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In 2007 USA Network premiered Burn Notice, and the TV show became an instant hit. The series revolved around Michael Westen, a CIA spy who had just been burned. Cut off from almost all aspects of his former life, Michael was forced to regroup in Miami as he tried to figure out who issued his burn notice and how he could survive in the meantime.

The premise of Burn Notice wrapped audiences in everywhere, and it became clear that the television series was going to be a returning one. Take a closer look at the cast and characters of Burn Notice and find out why the show was originally set in New Jersey. 

Jeffrey Donovan sitting at a table in a scene from 'Burn Notice'
Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen | Glenn Watson/Getty Images

A look back at the cast and characters of ‘Burn Notice’ 

The talented cast and complex characters were at the heart of Burn Notice. Jeffrey Donovan was the actor who took on the role of the series’ main character, Michael Westen. Playing alongside him as his on-screen BFF was Bruce Campbell. Campbell’s character, Sam Axe, was often associated with his love for Hawaiian shirts and flashy bling. 

Gabrielle Anwar was the beautiful and remarkable actor who was cast as Fiona Glenanne. Though Fiona was often seen working with Michael, her storyline and arc revolved around her intimate and romantic connection with Michael. Viewers enjoyed watching their relationship grow and develop over the series’ seven seasons. 

Michael’s mother, Madeline Westen, was also a fan-favorite on Burn Notice. Sharon Gless, who has appeared in television series like Queer as Folk and Nip/Tuck, took on the role of Michael’s mom. Sadly, followers and viewers of Burn Notice watched Gless’ character’s tragic and triumphant demise in the series finale. 

‘Burn Notice’ was originally set in New Jersey 

From the inspiration behind the concept of Burn Notice to the casting process, fans and viewers have always enjoyed learning the behind-the-scenes details. Matt Nix, the visionary who dreamt up the USA Network hit series, has received a tremendous amount of praise and recognition for Burn Notice

Ironically enough, the year before USA picked up the series, Nix had pitched the same exact show with almost identical structures and storylines. However, the glaring difference was the show’s backdrop. The first time around when Nix pitched to USA, Michael Westen and his group of confidants worked in Newark, New Jersey. The showrunner wanted to play up the nitty-gritty underbelly of the “Garden State”. 

Unfortunately, the executives and team at USA weren’t really feeling the dark vibes and tone. With that being said, Nix made a few minor adjustments, and with Michael Westen set to live in Miami, Florida, the series finally received the go-ahead so many were hoping for.

Reflecting on ‘Burn Notice’


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Over the years the cast and the show’s creator, Matt Nix, have shared a lot about their time on set and what it meant to them. Donovan, the star at the center of Burn Notice, has always been especially grateful of the role and the series seeing as it ultimately was what brought him together with his now-wife, Michelle Woods.

However, all personal relationships aside, Donovan and the cast very much-so enjoyed working on the unique action-packed television series. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Donovan shared:

“I think audiences love watching fallible characters on television. We were able to do a scripted show centered on someone who should be a superspy, but we make him make mistakes, fall on his ass, get into fights with his girlfriend, and be yelled at by his mom.”