List of Mission: Impossible characters
- 1 Recurring characters
- 1.1 Introduced in Season One
- 1.2 Introduced in Season Two
- 1.3 Introduced in Season Four
- 1.4 Introduced in Season Five
- 1.5 Introduced in Season Six
- 1.6 Introduced in Season Seven
- 2 Film series
- 3 References
|Character Name||Season(s)||Dates||Portrayed by||Known special abilities|
|Daniel Briggs||1||September 17, 1966–
April 22, 1967
|Steven Hill||Organization, Leadership, Role Play, Languages, Hand-to-hand combat, Voice Mimicry, Disguises|
|Rollin Hand||1–3||September 17, 1966–
April 20, 1969
|Martin Landau||Role Play, Languages, Voice Mimicry, Disguises, Sleight of hand, Handwriting Forgeries, Ladies' Man, Hypnosis, Fine mechanical skills such as watch repair and freehand key making, Card Sharp|
|Cinnamon Carter||1–3||September 17, 1966–
April 20, 1969
|Barbara Bain||Role Play, Languages, Femme Fatale, Memory Skills, Astrology|
|Barney Collier||1–7 and some 1988–1990 episodes||September 17, 1966–
September 8, 1973
|Greg Morris||Electronics, Role Play, Building infrastructure, Hand-to-hand combat, Film editing, Skydiving, Helicopter Piloting, Scuba Diving, Voice Mimicry, Singing|
|William "Willy" Armitage||1–7||September 17, 1966–
September 8, 1973
|Peter Lupus||Physical strength, Role Play, Hand-to-hand combat, Marksmanship, Custom construction, Logistics, Driving, Procurement, Scuba Diving, Card Sharp, Key Making, Long Distance Swimming, Motorcycling|
|The voice on tape||1–7 and 1988–1990||September 17, 1966–
September 8, 1973
|James Phelps||2–7 and 1988–1990||September 10, 1967–
September 8, 1973
|Peter Graves||Organization, Leadership, Role Play, Hand-to-hand combat, Disguises, Voice Mimicry, Scuba Diving|
|The Great Paris||4–5||September 28, 1969–
March 17, 1971
|Leonard Nimoy||Role Play, Languages, Voice Mimicry, Disguises, Sleight of hand, Ladies' Man, Hypnosis, Card Sharp|
|The Hartford and Globe Repertory Companies||4||October 5, 1969–
March 8, 1970
|Multiple uncredited actors||Basic Role Play, Rapid Large-Scale Custom Construction|
|Tracey||4||October 5, 1969–
January 18, 1970
|Lee Meriwether||Role Play|
|Dana Lambert||5||September 19, 1970–
March 17, 1971
|Lesley Ann Warren||Role Play, Femme Fatale|
|Dr. Douglas Robert (Lang)||5–6||October 3, 1970–
September 25, 1971
|Sam Elliott||Medical Knowledge and Skills, Role Play, Skydiving, Helicopter Piloting|
|(Lisa) Casey||6–7 and one episode from 1988–1990||September 18, 1971–
March 30, 1973
|Lynda Day George||Role Play, Femme Fatale, Disguises, Voice Mimicry, Pickpocketing, Stunt Motorcycling|
|Mimi Davis||7||September 16, 1972–
November 18, 1972
|Barbara Anderson||Role Play|
The cast changed considerably episode-by-episode throughout the program's seven-year run, so not all of the characters listed above took part in every mission that season. Many missions used one-time agents that were brought in as guest stars. Often, these agents were brought in for a specific skill, such as a pathologist, a psychic medium or a contortionist.
Introduced in Season One
Daniel "Dan" Briggs
Daniel "Dan" Briggs’s main role in the team was as its "captain"; he received the instructions from the 'Voice on Tape', and selected and coordinated the best people for the mission at hand. The team frequently consisted of Cinnamon Carter, Willy Armitage, Barney Collier and Rollin Hand, although Briggs did not always use all of these team members and often also used other agents. He would brief the team, then if needed, hand out extra disguises or devices. Though Briggs played a significant role in many of the first season missions, he was not an active participant in 7 of the 27 missions he co-ordinated—after the mission briefings for these particular 7 missions, Briggs did not join the team in the actual execution of the plan, evidently confident that his hand-picked team would succeed without his direct involvement.
As was the case with most characters in the series, Briggs's background and personal life were never explored in detail. The first mission of the series indicated that he had not worked with the IMF for some time prior to that mission. (The 'Voice on Tape' ended the first mission's instructions with the statement, "I hope it's welcome back, Dan. It's been a while.") Another mission, "Old Man Out," revealed that he had once romanced an IMF agent played by Mary Ann Mobley. The only other insight into Briggs's personal life was his one off-book mission, "The Ransom," where the daughter of a personal friend of Briggs, a school teacher, is kidnapped in order to force Briggs to deliver a mob informant from police custody before he can testify before the grand jury.
Briggs was depicted at times as a cold, calculating character, quite willing to kill in order to complete a mission. Notably, he was the only member of the IMF shown personally killing a non-target in anything other than self-defense, when he ambushed and killed a sentry to get through a checkpoint in "The Carriers." At other times, he exhibited a fatherlike attitude towards his agents, and was frequently seen smiling encouragement and patting shoulders as missions progressed. Several episodes, such as "Shock," revealed that Briggs had acting, voice mimicry and disguise abilities similar to those of one of his agents, Rollin Hand.
At the start of the second season, James Phelps took over as lead of the IMF Team and no on-air explanation was offered for Briggs's disappearance. The real-life reason was that actor Steven Hill's Orthodox Jewish religious beliefs often conflicted with the shooting schedule, making it difficult for the production crew to meet deadlines. By mutual consent, his contract was not renewed for Season Two.
Rollin Hand’s role as an IMF agent was that of an actor and disguise expert. In a theatrical brochure that headed his dossier, he was described as a quick-change artist and billed as "The Man Of A Million Faces." As such, he had formidable skills in mimicry and voice imitation (introduced in the second season) as well as a mastery of make-up that rivaled that of Lon Chaney, Sr. He was also an expert at sleight of hand and pickpocketing, which came into play in several missions where he would pick pockets or hide things on someone else's person without their knowledge. His language and cultural skills were formidable. He regularly passed himself off as a citizen of various Latin American and Eastern European countries and no one ever questioned his authenticity. He also successfully impersonated well-known public figures, such as the dictator of a fictitious Latin American country, rumored Nazi fugitive Martin Bormann, and indeed even Adolf Hitler himself. On at least two missions he even successfully impersonated a left-handed person, doing all gestures and reflexive actions left-handed when Rollin himself was right-handed. He successfully falsified a wide variety of maladies in the course of missions to dupe targets, including seizures and drug addiction.
His abilities as a "ladies' man" were instrumental to the success of a number of missions. On one occasion, his role would lead to him having romantic feelings for a target who was killed at the end of the mission. In several early episodes, a romantic attachment to Cinnamon Carter was hinted at, if never explicit. While he probably had the least expertise in hand-to-hand combat of the original men on the IMF team, he was regularly called upon to defend himself in hand-to-hand combat, and usually (but not always) came out on top. He was skilled with handguns and capable of killing when necessary. And Rollin has displayed several times incredible endurance as shown by being put under physical torture frequently in the series. Rollin was willing to do solo missions as well as help with personal missions for the IMF leader.
The character of Rollin Hand was created specifically for actor Martin Landau, and indeed, as Patrick J. White's book The Complete 'Mission: Impossible' Dossier pointed out, he was almost named "Martin Land." To achieve many of Rollin's acts of mimicry, several of the characters he imitated were either dubbed by Landau or played by him in a double role under heavy make-up. This technique is used prominently in the very first episode of the series, where Landau plays a Castro-like dictator of a small island nation that Rollin must impersonate during a national broadcast.
Cinnamon Carter’s role as an IMF agent was that of "femme fatale" and "woman in distress." In her IMF dossier, she was noted as being a successful model and the dossier scenes during her three seasons on the show showed at least three different magazine covers that she was featured on. It was never explained how a famous international cover model failed to be recognized as such during a mission. Carter was often used to play on the vanities of powerful men to get them to lower their defenses. Frequently, she would play the role of a beautiful American woman on the make to draw the subject in. On occasion, she would play a woman in distress to distract someone. Carter rarely adopted elaborate disguises, as did practically everyone else on the program, because Barbara Bain, the actress playing her, suffered from claustrophobia, and could not abide being hemmed in by heavy makeup. In a nod to Bain's condition, Carter, too, was shown to be claustrophobic. In "The Heir Apparent" she is made up as an aging Princess, heir to a nation, while in "The Bunker" she is masked as the objective scientist's wife. In episodes where someone was needed to get into tight spaces, another female agent would be brought in, but in "The Slave" Cinnamon, in spite of her claustrophobia, is seen being placed into and later coming out of the false bottom of a food carriage as part of the IMF plan. Cinnamon's claustrophobia would be used against her in a devastating way in the third-season mission, "The Exchange," when an enemy intelligence service discovers her phobia after capturing her and uses it in an attempt to break her. While Cinnamon was being interrogated, she demonstrated that she had been trained in counter-interrogation techniques, resisting all attempts to get her to give up the team.
While Carter was rarely called upon to defend herself in hand-to-hand combat, she was shown to have at least the basic skills to disable a single adversary as evidenced in missions such as "Odds On Evil" and "The Town," and she was confident handling a gun. Like Rollin Hand, on rare occasions her assignments did lead to her falling for her target.
It was actually shown once that she had feelings for Rollin Hand in a conversation she had with "Crystal" a woman on one mission that had feelings for Dan Briggs, when Cinnamon brought up that Crystal was worried about Dan, who was, with Rollin, on a risky mission, Crystal replied that Cinnamon was just as worried about Rollin as Crystal was about Dan. Another time, in "The Pilot", where Rollin impersonates a man who has "a real reputation for being a ladies' man", and Cinnamon is supposed to come to his room, he asks her to help him "get in character".
Barnard "Barney" Collier
Barnard "Barney" Collier’s main role as an IMF agent was that of an electronics and mechanical genius, as well as a forgery expert. He also had an extensive knowledge of building infrastructure such as wiring and plumbing standards, including building standards in foreign countries. Generally, Collier was brought in on missions to supply high-tech custom mission support. On occasion, he would custom build a computer which would be well ahead of its time, such as a computer that could read playing cards face down on a table or a computer that could beat the world's greatest chess players. Starting in Season Five, he was revealed to possess criminology skills that were key to several missions. He was a veteran of the US Navy, specifically the Sixth Fleet. In his IMF dossier, it was noted that he owned his own electronics firm. In order to maintain cover when on personal travel to foreign countries, he once used the alias "Barney Davis." It was a common plot device, throughout the series, for Barney to be smuggled into a building or facility by various means, such as a collapsible filing cabinet, a specially designed crate, or even a janitor's cart, so he could carry out some task in secret.
Due to his being black, his role play in earlier missions which took place in Eastern European countries was often as a supporting character. Those missions which took place in Latin America or the United States gave him the opportunity for more visible roles within the mission. Although Barney Collier is primarily remembered as an electronics expert, he was often called upon for his hand-to-hand combat skills. Notably, he was an accomplished boxer, having been the champion of the Sixth Fleet when he was in the Navy. His boxing skills were the centerpiece of a two-part mission in the third season, "The Contenders." He also had the strength and agility to penetrate denied areas going hand-over-hand using grappling lines without any assistance, shimmy up drainpipes, and rapel down elevator shafts. He demonstrated incredible fortitude even when injured, continuing with missions even after being shot in the back, the knee or the head, temporarily blinded by a concussion, or poisoned. In the course of seven seasons worth of missions, on rare occasions he killed men in self-defense both in hand-to-hand combat as well as with firearms. A recurring sub-theme for Collier was, when a mission was at risk, his unwavering faith in his fellow agents in their ability to come through.
Barney Collier, along with Willy Armitage, was one of only two IMF agents that were regulars on the team for the entire seven-season run of the original Mission: Impossible TV series. Like all of the regular IMF agents, he was not used in every mission, but he was the only character in the opening credits of every episode of the original series. On occasion, he would not appear during the course of a mission, but the characters would use devices that were noted as being supplied by him. In later years of the series, that stayed in the United States and dealt with organized crime, Barney, although still supplying gadgets and devices, did less of the physical duties, and began to be a character more in line of the Mimic and Master of Disguise roles played by Rollin Hand and Paris in earlier seasons. In later seasons, Barney was also a de facto second-in-command of the IMF team in situations where Jim Phelps was missing or incapacitated. It is worth noting that Barney seems to have a strong friendship with Jim Phelps, in particular, referring to him as a best friend in later years.
Barney had a brother Larry who was a newspaper publisher that was unwitting to Barney's career in the IMF. Barney's brother was killed in the fifth season episode "Cat's Paw" for his efforts to bring a ghetto mob to justice. Larry's murder was the catalyst for the off-book mission in that episode to bring down the mob as a way to avenge Larry's death. It was noted in that episode that, at the time, Barney's mother was still alive.
In the series canon, Barney had a son named Grant, born 3 October 1957 in Georgia. However, by 1970, Barney was single in Season Four when he met and romanced a woman in a foreign country in an off-book mission and brought her back to the States at the mission's conclusion. (Barney's relationship with an African girl in the Season Five episode "Hunted" is interpreted by some as romantic, but the actress in the role was only 17 at the time, and the relationship was most likely meant to be platonic.) Barney would reprise his role for three episodes across two missions in the Mission: Impossible series revival in the 1980s, where his son Grant was an agent. It was noted in one of those missions that Barney was extremely despondent at the recent death of Grant's mother. Barney would return to the IMF as an agent to work with another team apart from Jim's group as the inside man investigating a drug cartel.
William "Willy" Armitage
William "Willy" Armitage’s main role as an IMF agent was that of "muscle" and a supporting player. In the first three seasons, Willy was brought in on missions to work behind the scenes in mission prep or in minor role-playing such as a waiter at a party or a maintenance man. Often, he would have fewer than ten words of dialogue per episode, and in fact there are two in which he has no lines at all. However, starting in Season Four, his role play, visibility and dialogue as part of missions did expand, including roles that required foreign language skills. While he was not generally used in very complex role play, on at least one occasion his on-the-fly interpersonal skills did save the mission.
