|Created by||Alex Gansa
|Portrayed by||Claire Danes|
|Occupation||Former: CIA Case Officer|
|Significant other(s)||Nicholas Brody (lover)
David Estes (ex-lover; deceased)
|Relatives||Frank Mathison (father)
Maggie Mathison (sister)
Ruby Mathison (niece)
Josie Mathison (niece)
Carrie Mathison, played by actress Claire Danes, is a fictional character and the protagonist of the American television drama/thriller series Homeland on Showtime, created by Alex Gansa and Howard Gordon. Carrie is a CIA officer who, while on assignment in Iraq, learned from a CIA asset that an American prisoner of war had been turned by al-Qaeda. After a U.S. Marine platoon sergeant named Nicholas Brody is rescued from captivity, Mathison believes that he is the POW described to her. Carrie's investigation of Brody is complicated by her bipolar disorder and results in an obsession with her suspect.
For her performance as Mathison, Claire Danes has received several major acting awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama, and the TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Drama.
Character biography 
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (August 2012)|
Background and personality 
Carrie Mathison was born on April 5, 1979, in Maryland. She became an Arabic language student who, while at Princeton University, was recruited into the CIA by veteran officer Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin). Carrie and Saul develop a close working relationship that lasts up to the time she begins her investigation of Brody. It is suggested that Carrie had a sexual relationship with David Estes (David Harewood), her future boss as CTC Director, which contributed to the breakup of his marriage. Starting at the age of 22, Carrie grappled with bipolar disorder, for which she secretly takes clozapine supplied by her older sister, Maggie (Amy Hargreaves).
Shortly before the start of the series, Carrie was a field operative in Iraq. During her time there, Carrie infiltrated an Iraqi prison to meet with an imprisoned CIA asset named Hasan Ibrahim, who claimed that he had information regarding an imminent terrorist attack in the United States. Moments before he was executed, Hasan told Carrie that an American prisoner of war was turned by missing al-Qaeda figure Abu Nazir (Navid Negahban). Carrie's unauthorized dealings with Hasan led to an international incident, causing Estes to have her reassigned to the CIA's Counterterrorism Center in Langley, Virginia.
Season one 
Ten months after being transferred to Langley, Carrie attends an emergency staff meeting and learns that Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a U.S. Marine platoon sergeant, has been rescued in a Delta Force raid after eight years as a prisoner of al-Qaeda. Carrie tells Saul about Hasan's claims, and expresses concern that Brody is the POW he was describing. Saul rejects her request that the CIA formally investigate Brody, who is acclaimed as a war hero. Carrie conducts her own unauthorized surveillance on Brody, for which Saul is able to obtain a FISA warrant giving her one month to operate legally. Carrie spends all of her available time spying on Brody, seeing him exhibiting signs of posttraumatic stress disorder. However, she finds no evidence of any involvement with terrorism.
When her FISA warrant expires, Carrie takes to making personal contact with Brody instead. She bumps into Brody at a veterans' support group, where they strike up a conversation and immediately bond over their mutual experiences in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Lynne Reed (Brianna Brown), an assistant to a Saudi prince and one of Carrie's informants, tells her that he has had a meeting with Abu Nazir. Carrie presses Lynne to take on increasingly risky tasks, falsely promising that a security detail will protect her. Lynne is eventually killed, which wracks Carrie with guilt. The chain of events leads the CIA to investigate local professor Raqim Faisel (Omid Abtahi) for possible links to Al-Qaeda.
Brody, struggling with the fact that his wife had an affair with his best friend during his captivity, asks Carrie to have a drink with him one night. The two talk into the late hours, and have a drunken sexual encounter in Carrie's car. The next day, Brody is brought in to Langley for a polygraph test over the apparent suicide of Afsal Hamid, a detained Al-Qaeda member whom Brody had a violent confrontation with. Carrie, suspicious of Brody's replies with the polygraph, orders the interviewer to ask if he's ever been unfaithful to his wife. Brody says "no", successfully beating the polygraph.
Immediately afterwards, Carrie and Brody drive to her family's cabin to resume their affair. Both find that they are more at ease with each other than with anyone else. However, Carrie blows her cover when she neglectfully mentions Brody's favorite brand of tea. Upon being confronted by Brody, Carrie grills him about his behavior and about holes in his story. Brody admits his conversion to Islam, his meeting and personal affection with Abu Nazir, and his murder of Tom Walker under duress by the terrorists. As Brody leaves, Saul contacts Carrie and informs her that they've captured Aileen Morgan, Faisel's girlfriend, and learned from her that Tom Walker (Chris Chalk) is alive and was the POW who was turned. Carrie tearfully tries to apologize to Brody, but he angrily rebuffs her.
