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I got tapes and witnesses, asshole. Only question left is whether you took a header into the concrete trying to resist arrest.
~ Mackey threatening a suspect

Victor Samuel "Vic" Mackey is the protagonist villain and anti-hero of the FX television series The Shield.

Mackey is a brutal and corrupt Detective working for the Los Angeles Police Department. He is part of a special anti-gang unit dubbed the "Strike Force", with Mackey leading the team. All the members of the Strike team under Vic's orders commit numerous crimes including: planting evidence, taking bribes, and committing robbery and murder.

He is portrayed by Michael Chiklis, who also portrayed Nathaniel Barnes in Gotham.

Personality

Mackey is a corrupt yet effective police officer; he steals from drug dealers, beats suspects and has committed murder on at least three occasions. Two of the victims were violent gangsters, though the first was an undercover officer trying to put Mackey and his team behind bars. Mackey sees his tactics as a means to an end.

Vic Mackey's morality is a classic example of dualism. While he has a solid status as a family man, he has cheated on his wife with a number of women (including fellow officer Danny Sofer). He is sworn to uphold the law, yet regularly breaks it for professional and personal gain. Mackey's personality is often viewed as amoral or machiavellian, believing that "the ends justify the means." However, this may also lead to his downfall, which he has narrowly avoided throughout the course of the series.

Despite all of the crimes and immoral acts he has committed, Vic is ironically considered the show's "hero." His brutality is usually directed towards dangerous criminals whom he considers deserving of their harsh treatment at his hands-i.e. rapists, child molesters and mass murderers. Even when he's broken the law himself, it's often been in the course of solving even more serious crimes. In the first Season finale episode, Vic cornered a teenager and threatened to plant crack cocaine on him unless he was told who kidnapped and murdered two police officers.

In the early days of the Strike Team, Mackey and his best friend Shane Vendrell were nearly taken down when rookie Officer Julien Lowe caught him and the Strike Team stealing evidence from a crime scene (in this case, narcotics). However, Mackey obtained leverage against Lowe by catching him in a homosexual act and threatening to expose him. Although Julien vowed to deny Vic's allegations, Vic smugly retorted,

"I don't have to prove you're gay, in this house all I have to do is say it, with all the gory details."

A terrified Julien immediately caved in to his demands. After this, Vic has attempted to be friendly to Julien, with varying degrees of reception.

Early in the series, Mackey extorted money from drug dealers and openly stole their money or drugs. The purpose was to support him and his team's retirement and provide a legacy for their children. Later, he justified stealing gang money to help pay for his kids' autism treatments as well as alimony to his ex-wife Corrine. In the second season, Vic helped his ex-partner and training officer, Joe Clark, bring down the man who got him booted from the force, only to take a bullet in the alley in which they busted the perpetrator.

Vic Mackey's morality is a classic example of selfish consequentialism. Mackey feels that his actions are justified if they produce the best consequences for himself and those close to him. While he had a solid status as a family man, he committed adultery with several women, including his fellow officer Danielle "Danny" Sofer. Mackey's personality is often viewed as narcissistic or machiavellian (in fact his surname, Mackey, sounds like the beginning syllables of "Machiavelli", which may or may not be coincidence), believing that the ends justify the means. However, this ultimately led to his downfall, which he narrowly avoided until the very end of the series. His brutality is usually directed toward criminals whom he considered deserving of their harsh treatment at his hands, (e.g., rapists, drug dealers, pedophiles and mass murderers).

Even when he has broken these laws himself, he has often justified it to himself by doing so in order to solve what he regards as more serious crimes. For example, in the first-season finale, Vic cornered a teenaged murder witness and demanded to know who murdered two police officers. Instead, the teenager refused to violate the neighborhood code of silence. Enraged, Vic pulled out a bag of crack cocaine and snarled, "Fine! You're not a witness, then you're an arrest! And this is just about enough to make you a trafficker!" Horrified, the teenager said, 'You can't do that, man!" Vic grinned sadistically and said, "What, arrest drug dealers? You just made my quota for the week!" The teenager immediately revealed what he knew about the cop killing he had witnessed, provided that Vic removed the drugs from his pocket.

