Burn Notice

Burn Notice Information

Burn Notice is an American television series created by Matt Nix. The show stars Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell, Sharon Gless, and, beginning in the fourth season, Coby Bell. The series premiered on June 28, 2007, on USA Network. On November 7, 2012, the show was renewed for its seventh season, which is set to have 13 episodes, and is scheduled to premiere summer 2013.


The title of the series refers to the burn notices issued by intelligence agencies to discredit or announce the dismissal of agents or sources who are considered to have become unreliable. When spies are burned, their connection to an espionage organization is terminated, leaving them without access to cash or influence. According to the narration during the opening credits, the burned spy has no prior work history, no money, no support network " in essence, no identity. The television series uses second-person narrative and frequent voice-overs providing exposition from the viewpoint of covert-operations agent Michael Westen, played by Jeffrey Donovan. The voice-over commentary is in the form of tips for fledgling agents as if for a training or orientation film.

After fleeing a blown operation in Nigeria and being kidnapped and beaten, Westen finds himself in his hometown of Miami, Florida. He is tended to by his ex-girlfriend, Fiona Glenanne, but he has been abandoned by all his normal intelligence contacts and is under continuous surveillance with his personal assets frozen. Extraordinary efforts to reach his U.S. government handler eventually yield only a grudging admission that someone powerful wants him "on ice" in Miami. If he leaves there, he will be hunted down and taken into custody. If he stays, he can remain relatively free. Consumed by the desire to find out who burned him, and why, Westen is reluctantly drawn into working as an unlicensed private investigator and problem solver for ordinary citizens to fund his personal investigation into his situation as a blacklisted agent.

Westen invites his old friend Sam Axe to assist him, while Fiona invites herself to join them. With the occasional assistance and sometimes hindrance of his mother, Madeline, Westen battles an array of such criminal figures as mobsters, gangs, con artists, murderers, thieves, arms traffickers, kidnappers, money launderers, and drug traffickers. At the same time, Michael must follow the trail that leads him to the people responsible for his being burned, and later finding out why.

The series juggles these two narratives; the overall series dealing with why Michael was burned, and individual episodes focusing on the cases he works for clients.


Main article: List of Burn Notice characters

  • Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen: A CIA contractor who has been burned (identified as an unreliable or dangerous agent) and now finds himself in his hometown of Miami, unable to leave. With his assets frozen, he is forced to live off his wits and any small investigative jobs he can find while he searches for answers about who has burned him and why. Highly skilled and extremely clever, he can think on his feet, often improvising electronic devices and using ordinary items ranging from duct tape to cake frosting in highly unorthodox ways to complete a job. He has two black belts or, as he puts it in one episode, "thirty years of karate" and is "rated with anything that fires a bullet or holds an edge". He has an uncanny ability to assume cover identities, working in numerous regional dialects and international accents. He believes that his unhappy childhood, largely at the hands of an abusive father, has helped to make him into a natural covert operative while also making close relationships difficult for him. He has a younger brother, Nate (Seth Peterson), who appeared in several episodes before being killed by a sniper in Season 6. Michael presents himself as a cynic hardened by experience but occasionally reveals a soft, and sometimes vulnerable, side. His favorite food is yogurt, which is featured or eaten by at least one of the characters in each episode. He has a volatile romantic relationship with Fiona.
  • Gabrielle Anwar as Fiona Glenanne: A former IRA operative and Westen's ex-girlfriend. Fiona re-enters Michael's life when he is dumped in Miami and she decides to stay, quickly making herself valuable to him. Aside from serving as his firearms and explosives expert, she provides support to him on his investigations and, at times, assists him in missions to find out who burned him. In the pilot episode, she speaks with an Irish accent. In the second episode, she changes to an American accent, along with a change in her style of dress, in an effort to distance herself from her past and blend in, showing her own ability to adapt. She is both a complement to Michael and his match in many ways, both intellectually and tactically. Series creator Matt Nix has said about Michael and Fiona's relationship:
Where Michael is concerned, Fiona is not entirely willing to let go of their past relationship, which continues to simmer. In the latter half of season three, it is shown that the two of them are close to reigniting their relationship. As season five starts, the two move in together, but tension in their romantic relationship remains. However, she is accused of the British Embassy bombings as the antagonist tricks her into confessing a crime she did not commit. Anson uses this leverage over Michael and forces him to do work for himself. Fiona surrenders and is arrested by the FBI as Michael watches in vain.
  • Bruce Campbell as Sam Axe: An aging, semi-retired covert operative and former Navy SEAL. With a low amount of cash-on-hand to his name, Sam spends most of his time sleeping with rich, older Miami women in exchange for food and shelter. He and Westen are old buddies; Sam is also Westen's last, tenuous contact in the official spy community. He presents himself as "the guy who knows a guy", and Michael frequently relies on Sam's seemingly inexhaustible list of contacts. Sam also uses the alias "Charles (or 'Chuck') Finley" frequently during jobs. It is revealed in the pilot that he is also an FBI informant, reporting on Westen under duress. Knowing this, Westen is able to pass false information to the FBI through Sam, who is glad to become his double agent. At some point in the past, Sam foiled Fiona's attempt to sell a large shipment of weapons to a Libyan arms dealer, costing her a good deal of money. As a result, Fiona initially is very hostile towards him, but the two eventually become very antagonistic friends. Sam will occasionally ask her for advice concerning his relationships with women, and Michael has said that the two of them make a good team.
  • Sharon Gless as Madeline Westen: Michael's mother, "Maddie" is a chain-smoking retiree. Although attempting to keep a sense of gravitas and self-importance, she is family-oriented and fully supports both of her sons in times of need, as well as helping Michael with his clients. In the mid-season finale of the third season, she considers leaving Miami, but realizes her significance to his business. Until recently, she has had only infrequent communication with Michael, noting in the pilot that Michael has missed his father's funeral "by eight years". During the first few seasons, Michael does not relish her company, but he gradually grows to appreciate her strength and love. Despite this, her appeals for help are Michael's one great weakness, and she has the ability to persuade him to do as she wishes.
  • Coby Bell as Jesse Porter (season 4"present): A counterintelligence expert whom Michael unwittingly burns when Michael went looking for some classified files on a terrorist about whom Jesse had information. He comes to Michael for help, hoping to find and kill the people responsible for burning him, and gradually becomes part of Michael's team. He briefly considers killing Michael after discovering it was Michael who burned him, but instead grudgingly continues to work with the team, as he and Michael slowly reconcile. He is eventually reinstated, but soon finds he can no longer tolerate the "red tape" to do government work, and takes a job with a private security firm while remaining a vital component of Michael's team.


Main article: List of Burn Notice episodes
Season Timeslot (ET) # Ep. Premiered Ended TV Season Viewers
(in millions)
Date Premiere
(in millions)
Date Finale
(in millions)
1 Thursday 10:00 pm (June 28, 2007 " September 13, 2007)
Thursday 9:00 pm (September 20, 2007)
June 28, 2007
September 20, 2007
4.8 2007 TBA
2 Thursday 10:00 pm (July 10, 2008 " March 5, 2009) 16
July 10, 2008
March 5, 2009
6.1 2008"2009 TBA
3 Thursday 9:00 pm (June 4, 2009 " August 6, 2009)
Thursday 10:00 pm (January 21, 2010 " March 4, 2010)
June 4, 2009
March 4, 2010
4.32 2009"2010 TBA
4 Thursday 9:00 pm (June 3, 2010 " August 26, 2010)
Thursday 10:00 pm (November 11, 2010 " December 9, 2010)
Thursday 9:00 pm (December 16, 2010)
June 3, 2010
December 16, 2010
5.11 2010 6.69
5 Thursday 9:00 pm (June 23, 2011 " September 8, 2011)
Thursday 10:00 pm (November 3, 2011 " December 15, 2011)
June 23, 2011
December 15, 2011
2.89 2011 6.21
6 Thursday 9:00 pm (June 14, 2012 " November 8, 2012)
Thursday 10:00 pm (November 15, 2012 " December 13, 2012)
Thursday 9:00 pm (December 20, 2012)
June 14, 2012
December 20, 2012
N/A 2012 TBA

