Cleaner (crime)

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In crime fiction, a cleaner is a person who destroys or removes any incriminating evidence at the scene of a crime, typically a murder, as if the crime never happened.

A cleaner may also be an assassin, as murder might be required to "clean" up a situation. The assassin Léon, from the film Léon: The Professional (1994), referred to himself in this way.

Cleaner is also a slang term for an individual (usually a member of a crime organization or a covert government agency) who disposes of a corpse after a hit.

In real life, crime scene cleanup is a legitimate industry. This involves removing blood and other biohazardous material, or dangerous chemicals used in an illegal drug lab.[1]

Movies and television[edit]


Jean Reno played Viktor, a cleaner in the first sense of the term, in the film Nikita (1990).[2]

Harvey Keitel played a cleaner in the film Point of No Return (1993), an American remake of the film Nikita, and in Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film Pulp Fiction.

Later, in the film Léon: The Professional (1994), Reno played the title character, an assassin who referred to himself as a "cleaner", demonstrating the second sense of the term as well. Luc Besson has stated these two characters are related.[2]

The short Curdled inspired Quentin Tarantino to include an underworld cleaner named Winston "The Wolf" Wolfe (played by Harvey Keitel), in the film Pulp Fiction (1994).

The film Curdled (1996) is about a woman who takes a job cleaning up crime scenes after the police investigate.

The short documentary film Family Values (2002) documents a suburban lesbian couple who run a "mom and mom" business cleaning up gory crime scenes, and won a Student Academy Award for Best Documentary.[citation needed]

In the film Underworld: Evolution (2006), there existed a secret mercenary group called the Cleaners, led by Alexander Corvinus, tasked with destroying/hiding any evidence of Vampires and Lycans, and the war between them, from human awareness.

The film Cleaner (2007) is about Tom Cutler (played by Samuel L. Jackson), who owns and operates a crime scene cleanup company and gets involved in a criminal cover-up.

The fiction film Sunshine Cleaning (2008) is based around the business of crime scene cleaning, strictly in a legal manner, not the aforementioned illegal methods.

The film John Wick (2014) features a cleaning and body disposal service that caters specifically to New York's underworld of assassins, where they take special gold coins as payment and their customers refer to their number of victims as a number for a "dinner reservation".


The character of Mike Ehrmantraut in the AMC series Breaking Bad is a cleaner, employed by both Gus and Saul.

The character of Ray Donovan from Ray Donovan is a fixer for the rich and famous.

In season 2, episode 3 of the television series Human Target, two cleaners are mentioned, one codenamed "Mr. Chicago". Mr. Chicago was hired along with another cleaner by a gang leader to kill off all the other team members of the heist after it was completed.

In the sitcom Seinfeld, episode 155 "The Muffin Tops", Newman plays a "cleaner" (in a parody of Pulp Fiction) who "makes problems go away" by eating leftover muffin "stumps".

Stephen King plays Bachman, a cleaner who helps dispose of a body, in the season 3 episode of Sons of Anarchy titled "Caregiver".

Mr. Kaplan on The Blacklist is a cleaner for Raymond Reddington.

Further examples[edit]

See also[edit]