A billionaire software-genius named Harold Finch creates a Machine for the government that is designed to detect acts of terror before they can happen, by monitoring the entire world through every cell-phone, email and surveillance camera. Finch discovered that the machine sees everything, potential terrorist acts and violent crimes that involve ordinary people. When the government considered violent crimes between normal people "irrelevant", Finch built a back door into the system that gives him the social security number of a person involved in a future violent crime so he could act. Partnered with John Reese, an ex-CIA agent, the two work in secret to prevent violent crimes before they can happen. Eventually their activities lead to being hunted by the New York Police Department, CIA Agents in pursuit of Reese who was listed as dead, a computer hacker named Root who wants access to the Machine, and government officials who want to keep all knowledge of the Machine a complete secret.
Ever think you're being watched?
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Did You Know?
The alias of the secretive John Reese is an homage to Batman's The Riddler (i.e. E. Nigma is made to sound like enigma) as Mr. Reese is made to sound like "mysteries". This type of sound bite was used much earlier in a TV show. In the 1960's British TV show, The Avengers
(1961), the female lead, played by 'Diana Rigg
', was named "Emma Peel" to sound like "M (or Male) Appeal ". See more
When younger Finch goes to university he is conspicuously taller than the Finch we see in all other episodes. See more
[Opening narration from Season One
You are being watched. The government has a secret system, a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people, people like you. Crimes the government considered "irrelevant." They wouldn't act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret...