Burn Notice Biography of

Michael Westen


Michael Westen (Jeffery Donovan)

Photo of Jeffery Donovan playing Burn Notice TV character Michael Westen
Michael Westen is a more than simply-average, field-operative spy, but he was notified that he had been “burned” while in the middle of a mission in Warri Nigeria. No small event in that line of work, which got him severely beaten and nearly killed. The son of Frank and Madeline Weston, he lived in Miami until age 17 when his mother forged her husband’s name on a permission document so he could join the military.  One day he graduated and 'poof' he was gone. Unconscious after the beating he took, the airline personnel would only say 'they were told' to bring him back to Miami where he regained consciousness in a sleazy hotel by a kick in the butt from his 'emergency contact' he had stopped dating years before. Besides Fiona Glenanne, a semi-retired IRA explosives expert, he only had two known contacts in Miami: Lucy Chen and Sam Axe (in addition to his mother Madeline.)  Pretty much everyone except Sam calls him 'Michael.'  Sam frequently shortens it to 'Mikey' and gets away with it.  He came from an abusive family and missed his estranged father’s funeral by eight years. He has a brother, Nate, who his mother, a hypochondriacal chain-smoker named Madeline,  says went to pot after Mike left.  The bits and pieces we've been able to glean about Mikes life history are as follows:
Photo of Burn Notice Character: Michael Westen
Childhood Years:
- Relatives: His mother described that he had an 'Aunt Jo' (probably her sister) who she was going to go stay with (92)
- Age six - he and Nate took up the floor of their house and sneaked out the heating vents in order to see the Star Wars movie which his father had told them they couldn't see.
- He has a scar on his left cheek from a beating by his father.
- His father made him fake a seizure in Mr. Goodwrench so he could steal spark plugs and always seemed to start jobs then hand Mike the to-do list to finish for him. His father’s approach to his machinery was similar to his approach to his family: 'if you don’t like how something is working keep banging on it until it does what you want.'
- He and his mother used a secret code for when his father was on a rampage. She would call him and tell him that she wanted him “to come home right now” -  meaning to stay away.
- Age nine -  he stole groceries because his father had blown his paycheck. The owner’s son, Tommy Knox, the bag-boy, caught him and gave him a black eye; but, he got away with the groceries. Madeline had taken the groceries from him, but never asked about the black eye.
- Age ten - He stole his first car when his mom had to get Nate to the doctor and his dad was “gone.”
- Age twelve - He had stolen more cars by the time he was twelve than Nate did his entire life. We know because his father kept a ledger in his personal papers with his will. Mike would steal them when their dad was drunk in order to drive to the store for groceries – apparently with the knowledge of his mother.
- His father took him fishing to his favorite spon on a river near his home. His mother knew the location and they were later able to use it as a coded meeting place. (92)
- Older -
- His brother Nate was being bullied at school by Todd, so he told Todd that if he messed with Nate, he was messing with him as well. Todd left Nate alone until M went to high school.
Photo of Burn Notice Character: Michael Westen
- Age 15 - On Christmas, his father knocked his brother Nate around and Michael fought to defend him, receiving a black eye for his efforts. His mother took a picture of the three by telling them they wouldn't get dinner otherwise.
- One summer, his father made him and Nate rebuild the Charger from ground up. (59)
- His best childhood friend was Andre, who considered the Westen's his family. He and Andre took apart their lawnmower and built a go-cart which Andre ran into Madeline's rose bush. Later he apologized and planted a new rose bush.
- He poured all his father's liquor down the toilet to try and solve his dad's drunken violence. Instead his mother got the brunt of it (as was later related to him by Anson Fullerton) (76)
- Unbelievably, his 'high school grades were good enough for him to have been valedictorian' if he hadn’t been suspended so many times.
- He missed his graduation, went into the Army and just disappeared.
- Age 17 - Madeline forged her husband’s signature on a form so M could enter the military early. She said it was because she realized that if he didn’t go away he would end up in jail, or worse. She let him go because he needed to focus on something good. She never told him that fact however, because she didn’t want to take away the one thing that he was grateful to his father for.
- When he left, Madeline told him later, he was a 'scared kid… angry at the world, angry at everything.'
- On his first leave from the military he found that his girlfriend had been stolen by Patrick Garney. M had pouted in the driveway for hours until he stole Patrick's motorcycle and drove it into the Miami River. (67)
- His brother Nate at some time took out 10 credit cards in Mikes name, lost Mike's rental car in a card game and then hit M in the head with a telephone book.
- His favorite dish is tuna with tahini – which Fiona makes whenever she wants to manipulate him.
- He has two black belts, 30 years of Karate experience, combat experience on five continents and a rating with every weapon that shoots a bullet or holds an edge.
Military/Covert Ops Years:
- He told a shooter, Cole, that he had 'been in the Special Forces.' (52)
- He told a crazy father that he had been a Ranger, Bravo Company, Third Ranger Battalion. (80)
- He was involved in some incident which required his C.O., Captain Novak, to pull him out of a burning jeep. (67)
- When he came home on leave the first time he found out that Patrick Garney had stolen his girlfriend and spent several hours sulking in the driveway until he stole Patrick's motorcycle and drove it into the Miami River.
- He was recruited into the CIA by a man named Raines who considered him an 'unstoppable SOB.' (63)
- His trainer in the CIA was Tom Card and he was Card's star pupil. In fact, Michael's actions got Card promoted into the job he holds today.
- Card ran him through counter-interrogation exercises on one hour of sleep.
- Card ordered him to walk away from Fiona saying that 'she'll ruin your life,' largely because sleeping with a foreign arms trader that he met under a cover ID spoke poorly of him as a trainer.
- Although he usually told everyone that Yogurt was very nutritious and what spies normally ate on stakeout; he actually developed the liking for it because yogurt was what Card liked and would reward him with after successful missions.
- Card would threaten to drum him out of the agency for not showing up early to any and all meetings, and had some arguments with him surrounding the terminology 'I'll try.'
- He told Card that he had functioned in the field 'for six years' without him. (85)
- He told Agent Bly that he “NEVER worked for any service branch directly.” (Other promo interviews with cast members say that M had been with the CIA. And we know that Strickler prepared documents for what he would tell the CIA when he talked to them to 'get back in.')
- He won the trophy for setting a sharpshooting record at Camp Rhino – slightly less than 94% at 600 meters [not bested until Lt. Ethan Reed did it: 94%.] (67)
- Carla reminded him about the “good old days” when he was just a “carefree spy in the deserts of Afghanistan.”
- He was with Sam in Bulgaria where they did a “personnel carrier job.” Basically their three man team retrieved the carrier similar to a more recent job Sam got him to do to help Virgil Watkins repo a boat.
- He got his sunglasses from an Algerian special ops guy who 'didn’t need them anymore.'
- He did something which required using a 'cutout' in Belgrade that Cowan knew about. His favorite “cutout sign” is the tourist guide for Madison Wisconsin.
- He told Sam that an article Cowan sent to him, about a terrorist being killed in Budapest, was about a job he did meeting someone under the steps of city hall.
- He is able to read and write Urdu – but is a little rusty.
- He speaks and reads Russian and Farsi but not Spanish.
- He had thought many times about just how far he would go to win his freedom. Would he trade someone’s life for his freedom? Victor, an “enemy of his enemy” who he had made a “friend” and who was mortally wounded, begged M for an “assist” in ending his life and M complied.
- He worked for about a year in Lebanon and Bosnia with a duplicitous, pretty-boy, bumbling-fool in special-forces, Harlan,  who nearly got them caught many times by his incompetence. Sam also worked 4 or 5 missions with Harlan.
- He met Samantha Keyes on a mission in St. Petersburg and became engaged (at her request); but, called it off – ostensibly after meeting Fiona.
- Did a job in St. Petersburg with Samantha then a similar one in Dublin with Fiona; both of which involved hiding in a false wall of a truck to smuggle something into an area which was otherwise impenetrable.
- He met Fiona Glenanne for the first time somewhere while they were 'driving past a factory,' being chased by someone, and had arranged for a couple of cars to be blown up and into the road just after they had passed, so that those following them couldn't get by. [The more particulars weren't revealed] (29 - 216)
- He remembered that he had met Fiona in a dingy little bar, the Black Sand Pub, and made the mistake of asking her 'would you like to dance.' She pulled a snub nosed revolver on him and he came back with 'I assume that means yes?' (83)
- He met Fiona on a mission in Ireland and got as close to her as anyone else but “it wasn’t close enough.”  
- He spent service time in Afghanistan and the former Soviet Republic
- His relationship with Fiona was difficult. They agreed that they were both 'profoundly unhappy.' He told her that he still had the scars that she gave him in Dublin and Germany to prove it.
- He and Fiona had a distress code word when they were in Belfast – he would call her “honey.” (61)
- Fiona’s brother saw M save Fiona from some “English bastards who had her pinned down in Belfast.”
- He and Fiona used to do “drops” in Dublin by leaving innocuous items on top of parked car tires.
- His cover was in imminent danger of being compromised but he was refusing to leave Ireland without Fiona. His trainer, Tom Card, dropped everything to come to Ireland and force some sense into him in order to prevent both him and Fiona from being killed. (85)
- 91 - Did a few jobs with Larry Sizemore in the Balkan’s in ’91-’92 - Larry remarked that it was '20 missions on three continents.' (313)
- Larry told him that he 'really deserved to be burned… for what you did in Chechnya. You watched me kill those people then helped me cover it up.' (74)
- 92 - He was stuck in Poland for an extended period of time. Sam was there and at least Michael's job had him in the dark so much and for so long that his skin tone became pasty (FoSA)
- 93 - He told a Russian wet-work man, Alexi, that he had shot a man who looked a lot like him in Kiev, ’93. The Spetsnaz team tried to sell a warhead. Nobody ever saw them again – it was a good winter for me.”
- He reminded Sam of a 'thing' in Kiev where 'Misha sold out the wet work team on the way to Paris.' It is unclear whether either were actually there or just knew about it. (FoSA)
- 94 - He worked a scam to obtain some information with Larry Sizemore in St. Petersburg in 1994. M played a senior diplomat (the boss) who needed information of some kind from a gatekeeper of some sort. When the gatekeeper resisted, Larry called, pretending to be an angry higher authority, in order to set the stage; then, he burst into the room pretending to be an underling, stating that he had the supposed authorization papers. But before he could be asked to show them, they both turned on the gatekeeper about him going to catch it from the higher authority. Not wanting to be put in the middle, the gatekeeper rushed out to obtain what was requested, which gave M and Larry a chance to have access to the information that they really wanted.  (61)
- 97 - He blew up something of Pyotr Chechik’s, a Ukrainian gangster, in ’97 which made him a life-long enemy.
- 97 - During a hostage situation, Mike told Sam 'remember Ukraine '97, which apparently was a job they did together that involved something like blowing up a gas line to 'sell' the idea that a war-lord's gang had a traitor inside it. (77)
- 99 - He and Sam pulled a con, in Moscow in ’99, on Colonel Prokov, who had a drinking problem. With weeks of prep, they made him look insane or incompetent in order to negate the credibility of information that he had.
- 2000 - Seven years previous (to season one), in July, in Istanbul, he nearly caught a woman assassin named Evelyn who had killed two diplomats. She began stalking him and later used him to find a mark.