Season one

Main article: Burn Notice (season 1)
The first season, consisting of 12 episodes, follows Michael's investigation into the identity of the man who burned him. It also introduced the main characters: Fiona, Michael's ex-girlfriend; Sam, a former Navy SEAL and Michael's best friend; and Madeline, Michael's hypochondriac mother. The season saw many appearances by Agents Harris and Lane (Marc Macaulay and Brandon Morris), two FBI agents sent to keep tabs on Michael. They were eventually replaced by Agent Bly (Alex Carter), who in turn was removed from Michael's case. By the end of the season, Michael has discovered the identity of the man who wrote his burn notice, Phillip Cowan (Richard Schiff), only to see him killed. Michael later is contacted by a mysterious woman, ending the season on a cliffhanger.

Season two

Main article: Burn Notice (season 2)
The second season, consisting of 16 episodes, depicts Michael's struggle to discover more about his new "handler" and use her to get to the people that burned him. The season begins with Michael meeting Carla (Tricia Helfer), the woman on the phone from the previous season. He begins a professional relationship with her after she begins bringing him clients. Meanwhile, Madeline begins getting closer to learning about Michael's secret life. By the season finale, Fiona kills Carla, and Michael meets "Management" (John Mahoney), the leader of a professional black ops syndicate. After telling Management that he wants out, Michael leaps from a helicopter and into the ocean, effectively ending their relationship as well as the "protection" that Management had secretly been providing for Michael.

Season three

Main article: Burn Notice (season 3)
The third season, consisting of 16 episodes, shows Michael in his quest to have his burn notice lifted. The season begins where the previous left off: Michael swims back to Miami, where he is met by Michelle Paxson (Moon Bloodgood), a Miami police detective who is intent on bringing Michael down. After he finally convinces her to stay away, Michael is approached by Tom Strickler (Ben Shenkman), an agent to the spies. Strickler claims that he can have Michael's burn notice lifted, but at a very high cost. Michael eventually must kill Strickler instead to save Fiona's life. In the meantime, Michael begins meeting Diego Garza (Otto Sanchez), a CIA agent who gives Michael information about his burn. However, after Strickler's death, Garza is murdered, and Michael is nearly back to square one. Later, Michael is confronted by Mason Gilroy (Chris Vance), a freelance psychopath who once worked for Strickler and confesses to the murder of Garza. Gilroy asks for Michael's help with an operation, and Michael, not wanting to let Gilroy get away with anything, follows. He discovers that Gilroy is attempting to break a high-risk felon out of prison. After Gilroy's murder, Michael learns the identity of the prisoner: Simon Escher (Garret Dillahunt), the man who committed the crimes for which Michael was framed. In the final scenes of the season, Michael is arrested and taken to a mysterious room.

Season four

Main article: Burn Notice (season 4)
The fourth season, consisting of 18 episodes, follows Michael as he begins working for the people who burned him once again. As with most other seasons, the fourth season begins immediately after the events of the previous. Michael, still in prison, is visited by Vaughn (Robert Wisdom), a high-ranking member of management. He serves as Michael's new handler, bringing Michael various jobs and even participating in some. Over the events of the season, Michael inadvertently burns a spy himself: Jesse Porter, a counterintelligence operative. Michael eventually reconnects with Simon, who directs Michael to a telecommunications magnate named John Barrett (Robert Patrick). After luring Barrett to Miami, Michael discovers that a coded Bible contains a complete list of the people who burned him. Jesse soon discovers that Michael was the one who burned him, leading to a rift between the two. Michael later is forced to kill Barrett to save himself, but loses the Bible in the process. Eventually, Sam and Jesse are able to reclaim the list, and decide to give the list to Marv (Richard Kind), Jesse's old handler. However, Marv is killed by Tyler Brennen (Jay Karnes), one of Michael's old foes. Now in possession of the list, Brennen hires another of Michael's enemies, "Dead" Larry Sizemore (Tim Matheson), to help track down the people on the list. Instead, Larry kills Brennen, which signals Michael's betrayal to Vaughn. Vaughn returns to Miami to have Michael, Fiona, and Jesse killed. However, Sam and Madeline are able to track down a congressman (John Doman) who is able to call for help. Michael is finally taken to Washington D.C. where he is met by an unidentified man (Dylan Baker) who proclaims, "Welcome back."

Season five

Main article: Burn Notice (season 5)
The fifth season, consisting of 18 episodes, begins six months after Michael successfully rejoins the CIA as a consultant. The man from the final scenes of the fourth season has been identified as Raines, and, along with Max (Grant Show), Michael begins hunting down and arresting all of the people on Simon's list. However, while pursuing the final man on the list, they discover that the man is dead, leaving many mysteries unsolved, perhaps forever. Even though no names remain on the list, Michael is still consumed with "inconsistencies" he has found in the files regarding his burn notice. Michael continues to work with Max until Max's murder, for which Michael is framed. Michael begins to pursue the real killer while simultaneously dodging any suspicions from Dani Pearce (Lauren Stamile), Max's replacement. After clearing his name on Max's murder by forcing the confession (and subsequent suicide) of the real killer, Michael finally comes face to face with the man who burned him: Anson Fullerton (Jere Burns), who is blackmailing Fiona to get Michael to do what he wants. After Michael and his team are repeatedly forced to commit crimes and complete increasingly dangerous missions on Anson's behalf, Fiona turns herself in, freeing Michael to pursue Anson without concern for her.

Season six

Main article: Burn Notice (season 6)
The sixth season, consisting of 18 episodes, begins with Fiona's arrest. An old nemesis, Agent Bly (Alex Carter), interrogates Fiona after she is arrested. Anson is now on the run after a failed attempt at capturing him nearly resulted in Sam and Agent Pearce being killed.

When Fiona gets to prison she makes a new friend, but this friend eventually ambushes her, stating that she was hired to kill her. Meanwhile Michael does work for the CIA agent who trained him, Tom Card (John C. McGinley), to gain visitation rights to see Fiona. He eventually gets to see her in the third episode of the season. On Michael's way out of the prison, he is slipped a piece of paper with the name of a guard who is working with Fiona's assassin and his address. When Michael, Sam, and Jesse track him down, they find him dead in his living room, having been killed by Rebecca (Kristanna Loken), a rogue agent working for Anson. She joins the team when they find out that Anson is using her brother as leverage.

Once they eliminate Anson's ability to blackmail Rebecca with her brother, she provides them with the information they need to track him down. The team finally captures Anson with the help of Nate in the episode "Shock Wave", but shortly after the CIA arrives, a gunshot from an unseen location hits Anson and Nate, killing them both. Fiona is released from prison at the end of this episode and helps Michael in his search for the man who killed his brother.

After a lot of tiring work, the team finds the initials "T.G." in the Pryon file on Nate's killer. The initials are revealed to indicate Tyler Gray (Kenny Johnson), an off-the-books soldier for the Pryon group. While obtaining these files, Agent Pearce and Jesse are caught blackmailing a Pryon employee; as a result, Pearce is relocated to Mumbai.

After the team finds out that Gray is hiding out in Panama, Card sanctions an off-the-books operation to take him down, with Agent Brady Pressman (Chad Coleman) taking point. When Michael finally captures him, Gray reveals that the operation is a sham: Card hired Gray to kill Anson and is planning a move that will kill Michael and his team. Unconvinced, Michael contacts Card and, after lying to Card that Gray escaped, Card tells Michael to stay where he is and that his operatives already have a lead on Gray. Shocked by the deception, Michael grabs Gray and escapes the building just minutes before an F-18 airstrike organized by Card levels the building. Unable to escape the circling F-18 in their getaway vehicle, Brady sacrifices himself by getting the team and Gray to move into the forest before he drives off as distraction. The jet destroys the vehicle, killing Brady in the process, while the team is left in Panama to ponder their next move with no resources on hand.