Family

Mackey was married for a little over 12 years to his wife, Corinne. They had a great marriage up until the point when the Strike Team was formed. However, problems between the two resulted in the marriage disintegrating. Though he had often cheated on his wife, he was devastated when she left him. He loves his three children very much and would do anything for them. At the end of season six, he refused to parade his autistic children in front of a department review board, despite the fact that Aceveda told him that it could save his job.

In season one, his son Matthew was diagnosed with autism. Later, his youngest daughter was diagnosed with autism as well. These family problems, and the necessary financial support, are the overriding factors as to why Mackey continues to pursue money illegally.

Biography

Early life

Little is known about Mackey's early life, although his surname is probably of Irish origin (he occasionally wears a shamrock T-shirt). He also once mentioned that his father was a bricklayer (however, this may have been a joke). In season five, he told Lt. Jon Kavanaugh that he had been a police officer for at least 14 years. In one of the DVD commentaries for season four, Michael Chiklis mentions that the main characters on the show are from the same areas as the actors who play them, which would imply that Mackey is a native of the Boston, Massachusetts area. In support of this theory, during the season one episode "Cherrypoppers", Vic approaches a suspect outside of an underage sex show and, as a ruse, asks if the man remembers him from Boston.

Season 1

The pilot episode closes with Vic murdering Terry Crowley during a drug raid for being a federal informant. Vic is quickly cleared by the department because they are unaware of Terry's status as a federal informant and because of Vic's friendship with Assistant Chief Ben Gilroy. Enraged that Mackey got away with killing a cop in cold blood, Aceveda becomes determined to bring him down.

The Strike Team steals some drugs from a bust in order to sell on the street, but are seen by Officer Julian Lowe. Furthermore, the truck with the drugs is stolen from Shane when he stops at a girlfriend's house. When Aceveda learns of the skim from Lowe he becomes determined to recover the drugs and bring down the strike team. Eventually the team manage to recover and destroy the drugs and Vic blackmails Julien into recanting his statement after threatening to expose his homosexuality to the rest of the squad.

The lost drugs are the latest incident in Shane's spiral out of control and Vic is advised by Ben to let him take the fall if anything goes wrong. However when Mackey's son is diagnosed with autism, Mackey realizes that both his son and his teammate need help and decides to work with them instead of sacrificing them. Vic then tries to enroll his son in a special school but they hear of the skimmed drug allegations and decide not to accept him. Vic manages to convince the admissions officer to change her mind by recovering a stolen ring for her.

Vic's wife Corrine becomes increasingly frustrated with him and his antics. Although she defends him when questioned about his questionable activities, she seemes to realize that he makes some money illegally and that he cheats on her. When she sees Vic with a baby, she immediately assumes that he has a love child.

The Strike Team's illegal activities generally consisted of protecting drug dealer Rondell Robison, in exchange for reduced violence and a cut of the profits. By allowing Rondell to maintain a monopoly over the farmington drug trade, Vic was able to line his pocket while making himself look good to the department by keeping gang violence down. The drugs that Vic skims off busts generally goes to Rondell to sell. However Rondell becomes incredibly unreliable. He is unable to come up with money to pay the supplier, threatens Officer Sofer, starts a turf war with the Nation of Islam and brags that he has police protection. Mackey eventually grows tired of Rondell and allows his subordinate Theadore Osmond (T.O.) to replace him, which ultimately leads to Rondell's death.

At the end of the first season, Vic is approached by Ben for help after he becomes involved in a drunken hit and run incident that leads to the death of a Toros gangster. Vic helps Ben by kidnapping the witness to the hit and run, and bringing him to Ben who murders him (much to Vic's shock and anger). Ben insists that Vic help him dispose of the body, as Vic was the last person to see the witness alive. They then dumped the body in a rival gang's territory in the hope it would be interpreted as a gang murder. Vic eventually discovers that Ben has begun a real-estate scam by manipulating police resources, resulting in the brutal murders of two women which itself leads to people firing at police using fake 911 calls. When Vic confronts Ben about this, he indirectly threatens Vic's family, effectively ending their friendship, and Vic forms an alliance with Aceveda. Eventually Vic brings in both the shooters and Ben, earning the respect of Aceveda who drops a bogus gun warrant that Gilroy had manufactured. However when Vic returns home, he learns that Corrine has left and taken his kids, realizing that the suffering she's going through is due to his mistakes.