Willy's background role meant that he did not get unintentionally captured or trapped as often as other members of the IMF. However, in the Season Six episode "Double Dead," Willy was captured in a mission that was almost blown, and the episode had his recovery as the main focus. In the end, Willy's ability to connect personally with one of his captors would be instrumental in saving his life. In the Season Seven episode "The Deal" Willy was shot after jumping off a boat to avoid capture. While his injuries were serious, he was able to rejoin the team by the end of the episode; however, Willy's disappearance does mark the only time in the entire series that a team member was believed to have been killed in the line of duty.
Even when not out in front on missions, he still played a critical role as missions unfolded, often at a moment's notice. On a regular basis, his split-second timing taking down a sniper or other gunman saved the mission as well as the life of the IMF team member in the crosshairs. In Willy's IMF dossier, it was noted that he had set a world record in weight lifting. His extreme strength was particularly leveraged in several missions, mostly in Season One. However, notably, in Season Five, Willy demonstrated a strength level that bordered on the super-human in tearing a vault door off its hinges to save Barney Collier from certain death in a fire trap. Willy was often called upon to carry or wear extremely heavy objects without visible signs of exertion to betray their weight, often as a way of smuggling teammates in and out of secure locations. He was experienced in hand-to-hand combat, and was often called on to silently disable sentries and policemen with a single blow. He had other skills which were leveraged, but not prominently featured, such as automobile customization and custom construction. He would often custom-build rooms and scenes to make a trapped person believe they were somewhere they were not, such as a rubber room in a mental hospital, a hospital room twelve years in the future, or a holding cell at a slave auction. Also, he was presumably the best marksman on the team, as he would generally be the team member to do any needed pre-planned tasks with a firearm, such as shooting out a tire on a moving vehicle or firing an automatic weapon at someone's feet to get them to surrender. In the episode "Memory," he made reference to having lived in Indiana when he was ten; this is presumably where Willy grew up, as well as the birthplace of actor Peter Lupus.
It is strongly implied over the course of the series that Willy is also in part responsible for mission logistics, particularly the procurement and staging of materials, vehicles etc. in foreign countries. In addition, Willy often acted as support for Barney Collier, particularly when a mission required the use of complicated electronics or required drastic alterations in physical spaces. On many occasions it would be Willy's construction skills that would allow Collier to access the areas required to complete his own tasks.
Willy also ably filled the comparatively less glamorous role of driver for the IMF team. Experienced with a myriad of vehicles, including emergency and construction vehicles, Willy, behind the wheel of a car or panel truck, meeting the rest of the team for their extraction was often the indication of the successful completion of a mission right before the final credits rolled.
Willy Armitage, along with Barney Collier, was one of only two IMF agents that were regulars on the team for the entire seven-season run of the original Mission: Impossible TV series. Like all of the regular IMF agents, he was not used in every mission, but he was a regular character each season even though he was replaced by Sam Elliot's character in the opening credits of some Season Five episodes. Willy was the only non-smoker out of all the regular IMF team members for the first three seasons.
The Voice On Tape
The "Voice On Tape" was that of a nameless, never-seen man who gave Dan Briggs and Jim Phelps their assignments. Briggs and Phelps, as leaders of the IMF, were the only ones ever to listen to the recordings, with the exception of one first season mission, "Action!," where Cinnamon Carter listened to the recording. Other than the mention of "The Secretary," the voice never gave any hint as to the organizational structure behind the assignment or the IMF. In each episode, the recording was planted in a different place such as a doctor’s office, behind an elevator control panel, or a pigeon coop on a roof. Some "mission drops," or methods of delivery, such as an out-of-order pay phone and a photo booth, were used more than once. Briggs or Phelps sometimes had to gain access to the recordings by exchanging passwords or countersigns (generally disguised as casual conversations in such cases) with an agent protecting it, and that agent would never be in the room while the recording was played. Pictures of the "mission targets" were almost always included with the assignment. Often, the pictures were in an envelope along with the recording although they were occasionally shown on a movie screen or seen in a telescope or film viewer. The format of the instructions used in the recording varied slightly from episode to episode, but they generally contained the following phrases:
- "Good morning/afternoon/evening, Mr. Briggs/Phelps."
- "Your mission, should you decide/choose to accept it..."
- "As always, should you or any of your IM Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions."
- "This tape/recording will self-destruct/decompose in five seconds/ten seconds/immediately.” or “Please dispose of this recording/destroy this tape in the usual manner."
- "Good luck, Dan/Jim."
Bob Johnson provided the voice on tape each season and in nearly every episode of the original series, as well as every episode of the revival. The only times the voice on tape did not initiate a mission included one mission ("Memory") where Dan Briggs got his instructions on a card from a street photographer, which he then crumpled and presumably burned; off-book missions run by both Briggs and Phelps, such as "The Ransom" and "The Condemned;" one off-book mission run by Rollin Hand where Phelps was incapacitated and needed to be rescued, "The Town;" and one other, when mob figures recognize Phelps and Collier from surveillance photos taken during an IMF operation against a syndicate casino ("Casino") and kidnapped Jim to force Barney to organize a mission for them ("Kidnap"). The tape scene was also absent in episodes which began during or after a mission (such as "The Hostage"), but it can be presumed that these missions were assigned through taped messages which Phelps received offscreen. As a result, the voice on tape was that of the only consistent character through the entire Mission: Impossible television franchise. The recurrence of the voice in opening every episode, its standard delivery, and its consistent use of the same phrases introduced those phrases to the pop culture lexicon, most notably "Your mission, should you choose to accept it" and "This tape will self-destruct in five seconds." Although the phrase "This tape will self-destruct..." has become synonymous with Mission: Impossible, in several episodes the IMF leader was responsible for destroying the recordings themselves, either in a nearby incinerator or in a container of acid. In the 1996 film adaptation, the voice on the tape is that of IMF director Eugene Kittridge, played by Canadian actor Henry Czerny. In the 2000 sequel, it is Anthony Hopkins as Mission Commander Swanbeck. In the 2006 film it is Billy Crudup playing John Musgrave, IMF Operations Director.
Introduced in Season Two
James "Jim" Phelps
James "Jim" Phelps (portrayed by Peter Graves, in his Golden Globe-winning role) was the Director of the Impossible Missions Force, or IMF, in seasons Two through Seven of the initial television series, 1967-1973, taking over the position from Daniel Briggs. The 1980s revival series shows Phelps' ID in the opening credits, which state he was born 10 August 1929 in California. Episodes of the original series establish that he grew up in Norville County (state unknown), was a popular quarterback in his youth, and later served in the United States Navy. He was the son of the deceased A. Phelps, who owned a marina on a local lake. It was implied by the business name "A. Phelps and Son" that Jim Phelps was his father's only son. During the course of the series, Jim Phelps donated the marina's land to the county to be used as a local park.
While he was not as personally cold as his predecessor, Daniel Briggs, had been, Phelps ran equally risky missions and, unlike Briggs, ran missions that put non-combatants in harm's way. Notably, Phelps ran missions that included letting a mobster blow up a car on a city street in the middle of the day, the IMF team capturing and holding the significant others of targets against their will, the IMF team tainting an entire hotel's water supply to give hotel guests symptoms mimicking typhoid, and a member of the IMF committing an armed hijacking of a commercial passenger flight to give credibility to his impersonation of a well-known terrorist.
Also unlike Briggs, who did not participate in about a quarter of the missions he co-ordinated, Phelps accompanied his team on every mission and was an active team member. Although Rollin Hand is generally known as the most versatile role player on the IMF, Phelps successfully played an extremely wide variety of roles, including a timid chemist, a tough-as-nails Federal investigator, a gas company inspector, a hardware salesman, a slave trader, and a leader of the American Nazi Party. Often, his role in missions in a foreign country would be that of an American, but he did sometimes impersonate a foreigner, such as an East German policeman. Like Rollin Hand and Cinnamon Carter, Phelps was not totally immune to romantic entanglements with enemy agents and defectors. In order to maintain cover when on personal travel to foreign countries, he once used the alias "Jim Moore."
In the late 1980s revival, which lasted for two seasons from 1988 to 1990, Phelps had a successor named Tom Copperfield, who was killed off in the first episode, prompting Phelps to come out of retirement. Phelps was the leader of the IMF for the entire two-season run of the late 1980s revival series.
In the original 1996 film, Phelps (Jon Voight) is married to Claire Phelps (Emmanuelle Béart). He was replaced as team leader by Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) after he was revealed to be a traitor who murdered three fellow IMF agents and sold secrets to an arms dealer, having been driven completely insane by the disillusionment with his work. Phelps is the main antagonist of the film. Phelps ended up being killed during a final confrontation in the Channel Tunnel, when the helicopter he would have escaped in explodes and crushes him on the tracks below.
Greg Morris, who played Barney Collier in the original series, walked out of the film halfway through, citing displeasure with the turning of the Jim Phelps character and the overall production, calling it "an abomination." Peter Graves expressed dissatisfaction about how the Jim Phelps role would be depicted in the movie version after learning Phelps was to be a deranged traitor/terrorist and die at the end of the film.
Introduced in Season Four
The Great Paris
The Great Paris (whose real name was never revealed) was a retired magician played by Leonard Nimoy (who had been released from the cast of the just-canceled Desilu series Star Trek) who joined the IMF with the first mission of Season Four, and he stayed with them for two seasons. Effectively, he was a replacement for Rollin Hand, who left the IMF at the end of Season Three. Like Rollin, The Great Paris was a master of role play, languages and disguises, capable even of successfully impersonating an ethnic Japanese citizen in Japan.
Paris grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and was raised by his father after Paris was abandoned as a child by his mother. When he later served as a magician's apprentice, he was caught in a love triangle between his mentor and his mentor's assistant. This would lead to the master magician murdering Paris's love interest, and this painful memory would be used against Paris by enemy agents many years later, using a lookalike for Paris's murdered love interest.
Paris's skills as a magician were heavily leveraged when he played Zastro The Magician as part of Season Four's "The Falcon," the only three-part mission of either series; Nimoy thoroughly enjoyed shooting this mission. Paris’s role playing may not have been as over-the-top as Rollin’s was, but The Great Paris had a particular talent for a flippant or sarcastic remark at just the right time as part of his role play that would catch targets off-guard. Also, The Great Paris was particularly adept at roles where he would embed himself as one of the targets and would seemingly be working against the IMF team’s mission. Paris apparently had a high tolerance for physical pain because he got "roughed up" by antagonists several times during missions, winding up beaten and bruised, but never compromising the mission. Like some other members of the IMF, Paris was not immune to romantic entanglements with enemy agents who were targeting him, falling for snaring enemy agent Lady Cora Weston in "Lover's Knot," and becoming entangled with phony defector Ingrid Brugge in "My Friend, My Enemy."
The Hartford Repertory Company and The Globe Repertory Company
The Hartford and Globe Repertory Companies were theatrical repertory companies that were part of the IMF in Season Four. (Though the Hartford actually first appeared in Season Three's finale, "The Interrogator;" a similar group, the Horizon Repertory Players, were utilized by Dan Briggs in Season One's "Operation Rogosh.") They were used several times in missions where a larger cast of supporting characters was needed and the IMF leader needed them to role play together as a group. (Hartford was used five times and Globe was used three times.) Examples of the roles the companies played were a submarine crew, prison guards, a surgical team, and the staff of an atomic research facility. Depending on the needs, anywhere from four to twenty or so members of the company were used as part of a mission when the company was brought in.
The brochure for Hartford Repertory Company, and later the Globe Repertory Company, was a dossier available to Jim Phelps when he was selecting his team. Although the company was selected in the dossier scene when they were included in missions, they almost never participated in the pre-mission briefing and planning session in Jim Phelps’ apartment. (In the episode "Submarine" two members of the Hartford Repertory Co. are seen, but they have no dialogue.) Instead, they would make their first appearance during the mission. It was implied, but never stated, that in addition to their role playing skills, they also aided in custom construction. This was evidenced by substantial custom construction in short timeframes in missions that the company was a part of, such as the construction of the working interior of an entire submarine in a hostile country on less than two days notice.
The members of the company that were used varied from mission to mission. They were never introduced nor referred to by name. They generally only spoke as part of their role play, if at all. The majority of the time, the members of the company that were used by the IMF were all men; however, women were used on two missions as well.
It was implied that the Globe Repertory Company continued to be used in Season Five in those missions that used a large group of unnamed American agents for role playing and/or custom construction as part of the mission, such as "The Killer," "Flight," "The Catafalque" and "The Party." However, there were no dossier scenes in those episodes, so the Company's use can only be assumed. The series never addresses the logistics of maintaining IMF secrecy with such a large group of people.
Tracey (no last name was given on screen) was an IMF agent who took part in four separate missions in Season Four, one of which was a three-parter. While she was not a regular member of the IMF (i.e. shown in the opening credits), she is generally considered to be a recurring character due to fact that she took part in four missions.
Unlike some other recurring characters, she had no specific expertise beyond her role play abilities. She did use her ad-hoc seductive skills to save one mission, but she was never purposely given the role of a femme fatale, as Cinnamon Carter often was. As part of her missions, Tracey played a nurse, a magician’s assistant who was able to see the future, and twice played a compromised agent.
The actress who played Tracey, Lee Meriwether, had previously been a guest star on Mission: Impossible as Anna Rojak, the kidnapped wife of an Allied scientist in the two-part Season Three mission "The Bunker."
Introduced in Season Five
Dana Lambert (Lesley Ann Warren, credited as "Lesley Warren") was the regular female member of the IMF in Season Five and she was featured in the opening credits. She was the first regularly credited female member of the IMF following Cinnamon Carter’s departure at the end of Season Three.