Michael eventually confronts Card, who kills Gray right in front of him. Michael then shoots Card in the head after realizing Card had used both Anson and Gray for unauthorized operations around the world, and was making plans to use Michael in the same way. This makes Michael and his team targets in a CIA manhunt, headed by Olivia Riley (Sonja Sohn). Wishing to escape the country they seek the help of a well known smuggler named Schmidt (Patton Oswalt). After helping Schmidt, Michael, Fiona, Sam, Jesse, and Maddie obtain new identities and passports, with plans to leave the country immediately. After visiting Nate's grave one last time, Michael uncovers a message in a bundle of flowers at the grave from "A Friend", which provides a phone number if Michael needs help. Michael and the rest of the team try to decide whether the "A Friend" (Jason Bly) is truly helpful. Over the course of the events Michael is able to get proof with Bly that Agent Riley has decided to commit an act of treason against the US by helping out a Drug Cartel Lord who is after Michael for disturbing his drug business earlier that year. Eventually Michael and Bly are discovered, leading to the death of Bly and destroying the evidence against Riley. Left with no choice, Michael raids the yacht that the the Drug Lord and Agent Riley are aboard, knocking everyone out and forcing Agent Riley to call her boss (Deputy Director of the CIA) and confess what she has done. If she refused, Michael would not signal the coast guard to stop firing (he had called them to force Agent Riley to make the call to her boss). After Agent Riley confesses, it is assumed she is sent away. Nearly a month goes by, and then Fiona, Sam, Jesse and Maddie are let out of a secret holding prison. Fiona is released first to meet with Michael outside, and she sees him dressed in his original suit from the pilot episode, giving orders to another agent. He informs her that he "made a deal" once more in return for his family and friends being freed from lifetime imprisonment. Fiona feels betrayed, reminding Michael he promised it would just be the two of them after this was all over. She backs away and tells Michael to leave her alone.

Prequel and tie-in novels

Main article: Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe
Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe is a prequel movie focusing on Sam Axe and is set before the events of Burn Notice. It was first broadcast on USA on April 17, 2011. It tells the story of Sam's last days in the Navy SEALs, leading up to him retiring to Miami, and serves as a lead-in to the fifth season of Burn Notice. Jeffrey Donovan directed the film and has a cameo appearance.

Since 2008, Signet Books has published a series of Burn Notice novelizations under their Obsidian imprint:

Title Author ISBN Publication date
The Fix Tod Goldberg August 5, 2008
The End Game May 5, 2009
The Giveaway July 6, 2010
The Reformed January 4, 2011
The Bad Beat July 5, 2011


The show is filmed on location in and around Miami, Florida. The show has a permanent set built in the former Coconut Grove Convention Center in Miami's Coconut Grove neighborhood where most of the show is filmed. In August 2012, the Miami City Commission and Burn Notice producers reached a tentative agreement to allow Burn Notice to film at the Convention Center for one additional year, allowing for a seventh season of production in exchange for significantly higher rent, an agreement that must be approved by the City of Miami.


In 2011, David Raines, Scott Clements and Sherry Klein were nominated for "Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series" for Last Stand at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards. The pilot episode written by Matt Nix won a 2008 Edgar Allan Poe Award, honoring the best in mystery, in the category "Best Television Episode Teleplay". David Raines, Scott Clements and Sherry Klein were nominated for "Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series" for Burn Notice Series (One-Hour) at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2008. Composer John Dickson won 2008 and 2009 ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards for "Top TV Series". Craig S. O'Neill and Jason Tracey were nominated for a 2009 Writers Guild of America, USA award for "Episodic Drama" (episode "Double Booked"). In 2010, the show received its first Emmy Award nomination for acting, as Sharon Gless was nominated for an Emmy in the category of "Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama". Burn Notice has also been nominated for Favorite TV Obsession at the 37th Peoples Choice Awards.

International distribution

Burn Notice is shown internationally on the following channels:

  •  : FX Latin America, Telefé "? under the title Operación Miami ("Operation Miami")
  •  : Network Ten, One HD, W
  • Arab world: America Plus, MBC Action
  •  : FOX Brasil, Rede Bandeirantes
  •  : 2BE, RTL-TVI
  •  : bTV Action "? under the title ????? ????"?? ("Out of the game")
  •  : STAR World
  •  : Showcase, Super Channel, [[Séries+]] "? shown in French under the title Agent Libre ("Free Agent")
  •  : CCTV-8
  •  : FX Latin America
  •  : FX Latin America, RCN Television "? under the title Burn Notice: Operación Miami
  •  : FX Latin America
  •  : FOX Crime "? under the title Odstrel ("The Culling")
  •  : Prima Cool "? under the title Status: Ne?ádoucí ("Status: Ineligible")
  •  : [[TV3+]]
  •  : Teleamazonas "? under the title Operación Miami ("Operation Miami")
  •  : TV3 "? under the title Viimane Hoiatus ("Last Warning")
  •  : MTV3
  •  : W9
  •  : VOX
  •  : NovaCinema 1
  •  : FX
  •  : FOX
  •  : RTL KLUB "? under the title Minden lében négy kanál ("Four spoons in each soup", equivalent to "four fingers in every pie")
  •  : Stöđ 2
  •  : STAR World, FX
  •  : FOX
  •  : Fox
  •  : Yes Stars Action "? under the title ?"?"?? ?"?"?? ("Erased Agent")
  •  : Fox "? under the title Duro A Morire ("Die-hard")
  •  : Fox Channel Asia?FOX Crime?NTVnetwork
  •  : TV6, TV3
  •  : TV3 "? under the title Vilko Bilietas ("The Wolf's Ticket")
  •  : 8TV, FOX
  •  : FX Latin America, FOX Latin America
  •  : RTL5
  •  : TV3, The Box
  •  : M-Net West
  •  : Viasat 4
  •  : STAR World, FX, MBC Action
  •  : TVMax "? under the title Operación Miami ("Operation Miami")
  •  : FX Latin America, Canal 22
  •  : Solar TV, Jack TV, FOX, JACK City on BEAM 31
  •  : TV Puls, AXN "? under the title To?samo"?"? szpiega ("The Identity of a Spy")
  •  : FOX "? under the title Espiăo Fora-de-jogo ("Offside Spy", a football expression meaning "Spy Out of the Game")(only the first five seasons.)
  •  : WAPA-TV
  •  : TV-3 (Russia) "? under the title ?????? ??"??? ("Black Mark")
  •  : FOX Crime and Radio Television of Serbia "? under the title Nepouzdani agenti ("Unreliable Agents")
  •  : POP TV "? under the title Vohun v nemilosti ("Spy Out of Favor")
  •  : FOX and MediaCorp Channel 5
  •  : M-Net Action Channel
  •  : Fox
  •  : Fox Espańa and Cuatro, by March 2011 in FDF "? under the title Último aviso ("Last Warning")
  •  : STAR World
  •  : TV6
  •  : RTS Deux (Swiss-French), RSI La 1 (Swiss-Italian)
  •  : Fox Thailand
  •  : FX
  •  : Fox, 5*
  •  : Televen "? under the title Atrapado en Miami ("Trapped in Miami"), FX Latin America

DVD releases

20th Century Fox has released the first four seasons of Burn Notice on DVD in Region 1. Season 2 was also released on Blu-ray. The TV movie The Fall of Sam Axe has also been released on DVD and Blu-ray.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date Additional Information
Season One 12 June 17, 2008
  • Audio Commentaries
  • Gag reel
  • Audition footage
  • Characters montage
  • Girls Gone Burn Notice montage
  • Action scenes montage
Season Two 16 June 16, 2009
  • Audio Commentaries
  • Gag reel
  • Deleted scenes
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
Season Three 16 June 1, 2010
  • Smash, Crash, Boom: Inside the Burn Notice Stunt Unit
  • 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International
Season Four 18 June 7, 2011
  • The Stunts of Burn Notice
  • Burn Notice Roasts White Collar
  • White Collar Roasts Burn Notice
  • Sam Axe's Guide to Ladies and Libations
  • Rivalry of the Writer's Room
  • White Collar Pilot
The Fall of Sam Axe Movie July 26, 2011
  • Prequel set two years before Burn Notice season 1
  • Extended version of feature never before seen on TV
  • The Fall of Jeffrey Donovan
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
Season Five 18 June 5, 2012
  • Army of One Extended Episode
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Villains of Burn Notice Featurette
  • Gag Reel
  • Commentary on Fail Safe
Season Six 18 TBA 2013

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Burn_Notice" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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