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Missing info from: all episodes since “Allegiance
Sameen Shaw


Played bySarah Shahi

NameSameen Shaw

AliasSameen Gray

Sam (by Root)
Sweetie (by Root)
Maybelline (by Lionel Fusco) (Episode: Point of Origin)
Compact Persian Sociopath (From episode Asylum)
Miss Stability (by Lionel Fusco) (Episode: Synecdoche)
Looney Tunes (by Lionel Fusco) (Episode: return 0)
Asset Catalyst (formerly), Secondary Asset (formerly), Primary Asset (by The Machine) (Episode: return 0)


Date of birth1983

OccupationU.S. Army Intelligence Support Activity Operative (formerly)
U.S. Marine (formerly)
Physician (Emergency Medicine)(formerly)

ResidenceShaw's Loft, New York City, NY, USA

Familyunnamed father (deceased)
unnamed mother (unknown)

AffiliationU.S. Army ISA (formerly)
U.S. Navy (formerly)
The Machine

AssociatesHarold Finch
John Reese
Lionel Fusco

First appearanceRelevance

Last appearancereturn 0

The Devil's Share

Images (158)

Well, she certainly makes an impression.

— Reese

Sameen Shaw, also known as Indigo Five Alpha, Dr. Sameen Shaw or simply Shaw, is a physician and a former operative for the U.S. Army Intelligence Support Activity. Prior to joining the team Shaw was part of an operation known as Catalyst Indigo, responsible for acting on relevant list intelligence delivered by the Machine, which she knew only as "Research". It appears Shaw is bisexual, having found both men and Root desirable.

Character Background

Shaw was born with the first name Sameen. Her father died in an automobile accident, but the name and location of her mother are unknown (“Razgovor”). Shaw says her mother was an immigrant from Iran, and it is later revealed that someone risked their life to smuggle her mother out of the country when terrorists attacked (“Allegiance”). Little is known about her childhood, but she was a resident in a teaching hospital before leaving medicine to join the U.S. Marine Corps.

On October 2, 1988, she traveled with her father on a road trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Shaw witnessed her father's death in an automobile accident at a young age but did not exhibit typical emotional reactions to it. (“Mors Praematura”)

Sameen in 1993 (“Razgovor”)

In her first appearance, she claims that she has an Axis II Personality Disorder and alexithymia, making her unable to feel and/or express common human emotions like fear or sadness, which she diagnosed herself. She has little concern for her victims, along with a flat affect and few demonstrable emotions. As she removes a bullet from her abdomen after a failed operation, she explains why she left medical school, remarking ironically that she was "better at killing people than fixing them" (“Relevance”).

In actuality, Shaw completed medical school and had begun her residency, where she was praised for her technical skills, but came under criticism for her lack of concern for whether her patients lived or died. She was deemed unfit to become a doctor (“The Devil's Share”).

Activity with the ISA

During her earliest activities with ISA and the beginnings of Catalyst Indigo, she was tasked with intercepting and killing those responsible for a laptop belonging to a runaway programmer named Daniel Casey. Among those killed were Chinese buyers of the laptop as well as Rick Dillinger, the man who sold it to them. During the firefight, one buyer escaped, but was deemed irrelevant to Control. Upon her report to Special Counsel, it was noted that "if she was sent sooner, she would have killed everyone." (“RAM”)

After the government learned of a terrorist plot taking place near a Georgetown school, Shaw was sent in to deal with the terrorist. Shaw was able to thwart the plot without anyone ever knowing a threat existed in the first place. Amongst those Shaw saved were Presidential advisor Manuel Rivera's children (“A House Divided”).

In Ahnaz Bekhti's apartment (“Relevance”)

While with the ISA, Shaw was partnered with Michael Cole, her tactical and surveillance support, who monitors her actions and communicates with her via a remote comm. During a mission in Berlin, Shaw and Cole locate a group of terrorists making a dirty bomb. Shaw enters their apartment, where she single-handedly kills the group before blowing up the apartment in order to cover her tracks. Mission completed, she and Cole are sent to New York by Control, the mysterious head of the Program.

In New York, Shaw meets with her handler, Wilson, who passes her the new Social Security number. A keen observer with paranoia gained from experience, she becomes aware of a man in a suit observing her. She is suspicious, but he soon walks away.

That night, while waiting for her target James Mercer to leave his apartment, she talks with Cole talks about how Research gets the numbers. Shaw believes Research is infallible, but Cole wonders if sometimes they're wrong, having discovered that on one of their previous missions, a money transfer thought to have been made to a man named Daniel Aquino from Hezbollah was actually made by the U.S. government.

