his job, he nevertheless possesses a strong sense of right and wrong, especially with regards to serious crimes such as murder. A fan of westerns, he views himself as being a sheriff charged with protecting the innocent by whatever means necessary.
Hunt follows boxing, supports Manchester City and is an aficionado of westerns. In 1973 he drives a then-current bronze Ford Cortina 2000GXL and by 1981 he drives an Audi Quattro.
Gene and Sam Tyler have a troubled relationship - sometimes they work together, and at other times they are in opposition, only coming through for each other in the end. Despite their differences Gene had great respect and trust in Sam, even enough to call him first when he thinks he has killed a man ("The Shooting"). In Ashes To Ashes, Gene's office in London has all the newspaper articles with Sam's death in them, and one of them includes the headline "Colleagues Pay Tribute to Sam Tyler". Alex Drake said "Sam died, your wife left you... no wonder you moved."
He is unsurprised when Alex knows his name thinking he has a great reputation of being the sheriff. He is surprised however, to discover she is his new DI. The relationship is, according to Hawes, "built on sexual chemistry as well as a grudging respect". Despite the fact she is a woman, he has to accept that she gets results. He also defends her against the sexual taunting of his workmates (not in front of her), saying "she may be a bird, Raymondo"(Ray Carling) "but she's also your superior officer, and don't you forget it!" Due to Ray's reaction, usually it seems, he would have laughed.
Gene often defends Ray when he is in trouble and in "The Happy Day" asks his opinion on the bombers. Ray also has great respect for Gene and after accidently killing a man in "Wrongful Death" tells Gene he was just trying to follow his example. Chris does respect Gene but is also called by Gene for being stupid at sometimes and making easy mistakes.
Female officers don't seem to get on well with Gene. He doesn't have much respect for Annie at first but grows to her. He doesn't seem to like WPC Sharon Granger very much so much, going so far in "The Happy Day" as to call her "a lobotomised Essex girl" when she suggests Daniel Moore may be the target of the bomb.
In the widespread commercial and critical success of Life on Mars, the character of brash DCI Gene Hunt was frequently seen as one of the main contributing factors to its immense popularity. This has often been attributed to Philip Glenister's unrestrained and skilful portrayal alongside John Simm's characterisation of the more complex Sam Tyler.
He has also been described in many papers and magazines as 'an unusual heart-throb'.
2008 American remake
Detective Lieutenant Gene Hunt commands the detective squad in the NYPD's 125th Precinct. He drinks on the job and is not above assaulting suspects. He is possibly a manifestation of Sam Tyler's id.