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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.
A fixer plays a similar but often less hands-on role, often minimizing bad publicity for public officials or media figures by quelling stories of their misadventures, but also capable of more heavyhanded tactics, as necessary.
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.
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 movie La Femme Nikita (1990) , Harvey Keitel as Victor in the film Point of No Return (1993), and a year later as a Mr. Wolfe in the Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction (1994), Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut in the TV series Breaking Bad (TV series) (2008–2013). It was parodied in the sitcom Seinfeld's episode 155, "The Muffin Tops" (1997), where Newman makes the problem of leftover muffin stumps go away by eating them. Another example is the character Ray Donovan in the Showtime television series of the same name. In Person of Interest recurring character Zoe Morgan is a cleaner who is occasionally called in to use her knowledge and skills to help out in situations. She also has a occasional romantic relationship with protagonist John Reese. In the episodes Last Call and Sotto Voce the main characters face off with another much more ruthless cleaner known only as "the Voice" who is willing to go to any mean necessary to do his job and acts through proxies and extortion rather than performing his jobs personally. In Last Call, the cleaner kidnaps a young boy and straps him to a bomb to force a 911 operator into deleting an incriminating 911 call for one of his clients. The cleaner's plot is thwarted, but he remains at large and threatens to come after protagonist Harold Finch for defeating him. In Sotto Voce the protagonists meet a man named Terry Easton who is being blackmailed by "the Voice" as part of his newest plot. The protagonists eventually learn that a recently arrested man can identify the cleaner who is trying to kill him before that can happen. With the help of mob boss Carl Elias, Harold Finch is eventually able to identify none other than Terry Easton as the cleaner known as "the Voice." While Easton's plot succeeds, he is killed by Elias while escaping.