When Mercer leaves his house, Shaw and Cole break in and access his computer, discovering e-mails with their names on them, a clear set-up. Seconds after Cole and Shaw see a warning message on the computer indicating that the house is a trap, the room is flooded with automatic weapon fire. Cole tries to protect Shaw and dies. Shaw fights back as Reese appears, saying that he's there to help. She shoots him in the chest before escaping, injured, in a hail of gunfire.

Shaw removing the bullet. (“Relevance”)

Shaw finds herself on her own, and injured, but is able to treat her wound with the assistance of a drug dealer she kidnaps. Eventually, she calls Veronica Sinclair, a CIA analyst Cole had worked with, and Wilson, her handler, threatening to make Cole’s research public and demanding to meet Control.

Having recovered sufficiently, Shaw meets the woman she believes to be Veronica Sinclair, who tells her the government group responsible for the Aquino money transfer cover-up was the ISA as part of a shadowy project called Northern Lights. As they talk, Shaw suddenly hears a noise from the bathroom and discovers the real Veronica tied up and gagged.

Root threatens Shaw (“Relevance”).

Before she can react, Root, who has been masquerading as Veronica, tases Shaw and ties her to a chair, threatening her with torture to get information about the name of the man who hired Aquino. Before Root can learn anything, Wilson's men arrive forcing Root to run. Shaw fights back but is outnumbered. Reese arrives and rescues her before taking her to meet Finch.

Meeting Reese and Finch

Reese takes Shaw to an empty office building, where Harold Finch introduces himself. Shaw is guarded as he explains that they help people in trouble the same way she and Cole did. She is skeptical until he gives her Cole's number and her own. Shaw claims that her employers are good at finding people and she only wants to live long enough to find Control. Finch insists that she'll never succeed, and urges her to stop running. Despite Finch’s offers of help, Shaw tells him that Cole was one of the few friends she had and that she believes he deserved better. Finch gives her his number in case she changes her mind, but she returns it to him and walks away.

Shaw meets Special Counsel and Wilson. (“Relevance”)

Soon after, Shaw meets Special Counsel at a party. He explains he is not Control, but he is as close as she's going to get. Shaw points out that they killed the one person she liked. Away from the party, Special Counsel explains the Program and the need for secrecy to her. Shaw admits she would do the same and hands over Cole's research on the case, as Special Counsel realizes Shaw’s goals are the same as his. Shaw walks away, seemingly free. Suddenly, Hersh comes up behind her and injects her with poison. But Shaw does not die.

With the help of Carter, Fusco and Leon Tao, who poses as an EMT, Finch and Reese save her life. Finch points out that her employers wanted her dead, and now she is. This time, Shaw takes Finch's card when he offers it (“Relevance”).

Joining the Team

Some time later, Reese stands near the home of Cole's parents, where he finds Shaw; it appears he’s been looking for her for some time. She reveals that the government lied about Cole when telling his parents about his death, identifying him as a traitor. John warns her not to talk with Cole’s parents as she might put them in danger.

Shaw at the Library (“Trojan Horse”).

Soon after, Shaw abruptly appears in the Library, surprising Finch and thanking him for making Cole's death "publicly" noble. As they talk, she recognizes a photograph of Root and leaves with a list of Root's known aliases stating that tracking Root will be her new "hobby" (“Trojan Horse”).

She returns some time later, now actively hunting for Root, to help Reese stop Decima from gaining control of The Machine (“Zero Day”). Shaw’s mission to find Root soon crosses over Reese’s to protect Finch, leading him to tell Shaw about the Machine. Together they follow Root and Finch across the country to the base where the Machine is stored, only to find it has moved itself. Special Counsel’s arrival confirms her suspicions that the Program has betrayed her, and she leaves with Reese, Finch and an injured Root (“God Mode”).

Working with Finch and Reese

Shaw and Fusco working together (“Liberty”)

Now fully aware that the Program cannot be trusted, Shaw reluctantly allies herself with Finch and Reese. She works on her own terms, keeps her own schedule and refuses to carry a phone (“Liberty”). Shaw’s early role is largely tactical support providing backup to Reese, Fusco and Carter as they work in close.

Shaw works at Lifetrace (“Nothing to Hide”)

As she becomes more accustomed to working with the team, Shaw begins to take a more active role in missions, including serving as an undercover office worker (“Nothing to Hide”), as one of a group of women setting themselves up as targets for a predatory man (“Lady Killer”), as a member of a women’s book group in order to protect them (“Reasonable Doubt”), and simply as backup to help Reese protect another POI (“The Perfect Mark”). As she works with the team, she grows increasingly fond of Bear, eventually purchasing a metal studded collar for him.