The investigation into Walker leads Carrie and Saul to Mansour al-Zahrani (Ramsey Faragallah), a Saudi diplomat who has acted as an intermediary between Brody, Walker, and Nazir. Carrie blackmails al-Zahrani into arranging a meeting with Walker at Farragut Square. However, the meet ends in disaster when Walker remotely detonates a briefcase bomb carried by a double, killing al-Zahrani and three bystanders. Carrie is left with a concussion, which causes a severe manic episode and leads her to be hospitalized. Saul is shocked when he learns about her bipolar disorder. Carrie tries to contact Brody, looking for insight into Nazir. Instead, Brody tells Estes about the affair. Estes — already under pressure by Vice President William Walden to find a scapegoat for the Farragut Square bombing — dismisses Carrie from the CIA.
Carrie spirals into a deep depression, inadvertently revealing to Saul that she has fallen in love with Brody. Upon learning about Walden's upcoming policy summit at the State Department, she realizes that it will be the target of Walker and Nazir's upcoming attack. Carrie drives to the State Department and sees Brody arrive. When Walker stages a sniper attack on the dignitaries, Brody, Walden, and Estes are led to an underground bunker. Carrie realizes that Walker's shooting is a diversion from the actual attack, in which Brody will bomb the bunker with a suicide vest and kill everyone inside. Carrie appears at Brody's house and pleads with his daughter, Dana (Morgan Saylor), to contact her father and stop him from carrying out the attack. An alarmed Dana calls 911, leading the police to arrest Carrie.
Brody relents from the attack at the last minute following a sudden phone call from Dana. The following day, as Carrie is being released into Maggie's custody, Brody confronts her about the incident at his house and insists that he is not a terrorist. Carrie, now discredited and doubting her own sanity, asks herself to be taken to a hospital for electroconvulsive therapy. Saul tries to stop the procedure, but she is undeterred. When Saul mentions that Nazir's son, Issa, was killed in a drone strike, Carrie — remembering that Brody cried Issa's name during a nightmare — fleetingly ponders this connection before being given a seizure by the ECT treatment.
Season two 
Six months later, when Israel launches an attack against Iranian nuclear sites, a former CIA asset named Fatima Ali (Clara Khoury), the wife of a Hezbollah commander, insists on speaking with Carrie Mathison. Carrie, who is now working as an ESL teacher, is persuaded by Saul and Estes to fly to Lebanon to learn what Fatima knows. In Beirut, Fatima gives the time and location of a planned meeting between her husband and Nazir, in exchange for her defection to the United States.
Carrie believes Fatima, but Saul and Estes do not trust Carrie's judgment. Their lack of trust causes Carrie to have another breakdown, but she insists that her judgment regarding Fatima is sound despite her perceived failure with Brody. Carrie, Saul, and Estes set up an operation to capture Nazir, but Brody — who has been elected to Congress and is observing the operation with Walden in a situation room — tips off Nazir and allows him to escape. Carrie, her obsession with the case renewed, ransacks Fatima's apartment and comes out with a satchel full of documents. After a pursuit by a Lebanese mob, Saul finds a hidden compartment in the satchel. To his shock, it contains a memory card with Brody confessing to the aborted State Department bombing. Saul initially keeps the memory card to himself.
While Estes compliments Carrie on her success in Beirut, he refuses to reinstate her in the CIA. Upset by this rejection, Carrie attempts suicide with sleeping pills before changing her mind and making herself vomit into her toilet. However, Carrie becomes reinvigorated when Saul shows her the video of Brody's confession. The video is enough to convince Estes to let Carrie and Saul engage in covert surveillance against Brody, which includes the installment of bugs in his congressional office. Estes assigns a CIA analyst named Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend) to run the operation; Carrie mistrusts him and the two clash. Quinn has Carrie purposefully meet with Brody as part of a sting operation. When an angered Carrie blows her cover and confronts Brody about his treason, Saul and Quinn have him arrested.
During her interrogation of Brody, Carrie catches him by surprise by "telling the truth" and admitting that she wanted him to leave his family and move in with her. After Carrie systematically breaks Brody down and correctly surmises that Dana's phone call prevented the State Department bombing, Brody tearfully admits to his collaboration with Nazir and other al-Qaeda associates, and reveals that Nazir is planning an attack on the U.S. Carrie gives Brody an ultimatum: either be exposed and sent to prison, or help the CIA anticipate Nazir's attack with no public knowledge of his treason. Left with no other options, Brody agrees to help the CIA.
Carrie, Saul, Estes, and Quinn have Brody call secret meetings with his al-Qaeda contact, journalist Roya Hammad (Zuleikha Robinson), in order to gain information on Nazir's plans. Roya, however, keeps withholding details to Brody, much to his frustration. When Dana admits to being party to a deadly hit-and-run committed by Walden's son, Finn (Timothée Chalamet), Carrie prevents her and Brody from filing a report, reasoning that falling out of favor with Walden will in turn jeopardize his connection to Nazir. The pressures arising from both his daughter's needs and his unwilling espionage work finally lead him to break off contact with al-Qaeda. Carrie takes Brody to a hotel to convince him to go back to al-Qaeda; she has sex with Brody while Saul and Quinn uncomfortably listen in.