Dana’s advantage was the ability to play off her youth. With subtle gestures as simple as biting her lower lip, she could portray herself as extremely vulnerable. She was able to relate to and draw in much younger targets than other members of the IMF, for instance in "Blast," and she was also able to draw in men a generation, and even two generations, older, for instance in the episode "Homecoming," set in Phelps' hometown where she becomes the new barmaid at a local tavern. In spite of her youth, she was shown to be a capable agent, capable of detecting attempted deceptions by enemy agents as well as helping other more experienced agents with their tasks. She was willing to compromise her personal safety for the sake of the mission, and was able to maintain her composure even when captured. Although very young, she was able to portray a number of roles, including an international jet-setter, a bag woman, a college activist, a nurse and an up-and-coming singer in a band.
Dana had one notable shortcoming which nearly led to her death on two occasions, and that was a lack of hand-to-hand combat skills. Her inability to disable a single adversary in close quarters led to her needing to be rescued at the last second by the IMF on at least two occasions. Also, she did occasionally display an over-zealousness to move forward in defiance of protocols, necessitating the more experienced agents reining her in. She occasionally displayed over-compassionate feelings about team members when they were in jeopardy, and not putting the mission first, as was the rule in IMF protocol.
Dr. Douglas Robert (Lang)
Dr. Douglas Robert (Sam Elliott) was a semi-regular of the IMF starting with the third mission of Season Five, "The Innocent." He used the last name "Lang" multiple times as an alias with different first names. Doug’s expertise, in addition to role play, was his medical skills and knowledge. In his first mission with the team, he saved Barney Collier’s life--which would have been lost, due to accidental poisoning from a biological weapon, had there not been a medical expert on the team. He was also skilled in delivering knockout blows from behind, saving missions on a number of occasions. In his professional capacity as a doctor, he appeared to be widely skilled in a number of areas of anatomy and techniques, for instance possessing knowledge on mimicking drugs and later knowledge in plastic surgery and hormones in the Season Six episode "Encore."
In White's book, it was noted that the character of Doug Robert was brought in to phase out Willy Armitage's character, but fan reaction led producers to bring Willy back. Doug appeared in slightly over half of the Season Five missions instead of Willy Armitage. Throughout most of Season Five, each episode had either Doug or Willy, but never both, with the exception of Doug's first mission ("The Innocent") and Doug's last two missions ("The Party" and "Encore"), which featured both of them. Doug Robert's final appearance in "Encore" was his only episode in Season Six.
Although his role lasted such a short time, Doug did possess one distinction over all the other characters in the series, in being the only one ever to win an argument with Jim Phelps. In the episode "The Rebel," Jim had sustained a severe bullet wound in one arm, and Doug refused to let it go untreated, despite Jim's insistence that other things took precedence. In the end, Jim sat down and let Doug work, receiving only a glare in return when he urged the physician to hurry it up.
Introduced in Season Six
Casey was the regular female member of the IMF in Seasons Six and Seven. She was a replacement for Dana Lambert who was only in Season Five. In addition to her role playing capabilities, she had a particular talent for cosmetology, partially filling the gap left in that area by the departure of The Great Paris at the end of Season Five. She was also, like Paris, an expert in voice imitation, and would often impersonate girlfriends or associates of gang members in the later seasons. Her character was intended by the producers as an amalgamation of the 'Master of Disguise' and 'Femme Fatale' characters so that the team would be cut down and not so sprawling. When a mimicry of a male's voice was needed in Seasons Six or Seven, either Barney Collier would do it or a male agent with voice mimicry skills or a professional voice actor would be brought in for a single mission. Casey demonstrated basic hand-to-hand combat and defense skills when dealing with women, but was not able to defend herself successfully against male villains.
Casey would be on a long-term deep cover assignment in Eastern Europe in the early part of Season Seven, leaving a slot open for a short-term recurring role for Mimi Davis, as well as two other one-time leading female agents (played by Elizabeth Ashley and Marlyn Mason; one other Casey-less episode here featured Barbara McNair as a female IMF target). Casey would return full-time later in the season. While she was out, she was referred to regularly and tools used within a mission were sometimes attributed to her. Also, in some episodes, it was noted that there was a European portion of the mission being handled by Casey. In reality, the actress playing Casey, Lynda Day George, was on maternity leave. In four Season Seven episodes where she did appear that were filmed immediately before she went on maternity leave, the actress has a greatly reduced role in each, with her body generally hidden.
The character of "Casey" was not given any other name on screen until George's guest appearance in an April 1989 episode of the revival series (#17, "Reprisal"), when Casey was indicated to be her surname and Phelps addressed her as Lisa, making her full name Lisa Casey. This was done so that she would not be confused with the character of Casey Randall (Terry Markwell) in the later series.
Introduced in Season Seven
Mimi Davis’ first assignment with the IMF was the first broadcast mission of Season Seven. She was a prison parolee and recovering alcoholic that was brought in to gain the confidence of an ex-boyfriend who was a target of that mission. As a result of that successful mission, she was released from parole and offered a recurring role with the IMF to fill in for Casey, who was on a long-term assignment in Europe. (In reality, Lynda Day George, the actress who played Casey, was on maternity leave.)
