|Prison Break character|
|First appearance||"Pilot" (2005)|
|Last appearance||"Behind The Eyes" (2017)|
|Created by||Paul Scheuring|
|Portrayed by||Wentworth Miller|
Dylan Minnette (young)
|Voiced by||Wentworth Miller (video game)|
|Family||Aldo Burrows (father)|
Christina Rose Scofield (mother)
Lincoln Burrows (adoptive brother)
Lincoln "L. J." Burrows Jr. (nephew)
Michael "Mike" Scofield Jr. (son via Sara)
Nika Volek (unconsummated)
Michael Scofield, portrayed by Wentworth Miller, is a fictional character and one of the two main protagonists of the American television series Prison Break. The character first appeared in the series pilot, in which he deliberately sends himself to prison so as to break his elder brother, Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell), out before his execution for a crime he did not commit. The storyline of the first season revolves around the two brothers and Michael's plan to help Lincoln escape his death sentence. Later seasons detail their life on the run and their quest for the truth behind Lincoln's imprisonment. As the principal character, Michael has been featured in every episode of the series. Although both Lincoln and Michael are the main protagonists of the series, Michael has been featured more extensively than Lincoln, especially in the first season and the third.
Various flashbacks from subsequent episodes provide further insight into the relationship between Michael and his brother, and the reasons behind Michael's determination in helping Lincoln to escape his death sentence. In the episode flashbacks, the younger Michael is played by Dylan Minnette.
It is later revealed that Michael has low latent inhibition, a perceptually differing condition in which one sees the world as pieces, rather than mere objects.
The opening scene of the series shows Michael's final preparation of his plan to infiltrate Fox River State Penitentiary; a tattooist is applying the finishing touches to Michael's tattoo, which is prominently featured in the first season. In order to get into Fox River, Michael robs a bank at gun point and pleads no contest at his trial, and requests that he be sent to the prison nearest to his home. Michael begins his sentence on April 11, exactly a month before Lincoln is set to be executed. Once there, he scrutinizes every detail regarding the prison and its inhabitants.
Given Scofield's educational background, inmates and correctional officers wonder why he would have thrown such a privileged life away to end up in a state penitentiary. Even more intriguing are his weird "habits"; he is often seen conversing discreetly with his brother during Prison Industry time and Chapel time; and the fact that he tends to execute a highly defined stare around Fox River's boundaries immediately from the point he got incarcerated as well as being called personally on command by the prison's warden himself, Henry Pope.
The season follows Michael as he puts his plan into action while overcoming various obstacles. In the first 13 episodes, Michael is seen to have a specific objective in each episode that he must accomplish in order to build an escape route out of the prison. On the way, he recruits a number of people to aid in the escape: his cellmate Fernando Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) to help him dig, mob boss John Abruzzi (Peter Stormare) to get him on PI (Prison Industries) and provide air transport once they escape, and Charles Westmoreland (Muse Watson), who he believes to be D. B. Cooper and can help finance their lives as fugitives.
Michael feigns type 1 diabetes, giving him daily access to the infirmary (the escapees' exit point from the prison) and allowing him to build a relationship with Dr. Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies), who happens to be the daughter of Frank Tancredi (John Heard), the Governor of Illinois. After agreeing to help Warden Henry Pope (Stacy Keach) finish his Taj Mahal replica in his office, Michael also forms a friendship with Pope. He also later stages "brief insanity" to gain access to the penitentiary's premises to gain contact with one of its insane inhabitants gifted with photographic memory, in order to re-acquire the portion of the tattooed blueprint that he lost after coming into contact with a steaming hot piece of metal.
Michael's relationship with Sara is featured prominently in the nineteenth episode, "The Key", where he fails to steal the key to the infirmary from her. Although she finds out about his motive for being in the infirmary in the following episode, Sara decides to help Michael by leaving the infirmary door unlocked on the night of the escape. Towards the end of the season, Michael finally succeeds in helping his brother escape from Fox River State Penitentiary through the window of the infirmary, but also aids the escape of six other prisoners.