During a meeting with Roya the next day, Brody is forcibly taken away in a helicopter and sent to an unknown location to be confronted by Nazir. After Brody is released and reports that Nazir in the U.S. and has threatened his family, Carrie has them sent to a CIA safehouse. Meanwhile, Saul learns that Quinn is an assassin that Estes has hired to kill Brody when he has served his purpose in tracking down Nazir; Saul believes that Estes is trying to cover up his complicity in the death of Nazir's son, but Estes angrily denies this. Carrie is captured by Nazir, who threatens to kill her unless Brody goes to Number One Observatory Circle and retrieves the serial number to Walden's pacemaker. Brody does so, allowing Nazir to assassinate Walden remotely by wirelessly manipulating the pacemaker.
Carrie is released and leads the search of the abandoned mill where she was held by Nazir. After initially thinking Nazir has escaped, Carrie realizes that he is still hiding in the building and leads a SWAT team inside, where Nazir is intercepted, cornered, and killed. Estes offers to reinstate Carrie in the CIA and promote her to Station Chief, but Carrie declines in order to pursue a relationship with Brody, whose marriage has now ended. This leads to yet another argument between Carrie and Saul, who calls her "the smartest and the dumbest fucking person I've ever known." Quinn refuses to kill Brody purely to aid Estes' personal agenda, leading Estes to spare Brody's life.
During a memorial service for Walden at Langley, al-Qaeda plants a bomb in Brody's car and detonates it, in an attack planned by Nazir well in advance before his death. The blast kills 200 people, including Estes, Walden's family, and the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security. Al-Qaeda also releases Brody's confession video to the press, framing him for the Langley bombing. Believing that Brody is innocent yet knowing that no one else will, Carrie convinces him that he must go on the run. Carrie helps Brody cross the border into Canada before returning to the CIA, intent on clearing his name.
Homeland co-creators Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa initially pitched the show to networks with the Carrie Mathison character being a rather straight-laced CIA officer. Once it wasn't picked up and they moved on to the cable channels, they were able to experiment with more complex and flawed main characters. Carrie was given bipolar disorder and made more of an unreliable narrator. Showtime eventually secured the rights to the show and embraced the more unstable version of the character.
From the initial conception of the character, Gordon and Gansa targeted Claire Danes to play the lead role of Carrie. The pair were very impressed with her acting prowess, especially in My So-Called Life and Temple Grandin, but were skeptical as to whether she would accept a television role. Indeed, Danes was not necessarily looking to return to television, but she found the script and the character to be very compelling. In addition, the opportunity to be a part of the "renaissance" of high-quality dramas on cable television appealed to her.
To prepare for the role, Danes had to learn much about the CIA, as well as the nuances of playing someone who has bipolar disorder. Danes' personal research into the CIA touched on such topics as the internal culture of the CIA, agency politics, and the implications of being a female agent. She also was granted access to CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and was able to personally consult with the female CIA officer whom the Carrie Mathison character was loosely based on.
Hank Stuever of The Washington Post in his 2011 Fall TV roundup said that Carrie Mathison was "easily this season's strongest female character". The A.V. Club's Todd VanDerWerff called Carrie "my favorite new character of this TV season", noting the way she attacks everything with reckless abandon.
In November 2011, The Atlantic named Carrie Mathison as one of the best characters on TV, calling her "the thinking man's Jack Bauer", and going on to say "We both root for Carrie's assuredness and are turned off by her brash, erratic, and occasionally reckless behavior".
For her portrayal of Carrie Mathison in the premiere season of Homeland, Claire Danes received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama, TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Drama, Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Drama Actress, and Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama.
For the second season of Homeland, Danes repeated her wins for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama and the Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama. Additionally, she won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series.
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- "TCA 2012: Homeland, Louie Win Big at TCA Awards". TIME. July 29, 2012.
- "Alex Gansa walks us through Homeland’s first season (Part 1 of 4)". The A.V. Club. January 24, 2012.
- "Claire Danes, CIA Agent, Protects The 'Homeland'". NPR. September 29, 2011.
- "Claire Danes on Playing a Bipolar CIA Agent in ‘Homeland’". Wall Street Journal. September 14, 2012.
- Stuever, Hank. "2011 TV season: Few smooth takeoffs, many bumpy arrivals". The Washington Post.
- VanDerWerff, Todd (December 4, 2011). "Representative Brody". The A.V. Club.
- "The Best Characters on TV Right Now". The Atlantic. November 2, 2011.
- "Best TV characters of 2012 (5-1)". Digital Spy.
- "Critic's Choice Award Winners 2012: 'Community,' 'Homeland' Win Big". Huffington Post. June 19, 2012.
- 2011 Satellite Winners December 2011.
- Carrie Mathison at Showtime