Shaw with Gen (“Razgovor”)

Shaw finds herself unexpectedly central to a mission when she must protect a ten-year old Russian immigrant girl whose monitoring of her neighbors leads to her having recorded conversations between HR and Peter Yogorov while Reese and Finch stop the gunmen trying to kill her. The girl brings back memories of the death of Shaw’s father and reminds Shaw of herself. Shaw finds herself growing attached, despite herself, and is moved when the grateful girl gives Shaw her grandfather’s Order of Lenin medal (“Razgovor”).

That same night, as she sleeps, Shaw is captured by Root, who needs Shaw’s skills to complete a mission Root believes the Machine has given to her. Root has learned about the car accident in which Shaw’s father was killed, and uses it to persuade Shaw to work with her. As she does, Shaw learns that the Machine has a new category besides "relevant" and "irrelevant" numbers”, but does not learn what it is.

Root and Shaw infiltrate a CIA pickup site, where Root disguises herself as prisoner while Shaw poses as a CIA agent, allowing Root to help Jason Greenfield, a necessary number being held in custody, escape the place. After a confrontation with members of a privacy protection group Vigilance, Root sends Jason out of the country, as Shaw protects them. Their mission complete, Shaw knocks out Root, allowing Finch to recapture her (“Mors Praematura”).

Shaw secretly helps Carter in her quest to end HR, providing her with weapons that Carter uses to intercept one of the Russians' drug deliveries. She and Reese later hide and prepare to stop HR from executing the Russians, but the FBI arrive and arrest both groups after they receive a tip from Carter (“Endgame”).

Finch and Shaw at Carter's funeral (“The Devil's Share”)

Shaw later saves Fusco's son Lee from HR, for which Fusco is deeply grateful (“The Crossing”). Shaw then begins to brutally interrogate criminals to find Patrick Simmons, the last HR member standing and the man responsible for Carter's death (“The Devil's Share”).

When Reese temporarily leaves the team, Shaw begins working with Finch full-time in his old arrangement, posing as a doctor in order to keep an eye on POI Arthur Claypool. Shaw and Finch escape the hospital with Arthur and his wife Diane after Vigilance attacks looking for Arthur. Shaw engages in a brief gunfight with Vigilance member Peter Collier before escaping. Later, at a safe house, Diane reveals herself to be Control as Arthur's memories of his real (now dead) wife return; Control calls in a team led by Hersh that holds Shaw, Finch, and Arthur at gunpoint, and declares she will only release them after gaining access to either the Machine or Arthur's own AI project named Samaritan. (“Lethe”) With no need for Shaw, Control orders her death, but with a distraction from Root Shaw escapes with Finch and Arthur.

When they go to a bank to retrieve the back up of Samaritan, they encounter Peter Collier and his team. To make matter worse, Hersh also arrives, disguised as a SWAT team. Trapped in a vault, Finch maintains contact with her via cell phone, and she tells him how to treat a bank manager wounded by Collier. Unable to take out Collier and his men, as they're the only thing keeping Hersh's team from storming the bank, she creates a pipe bomb to blow open an exit to the sewers. Two Vigilance men are able to enter the vault, but Shaw shoots them down, and with last-minute help from Reese and Fusco, they manage to escape the bank through the sewer. (“Aletheia”)

She encounters Finch a few days later, who uneasily asks her to revisit the ISA, her former employers, and find out what they know about Owen Matthews, a potential relevant number that the Machine is forcing Reese into helping on a plane. She goes to a travel agency the ISA uses to make arrangements for its agents and greets the clerk, Foster. Shaw figures that Foster set up Owen's plane ride, grabs him, and chokes him until he talks. Foster admits that he arranged for Shaw's successor, codenamed Indigo 6A, to be on the plane.

Upon hearing this, Shaw dresses up as a waitress at a restaurant where Hersh is eating. Once she's served him his food, Shaw sits down next to Hersh and tells him that she poisoned his meal with scopolamine, rendering him docile and causing amnesia. She demands to know who Owen is, and Hersh explains that they set Owen up as the Sphinx in return of 30% of his profits, which they use to help finance the ISA. Since Owen is going public, Hersh's superiors figure he'll expose the ISA to the world, ruining their organization and thus making him a threat to national security. As Shaw begins to leave, the dazed Hersh asks if her current employers are treating her okay. Shaw says that they haven't tried to kill her yet and notes that she could have easily killed Hersh if she wanted him dead... and that it's a shame he won't remember anything she said. Using this information, Reese and Finch stop the plane from crashing and save Owen's life. (“4C”)

During a mission involving Cyrus Wells, Shaw ends up in a solo standoff with Vigilance after taking down one of its snipers to save the team. Collier locks her in a building to smoke her out, and he appeals to Shaw to consider the misdeeds of the government who betrayed her. He offers Shaw a place in the organization for both revenge and a role in writing "new chapter in American history." Shaw decides that Vigilance's brutal methods overshadow any redeeming goals they may have, declaring they are terrorists and fighting back. Shaw eventually escapes alive and returns to the library, then meets Root to care for a gunshot wound she received (“Root Path (/)”).

Next, Shaw works a number with Finch and Reese which brings back memories of her family. She reflects on her parents' bravery with the POI and later Fusco (“Allegiance”).

Going into Hiding

When Samaritan comes online, Shaw assumes the identity Sameen Grey, a sales woman in the cosmetics department at Bloomingdale's. After a brief period of silence between the group, Shaw resumes working numbers with Finch and Reese. She also becomes part of a group of thieves led by a man named Romeo (“Panopticon”), which she later quits after they prove they aren't good enough (“Honor Among Thieves”).

While on a mission to protect a POI, she is intercepted by ISA agent Devon Grice. They recognize each other, but Grice allows her to leave, trusting and respecting her against orders. He later attempts to delete surveillance footage of the incident to protect her, but Samaritan is able to recover this footage (“Honor Among Thieves”). Using this information and Shaw's ties to Romeo's group of thieves, Martine begins to hunt her down, managing to trace her phone to Bloomingdale's. Though Samaritan still cannot recognize her due to the servers Root planted in Samaritan's hardware, Martine uses the footage to spot her and attacks (“Point of Origin”). Shaw reveals gigantic weaponry she's kept in her stand the entire time she's worked at Bloomingdale's for such a moment, fighting back against Martine until she can escape the building, where Root is waiting to extract her on a motorcycle.

Her cover identity blown, Shaw must now stay entirely off the radar to avoid capture. When Reese gets into serious danger caught between Elias and the Brotherhood, however, she insists she must come to his aid, ignoring any threat to herself. Root decides she must sedate her and bring her back to the subway hideout forcefully to protect her. Though Root is able to keep Shaw safe in this manner, Scarface and other Brotherhood members are killed as a result (“The Devil You Know”). Shaw only forgives the team for betraying her once Finch buys her her favorite sandwich.

When Samaritan and the Machine's standoff begins to escalate, she wonders if the AIs beginning to cooperate wouldn't be the best option, clashing with Finch's stern belief that AIs teaming up could lead to the end of humanity. After the situation continues to spiral, Shaw decides she cannot stay cooped up in hiding anymore and leaves the subway without telling the others (“The Cold War”), helping with numbers or in what other little ways she can.

When the rest of the team becomes trapped by Samaritan, Shaw must retrieve information from a Stock Exchange employee to assist them; however, she is forced to first talk down a suicide bomber affected by the Flash Crash of the stock market. With advice from Fusco, she succeeds and gets the intel in time. She then rushes to the Stock Exchange and crawls through 50 yards of air duct to reach the others, arriving moments before they likely would have been wiped out by Samaritan agents. She and Root defend the team as they all board the elevator to freedom, not realizing an override button must be pressed before the elevator will move. Root flirts with Shaw, making her attraction clear. Shaw, although returning it, says the pair would be a disaster together. Even so, Shaw kisses Root before running to the button and sacrificing herself to give the others a chance to escape; she is shot down by Martine and taken captive, while the rest of the team is left not knowing if she even survived (“If-Then-Else”).

In Captivity

Days after the incident at the stock exchange, Shaw awakens in a hospital bed overlooked by Greer, who comments that she will need her rest for what awaits her (“M.I.A.”).

She is later used as bait for a trap to capture Root; she calls Root with a phone that traces back to the asylum where Shaw is being held and which houses Samaritan's base of operations. When Root and Finch come to rescue her, Samaritan's agents move Shaw before they can find her; Root finds the coat she wore when she was shot and glimpses her being taken through the window. Martine tells Root that Shaw was subjected to months of torture before she eventually broke, implying that Shaw had been brainwashed into supporting Greer and willingly supported the plan to bait Root. Shaw is then seen looking pensively out the window of a car, and her mental state and allegiances at the time were unknown (“Asylum”).

Since Shaw was captured during the Flash-Crash, she has been through 6,741 Samaritan simulations in nine months which have the goal of getting Shaw to lead them to the Subway and the rest of the team. In the 6,741st simulation, Shaw wakes up during an operation to insert a chip near her brain stem which apparently is for the purpose of making her more co-operative. She escapes the Samaritan facility and sails into New York. Shaw gets in touch with the team by pretending she is conspiring to murder someone, and Root finds her and helps to extract the chip before taking her to the safehouse (although she says it is "her place"). Root and Shaw sleep together that night. In the morning, Shaw confronts Root and Reese about them not trusting her and they launch into a plan to kidnap Greer, which is successful. They take him to a church which is a natural Faraday cage and find what they suspect is a Samaritan kill switch embedded in his arm. Finch and Root leave to test it while Reese stays with Shaw. Greer provokes Shaw by saying that she is really under Samaritan control and it is part of the plan, and she shoots him.

Reese suspects something is wrong and tells Shaw they won't go back to the Machine until they figure it out. Shaw shoots him and tells Root and Finch that Samaritan agents came out of nowhere. Root comes to meet Shaw and tells her to lead the way. Shaw takes them to a playground and holds Root at gunpoint, asking if she knows where they are, which could hint that it is the playground in Qatar that Lambert mentioned at the start of the simulation. Shaw confesses that she killed Reese and tells Root that when Samaritan's torture got too awful, she would take herself to this place, with Root, and she was her safe place. Shaw then says that she can't control herself anymore and she turns the gun on herself. When she shoots herself, the simulation ends. The person in charge of the simulations informs Greer that although she committed suicide again, she did wait an extra hour before killing him this time. The simulation is initiated for the 6,742nd time. (“6,741”)

After 7,053 attempts to torture Shaw through simulations to turn her into a Samaritan asset, Greer takes Shaw on a field trip. Shaw sits on a park bench with Greer as he tries to convince her that the people she is trying to protect are the bad guys. Greer points out two businessmen who are only interested in their investments and not how they will affect or kill people. Shaw is unconvinced. Shaw is next introduced to Samaritan. It is another simulation. (“A More Perfect Union”)

For Shaw's next "field trip", she is accompanied outside by Lambert. Bored of the repetitive simulations, Shaw changes her responses in an effort to just get through it. Unable to tell simulation from reality, Shaw is easily convinced to kill a geneticist, Dr. Ayumi Kagawa whose research Samaritan has isolated as a potential future threat, not realizing that it was real. A doctor who checks up on Shaw points out to her that it had been real, but Shaw is initially unconvinced.

Realizing that it could be real, Shaw subdues the doctor, takes her syringe and locks her out of her room, intending to inject herself in the eye, having decided that she would rather die than undergo further torture. Just then, Shaw hears the Morse code message that Root sent her through the interference of the radio signal in her room. She decodes the message as "4AF"; Shaw realizes that it stands for "four-alarm fire", which Shaw had used to describe her potential relationship with Root (“If-Then-Else”). With newfound inspiration to keep fighting, Shaw later hides from the camera to fashion a wire she could use to short the keycard entry system to her door. (“QSO”)

As a nurse goes to inject Shaw with a sedative, she promises not to try anything and describes the plan she supposedly won't be using. As the nurse is distracted, Shaw overpowers her, injects her with the sedative and smashes the room's camera with a chair. Shaw then uses a piece of wire she took from the room's lamp to short out the door lock and escapes through a hole she smashed in the bathroom wall behind the sink with a fire axe she stole during an escape attempt a month before. Lambert and his men manage to break into the room and find her gone and her escape route.

Shaw eventually breaks through the wall of a Johannesburg prison where she takes out two inmates beating on a third, Samuel. Samuel tells Shaw that there's only one way in or out of that area of the prison which is only opened for meals or discipline. Shaw breaks the two out of the cell and has Samuel draw the guards attention. Once the gate is opened, Shaw knocks one out with the butt of her axe and uses the axe to stop the gate from closing as Samuel takes out the other guard. Samuel gives Shaw a guard's gun and tells her he has to stay and free his own friends from the prison. Wishing him luck, Shaw begins making her way out of the prison, knocking out several guards along the way.

As she continues, Shaw is confronted by Lambert at gunpoint with Lambert telling Shaw that her escape is just another simulation. Lambert claims that the prison and Shaw's escape route were based on her memories of killing a Somali bomb maker in South Africa. Lambert is able to use the over 7,000 simulations Shaw has been through to confuse her knowledge of what's real and what's not. Confused, Shaw drops her axe and Lambert tells her that she will soon be removed from the simulation. Shaw seems to accept that her experience is not real before drawing the guard's gun and shooting Lambert in the chest. Shaw tells the dying Lambert she had to "get that out of my system", simulation or not and steals his car keys as he dies. Shaw, wearing the clothes of a prison guard, eventually escapes the prison and takes off in Lambert's vehicle, presumably to an airport. (“Reassortment”)

Reunited with the Team

After escaping, Shaw makes her way back to New York where she finds Root who is excited to see her. Shaw fears that she is still in a simulation and tells Root that Root was the only member of the Team she couldn't kill, instead committing suicide each time. Losing her grip on reality, Shaw prepares to kill herself once more, but stops after Root prepares to do the same, proving to her that it's real. Shaw and Root then travel to the Queensboro Bridge where they reunite with the rest of the Team, now consisting of Shaw, Root, Reese, Finch, Lionel Fusco (“Sotto Voce”).

After Finch's cover is blown and his number comes up, Shaw works with Root to protect him. After getting caught in a Samaritan ambush, Shaw orders Root to take Finch to safety while she holds off the Samaritan agents single-handedly. Shaw is able to kill all of the agents and is picked up by Reese and Fusco. Reaching the prison where Finch is being held, Reese and Shaw discover that Finch has engineered a breakout and realize that his number came up not as a victim, but as a perpetrator against Samaritan (“The Day the World Went Away”).

Shaw doesn't attend Root's funeral, instead sitting on a merry-go-round. After Reese comes to ask her to rejoin them, Shaw states her belief that it's another simulation and exposes herself to Samaritan which dispatches agents to get her. A man arrives, seemingly a Samaritan operative, but in reality a worker from Thornhill Corporation with a new identity for Shaw. Reese realizes that the Machine is reassigning Root's rotating identities to Shaw now that Root is dead, an action which shields Shaw once more from Samaritan's detection. The two then get a call from the Machine with the relevant number of the President of the United States.

Joined by Fusco, Shaw and Reese travel to Washington, DC to protect the President. Shaw looks over the list of threats to the President that Fusco was able to get them and worries about the fact that Samaritan didn't warn the ISA of a threat to the President. Using Shaw's knowledge of assassinations, the group plots out how best to protect the President with Shaw finding that the Machine had included an invitation to a gala attended by the President with her new identity and blows off Fusco's worries about her. At the gala, Shaw poses as a congressman's wife, meeting Tracey Phillips before Reese calls her after having found something. Discovering a bomb, the two manage to contain the blast and Shaw notes a likely suspect as a threat to the President is broadcasted stating that if the mass surveillance program isn't shut down, he will die the next day.

Shaw captures the suspicious waiter she saw and determines that his ID for Charles Vaida is legitimate. Shaw realizes that Vaida is not a professional killer and threatens him with electricity and harm to his family. Vaida tells them that his group is determined to end the mass surveillance program due to it violating people's rights and Shaw shocks him before Reese pulls her out of the room. As the two planned, Vaida escapes and Shaw tracks him with Fusco to a house on DuPont circle while Reese watches the President. Shaw finds the terrorist's base of operations inside the house and is captured by Tracey Phillips, the true mastermind behind the operation who explains that they are willing to end the mass surveillance program at any cost, including the damage a Presidential assassination would cause. Shaw quickly realizes that her captors are all amateurs and when the lights go out, overpowers them with Fusco's help. However, Tracey warns them that they are too late to stop the plot which Shaw realizes is going to take place in the plaza where the President will give his speech. Recognizing that they don't know who they can trust, Shaw decides not to warn the Secret Service and instead handle it themselves.

As Reese monitors for the Secret Service mole and Fusco monitors the terrorist's surveillance feeds, Shaw knocks out a Secret Service sniper and takes his place. After Reese identifies the mole who sends the Secret Service after him, Shaw is unable to get a shot on the mole. Fusco determines that the attack on the President will come from the circling surveillance drone and Shaw is unable to shoot it down. Instead, on Reese's orders, Shaw fires repeatedly on the President, purposefully missing but keeping him from reaching the SUV. Thanks to Shaw, when the drone destroys the SUV, the President is not inside and survives. The two quickly flee, taking out a team of Secret Service agents. They are then cornered by Vaida, the mole and another terrorist but rescued unexpectedly by former POI Joey Durban who helps them disguise themselves as soldiers and escape. After witnessing the President leave to safety, Shaw finally accepts that it's not a simulation, feeling that since Samaritan didn't warn the ISA about the assassination, it no longer considers the President relevant and thus that it no longer needs him. (“Synecdoche”)

After saving the President, Reese and Shaw return to the Subway in hopes of finding Finch. The two find that he hasn't returned and get a call from the Machine with a new number. To their surprise, its John Greer in his alias of Philip Hayes, head of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations. Investigating the office, Reese and Shaw find that it doesn't exist only to get coordinates from the Machine and a set of numbers they can't immediately decipher. The two are able to determine that the coordinates point to Fort Meade and manage to sneak in using stolen uniforms and a chute for burning classified documents. Inside, they find that the Machine's numbers point to a wireless modem confiscated from Edward Snowden. While Shaw is confused as they could get it at Target, Reese realizes that if they hook it up, it will give the Machine access within the building. After taking out a guard, the two connect the modem in time for the Machine to save Finch's life. In return, after being cornered, Finch and the Machine rescue Reese and Shaw. After telling them of Greer's death, Finch orders Reese and Shaw to flee the building and takes the opportunity to leave them behind after they get attacked by Samaritan operatives. Cut off from Finch, Reese and Shaw reluctantly follow his instructions and leave Fort Meade after killing Zachary (“.exe”).