In the second season of the series, the story continues to follow Michael, his brother and other escapees as they try to evade the authorities pursuing them. Away from the prison setting, Michael and Lincoln are frequently featured in scenes together in the first seven episodes. Michael and Lincoln travel together, after the fugitives separate to accomplish each of their individual goals. When they fail to retrieve L. J. Burrows before his trial, they decide to head to Utah to find Westmoreland's hidden money. There, they reunite with four of the other escapees: Sucre, C-Note (Rockmond Dunbar), T-Bag (Robert Knepper) and Tweener (Lane Garrison).
The seventh episode of the season, "Buried" marks the first time Lincoln and Michael separate, when Lincoln decides to go after his son, L. J., who has been released from prison. Michael fails to retrieve the money after being fooled by T-Bag. Nevertheless, Michael continues to execute his plan in order to meet the coyote at the 'Bolshoi Booze' location. Prior to leaving for 'Bolshoi Booze', Michael meets Sara at the location which he encoded in his messages to her inside the origami cranes. Thinking that she had declined his invitation to Panama, Michael goes to meet the coyote, who has the location of an escape plane to Mexico. There, Michael is reunited with Lincoln, Sucre and the brothers' father, Aldo Burrows (Anthony Denison).
When Aldo is killed by Agent Alexander Mahone (William Fichtner), Michael and Lincoln decide to confront "The Company" and the conspiracy, and bid farewell to Sucre, who alights the getaway plane to Mexico. After a brief capture by Mahone, Michael and Lincoln are aided in their escape by Paul Kellerman (Paul Adelstein), who turns against The Company in an act of self-preservation. Kellerman takes them to Terrence Steadman, the man Lincoln is accused of murdering. Steadman's suicide forces Michael, Lincoln and Kellerman to find Sara since she holds the key to unlocking information that can expose the conspiracy. After Sara joins them, Michael, Lincoln and Kellerman head to Chicago, where Sara's father has hidden the information. On the way, Sara tells Michael that she has fallen in love with him and later in the same episode Michael reveals that he feels the same.
With the help of former Fox River warden Henry Pope, Michael and Sara succeed in getting the USB drive in Frank Tancredi's private locker. After leaving Kellerman behind, Lincoln, Michael and Sara soon find that the recorded conversation on the USB flash drive could not be used as evidence due to its modified time-stamp, and decide to blackmail Reynolds instead. When this also fails, Michael and Lincoln are forced to escape to Panama; they are also forced to leave Sara behind after she is arrested. Upon discovering that T-Bag is in Panama City, Michael decides to capture him, which he successfully does. When Michael returns his boat with Westmoreland's money to find Lincoln missing, he receives a call from Mahone, who demands the boat and the money in exchange for Lincoln's life. Michael outsmarts Mahone and escapes with Lincoln. At his new boat, Michael and Lincoln are reunited with Sara, who tells them that Lincoln has been exonerated after Kellerman's testimony.
Their happiness is short-lived when Agent Kim (Reggie Lee) arrives and threatens to kill Lincoln and take Michael to Sona, which causes Sara to shoot him. As the three flee from the scene with the police pursuing them, Michael and Sara separate from Lincoln and end up surrounded in a small isolated shack. After expressing their love for each other, they leave the shack. Unbeknownst to Sara, Michael confesses to Kim's killing and is arrested in her place. Michael is imprisoned at the Penitenciaría Federal de Sona (Sona Federal Penitentiary). Michael is the fifth member of the Fox River Eight to be arrested by the authorities, and the second not to die upon interception.
In the season premiere, Michael witnesses a brutal duel between inmates, the usual manner of settling disputes at Sona. He unintentionally makes an enemy of a convicted influential drug lord in the penitentiary, Lechero. Lincoln informs Michael that The Company needs him to break somebody out of Sona (James Whistler), and that they have taken Sara and LJ hostage to ensure his cooperation. He began to look for Whistler, only to find that he has a bounty on his head: whoever kills him can receive exoneration from the mayor of Panama City. As a result, Whistler had gone into hiding in the sewers. Eventually, he found him and successfully persuades Lechero to remove the bounty on his head.
