“Let Me Show You How We Fought Back”: Person of Interest


In celebration of four mind-blowing seasons, I decided to collect the views of the Person of Interest fanbase. I didn’t ask a specific question—only broad suggestions such as “Why does POI matter to you?” among others, and was overwhelmed by the intelligent, touching, thought-provoking responses I received. Due to the number of messages, I couldn’t fit everyone’s answers in but I hope this article showcases just how much Person of Interest matters to fans from all over the world. It’s spurned fanfiction, fanart, fan-videos, petitions, communities—it’s not just television anymore.

POI Pixelated Gif Tumblr

A prime example of some of the fandom’s imaginative creations. See the full-size image here.

Most recently, France (TF1 channel) aired the double killer-blow of ‘If-Then-Else’ and ‘Control-Alt-Delete’ in succession, sending French fans berserk on Twitter and causing Person of Interest to trend in their country. It’s undoubtedly an international phenomenon.

The individuality and personal responses I received were immensely moving. I have liaised with some sincerely amiable people across many social media platforms to try and get this project going, and I think we’ve created something unspeakably beautiful in all these messages. I opened this up internationally and you can see how in so many different ways Person of Interest matters to fans and the dedication they have—and it’s not just Tumblr submissions! Isagrimorie holds group re-watches and discussion with the re-watch community occurs afterwards; Kaily Russell runs a petition to save the show with over 25,000 signatures and has organized a fairly-new fundraiser for the charity Waterkeeper Alliance, with donors being Person of Interest fans. How amazing is that? This community truly bands together, and it’s admirable. Now without further ado, I present to you the brilliant Person of Interest family:

Besides it being an all around well made show, I think what sets it apart and makes it most deserving of more time would be the whole moral and ethical conversation they’ve started revolving around artificial intelligences, human emotion and individual relevance, and government surveillance. They don’t dumb it down to a robots taking over the world plot – it’s very much rooted in reality and the actual possibilities of what this could mean and where it could lead–at a political, social, AND spiritual level.

“What a piece of work is your machine, Harold. In action, how like an angel. In apprehension, how like a god. In 20 years time, life on Earth will come to resemble the myths of the Ancient Greeks. A pantheon of super intelligent beings will watch over us using human agents to meddle in our affairs. Or they may simply destroy us all.” If that’s not a set up for several more seasons of incredible stories and possibilities, I don’t know what is.  – from passingtimeinanattic

Something that a lot of people tend to miss when it comes to POI, is how incredible it is that a show whose basic premise is about a machine that prevents terrorism, was able to shy away from islamophobic tropes. No other crime show on TV does this right now. – from Anonymous

Race stereotypes are still so prevalent on TV it’s shocking. Like Asians are always the geeky nerd, arabs are terrorists, etc etc. POI doesn’t flat-out label their characters so they do it in a subtle way. For instance Yasin Said and his bunch of friends. The underlying message was that Samaritan found it easy to paint them as terrorists because that’s the assumption people would make on face value judgement. They weren’t gonna dig and see that he was ‘all american’. He looks like a terrorist, so he was one. Samaritan (and politicians) find it supremely easy to manipulate us by using things like our racial prejudices. – from Anonymous

1) Root, who’s an incredible and unique character; 2) Disabilities, gender and sexual orientation are not central to the plot and characters can exist and do their thing without judgment; 3) Reese is very masculine, but it’s not ‘toxic’: he’s allowed to mourn, cry, go to therapy etc. Plus women save him as much as he saves them; 4) “Root is as smart as Finch, and Shaw as strong as Reese”; 5) Fascinating plot & the evolution POI has undergone; 6) Writers have plenty more ideas for the show; 7) Bear 8) Both male and female characters have an equal chance for redemption if they choose to; 9) Wonderful cast and crew; 10) Beautiful cinematography; 11) Music. – from Anonymous

It has complex characters that have questionable pasts and are all trying to do what’s right. The show stresses the fact that every single person is important (like the episode when Finch stops Caleb from committing suicide). And of course the representation with Root and Shaw. The writers saw two women with chemistry and were brave enough to put them together. It has great humor, moving and entertaining plots, and represents LGBT (Shoot) and POC (Carter and Shaw). – from Anonymous

Poi has representation. Good representation that’s not just to pat themselves on the back. Root and Shaw’s sexualities aren’t the most important thing about them. That’s so so important to me and even more rare on TV/film/etc. – from Anonymous

If I had a show like Person of Interest when I was a teenager I genuinely believe my life would have been different, and better. The heart of this show—complex people struggling to do the right thing—is something we have seen before. But Person of Interest is so much more than that. It contains things we seldom get to see: strong, valuable, platonic friendships between men and women; three-dimensional and individual POC in leading roles; neurodivergent characters who are more than the sum of their differences; a naturally developed and unstigmatised queer relationship and so many more vital and amazing things.

Save Person of Interest, because it is important. – from Anonymous

The consistency in the plot is amazing, the topics are relevant to this day & age, characters are well-rounded, the writers didn’t shy away from queer representation (which helped me understand my sexuality better), complex & intelligent women, so much good dialogue, things are often gray not black or white, representation of women, minorities, & people with disabilities, keeps you engaged & thinking, characters genuinely care about each other. And Bear! – from Anonymous

Honestly I LOVE Person Of Interest, I began watching the show over a year ago & I found myself absorbed into the plot right away. The writing, the music, the characters all come together incredibly. The show keeps improving with each season they create. One of my favorite moments is when Root first appears, she quickly became my favorite characters ever. Also Root and Shaw, it is amazing having writers & cast supporting them as a pairing. The fandom is so friendly, it’s like family. I love it. 🙂 – from scienceandgin

As a sexual abuse survivor with PTSD, a gay person, and a sci-fi fan, and there are so few other shows out there that show people like me, and have such an interesting and well-written science fiction plot – from Lionelfusco

Person of Interest is an amazingly smart and engaging show, with awesome and unique characters like Root and Shaw, that you can’t help but fall in love with. The AI stuff is really fascinating, especially given how the show has been scarily prescient about surveillance tech and info gathering. I also love the kickass female characters on the show, who are incredibly capable as a matter of course. It’s not done in a way that deliberately calls attention to it, just so that the show can advertise itself as female empowerment. The women on the show just do what needs to be done, and nobody makes a big deal about it. The same can be said about the whole Root and Shaw relationship. The show and the characters don’t make a huge fuss about the whole gay aspect. It’s just treated like any other relationship and that’s awesome. Person of Interest is just so groundbreaking on so many levels, which is really surprising given that it started as a procedural on CBS of all places! I really want this show to continue, because it’s really amazing to see these wonderfully capable characters who are not defined solely by their race or gender or sexuality. – from ms-charming

…It’s good television. It’s the kinda of television I grew up on that made me want to pursue a career in television but even more so than that when we look back on it’s place in television history I hope it is recognised for the role it played in advancing the representation of LGBT+ characters and relationships in media. It cannot be underestimated how integral, how significant the relationship between Root and Shaw is on this show. It’s a step forward to see these two women who have a deep affection and devotion to each other, without the dated drama of what their sexuality means or who has a problem with it. Their attraction and flirtation is never questioned or treated as “other”, there is no need to force labels on the characters and that’s something that people have waited far too long for. To have it cut short so soon would be unfortunate.

It’s these women, this love story, fitting so seamlessly into a greater story about something so much bigger and separate from sexuality, that’s so important. We can only hope it leads as an example for other shows because for far too long have we been subjected to the idea that a show can’t have a same-sex relationship because it’s not that kind of show.

When we demand representation and acknowledgment from creatives it seems like they fear their show will be highjacked by “gayness”. We don’t want you to turn your show into The L Word, we already have that and what Person of Interest has offered ignorant, homophobic, cowardly people and everyone who has shied away from a same-sex romance is an example of how it doesn’t actually change that much. The core of the show remains the same, the story remains the same. And if anything, take a look at Amy Acker’s phenomenal performance in the second half of season 4 and tell me it didn’t add an emotional layer to the story. That it didn’t make it better, more heart wrenching for the audience, and isn’t that what you create television for? The Audience?

Person of Interest is more than just one relationship, it’s an absolutely fantastic show that I enjoy immensely and I adore all of the characters and dynamics that it puts on offer to me but Root and Shaw it’s definitely what I’m most thankful for, it’s what I’ll be that most upset to lose and it’s what I think the show should be proudest to go down in history for.

It’s what makes it most deserving to live on.  – snippets from pagets‘ submission

As a lady-loving lady, POI has shown me that I can be smart like root and badass like Shaw. I have no words for how important proper representation is and it feels so good to find a show that doesn’t alienate, fetishize or sexualize my identity and it has helped me become more comfortable with myself and my sexuality, and not to mention it’s a damn good show too. – from Anonymous

POI is my unproblematic fave. It’s one of the rare shows that, in all of its seasons, didn’t have a single offensive thing. Male and female characters are written equally well, the romance on the show isn’t shoved down our throats (there isn’t too much of it, there’s just enough and it’s well written), there are also well-written queer characters which is amazing because unfortunately good representation is still hard to find on tv. POC/WOC characters also. And Finch’s character shows that people with disability can also be badass, which happens almost never on tv. Also people with mental disorders who aren’t shown just as disturbed or useless.

