Burn Notice

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Burn Notice
Burn Notice logo.svg
Created by Matt Nix
Starring Jeffrey Donovan
Gabrielle Anwar
Bruce Campbell
Sharon Gless
Coby Bell
ComposersJohn Dickson
Toby Chu
Country of originUnited States
Original language English
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes111 + 1 movie (list of episodes)
Executive producersMatt Nix
Mikkel Bondesen
Jeff Freilich
ProducersMichael J. Wilson
Jason Tracey
Craig S. O'Neill
Mikkel Bondesen
Production locations Miami, Florida, U.S.
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time42 minutes
Production companiesFlying Glass of Milk Productions (2008–13)
Fuse Entertainment (2007–12)
Fabrik Entertainment (2013)
Fox Television Studios (2007–13)
Distributor20th Television
Original network USA Network (2007–13)
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
Original releaseJune 28, 2007 (2007-06-28) 
September 12, 2013 (2013-09-12)
External links

Burn Notice is an American television series created by Matt Nix, which originally aired on the USA Network for a total of seven seasons from June 28, 2007, to September 12, 2013. [1] [2] The show stars Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell, Sharon Gless, and beginning in season four, Coby Bell. [3]



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 Donovan. The voice-over commentary is in the form of tips for fledgling agents as if for a training or orientation film.

After being "burned" in the middle of an operation in southern Nigeria and subsequently beaten and kidnapped, Westen finds himself in his hometown [4] of Miami, Florida. He is tended to by his ex-girlfriend, Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar), 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 (Campbell) to assist him, while Fiona invites herself to join them. With the occasional assistance and sometimes hindrance of his mother, Madeline (Sharon Gless), Westen battles an array of criminals such as mobsters, gang members, con artists, murderers, rapists, kidnappers, foreign wet-work operatives, drug traffickers, sex traffickers, arms traffickers, and war criminals. 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.

Cast and characters

The 2009 cast of Burn Notice (l-r): Sharon Gless, Bruce Campbell, Jeffrey Donovan, and Gabrielle Anwar Burnnoticecast.jpg
The 2009 cast of Burn Notice (l-r): Sharon Gless, Bruce Campbell, Jeffrey Donovan, and Gabrielle Anwar

The thing about the relationship with Fiona is...They are two people who really don't have anybody else they can be with. Anybody else is going to be afraid of what Michael does, and it sort of turns her on, and anybody else for Michael is going to be uninteresting. He is attracted to her, but part of what we explore over the first season is they really are attracted with each other, and yet there is a reason they broke up. She is an incredibly chaotic person who just thrives on disorder... Violence is foreplay for her.

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, the two of them are shown to be 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 Consulate bombings as the antagonist Anson Fullerton tricks her into confessing to a crime she did not commit. Anson uses this leverage over Michael and forces him to do work for himself. To remove this leverage, Fiona eventually surrenders and is arrested by the FBI as Michael watches helplessly.


SeasonTimeslot (ET)# Ep.PremieredEndedTV SeasonViewers
(in ones)
(in millions)
(in millions)
1 Thursday 10:00 pm (June 28, 2007 – September 13, 2007)
Thursday 9:00 pm (September 20, 2007)
June 28, 2007
4.0 [6]
September 20, 2007
4.8 [7] 2007
2 Thursday 10:00 pm (July 10, 2008 – March 5, 2009)16
July 10, 2008
5.39 [8]
March 5, 2009
6.1 [9] 2008–2009
3 Thursday 9:00 pm (June 4, 2009 – August 6, 2009)
Thursday 10:00 pm (January 21, 2010 – March 4, 2010)
June 4, 2009
5.99 [10]
March 4, 2010
4.32 [11] 2009–2010
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
6.62 [12]
December 16, 2010
5.11 [13] 20106.69 million [14]
5 Thursday 9:00 pm (June 23, 2011 – September 8, 2011)
Thursday 10:00 pm (November 3, 2011 – December 15, 2011)
June 23, 2011
5.17 [15]
December 15, 2011
2.89 [16] 20116.21 million [17]
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
3.87 [18]
December 20, 2012
3.78 [19] 2012
7 Thursday 9:00 pm (June 6, 2013 – September 12, 2013)13
June 6, 2013
4.32 [20]
September 12, 2013
4.97 [21] 2013

Season 1

The first season, consisting of 12 episodes, follows Michael Westen's investigation into the identity of the man who burned him. It also introduced the main characters: Fiona Glenanne, Michael's ex-girlfriend; Sam Axe, a former Navy SEAL and Michael's best friend; and Madeline "Maddie" Westen, Michael's hypochondriac mother. The season had many appearances by Agents Harris and Lane (Marc Macaulay and Brandon Morris), two FBI agents sent to keep tabs on Michael, but were eventually replaced by Jason Bly (Alex Carter), all are in turn 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 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 who 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, which consists of Michael doing a series of different tasks. Despite Fiona and Sam's protests, Michael completes the task under the duress of Carla going after Michael's family and friends, which she demonstrates by breaking into Madeline's house several times and having his brother arrested. Meanwhile, Maddie begins getting closer to learning about Michael's secret life. While attempting to figure out Carla's plans, Michael is almost killed when his loft is rigged with explosives. Michael eventually learns that Victor Stecker-Epps (Michael Shanks), Carla's wrangler to keep Michael in line, was the one who tried to kill him. Michael captures Victor and discovers Carla had Victor's family killed as part of his recruitment and that Victor had enough evidence against Carla to use as leverage. By the season finale, Carla kills Victor and is ready to detonate his boat with Michael still on it. 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 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. Paxson's sudden interest in Michael is the direct result of Management lifting Michael's protection. 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 notice. 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 4

The fourth season, consisting of 18 episodes, follows Michael as he begins working once again for the people who burned him. 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 discovers their mutual target - 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, causing a rift between them. 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. Brennen, now in possession of the list, 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 Congressman Bill Cowley (John Doman), whom Michael had previously strong-armed into helping protect a Cold War spy, to call for help. Michael is finally taken to Washington, DC, where he is met by an unidentified man (Dylan Baker) who proclaims, "Welcome back."

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 of "Management" agents. While pursuing the final man on the list, however, Max and Michael hit a dead end when they discover that the man is dead. This leaves many mysteries unsolved, perhaps forever, and these "inconsistencies" still consume Michael.

Michael continues to work under Max until the latter's murder, which is executed in such a way so as to frame Michael. Michael, however, avoids the frame by both leading Agent Dani Pearce (Lauren Stamile), Max's replacement, away from the faked "evidence", and frenetically pursuing the actual killer through layers of "cut-outs". After at last clearing his name by forcing the killer to confess (before he commits suicide), Michael finally comes face to face with the man behind Management's still-active syndicate, Anson Fullerton (Jere Burns), who blackmails 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 6

The sixth season, consisting of 18 episodes, [22] begins with Fiona's arrest. Michael does contract work for the CIA agent who trained him, Tom Card (John C. McGinley), to gain visitation rights to Fiona and eventually have her released. He is also working with Pearce, trying to track down Anson. The team finally captures Anson with the help of Michael's brother Nate, but shortly after the CIA arrives, a gunshot from an unseen location kills both Anson and Nate. Fiona is released from prison and helps Michael in his search for the man who killed his brother. They eventually learn that the killer's name is Tyler Gray, and Card sanctions an off-the-books operation in Panama to take him down. However, 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. They escape, and Michael eventually confronts and kills Card, making every member of his team, as well as Maddie, targets in a CIA manhunt headed by Olivia Riley (Sonja Sohn). They consider escaping the country, but while trying to gain leverage on Riley, they discover she has been working with a drug cartel to bring Michael down. Michael gets in contact with Bly to help get evidence for Riley's treason, but their mission fails and Bly is killed. Michael eventually forces a confession from Riley while on a boat under fire from the Coast Guard. Sam, Fiona, Jesse, and Madeline spend about a month locked up, and when released, they find that Michael "made a deal" once more in return for his family and friends being freed from lifetime imprisonment. Fiona, upon learning that Michael has another person to answer to and more missions, feels betrayed. She reminds 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.

