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|Crime, law enforcement|
A cleaner, or fixer, is a person who "cleans up" after crimes to physically erase their trace or uses pressure or bribes to limit fallout from a criminal act. They may also act to minimize bad publicity for public officials or media figures by quelling stories of their misadventures, even when they are not crimes.
A cleaner may destroy or remove incriminating evidence at the scene of a crime. A popular figure in crime fiction, a cleaner may also be a contract killer who commits murder to "clean up" a situation. Cleaner is also a slang term for someone, usually a member of a crime organization or a covert government agency, who disposes of a corpse after a hit.
A fixer plays a similar but often less hands-on role, minimizing bad publicity for public officials or media figures by quelling stories of their misadventures. However, the fixer may also be capable of more heavy handed tactics, as necessary.
In contrast, legal crime scene cleanup is a legitimate industry, eliminating blood and other biohazardous materials such as dangerous chemicals used in an illegal drug lab as permitted by responsible authorities.
A fictional example of a cleaner is Shoulders from the comic strip Dick Tracy. More contemporary are the roles played by Jean Reno as Victor in the film La Femme Nikita (1990), Harvey Keitel as Victor in Point of No Return (1993), and a year later as Mr. Wolf in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction (1994) (parodied on Seinfeld`s episode 155, "The Muffin Tops" (1997), where Newman makes the problem of leftover muffin stumps go away by eating them), George Clooney as the title character in Michael Clayton, and Josh Brolin in Hail, Caesar! as a character loosely based on Eddie Mannix, real-life fixer for MGM. On television, similar roles are played by James Frain as Ferdinand Chevalier in Orphan Black, Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut in the TV series Breaking Bad and its prequel, Better Call Saul, Liev Schreiber in the title role of Showtime's Ray Donovan, Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in Scandal, Paige Turco as recurring character Zoe Morgan in Person of Interest, and Susan Blommaert as "Mr. Kaplan" in The Blacklist.
Both the terms "cleaner" and "Fixer" often connote illegal activities. However, such work is also done that in a manner that does not violate law. Lawyers will sometimes intercede on behalf of clients to make offers of non-nondisclosure agreements in exchange for some benefit, or advising people of the potential legal consequences of unduly incriminating others.