Bottom line, one of the very few shows that have such amazing wide range of characters, unlike most shows that only have white hetero able-bodied males. They have romance but the story is never centered around it (and thank god no love triangles). And as much as I preferred the show before Samaritan happened, they still pretty much stick to the same plot over all seasons, which is also another thing that most shows rarely do. Most shows try too hard to change the plot every 10 episodes which makes me so angry because they do it to make the show interesting but it actually has the opposite effect. But my unproblematic fave POI always stuck to their original plot, which is the best thing. – from tinytmas

As a person the suffered a huge disability & have recovered, POI needs to be saved. Root & Finch aren’t written as your typical “woe is me, I have a disability and I’ll never do anything again!” They are strong characters that adapt to their disability. And that is awesome. – from maralovesurd

Long time viewer starting from the pilot back in 2011 & have been addicted, for the first time in my long life to a tv show enough to actually join a fandom. The cast, writers, producers and crew of this show are outstanding in their love and support of the show and fans. I love this show because: Finch isn’t the show, Reese isn’t the show, nor Shaw or Root or Fusco or Carter nor any present or past SHIPS. ALL OF THEM ARE POI. Both the story & characters count! – from Anonymous

Save POI because it’s one of the most realistic depictions of AI and surveillance right now, emphasises how everyone is relevant and important, has the best writing and redemption arcs (even the dog has one!) and is genuinely cool, funny and smart with so much story left to be told and a cast and crew who love what they do and are fans right along with us! – from sh00t

POI is an amazing show in every way but what I want to talk about is how great the showrunners and writers are. They treat the audience and the characters with respect. They actually went with the chemistry and gave us Root and Shaw, and are very supportive of it. They love POI as much as fans do. I think it’s rare to have such a great showrunners for your favorite show, the ones who know what they’re doing and who are so respectful and classy. – from Anonymous

This show that started off about two guys simply trying to prevent murders has evolved into a complex exploration of what it means to do good and what it means to be human. – from liltree

I have been a long time POI fan from S1, and active on tumblr, and was honored to be one of the 2 co-coordinators of the POI Fan Con 2015, that was held in NYC last October. This show is written intelligently, with flawed characters, all of whom are actually on a redemptive path, in the middle of a super action-packed Sci-fi thriller that never really lets your heartbeat slow down. This is not a stand alone crime procedural, a Sci-fi story, or a A.I. story. It’s really all three, but with real life edginess. I love all the characters, and have grown to love the ‘villains’, just amazing. The show has the best cast, ensemble cast, and individual actors & actresses, they are authentic badasses. But, it’s not just the cast, it’s the dedicated crew, guest cast members, and the creative vision of the writers, directors, Chris Fisher and the Show Runners- Nolan, Plageman & The. The show makes you think, doesn’t hate, and gives all characters, and their arcs respect and heart. – from eyesofwitt and POIFANCON2015

Just ask yourself this. Can you imagine your entire year and the coming years ahead without Person of Interest? Waking up every week without the dynamic duo of Reese and Finch. Root and Shaw saving the day or Bear being adorable? Can you honestly say to yourself that 13 episodes is really enough? Television NEEDS Person of interest. So please keep fighting for the show. Don’t let it die in vain. – from babysheila

The show has been amazing. It has been wonderful to watch the cast and plot unfold. I have to also give kudos for letting them have Root be Root without punishing her for her flirty behavior towards Shaw. It’s 2016 and the fact that they’re able to show that on TV and without it being forced is unbelievable. The PoI writers allowing for Root and Shaw to develop means so much to me and others. Thank you PoI writers, thank you Sarah, and thank you Amy! – from Anonymous

[The Root and Shaw ship] is already a minority. This community is already, sadly so, still a minority in 2016. Let’s not be as divisive as the rest of the world has been. If this fandom no longer prides itself on being inclusive of all who ship Shoot, then I may have been wrong about us all along. – from Anonymous Straight Shoot Fan.

So there you have it—sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant but always genuine and wonderful viewpoints. I consistently rave about the show’s quality, but this was my first time venturing into the opinions of other fans and it really made me quite emotional just reading some of them. Fans are at the vividly beating heart of every show. Thanks for being intelligent, honest, resilient, and brave. Thanks for participating and sharing, for telling stories and explaining how the show affected you; thank you for humbling and touching a young student who initially thought this was just a collation of some messages. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to write this article for you, for me to share just what exactly being a Person of Interest fan means to each and every one of you. Thank you for showing me that nobody in the fandom lets another walk alone, in the dark. We’ve got each other—and we’ve got this:

When everything is over, when the worst has happened, there’s still one thing left in Pandora’s Box: hope.”

HERE is the link to the tumblr with all of the submissions and asks—truly wonderful stuff.

Let me know what you think on Twitter @NicolaChoi and as promised, I’ll keep the original Tumblr open and also to future asks too, so you can see the full extent of the messages I received. Most sincerely, thank you, POI family, for messing with my emotions (I’m meek!) but jokes aside: you have touched me, profoundly, with your words. Let’s show everyone else why. Let’s show why your opinions are so incalculably important.  But more importantly, thank you, the POI fanbase for allowing me to do something like this. You’re incredible, and you’re all ‘relevant’ in my book. Thank you.


    1. Thank you Isa! I completely agree! So much story left to tell–and you just KNOW these writers will give us 100% quality!

    1. Oh me too. Taraji was amazing as Carter–she was one of my favourite characters. And tell me about it! C’mon CBS! Thank you, Lindsey!

  1. It’s a little hard to type out a comment when my eyes are so blurry from all of these unshed tears. lol I agree with every single one of those responses so there’s really nothing for me to add, but I would like to say thank you so very very much for doing this, Nico. This was article was nothing short of beautiful and it encompasses absolutely everything that I love about this show and the fandom. I honestly couldn’t have chosen a better tv show to become invested in. Thanks again, and I definitely look forward to reading more articles from you – especially in regard to Person of Interest. <3

    1. Thank you so much and I echo your sentiments completely. Doing this has really opened my eyes to this fandom and its intellectual, moving responses. I completely get you…when I was compiling them for formatting I was so touched by some of those responses. It was beautiful and everyone banded together so amazingly. I have so much love for this fandom. It’s been by far the most pleasant one I’ve ever experienced. Thank you for commenting, Elyssa. <3

  2. Awesome article Nico. Thanks so much for this. The POI fandom is really cool and we also have an amazingly supportive cast, crew and creative team, especially in regards to Shoot. It’s like a unique perfect storm of things coming together and I’ve never felt so valued as a fan before! I just want this show to go on for many seasons more as it’s filled a void in my life I didn’t even know I had in regards to being a valued viewer of a tv show.

    1. Thank you Sora!! Indeed I’ve found the POI fandom to be the most welcoming, open and ship-war free (very petty) of any fandom I’ve ever been in. I just wanted to thank the fans for that by giving them the chance to air their opinions and their beautiful stories. 🙂 Thank you so much and I’m glad you feel valued as a fan–I think fans as I say in the article are at the core, the vividly beating heart of ANY show. POI is no exception. Bless you for your comment, and thank you Sora 🙂 All fans matter in the fandom–all of them–whether you simply watch, or write fic, or create fanart–it doesn’t matter. If you’re a fan I think it’s of huge importance. Again thank you Sora for commenting 🙂

  3. The first response encompasses beautifully why I love the show so much. The show doesn’t preach but it makes you think and evaluate on hot button topics like surveillance, AI, human and non-human interaction alike through your lens. You also get a nice helping of action, mystery and drama mixed in there.

    The ships themselves don’t interest me and I really like that they are regulated to the side story most of the time. If they are front and center, however, then it is treated like a grown up relationship and we don’t get love triangles or angst or needy people.

    Having a disabled character as one of the main cast is inspiring. Not many shows do that nowadays with the star being permanently disabled so it’s really nice to see that a show will go there and it does pay off when the character goes in ‘bad ass’ mode on someone.

    Bear. This show got better when the dog was introduced. Most shows use animals as a crutch to drive a show forward, with usually disastrous results. This show manages to drive the show forward while having the animal still be very useful wherever needed. It also added another human element to the mix.

    I love the music on the show. No matter what the scene, the PoI team gets it right on the money with their choices.

    1. Absolutely! Though Root and Shaw have a huge following, they’re not the centre of the show–every character that’s been and come: Carter, Fusco, Elias, Reese, Finch, Kara, Shaw, Root, Dani Silva–they all have individual character arcs and are superbly developed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show where I disliked none of the characters. Indeed, I agree with you 100%. Person of Interest is so unique in all those aspects you mentioned. And the music! Aside from Ramin Djawadi’s beautiful themes, the choice of music (Miami Showdown, Fortune Days, Future Starts Slow, New York, The Violent Bear it Away…) were all such fitting, gorgeous songs for the scenes they were put in. Fantastic stuff. Thanks for commenting, Ben! 🙂

  4. Hello!
    Great initiative, it really shows why POI is loved. As far as I am concerned, it had a deep impact on me: it got me interested in coding and made me want to deepen my knowledge in chess. To me, POI is an unforgettable story with the most endearing TV characters I have ever seen. Have you considered showing all these reactions to Netflix? Maybe it could help to convince them to pick up Person of Interest as an Original Netflix. A season 6 would be so great…

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