With seven days to bust Whistler out of prison, Michael tried to take matters into his own hands and uses it to contact Sara and receive a coded message about her location. He relays this information to Linc, who unsuccessfully attempts to rescue Sara and LJ; Sara is apparently killed as a result. Michael then purposely shorts out the power, causing Lechero to call on Michael to fix it. Michael restores power to the prison and also manages to restore power to a previously broken electric fence. It is revealed that Michael fixed the fence so that the electricity will superheat a chemical that Sucre (who was hired as the new grave digger) sprays on it, as the heated chemical is able to melt steel.
Michael spies on the Sona tower guards but is seen by the second one, due to the lens glare. He observed that at 3:13 p.m., there would be a glare which causes one of the guards to look over to the other side. After a small raid takes place, the prisoners are rounded up in the yard. Captain Hurtado questions Michael to the point that he unholsters his pistol and puts it to Michael's head. Whistler manages to intervene on Michael's behalf. With the help of Mahone, Michael concluded that by drugging one of the guard's coffee, they could distract that guard. As the escape plan continues Michael finally learns of Sara's death, which has a devastating impact on him. In a moment of weakness he seems to challenge Whistler to a duel death but this reveals to be only a diversion for the escape. This escape ultimately fails.
When The Company decided to rescue Whistler themselves, Michael foils their plans but he was suspected of such an operation. At the end of the episode he is being escorted out of Sona and is kept in solitary, being interrogated. He evenly relented and told them about Whistler, who then revealed that Gretchen Morgan is in charge of the operation. Later Michael finds out the officers that were with Gretchen have been killed. Michael and Whistler are returned to Sona. It was then when they turned to a new escape plan, with the help of Lechero, and that is through a tunnel.
Later in the tunnels with Mahone, Whistler and Lechero, he says they need braces to hold up the escape tunnel. Then, when part of the tunnel is about to fall, Michael puts a little piece of metal in to hold it up. Their escape plan was jeopardized with Sammy taking over Sona prison and investigating their escape, but Sammy was killed after the tunnel fell upon him. It is then revealed that Michael killed Sammy by taking out that little metal piece. McGrady joined the team in the escape. Later Michael, Whistler, Mahone, and McGrady escape from Sona, with Lechero, T-Bag and Bellick caught during the escape.
Michael successfully tricks Gretchen into giving LJ and Sofia back safely. When a shootout begins out a museum in Panama, Michael grabs the gun from Linc's car and has Gretchen in his sights, but she escapes when police start to shoot at her. Later on outside the hospital, LJ gave him the same origami rose that Michael had given to Sara on her birthday. Fueled by revenge, he bids farewell to his family as he goes on a solo mission to hunt down Gretchen.
In the season premiere, Michael has tracked down Gretchen and Whistler to Los Angeles as he prepares to avenge Sara's death. When Michael has both Gretchen and Whistler at gunpoint, Gretchen reveals to him that she had lied about killing Sara Tancredi. Unsure whether or not to believe her, Michael contacts Lincoln and then Bruce. When both Michael and Lincoln get arrested, Don Self tells them that they can either bring down The Company and get Scylla (A key card that stores every bit of information about The Company – essentially their "little black book") or go to jail. They refuse and are bailed out by Bruce. Bruce takes them to Sara where Michael and she joyfully reunite. A hired assassin named Wyatt eventually hunts them down and tries to assassinate them at Sara's safe house. It is then that Michael and everyone decide to take Self's offer. They are joined by Mahone, Sucre, and Bellick in their mission. To blend in with the crowds, Michael gets his tattoos removed via laser surgery. Throughout further episodes, Michael is seen to be experiencing health problems, getting nosebleeds and suddenly clutching his head in pain. He hides these from Lincoln and Sara, but in the episode "Safe and Sound" Michael experiences a bloody nose that he could not hide from Lincoln. Michael tells his brother "It's not a big deal." and Lincoln replies "It was a big deal when you were thirteen..." It appears that Michael shared the condition with his mother; she during her childhood had frequent nosebleeds that stopped but resumed shortly before she died at the age of 31 of a brain aneurysm. This death was a discrepancy that was never directly explained when she turned out to be alive later in the season, however based on a statement by the General regarding prior results of a surgery, and later information revealed about Michael's mother, the explanation of the discrepancy is subtly implied. Michael is experiencing nosebleeds for the first time since 13 and is about to turn 31. In the episode "The Legend", Michael is no longer able to hide his sickness as he collapses in the warehouse. Sara takes Michael to the hospital where the doctors diagnoses him with a hypothalamic hamartoma, advising that emergency surgery is required or he might die.
Unwilling to go into surgery until they get Scylla, Michael receives temporary treatment from Sara and goes onwards with their plans to break into The Company. Although the group eventually succeeds in getting Scylla, Self betrays them and takes it for himself to try to sell it. Michael, however, had taken a small piece of Scylla and Self needs that piece to make Scylla complete. Self goes back to find Michael and shoots the warehouse and a gas tanker to try to force them out. Fortunately, Lincoln was not in the warehouse at the time, and upon discovering Self's car outside, he finds Self at the top of a building and knocks him unconscious. They bring Self in and are about to get Scylla when Gretchen holds the group at gunpoint, allowing Self and herself to escape. Everyone except Mahone head to the hotel Self and Gretchen are staying at. Michael tampers with the ladder outside so that when Self tries to escape, it comes loose and Self falls to the ground. Michael takes this opportunity to grab Scylla from an unconscious Self, but as he is running away his nose starts to bleed profusely. He begins losing his balance and blacks out, falling to the ground. Self then catches up and takes back Scylla. As he is preparing to shoot Michael, Company agents appear and start shooting at Self. Self jumps into Gretchen's van and they escape. The Company agents lift an unconscious Michael into their van and drive away, with Lincoln running after them.
Michael is then shown in a hospital bed, connected to many machines. A hand rests on his, and it is revealed that this is General Krantz. Lincoln visits The Company's headquarters and asks General Krantz to allow him to see his brother. The General leads Lincoln to Michael, assuring him that Michael is under the best medical care and that The Company's technology is years ahead of those currently provided to the general public. He also tells Lincoln that the only way they will operate and save Michael is if Lincoln brings Scylla back. In addition, General Krantz gives Lincoln a folder labeled "TOMBSTONE II", telling him that it is "added incentive." With Mahone arrested by Agent Lang and Agent Wheeler, it is now up to Lincoln, Sucre, and Sara to retrieve Scylla from Don Self and Gretchen and to save Michael.
With Sara by his side, Michael wakes up disoriented and weak. He asks her which hospital he is in, but Sara merely assures him he does not need to worry about it and that there are good doctors here to treat him. While Lincoln and Sucre go after Scylla, Sara stays with Michael and watches over him while he undergoes surgery. The procedure that The Company doctors use on Michael is nothing like anything Sara has seen before. General Krantz tells her that while the procedure is experimental, it has been used once before on a patient who ended up living a long and happy life. Because of the surgery, all of Michael's senses become active at the same time, causing him to have his life flash before his eyes. He suddenly sees himself back in his old cell at Fox River, with Charles Westmoreland greeting him. While conversing with Westmoreland and trying to figure out the truth behind Scylla in his subconscious, the Michael in surgery is dying and begins to flatline. The Company doctor injects an unknown serum into Michael as Sara panics and rushes to Michael's side, telling him not to give up. After finally realizing what Scylla really is and hearing Sara's voice, Michael wakes up.
Later on, Michael tells Sara that he had a dream about Scylla, and he explains that Scylla is not actually The Company's little black book, but knowledge regarding a chemical combination that can produce energy equivalent to that of the sun's. Lincoln visits Michael shortly after, who is shocked to find out that Lincoln is willing to work with The Company to retrieve Scylla. He attempts to convince Lincoln to stop what he is doing and that The Company cannot be trusted, but Lincoln gives Michael the "TOMBSTONE II" folder and reveals to him that their mother used to work for The Company before she died, and that he is just "following the family business." A preview after the season 4 finale shows Lincoln on the phone with Michael and says he will stop at nothing to get Scylla. Michael replies saying he will stop at nothing to stop Lincoln from succeeding.
Michael and Sara are seen exiting a pizza restaurant when a Company assassin tries to kill them. They escape. They then bribe a truck driver to let them hitchhike with him, fearing police. He calls Lincoln and tells him he will stop him from getting Scylla and reveals that their mother is alive. The truck is eventually pulled over and searched for Michael and Sara, by an unidentified man. He pretends he does not see anything and he murders the truck driver, placing a phone call stating that he has them. Michael and Sara try to call Lincoln, but they lose the signal and the back lifter is stuck so they smash a vending machine to open the side door and they escape with the guy chasing after them. Michael kills him and takes a note from him asking who sent him. The guy's last words were, "Not Krantz." He then dies.
Michael and Sara stay at one of Sara's old friend, Deb's vacation apartment, with whom she went to med school. Michael and Sara check the note they took from their abductor. It reads: I10R4AZMS=I-10 near route 4 in Arizona Michael Scofield. The back side reads B2348ROCKWELL1630VS, which they do not understand. Michael texts Lincoln to meet up with him, but instead Mahone comes. Mahone asks if Michael can explain his plan against The Company and Michael refuses to, since Mahone is working with The Company. Michael learns that Christina ordered their abductor to bring them to her, but not kill them. This provides greater incentive to Michael to want to take down The Company. They head to Rockwell Avenue, where they find a car, gun, money,a cellphone and directions to a location they need to go. They head to an airport and check through a flight log list for the initials VS; they discover the name Vincent Sandinsky. They abduct Sandinsky and a car chase ensues. They are captured and Christina orders Michael and Sara to be killed; before they can be executed, The Company agents are killed by Lincoln, Mahone, and Self. Lincoln advises Michael to leave, but he refuses. Lincoln takes Sandinsky with him as a hostage. Michael and Sara, however, took Sandinsky's cellphone which reveals he and Christina used to be lovers. Also in this episode (Vs.) it is revealed Sara is pregnant with Michael's child.
In the next episode, "S.O.B.", Michael calls Lincoln and informs him that Sandinsky knows everything. Lincoln advises him to leave Miami, but Michael still refuses. Michael calls Christina and wants to meet with her to make an arrangement if he gets Scylla. She agrees, and, along with her men, heads to the warehouse where Michael and Sara are. They search the warehouse and Michael puts baggies filled with chemicals inside Christina's SUV and puts the air conditioning on, setting it to full. When Christina and her men return to the car, she starts it and when the heat hits the bags, the chemicals evaporate, suffocating the occupants. Michael and Sara take this opportunity to abduct Christina and tie her up and put her in the trunk. When she regains consciousness, and she reveals to Michael that Lincoln is not his brother. His real parents, who were Company agents, were killed. Aldo adopted Lincoln when he was three. She never loved Lincoln like she loved Michael. Michael says Lincoln was a brother more than she was a mother: She left, he stayed, he fed him, kept him off the streets and kept him in school. According to the writer of the episode, Karyn Usher, on the episode audio commentary, what she told Michael was in fact a lie. Christina does not want Michael to keep saving Lincoln. Michael demands to know where Lincoln is, and she does not answer until Michael attempts to torture her. She reveals the location at an Energy Conference. Michael leaves, leaving Sara to watch Christina. Michael meets Lincoln at the Energy Conference where the Indian Prime Minister's son, Naveen Banerjee, is assassinated by Christina's men. Lincoln and Michael reunite, whereby Michael reveals to Lincoln that Christina set them up. The police then pursue them.
In the episode "Killing Your Number", Michael is forced to save Lincoln from the clutches of his mother, or save Sara from the clutches of The Company. Michael is forced to try to kill his mother, but, when the gun is out of ammunition, Sara kills Christina, saving Michael. He manages to save both and hands Scylla to Paul Kellerman. After this Michael, Lincoln, Sara, Mahone, and Sucre are exonerated. After Sara and Michael have a thoughtful walk on the beach about the new baby coming, we see four years have passed and Sara and her child are in Panama. After her son, Michael, receives a temporary tattoo, she tell him that they are going to see his father. Sara, her child, Lincoln, Sucre, and Mahone meet at a beach, and walk up to a grave labeled "Michael J. Scofield" and Sara places flowers (lilies) on Michael's gravestone.
The Final Break
The movie starts with Michael and Sara getting married. They have a celebration at a restaurant by the beach, which is interrupted by a squadron of FBI agents who pull up to the area. They arrest Sara for the murder of Christina Hamilton (Christina Scofield). The only footage they had of the scene was where you could only see Sara shooting Christina, but not Christina's gun. Sara ends up in prison right across from the General and T-Bag. Michael is not allowed to see Sara as the FBI suspect he is planning an escape. As Michael, Lincoln, Sucre, and Mahone plan the escape, Mahone admits that he was approached to be an under cover for the FBI to get his job back.
In prison Sara is almost assassinated with rat-poison as General Krantz put a bounty of $100,000 on Sara. A man in the male prison tells T-Bag that his girl can do it for $40,000, however when her and Sara duel Gretchen comes in and kills Sara's attacker. When Gretchen figures out Sara is escaping, Gretchen tells Sara that she wants to come, and uses her saving of Sara as proof she can be trusted. In a secret code, Michael tells Sara to meet him at the chapel for the escape.
Mahone tells the FBI that Michael decided to parachute into the prison. As a dummy drops in by parachute Michael sneaks under the FBI agent's car who is in charge of preventing the escape. Sara and Gretchen try to get to the Chapel by starting a riot. In the midst of the riot Gretchen gets shanked by another prisoner. Sara and Gretchen quietly sneak to the chapel, however Gretchen gets caught without revealing Sara's location. Sara continues and meets up with Michael. They eventually get to the exit point, but when Michael's key card doesn't work as expected, he tells Sara to carry on without him. Michael grabs the generator wires and puts two together to knock out the power. The door opens, but Sara sees an explosion as she leaves. Sara is unable to speak and Mahone informs everyone he is gone and they need to leave. Upon leaving, Mahone shows Sara and Lincoln Michael's medical records that he did not have much longer to live, and gave them a DVD on which Michael expresses his love to them both as well as his unborn child.
Seven years after his apparent death, Michael resurfaces in Yemen, held in Ogygia Prison. A photo of Michael is sent to Fox River Penitentiary, given to the recently released Theodore Bagwell. Taking the photo, Lincoln travels to Yemen, alongside old friend C-Note. Michael is shown to be under a new alias, Kaniel Outis, does not acknowledge Lincoln or C-Note, claiming not to know them. During Michael's stay in Ogygia, it is gradually revealed that Michael, along with a fellow prisoner named Whip, are undercover CIA operatives, but were betrayed by a mastermind agent known as Poseidon. They manage to escape the prison, along with cellmates Sid and Ja, and ISIL leader Abu Ramal, who Michael was supposed to break out. The ISIL capture the group after Ramal betrays them, but they are rescued by Lincoln, while Whip kills Ramal, leading the ISIL to declare war on the group.
After Lincoln demands to know how Michael is alive and in Yemen, Michael reveals that a few weeks before his wedding with Sara, he was contacted by Poseidon, who revealed that Kellerman did not have the legal authority to exonerate Michael's team, and offered legitimate exonerations if Michael agreed to cut contact with everyone and work for him. Michael's initial refusal led to Sara's arrest, after which Michael conceded. Michael decides to use the train station to escape the country, while Lincoln insists in going to the airport, where C-Note is waiting for them along a group of refugees. They are attacked by ISIL member Cyclops, resulting in Sid's death. The group then goes to the airport, but C-Note's party takes off before they arrive, forcing them to find another way to escape Yemen.
