A spy recently disavowed by the U.S. government uses his special ops training to help others in trouble.


Matt Nix
427 ( 9)




7   6   5   4   3   2   1  
2013   2012   2011   2010   2009   2008   … See all »
Nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys. Another 6 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »





Series cast summary:
Jeffrey Donovan ...  Michael Westen 111 episodes, 2007-2013
Gabrielle Anwar ...  Fiona Glenanne 111 episodes, 2007-2013
Bruce Campbell ...  Sam Axe 111 episodes, 2007-2013
Sharon Gless ...  Madeline Westen 111 episodes, 2007-2013
Coby Bell ...  Jesse Porter 67 episodes, 2010-2013


Michael Westen, a seasoned U.S. spy, is suddenly "burned", i.e. discredited, without any form of procedure. He survives by doing impossible jobs for desperate people in Miami, where his mother lives. Michael is usually aided by his ex-girlfriend Fiona and trusted former FBI informer Sam. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Trouble in paradise. See more »


TV-PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Was the subject of a skit on Saturday Night Live (1975) called "What is Burn Notice?" during the Ashton Kutcher and Them Crooked Vultures episode. See more »


The opening sequences show what is presumably Michael's bank record. The shot shows a screen dated last quarter 2004. The series went to air in 2007 and is presumably supposed to be current time with screening time. The bank shot is therefore of details about three years earlier than when he was burned. See more »


Michael Westen: [crossover ad introducing "Royal Pains": Michael is narrating a letter he's written Hank Lawson, who's opening a care package Michael sent him] Dear Dr. Hank, I understand you recently lost your job and had to find a new way to earn a living in an unfamiliar setting. I know exactly what that's like, so I've enclosed a few things that might come in handy: sunscreen, sunglasses, and a block of C-4 because you never know when you'll need a stable plastic explosive. Best of luck. Your pal, Michael ...
See more »


Referenced in Aziz Ansari: Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening (2010) See more »

User Reviews

On fire, worth your attention
27 November 2016 | by TBJCSKCNRRQTreviewsSee all my reviews

The name is Michael Westen(Donovan, using intensity, charm and even vulnerability, and of course his actual martial arts chops, to give us a compelling protagonist. He's made relatable through, among other things, his family, his sympathy for those in a bad spot). He used to be a spy. Until a burn notice was put out, claiming he was an unreliable asset. Every last of his accounts are frozen, his colleagues forced to reject him, and he's put on watchlists that will prevent him from leaving his home city of Miami. The only way he can get his life back is for him to figure out the who, why and, well, what, exactly, of this, well, what we civilians would call getting laid off. And along the way, he will help countless of regular people with problems that his skillset, and not the police or the like, enable him to solve.

He can't do it alone, so he has to take what help he can get. Fortunately, that does mean he has a highly competent and loyal, if small, team. Fiona(Anwar, a chipper smile and a love of explosives. She hates injustice, particularly against women and children. Manages to maintain her femininity, seen in her love of shoes, dresses, and, of course, the color pink, which adorns a gas mask of hers), his former IRA, now bounty hunter, ex-girlfriend was still his emergency contact, and needed to leave New York anyway. Sam(Campbell, giving a solid performance, also deep in his hamminess, not to mention his bad-assery. Perpetually drinking. Romances rich women, clearly respecting them. A great friend to him. In spite of initial hostility, he works well with the feisty Irish woman, they pick up on the others intention and the play they're making in mere moments), who was a Navy SEAL, and is now gathering buddies, all with resources that can be called upon, like there's no tomorrow. And Madeline(Gless, chainsmoking retiree. A real mama bear. She may have felt she didn't do enough when her sons were kids. Now, she's doing what she can to make up for it), his mother, who he hadn't seen in years, due to their strained relationship. It, she, and he, will grow over time. While his childhood was a troubled one, it has helped shape him into who he is. It has left a darkness inside of him, that he and they will have to work to keep at bay.

This review is co-written by my ex-fiancée. He narrates what he does, using his extensive knowledge: Backstory, exposition, adding detail, reflecting on certain things, explaining what is going on. Sometimes he makes comparisons to stuff we do know and that is far away from his life: "anyone who's passed notes in class knows how dangerous it is to communicate in front of your enemy", etc. It's also one of the places where you really see the dry sense of humor that permeates this. He snarks in most situations, in addition to taking them seriously. And where some fiction stops there, letting our lead get all the quips, here, it extends to most in the cast. There are ones who don't, especially in situations where they are too, say, scared to. Characters are all human beings – some are just, let's go with "not nice". The steady stream of new ones stays fresh, and the tremendous guests, stars and otherwise, all deliver. I couldn't tell you how many play against type, or how well it turns out.

The considerable training of him and his closest allies, matched by a number of the villains, is in high demand. They fight for "the little guy", with a lot of different methods they've mastered. Making weapons out of household objects, psychologically handling people doing very bad things, guerrilla warfare, tricking the enemy into thinking their numbers, equipment and abilities are a lot better or worse than it actually is and thus winning without any unneeded damage, etc.

Where else to start but a plan? If they know enough about what's going on, they form one, and it is of course better the greater their knowledge and timeframe. Sometimes, they won't be able to form one, at all. What invariably happens, is the unexpected. One way or another, they will have to improvise, maybe even play it entirely by ear. And going in, you never know when, what it'll look like or lead to, and so forth. This takes you by surprise countless times. The setups, the twists and turns, the solutions and more.

There is no filler in this. At no point did the studio interfere in a manner that breaks away whole parts. Matt Nix who created it stayed with it, and guided it, throughout. He directed several episodes, as did Jeffrey himself, Renny Harlin and Jonathan Frakes. The plot unfolds over the 7 years, in different chapters that all pose new setups that will test everyone involved. The scripts and production are consistently solid. Every single season opener and finale, all 14, are varied, memorable and incredibly well-done. This knows when to keep it small and personal, and when to raise the stakes. Making small means look impressive is the bread and butter of the crew behind the camera, not only the presented one. There is an immense amount, and diversity, of guns in this. The action is amazing. Up close, realistic and unflinching yet never gratuitous(outside of the many John Woo slow-mo nods... which are very welcome). It never takes over, and they mix the different kinds well. The driving portions alone are reason enough to watch this through. Fast, sleek small cars that beat traffic so often, it becomes a running gag.

There is a lot of bloody, fairly graphic violence and a moderate amount of sexuality and strong language in this. If this were a movie, it'd be rated R, though there is no nudity. I recommend it to any fan of this brand of storytelling. 8/10

17 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 194 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »


Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

28 June 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Burn Notice See more »

Filming Locations:

Miami, Florida, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed