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?
Finch generally uses fairly identifiable bird-based or bird related aliases with the first name Harold (Harold Wren, Crane, Crow, Quail, Gull, Swift Starling, and Mr. Partridge) but has used non-bird names including Arthur Bellenger, Thomas Paine, Dr. Tillman, Lucas Bennett, and Walt Trowbridge. The alias Norman Burdett could be considered bird-based (bird-ett). In Season 2, during John's interrogation, Finch's alias is "Howard French", which is not a bird name, although based on Reese's former profession and the likelihood of capture and torture, choosing phonetically similar aliases can be very helpful should the need to use them arise. In season 3, episode 21, "Beta," the grave site his fiancé visits has a name plate with the name Harold Martin. At first glance, this would not seem to be a bird related name, but it actually is. There are many species of Martin around the world, including a very common bird in North America, the Purple Martin, and another from South and Central America, the Gray-breasted Martin, and many others. 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, Season 4
We are being watched. The government has a secret system, a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people. The Government considers these people "irrelevant". We don't. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You'll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number's up... we'll find *you*.