The group confronts an untrustworthy contact named Omar, and after an attempted betrayal by him, forces him to take them to Phaecia, a human settlement in the desert capable of sending the group aboard. They are attacked by ISIL, who kill Omar. They are again pursued by Cyclops, and Michael lures him into the desert while the rest of the group head to Phaecia. Michael blinds Cyclops' remaining eye, but he is able to wound Michael with a poisoned blade. Ja helps the others find Phaecia, where they use fireworks to lead Michael to them, who falls unconscious after arriving. Ja decides to stay in Phaecia while the others leave on a boat to Crete, Greece. Lincoln calls Sara and informs her of Michael's condition, and Sara goes to Crete by plane, where she reunites with Michael and heals him. Upon seeing pictures of their son Mike, and Sara's husband Jacob, Michael reveals that Jacob is Poseidon. Sara returns to the U.S. to secure Mike. Michael reunites with his old friend Sucre on board the commercial ship upon which he is working. The captain of the ship learns about Kaniel Outis and alerts the authorities. Navy SEALs are dispatched to kill Michael. Sucre formulates a plan to force the SEALs away, which causes a frustrated Jacob to have a missile fired at the ship, which explodes just after the group jumps overboard. Michael then attempts to help Lincoln with his debt with Luca Abbrutzi, John's son and are successful to return to New York to stop Poseidon once and for all. With help from Sheba, they outsmart Poseidon and get him arrested. Later, the CIA clear Michael's name and officially change his name back from Kaniel Outis to Michael Scofield.
Concept and creation
The character was conceived after Paul Scheuring, Prison Break's creator, developed an idea by another producer, about a man who deliberately imprisons himself to break somebody out. From the initial proposal, Scheuring then justified the character and story by making him a structural engineer who worked at the architecture firm that had access to the prison's blueprints. The name was originally used in Roald Dahl's collection of short stories, Someone like you, as Michael Scofield.
Michael J Scofield is portrayed by Wentworth Miller. For most of the first season of the show, Miller utilized a limited range of facial expressions which generated both positive and negative criticisms. It was for this performance in the first season that Miller was nominated for a Golden Globe. The Washington Post criticized Miller's performance as being "the most oppressive" and how "the actor apparently thinks it looks cool for him always to be scanning the surroundings..." Entertainment Weekly recognized the numerous scenes the actor was present in by saying that "it's Miller's show" and on his performance, they stated that his "Michael Scofield has the silky voice of a sociopath, the resigned stance of a long-distance runner, and the deadpan delivery of Macaulay Culkin at his Uncle Buck best." On the other hand, The New York Times commented that although Miller does not show a wide range of emotion, "he projects an unflappable determination that confounds his fellow prisoners..." Regarding his character, Miller says, "First season, I think part of my challenge was to create, hopefully, a compelling character. But at the same time, there were so many things I could never show, because standing next to Abruzzi or T-Bag or Bellick, I could not afford to be vulnerable. I could not afford to crack a smile."
In the show's second season, the character of Michael Scofield shows a wider range of emotions as Miller explains, "He's going to have some lighter, more colorful shades... now that he's off with his brother, around whom I think Michael is willing to show a side of himself that he's not with others, there's a lot more that I can explore."
The tattoo, which covers the entire upper body of Michael Scofield, is featured extensively in the first season of the show and to a lesser extent in the second season. It contributes a major part to the plot of the series, containing various details of the protagonist's plan to escape from prison and from the country. Incorporated within the tattoo are the blueprints of the prison in which the protagonists are incarcerated during the first season.
Wentworth Miller, who plays Michael Scofield, has commented that questions about the tattoo are amongst the most frequently asked questions when he is interviewed about the show. In the first episode of season four, Michael refused to take any painkillers during a night-long session in which the tattoos were removed by laser.
Designed by Tom Berg and created by Tinsley Transfers, the tattoo took around five hours to be applied onto Miller. When the entire tattoo does not need to be shown, for example, in scenes where the actor is wearing a T-shirt, only the forearm pieces of the tattoo are applied.
In the series pilot, Michael's jail entrance form held by Bellick shows that the character was born on September 8, 1978 in Toledo, Ohio (and the date in the Prison Break: The Conspiracy game states July 2, 1972). The birthdate is inconsistent with the characters' dialogue in later episodes. In "By the Skin and the Teeth", Michael remarks to Lincoln that their fathers left them thirty years ago. Since the series is set in the year 2005, the birth date shown on the prop cannot be considered as canon. Thus Michael is 27 years old since last episode in Season 3, "Vamonos", took place on June 24, 2005. This is according to the expired one week ultimatum given by The Company to Michael for breaking out James Whistler. His age is stated by Lincoln for the first time in "Five the Hard Way" as 31, meaning all the facts above cannot be canon. It is also stated Michael is born in 1976 in the episode "The Mother Lode", but in "Killing Your Number" it is retconned to October 8, 1974.