- 00 - He usually always called his mother on her birthday. Eight years previous (to season two) he was injured and in a field hospital while transporting someone to a locked facility overseas. He didn’t have a phone so couldn’t call Madeline on her birthday (which she later brought up in a counseling session).
- 02 - Did NOT do: One of the things he was burned for was a bombing in Chechnya, 2002, 54 people dead – actually it was done by Simon.
- 05, Jan 22 - He was in Virginia Beach, FL and met with Sam at the Beer and Bowl for a few beers and buddy talk. He advised Sam, who had just slept with his COs wife, to call the Admiral immediately. At the time he was sporting a full beard, longish hair, a photographer's vest and a deep suntan. He said he was working 'somewhere sunny.' (FoSA)
- 06 - Did NOT do: Also 3 years previously (season 3) in Jordan, 15 killed, 15 maimed in bus explosion – again Simon.
- 07 - He was notified that he was 'Burned' while trying to pay a warlord in Warri Nigeria not to blow up things in an oil field. (01)
The Burn Notice:
- His burn notice was from the Department of Homeland Security and labeled:
     'Cold Sunshine - 37104:AA920435:GTVKNJ37.'
The DIRECTIVE stated that:
     'MICHAEL WESTON is no longer a reliable asset. He is hereby removed from the list of approved contractors, effective immediately. All entities associated with the United States government and its allies are to have no contact with Westen. This includes, but is not limited to, all government officials and contractors  with a top-secret security clearance and above. Any violation of this order is punishable with a revocation of security status as well as any criminal penalties applicable under U.S. Law…'
Peter Jordan [ex-cell mate] (2), Steve Remington (5), Homer [Good old boy southern driver] (6), Mr. Smith [Affected art dealer] (8), Andrew Chambers (9), Rod Bucksey (11), Terry Miller [English mining executive] (13), Rich Franklin [Miami Harold reporter] (14), Davis Cullen [Texas oil baron’s kid] (16), Sergei Yoblanovich [Volgograd born, American raised smuggler] (17), Jimmy Glynn [Real estate developer] (18), Jackson [Nerdy, asthmatic, chemist] (19), Larry Sizemore [psychopathic hit-man] (20), Brad Schucka(r) [15 year special forces now body guard] (21), Donnie [A bit ‘slowish’ medical scammer] (22),  Johnny [slick-suited car theft crew leader] (23,59), Miles Parker [corporate espionage] (24), Unnamed Doctor [doctor in a hostage situation] (25), Owen Matthews [“sanitizer” of records] (26), Tom Wellington, Esq [timid lawyer with a chest cold] (29), Shep [Druggie informant] (30), Milo [A small time hood apprentice] (32), Duane Winger [slick P.I. with a southern accent] (33) , Peter [Illicit car buyer] (35),  Unspecified ["Cleaner"] (36), Michael McBride [From Kilkenny] (23, 37), Paul Smith [American arms dealer] (37), Alex [Car scam driver] (38), Lewis [A “Satan” stand-in] (39), D.J. [Local procurement expert] (40), Max [Heroin dealing fashion design partner] (42), Unspecified [Health inspector] (43). Turner ["a finder"] (46),  Ned Gordon [Ex-FBI] (47,48), Randy [arson investigator] (50), Scott Miller [security consultant] (50), Vickner [Hostage negotiator] (52), Matt Reese (53), Brooks [dirty cop] (55), Joseph [Miracle worker] (56), Gordon Lutz [wannabe psychopath] (57), Elias Schmidt [Neighborhood watch ] (58), Ray Grant [Drug buyer from Jacksonville ] (60), Vasili Andropov [Russian FSB agent] (63), Trey [Vegas loan shark] (65), Baxter [thief] (66), The Boss [Slick Health Care Scammer] (67), Un-named [dangerous psycho stalker] (71), Matt Graham [computer thief] (72), Brendon Jensen [Wealthy husband of Fiona] (73), Chris [Slow witted] (74), Mr. Turner [Weapons supplier] (76), Dimitry Malkin [Russian late for meeting] (78), Ben Osborne [rogue DEA agent] (82), Dr. George Penderson [CDC doctor] (83), Derek Huber [FAA] (84), [cell mate of prisoner] (85), 'Not Important' [Internal affairs dirty cop] (87), Robbie Doyle [underworld snitch] (88), Brad Larson [Fugitive ID] (94), Brent Sodor [Schmidt's security team] (94)  ; as well as many impromptu and unnamed maintenance, delivery and other types of personnel.

How about it? If you have found this page useful, please share it with others.

This site being free depends on you seeing these few ads - and sometimes following one which interests you.
Please help!

Burn Notice is available on DVD

Burn Notice DVDs
Available at Amazon
Season or episode

Burn Notice