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?
All of Reese's aliases have the first name John (John Reese, John Rooney, John Warren, John Anderson, John Wiley, John Campbell, John Randall, and John Hayes) except for his first alias in the pilot (James J. Manzione) and Mission Creep (Tony Miller). He also goes by "Detective Stills" and "Marshall Jennings", having "borrowed" their shield/star somewhat permanently. However, these aliases are usually only used when necessary to gain access to an area or information that would otherwise be much more difficult if not impossible. See more
Many times throughout the series, Whilst John is under fire and is low or out of ammunition, after subduing an antagonist, he never takes his weapon or checks to see if he has any appropriate ammo. See more
[Opening narration, Season 2
You 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*