Season 2

Vic spends his time searching for his family, and has kept the news of their departure secret. He also has to deal with an internal auditor, Lanie Kellis poking around as well as brutal crime lord Armadillo Quinterno who is trying to set up in Farmington.

Vic is horrified to learn that Shane has invested all the Strike Teams illegal savings withT.O. and is now heavily involved in drug running. Furthermore the money is lost when a drug shipment of T.O.'s is poisened by a supplier. Vic and the team go to Mexico to extort their saving from the supplier (who is Armadillo's brother) and then kidnap him and bring him to the U.S. so that he can be arrested. Upon returning home, Vic tells the team that they are no longer allowed to handle the money. As the pressure of his missing family and Armadillos antics pile on, Vic lashes out at the team and Shane in particular which causes a rift to form.

Armadillo manages to consolidate the Mexican gangs in farmington by burning any opposition alive. The gangs, which had previously been at each other's throats, unite to take control of the drug game. Armadillo furthers his sadistic reputation by raping the girlfriend of a rival gangster and then tatooing her with a dove sign. He also rapes a 9-year old girl who was a witness to one of his crimes and tattoos her as well. Vic warns Armadillo to leave farmington, and Armadillo responds by burning T.O. alive. Vic manages to track down his family and tries to reason with them, but a private investigator they hired assaults Vic and they escape. Vic then gets the call about T.O. and frustrated by the recent events goes to Armadillo and burns his face on a stove.

Vic meet with his mentor Joe Clark, a disgraced former officer who was kicked off the force for brutality. Vic realizes that he may end up like Joe, alone without friends or family. He reconciles with Corrine and promises to move out of the house if she returns. He also makes amends with Shane.

Armadillo returns with a vengeance and continues to expand his drug-empire.

Season 3

The season mainly revolves around the aftermath of the Money Train Heist and its effects on the Strike Team, as the Armenian mob and also David Aceveda begins to suspect the Strike Team. In order to save the team, Lem (Curtis "Lemonhead" Lemansky) burns a majority of the money, ultimately leading to a confrontation which causes the Strike Team to split up in the season finale. The Armenian mob sends Margos Dezerian to wipe out the Strike Team. Dezerian leaves a trail of murders, resulting in his own execution at the hands of Mackey.

Season 4

The season dealt with the fallout from the Strike Team disbandment. Vic and Ronnie are still at the Barn which is now headed by captain Monica Rawlings (Glenn Close) who has replaced Aceveda following his move to the City council, Lem has moved into juvenile and Shane moves back to Vice where he partners with Armando "Army" Renta , a former GI. Before long Shane is deeply involved with One-Niners leader Antwon Mitchell who he tips off and eliminates competition in exchange for cash and busts.

Rawlings implements a policy of seizing the assets of known gang members and despite Aceveda's objections, enlists Vic to head up the team to oversee this. Although successful the policy proves very unpopular in the community and starts to hurt the gangs badly, particularly the One-Niners, and Mitchell - who is tired of Shane's cockiness - blackmails him and Army into helping him keep one step ahead of Vic by shooting an innocent teenage girl with their guns and promising to release the body if they don't co-operate. Mitchell then later orders Shane to kill Vic, but while Shane wavers between the threat from Antwon and his loyalty to Vic, Vic gets wind of the order and confronts Shane first.

The police were outraged after two officers were kidnapped and subsequently found murdered. In the end, the Strike Team is re-formed and manages to successfully put Antwon in prison.

The fallout from the asset foreiture policy continues with Rawlings eventually being forced out after a dispute with the DEA.

Season 5

The season revolved around Internal Affairs Department Lt. Jon Kavanaugh's (played by Forest Whitaker) investigation into the Strike Team, representing one of the greatest threats the team has ever faced. As a result of Kavanaugh turning one of Vic's informants, IAD became aware of Lem stealing heroin which he never turned in. Vic learns that in a matter of months from now that he will be forced to retire from his police career. Having found the heroin, IAD is capable of arresting Lem, but Kavanaugh wants him to incriminate the whole team and has him wear a wire, which he warns the team of and they use it to embarrass IAD. Kavanaugh applying pressure to the team in any way he can, finds out about Mackey's share of the Money Train money, and ultimately arrests Lem having made a deal with Antwon Mitchell, a gang leader the team had put in prison. to put Lem in prison with him if convicted. Mackey supports Lem and gets bail, while Shane is worried he will give evidence against the team. Claudette finally gets her opportunity for promotion as the captain of the Barn, which she reluctantly accepts. The season concluded with Shane Vendrell, fooled by Aceveda that Lem was going to turn on the Strike Team, murdering his friend and fellow team member Lem with a hand grenade.