Season 7

The seventh and final season, consisting of 13 episodes, [23] [24] [25] begins with Michael receiving an assignment from Andrew Strong (Jack Coleman), a high-ranking CIA official with whom he made the deal that got his team and Maddie set free. Strong made the deal because he believes Michael is the only person he can entrust with a dangerous mission that involves thwarting an American named Randall Burke (Adrian Pasdar) believed to be running freelance terror operations. Fiona has moved on to a new job with her new bounty hunter boyfriend. Sam and Jesse continue to help Michael despite, or perhaps because of, intrusions on their personal and professional lives. Maddie, meanwhile, is trying to get custody of Nate's son, Charlie, to keep him out of foster care. Burke turns out to be part of a larger organization, and he sacrifices his life to help Michael rescue a woman whom Burke called "the key to everything": Sonya (Alona Tal). Michael and the team, including Fiona, begin working with Sonya to get deeper into her organization. As they do, Michael meets James (John Pyper-Ferguson), the man calling the shots for Sonya and Burke, and after passing some intense tests, Michael is welcomed into James's "family". Michael soon finds out that James works for peace and justice in the world, but uses extreme methods to get what he wants. After Michael kills Sonya to protect Fiona, James sends his men to kill Maddie, Charlie, and Jesse. Maddie sacrifices herself to protect them and Michael shoots James, intent on taking him into custody. James blows up his own building, hoping to kill Michael and Fiona. They escape, but must be presumed dead to protect themselves. Strong releases Sam and Jesse, without imprisonment, and announces that Michael will "posthumously" be given a star on the CIA Memorial Wall. While Sam and Jesse contemplate continuing helping out those in need like they had for the past several years, Michael and Fiona have made their home in a small town in Ireland raising Charlie as their own and being the family of which Fiona had always dreamed, with Michael as her husband. As the show ends, Michael asks Fiona what he should tell Charlie when he is older. Fiona says Michael should tell him the truth, but Michael does not know where to start. Fiona tells him to start from the beginning, by saying, "My name is Michael Westen. I used to be a spy."

Prequel and tie-in novels

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. [26] It tells the story of Sam's last days in the Navy SEALs, leading up to his retiring to Miami, and serves as a lead-in to the fifth season of Burn Notice. [27] Jeffrey Donovan directed the film and has a cameo appearance.

Since 2008, Signet Books has published a series of Burn Notice tie-in novels under their Obsidian brand:

TitleAuthorISBNPublication date
The Fix Tod Goldberg 0-451-22554-6 August 5, 2008
The End Game 0-451-22676-3 May 5, 2009
The Giveaway 0-451-22979-7 July 6, 2010
The Reformed 0-451-23200-3 January 4, 2011
The Bad Beat 0-451-23409-X July 5, 2011 [28]


Burn Notice film crew in a flooded Miami Beach in 2009. Film crew in Miami Beach flood.jpg
Burn Notice film crew in a flooded Miami Beach in 2009.
Burn Notice's director Tim Matheson, actor Bruce Campbell, creator Matt Nix, and screenwriter Alfredo Barrios Jr. at the San Diego 2010 Comic-Con International. Burn Notice Panel 2 2010 CC.jpg
Burn Notice's director Tim Matheson, actor Bruce Campbell, creator Matt Nix, and screenwriter Alfredo Barrios Jr. at the San Diego 2010 Comic-Con International.

The show was filmed on location in and around Miami. The show had 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. The set was torn down on August 30, 2013. [29]

Michael's loft was originally located at 25°46'44"N 80°12'25"W.

Madeline's house was originally located at 947 NW North River Dr. Miami, FL 33136.


The series has received generally positive reviews. [30] [31] Critics praised the show's brisk and witty nature, succinct dialogue, and riveting combination of espionage and crime drama presented in a charmingly irreverent tone. Donovan's performance as the lead character also received praise for his likeably lighthearted, smart-mouthed, and vengeful spirit. Burn Notice has also been praised for its strong supporting cast members, slick production values, intriguing narrative, and dry comedic humor. [32] [33]

Awards and nominations

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". [34] Raines, Clements, and Sherry Klein were also nominated for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series for Burn Notice at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2008. [35] Composer John Dickson won the 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. [36] 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. [35] Burn Notice has also been nominated for Favorite TV Obsession at the 37th Peoples Choice Awards.