Mimi would go on to take part in a total of seven missions for the IMF until Casey’s full-time return later in Season Seven. Mimi’s role playing abilities as an unsavory character, possibly as a result of her criminal past, were particularly leveraged in several of her missions, although she played roles as innocents in other missions as well. In addition to role playing abilities, she demonstrated basic cosmetology skills used for mimicking facial injuries. During one mission, Mimi would also persist in spite of a serious gunshot wound to successfully complete the mission.
Significantly, Barbara Anderson, the actress who played Mimi Davis in the seventh season, never gained such name-in-the-title-sequence prominence as her castmates enjoyed.
Ethan Hunt (played by Tom Cruise) is the protagonist of the film series, to the point of the films not actually being ensemble presentations.
In the first film, Mission: Impossible, Ethan Hunt was a pupil of Jim Phelps who worked with him and his team on various missions. When a mission in Prague to apprehend an IMF traitor named Alexander Golitsyn goes horribly wrong, it results in the deaths of Jim, his wife Claire, and teammates Hannah Williams, Jack Harmon and Sarah Davies. However Ethan is able to survive, but upon meeting with Director Eugene Kittridge he is told that the whole mission was a mole hunt and everything he had been led to believe about the mission was false information. Ethan is then accused of being the traitor and goes on the run and is labeled Disavowed. Using information from Kittridge he goes on the hunt for an arms dealer code named "Max" who will lead him to the real mole who Ethan discovers is called "Job". Ethan also discovers that Claire had survived the betrayal as well and ground him at the same house. Ethan was able to deal with Max to get enough money to hire two Disavowed agents Luther Stickwell and Franz Krieger to find the Noc list (a list of all the deep undercover agents). Upon finding it, he discovers that the mole Job is actually Jim Phelps who turns up alive the next day trying to pass off Kittridge as the mole. The next day on a train, Ethan reveals that he knew about Jim because of his bible from Drake Hotel. Jim shoots and kills Claire but Ethan is able to dodge his bullet and goes after Jim. The fight takes them on top of the train with Krieger piloting a helicopter attached to the train. Eventually, Ethan plants a bomb disguised a chewing gum to the helicopter killing both Jim and Krieger and taking him off the disavowed list.
In the second film, Mission: Impossible II, Hunt is given the task of retrieving a deadly genetically engineered virus, known as "Chimera", from a rogue IMF agent, Sean Ambrose. Hunt attempts to infiltrate Ambrose's inner circle through Ambrose's former girlfriend, Nyah Nordoff-Hall, an accomplished thief. During their mission, Hunt and Nordoff-Hall engage in an affair that complicates the mission. At the climax, Nordoff-Hall is forced to infect herself with the last virus in order to save Hunt; with Hunt having destroyed the only other traces of the virus, she was thus able to shield Hunt until he could escape. Subsequently racing against time – the virus is incurable twenty hours after infection — Hunt manages to acquire the cure and kill Ambrose.
In the third film, Mission: Impossible III, Hunt is a semi-retired training officer for IMF and plans a quiet life with his fiancée Julia Mead, (Michelle Monaghan), who doesn't know about the IMF. He is called back into service to rescue a former student captured during a mission in Germany, and recovers confidential information via stolen laptop. He is forced to once again go rogue in an attempt to track down the sadistic arms dealer, Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and secure a dangerous mystery item known as the 'Rabbit's Foot'. After an impromptu ceremony, Hunt and Julia are married, only for Owen, who has a double agent working within IMF, to kidnap Julia. With the help of his IMF team, Hunt finds the Rabbit's foot, saves his wife, and kills Owen Davian in Shanghai.
In the fourth film, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Hunt (having just escaped from prison) and his IMF team are blamed for an attack that destroys the Kremlin, resulting in the entire IMF division being disavowed. Despite lacking their usual resources, connections, technology, and backup, their mission is to find and stop a madman intent on nuclear war, having been 'ordered' by the Secretary of Defense to escape custody, retreat to a 'forgotten' safehouse, and track down the people truly responsible for the attack. An added twist in this film is the struggle within the team as individual members fight their own demons while trying to trust the others. Hunt manages to pull the team together, stop a nuclear bomb and clear the IMF of any involvement in the Kremlin attack. It is also revealed that Hunt had Julia's death faked to protect her, something only he and the Secretary of IMF knew about.
Luther Stickell is a fictional supporting character in the Mission: Impossible film series who first appeared in Mission: Impossible in 1996 and is the only character besides Ethan Hunt to appear in all five films.
In the films, Luther is an expert computer hacker who works for the IMF division of the CIA alongside Ethan Hunt. He has been portrayed in all four movies by Ving Rhames and in the 2003 video game Mission: Impossible - Operation Surma.
- Lance, Steven, Written Out Of Television, Madison Books, 1996, pp. 282-284.
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