Season 6

Continuing directly after season 5, Vic and the Strike Team are distraught over Lem's death. Shane has been overcome by guilt and becomes reckless and suicidal. Kavanaugh refuses to let the case die and resorts to planting evidence and coercing witnesses to lie about the Strike Team and specifically, Vic. Dutch and Claudette begin to suspect his integrity and Kavanaugh finally confesses to his actions and finds himself under arrest. Vic learns from Claudette that the Chief plans to force him into early retirement — and vows to wreak bloody vengeance on Lem's killer before losing his badge. Claudette learns that the Barn could be shut down if no improvements are made by the time quarterly crime statistics are released. The season concludes with the breakdown of Vic and Shane's friendship and Shane getting in over his head with the Armenians.

Season 7

Vic's ex-wife Corrine has learned of his many crimes and agrees to work with Dutch and Claudette to try to send him to prison. Ronnie is also implicated in the process. Vic and Ronnie attempt to have Shane killed as revenge for Lem. The plan fails and in return, Shane attempts to have Vic and Ronnie killed. The plan fails as the thug Shane hired to kill Ronnie confessed under pressure that Shane hired him to kill Ronnie. As a result, Shane, Mara, and Jackson go on the run, adding more pressure to Vic and Ronnie as they fear that Shane will testify about their various "business dealings". Meanwhile, Dutch has problems of his own while dealing with a teenage serial killer. As part of an immunity deal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Vic admits to every crime the Strike Team has committed and implicates Shane and Ronnie enough to send them to jail for life. During a phone conversation with Shane, Vic viciously taunts and threatens him. He also tells him about his immunity deal with ICE. After realizing that there is no way to escape prison, Shane poisons his pregnant wife and two-year old son and then commits suicide just as the police arrive.

Vic finds out from Ronnie about Shane's suicide. Although they were both no longer fond of him, they were still shocked at the news of his death, especially after learning that Shane also killed his own family. Ronnie, in particular, was not only relieved as Shane will now pose no threat to them but also because their mission of avenging Lem is complete. Vic was more sad as they were best friends and he himself believed he contributed to their deaths after informing Shane of his immunity deal. At the interrogation room, Claudette read Shane's suicide letter to Vic and showed him the photos of the Vendrell murder-suicide scene. Vic almost lets his emotions show until he realized what Claudette is doing and then ripped the camera in anger, telling her to bill him for it. Claudette then has Dutch arrest Ronnie in front of Vic at the barn, and reveal that Vic sold him out in the process, leaving Ronnie irate as he is taken away while Vic tries to apologize.  Desperate to escape Vic, Corrine and the children disappear into the witness protection program. Meanwhile, Vic is reassigned to a desk job at ICE, presumably loathed by his co-workers, including Agent Olivia Murray, and ostracized by his fellow cops, who want nothing to do with him now that his many crimes have been exposed. The show's final moment depicts Vic picking up his gun and leaving the ICE building, following police sirens in the distance. The show's ending is ambiguous and Vic's fate after leaving is unclear.

Victims

  • Two-Time - Killed in self-defense
  • Detective Terry Crowley - Murdered due to being an informant
  • Street hustler - Killed in self-defense
  • Margos Dezerian - Murdered to protect the Strike Team
  • Guardo Lima - Murdered as "revenge" for Curtis Lemansky
  • One of Guillermo Beltran's henchmen - Killed in self-defense

Quotes

Maybe in your own mind, amigo. But in the real world, I don't answer to you. Not today, not tomorrow, not even on Cinco de Mayo
~ Mackey, to Aceveda after refusing to sent his incident report on time
Let me remind you of a few things you seem to have forgotten; I didn't kill Terry, You've lost your leverage with Lem, and your ex-wife's pussy... tastes like sweet butter.
~ Mackey to Jon Kavanaugh
The trouble with you, you're always trying to be as smart as me, now I'm walking away clean and you're the pathetic asshole headed for Antwon Mitchell-ville.
~ Mackey, to Shane Vendrell after revealing his immunity deal with ICE
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