Shaw visits Root's grave where she attempts to say goodbye but finds herself unable to. Moments after noticing that the grave has been disturbed, Shaw is contacted by what appears to be Root, telling her that Samaritan's operatives were likely after Root's implant and "she" is sorry that "she" didn't have Root cremated. To her shock, Shaw realizes that it's not Root but the Machine who has adapted Root's voice to communicate with them directly. Warned by the Machine, Shaw flees just ahead of some Samaritan agents. Shaw returns to the Subway where Finch, Reese and Fusco find her tending to the Machine. After learning of how the ICE-9 virus used to destroy Samaritan is having global effects, Shaw gives Finch a copy of the Machine's core systems as the Machine directed her to. Finch and Reese leave to destroy an "air gapped" copy of Samaritan in the Federal Reserve while Shaw stays with Fusco to defend the Machine from attack. On the Machine's orders, the two blow open the subway tunnel and use the Machine's train car to escape as Samaritan agents led by Jeffrey Blackwell attack. Fusco captures Blackwell who Shaw identifies as Root's killer after finding his sniper rifle. Before she abandons the train and the dying Machine, the Machine conveys to her Root's true feelings towards Shaw, causing the normally emotionless Shaw to briefly shed a tear. Shaw finally says her goodbyes to Root through the Machine, but Blackwell breaks free and seriously injures Fusco before escaping. Shaw helps Fusco to the surface where they witness a cruise missile fired by Samaritan fly overhead.

A week after Samaritan is destroyed, Shaw tracks down Blackwell as he prepares to leave town. Blackwell tries to convince her that he was just doing a job when he killed Root, causing Shaw to tell him that at one point she would've killed him without a thought but she met some people who changed her. She then tells Blackwell that those people are now dead before shooting Blackwell dead in revenge for Root's murder. Shaw then meets with a recovering Fusco at an outdoor café where they both discuss how they don't know the fates of their friends with Shaw remaining optimistic. Shaw then takes Bear and walks away. As she walks down the street, a public phone rings with a call from the duplicate Machine. Shaw answers the call and smiles at a nearby camera, knowing the Machine is back online and continues walking with Bear (“return 0”).

Skills and Talents

  • Marksmanship: Shaw is a highly skilled marksman with a range of firearms, including hand guns and sniper rifles. As a member of the team, Shaw routinely uses a sniper rifle to lend support. She once used a sniper rifle to shoot a man in the dark, in the arm (so as to incapacitate, but not kill him), through a brick wall (“Liberty”). Unlike Reese, who utilizes the C.A.R. System shooting technique (Center Axis Re-lock) as a foundation upon which other shooting skills were built, Shaw is much more traditional in technique, stance, and so forth, likely an intentional difference to show her more "traditional" military history (U.S. Marine Corps for Shaw and U.S. Army for Reese, including Infantry, Airborne, Ranger, Sniper, Special Forces Soldier ("Green Beret"), and 1st SFOD-D Operator.) She was able to shoot at the President of the United States, but purposefully fire near-misses to keep him from falling into a trap. (“Synecdoche”)
  • Hand-to-hand combat: Shaw is skilled in close quarters combat, holding her own against opponents physically larger than herself with little trouble. She, like Reese, exhibits an extremely high proficiency with numerous hand to hand combat styles, in particular Krav Maga.
  • High tolerance for pain: Shaw has a high tolerance for pain. When Root threatened her with torture, Shaw simply replied that she "enjoyed this sort of thing." She has shown an ability to withstand pain enough to perform medical procedures on herself, such as a blood transfusion or removing a bullet.
  • Intelligence training: Shaw was a member of ISA. She is trained in surveillance, information-gathering (passive, active, and "forced") and counter-intelligence techniques. She has also received training in interrogation techniques and shows a near inhuman resistance to physical, mental, and emotional torture herself (her SERE instructor must have loved her). Along with being able to plan assassinations, Shaw is also capable of using her knowledge to prevent one.
  • Medical training: Shaw is a medical doctor, and described by her colleagues during her residency as "technically brilliant" and having a "brilliant mind". She is noted to have gone to truly heroic measures in an attempt to save a patient though she ultimately failed. Her personality disorder and quoted lack of "feeling" became an obstacle to her continuing a career in medicine, according to her flashback in “The Devil's Share”.  
  • Personal Weapons: Shaw uses a variety of handguns, but primarily relies on an H&K USP Compact in .45ACP with a laser aiming module (Season 2). Her secondary backup weapon is a Beretta Nano chambered in 9mm, also sporting a laser aiming module (her primary weapon in Season 3). She does, however, keep a large armory of long guns in her apartment, with much of her arsenal stored in a refrigerator.