Ion Television acquired the rights for syndication of Burn Notice in 2013 along with White Collar . [37] This was the fourth USA Network television series to be in syndication on Ion Television, along with Monk and Psych .

Home media

20th Century Fox has released all seven seasons of Burn Notice on DVD in Region 1. Season two was also released on Blu-ray. [38] The TV movie The Fall of Sam Axe has also been released on DVD and Blu-ray.

DVD NameEp #Release DateAdditional Information
Season 112June 17, 2008
  • Audio commentaries
  • Gag reel
  • Audition footage
  • Characters montage
  • Girls Gone Burn Notice montage
  • Action scenes montage
Season 216June 16, 2009
  • Audio commentaries
  • Gag reel
  • Deleted scenes
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
Season 316June 1, 2010
  • Smash, Crash, Boom: Inside the Burn Notice Stunt Unit
  • 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International
Season 418June 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 AxeMovieJuly 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 518June 5, 2012 [39]
  • Army of One Extended Episode
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Villains of Burn Notice Featurette
  • Gag Reel
  • Commentary on Fail Safe
Season 618June 11, 2013
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Commentary on "Shock Wave"
  • Gag Reel
  • Matt Nix Gets Burned
Season 713December 17, 2013
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Commentary on "Forget Me Not"
  • Gag Reel
  • Final Mission: Ending the Series
The Complete Series111December 17, 2013

Contains all seven seasons and all bonus features from the individual DVD releases.

All seven seasons have been released in Australia, Region 4.

Region 4 - Australia
DVD NameEpRelease DateDiscs
Season One12December 3, 2008 [40] 4
Season Two16May 5, 2010 [41] 4
Season Three16August 18, 2010 [42] 4
Season Four18February 8, 2012 [43] 4
Season Five18June 20, 2012 [44] 4
Season Six18December 11, 2013 [45] 4
Season Seven13July 2, 2014 [46] 4
The Complete Series111July 2, 2014 [47] 28

Related Research Articles

Matt Nix

Matthew E. Nix is an American writer, producer, and director. He is best known for creating the USA Network television series Burn Notice, the Fox series The Good Guys and more recently the Fox series The Gifted.

Michael Westen

Michael Alan Westen is a fictional character played by Jeffrey Donovan in the television series Burn Notice, created by Matt Nix. Westen, a spy and former U.S. Army soldier serving in special operations, is widely known as a top CIA operative. As a result, in many circles he is greatly feared. He abruptly became the subject of a burn notice while on an assignment. Forced to return to his hometown of Miami, Florida, he finds himself cut off from the United States Intelligence Community. While searching for answers about his burn notice, Michael becomes an unlicensed freelance private investigator/troubleshooter to help those who have unique problems.

Fiona Glenanne

Fiona Glenanne is a fictional character in the television series Burn Notice, portrayed by Gabrielle Anwar. According to Fiona's biography from USA Network:

She was affiliated with the IRA for 14 years but ran afoul of her old organization because she did not like being told what to do. She has since gone out on her own, picking up odd jobs and using her skills in explosives, picking locks, tracking, weapons, and hand-to-hand combat to make a living.

Madeline Westen

Madeline Westen is a fictional character in the television series Burn Notice portrayed by Sharon Gless. She is Michael Westen's neurotic, chain-smoking mother.

<i>Burn Notice</i> (season 1)

The first season of the American television series Burn Notice originally aired from June 28, 2007, to September 20, 2007.

<i>Burn Notice</i> (season 2)

Burn Notice is an American television action-drama series created by Matt Nix and starring Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Bruce Campbell, and Sharon Gless. The second season premiered July 10, 2008. The season was split into two parts, with episodes 1–9 airing in the summer of 2008 and episodes 10–16 being broadcast in early 2009.

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