Before imprisonment into Fox River State Penitentiary Michael lived at 440 West Ardmore Avenue, Apartment 11, Chicago, Illinois 60660.
Scofield is "always scanning the surroundings", and "has the silky voice of a sociopath (and) the resigned stance of a long-distance runner" and projected an unflappable determination that confounded his fellow prisoners, as, being close to Abruzzi or T-Bag or Bellick, he could not afford to be vulnerable or even appear human to ensure that he and his brother will safely escape. Later, following the escape, Michael, now off with his brother, around whom Michael was willing to show a side of himself that he was not with the others; something that is lighter and more colorful. Michael often is outwardly taciturn and stoic, rarely allowing the dangerous element he's frequently surrounded by to penetrate his thoughts. Michael has been clinically diagnosed with low latent inhibition, a condition in which his brain is more open to incoming stimuli in the surrounding environment. As a result of this condition, he is unable to block out periphery information and instead processes every aspect and detail of any given stimulus. This, combined with a high IQ (as a psychiatrist explains) theoretically makes him a creative genius. His intelligence is well noticed even by his enemies e.g. with Mahone in Season 2 making various comments about Michael's intelligence, even holding a certain admiration to him after successfully breaking out of two prisons (Fox River and Sona). He is even offered a place in The Company.
Due to a feeling of abandonment and abuse during childhood, Michael developed and has very low, or absolutely no sense of, self-worth. With the low latent inhibition, this has made him become very attuned to all the suffering around him. As a result of being unable to block out other people's suffering, he is extremely empathetic and altruistic towards other people's emotions; this explains Michael's desire to make huge sacrifices to help others – he is more concerned with other people's welfare than his own. This particular attribute is apparently the product of his detrimental experience during childhood, where, as a child, his abusive foster father would often beat him and have him locked up inside a closet; and by doing so, Michael's eyes begin to adjust to the darkened environment, allowing him to scan objects around him which he can use for his own convenience. Michael never talked about or showed that he was suffering even to the closest people to him. He started opening up when he fell in love with Sara, the doctor from fox river. With Sara in the picture, Michael became more protective and more serious about his missions.
Michael had a very strong moral sense and was cool and reasonable. He knew that if he or his allies turn to kill rather than subdue their enemies, they will gradually lose themselves and eventually everything. Bellick, "T-Bag", Whistler and overall Gretchen, all people with much blood on their hands are only alive or survived as long as they did because Michael spared them.
Michael's enhanced creative ability allowed him to design a tattoo with a hidden blueprint of Fox River Penitentiary that normal people couldn't discern. Over the course of four months, Michael had specific sections of the prison tattooed onto his upper body, hidden within gothic imagery. Each part of his tattoo had to be precise, which provoked the tattooist's comment to Mahone about Michael being a "detail Nazi" and that the tattoo was "some sort of inside joke" that only he got.
Michael was also shown to be meticulous and well-prepared as he used his knowledge and intellect to achieve each step of his escape plan. With time, however, Michael developed (or was possibly born with) improvisation techniques. Tossed into Sona, he developed an escape plan, which ultimately fails. The failure leads to another escape plan which Michael realizes is a threat to his and Lincoln's safety, and stops it. After he escapes Sona and brings down The Company Michael orchestrates from the outside a plan to break Sara out of prison in a relatively short amount of time. The plan is successful but costs him his life in the process. This event is present in the movie Prison Break: The Final Break. Despite this, the return of Prison Break in 2016 casts doubt over his fate, with Garry Newman suggesting that this particular event in the straight to video film is likely to be ignored.
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- As shown in the scene where Michael looks at the diary on Henry Pope's desk after the fight with Abruzzi in the series premiere.
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