Shaw's tattoo (“Razgovor”)

  • Shaw has a tattoo on the inside of her right forearm which can be seen clearly in “Relevance”, “Razgovor”, “Reassortment”, and “6,741”. It appears to be a Rod of Asclepius with the letters "U.S.M.C." across the top, presumably standing for US Marine Corps. Her tattoo very closely resembles the one her father had on his forearm in Shaw's flashback in “Razgovor” -- it may be the same tattoo. In “Nothing to Hide” and “Reasonable Doubt” the tattoo is missing, but it could have been covered up by makeup to maintain her cover identities in each episode.
  • Shaw has a self-diagnosed (and unspecified) Axis II Personality Disorder, which is a very notable part of her character. The development of the way the audience perceives both her ability to emote and the nature of the way in which she feels things is a major part of her character arc, insofar that it's not exactly character development at all, but rather the development of the audience's understanding of her character. We see her character explicitly refer to her personality disorder six times in the series--in all of these instances, it is paired with Shaw having experienced (or the show referring to a time when she experienced) intense emotion: her talk with the thugs after Cole's death in “Relevance”, her explanation to Gen after we learn of Shaw's father's death in “Razgovor” via a flashback (in addition to her seemingly uncharacteristic concern for Gen throughout the episode), a flashback to her time in her medical residency in “The Devil's Share” in the aftermath of Carter's death, the Machine's simulation in “If-Then-Else” where she discusses her feelings for Root, in the hotel room with Charlie in “Synecdoche” after Root's death in “The Day the World Went Away”, and where she first attempts to, then succeeds in saying goodbye to Root in “return 0”. In “Synecdoche”, both Reese and Fusco acknowledge and discuss her grief many times throughout the episode. More specifically, Shaw's speech to Charlie in the hotel room is very telling in that it closely resembles--and perhaps is a callback to--both what she says to the thugs in “Relevance” and her talk with Gen in “Razgovor”, and seems to suggest for the first time that Shaw has some resentment towards herself (or her personality disorder specifically) because of the fact that she cannot "feel things" like the majority of the population: "What I do feel is anger. ...most of all, I'm angry that you have people that you can love. And you chose to sign their death warrants". This is confirmed by the Machine in “return 0”: "You always thought there was something wrong with you because you don't feel things the way other people do. But [Root] always felt that was what made you beautiful".
  • In “Relevance” Shaw is shown to have a version of Finch's forced pairing program while tracking a target. It is unknown where she got it but the program is noticeably different from the one Finch uses. Starting in “Nothing to Hide” Shaw uses Finch's program.
  • Shaw speaks/is conversant in German (“Relevance”), Farsi (“6,741”), and Spanish (“Sotto Voce”).
  • She has mentioned that she prefers potassium chloride to chloroform when it comes to anesthetics, because it acts quicker, leaves no trace in post-mortem toxicology, and doesn't have a strong odor (unlike chloroform or sodium pentothal) (“Allegiance”).
  • Shaw has a preference for hard liquor, passing on the champagne and taking vodka instead when undercover with Joss and Zoe in a club (“Lady Killer”). She's also seen using liquor, usually whiskey, as both a drink and a sterilizing agent on many occasions, often expressing her satisfaction with the fact that Finch buys "top shelf" (“Allegiance”).
  • In “return 0”, the Machine passes on Root's thoughts on Shaw to her, telling Shaw that if she was a shape, Root believed her to be a straight line--an arrow. After the Machine shares this, Shaw is seen wiping a tear away, which is monumental for her character. Shortly after, she is able to say goodbye to Root through the Machine. The Machine also tells Shaw that it chose her for exactly who she is.
  • When confronting Jeffrey Blackwell, Shaw tells him she has changed, as there was a point in her life where she would have killed him without hesitation. She notes that the Team taught her the value of human life.
  • During her last meeting with Fusco (“return 0”), the two have a similar exchange to that of her and Michael Cole after she killed Bekhti (“Relevance”).
  • Shaw has the final kill of the series when she shoots Jeffrey Blackwell in revenge for Root's murder (“return 0”).

Notable victims


Season 2

Season 3

(Now part of regular cast)

Season 4

(Only mentioned in the following episodes:)

(Briefly seen in:)

Season 5

(Back as a regular cast member)