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Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis in The Shield) dressed in black

Detective Vic Mackey


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

The Shield was one of the early 2000s TV series that marked the beginning of the “golden age of television serials”, with a sudden increase in the quality of plotting, acting, pacing, cinematography, breadth and depth of themes, etc.. It ran from 2002 to 2008.

The series follows a dysfunctional special unit of the Los Angeles Police Department, whose corruption problem was closely based on real-world precedents. Vic Mackey is the main character.

In both the modern world and modern fiction moral right and wrong are a fry cry from black and white – not only are there shades of gray, but there are so many shades that one can scarcely tell black from white at times.

Mackey represents a complex character that is full of both vice and virtue and that could be tremendously useful in any gritty realistic campaign where the truth and lies are as hard to separate as right and wrong.


Background

  • Real Name: Vic Mackey
  • Marital Status: Going through a divorce
  • Known Relatives: Coryn (soon to be ex-wife), Cassidy (daughter), Matt (son), Megan (daughter), Lee Sofer (son)
  • Group Affiliation: Farmington Strike Team
  • Base Of Operations: Farmington Police HQ aka “The Barn”
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 195 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Bald


Powers and Abilities

Vic Mackey is the best of the best and former police commander of Farmington’s famed/infamous Strike Team. He is without question a brilliant police officer in every way, particularly in the aspect of social interaction. Negotiating truce with gangs, shoot outs, major drug and mafia related busts and going after the worst criminals in society are all in a days work for Mackey an his crew.

His character given his shorter stature, yet fierce demeanor has been compared with that of a pit bull. Mackey is totally and utterly completely relentless and will not quit for anything once he sinks his teeth into a case.

Vic McKey (Michael Chiklis)

Were it not for some of his more questionable methods and shadows of corruption it is likely that he would have been made Captain of the Farmington Division and would have gone a long way to brutally and ruthlessly cleaning up the streets in on of America’s most notorious areas.

Manipulator

Vic’s greatest strengths may be his powerful force of presence and his ability to juggle multiple complex situations simultaneously. Mackey is very adept at manipulating a given situation in ways that not only resolve that particular issue but that also serve his other agendas.

A typical example is using a criminal investigation into one party to get information or influence that helps him leverage another person.

This talent has allowed Vic to get back on track even when substantial unexpected obstacles are thrown in his way.

These machinations are aided by his incredible ability to instill fear or elicit trust, even in people who should know better. As Aceveda succinctly put it, no one truly understands how insidiously manipulative Mackey is until they have had Vic look them in the eye, lie to them, and make them doubt themselves even when they *know* he’s full of shit.

The combination of the above traits has not only allowed Mackey to avoid being caught thus far, but has actually contributed to the downfall of some of his rivals. This was most tellingly illustrated recently in the separate falls from grace of Detectives Kavanaugh and Hiatt. One sought to bust Mackey for his criminal acts and the other sought to replace him.

In the end, Mackey’s manipulations reduced them both to using his means in the attempt to accomplish their ends, and both men ultimately failed because of it.


Supporting cast

Detective Kevin Hiatt (Alex O’loughlin)

An experienced former Homeland Security Agent, who used to work the borders of Mexico. He is brought in as Vic’s replacement when Vic is forced into retirement. He is also supposed to keep tabs on the strike team. Although Hiatt is the leader of the Strike Team, it seems that Vic is still more hands-on.

In the final episode of season six, “Spanish Practices,” Hiatt is removed from the department by Captain Wyms, presumably ending his time on the show.

Detective Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins)

Vic Mackey’s best friend and second in command of the Strike Team. His racist, reckless attitude and questionable decisions often got in him trouble, after which Vic typically bailed him out. He has a wife, Mara, as well as a young son, Jackson.

Shane requested a transfer from the strike team after he confessed to Vic that he killed fellow Strike Team member Curtis Lemansky, he later stated that he cancelled the request to transfer to his old spot in Vice due to the fact that Vic was going to be forced into retirement.

The greatest difference between Vic and Shane is restraint. Shane is too damn stupid to reign himself in, which is why he winds up in such deep shit when he goes out on his own in the series.

Detective Ronnie Gardocki (David Rees Snell)

The Strike Team’s surveillance and electronics expert. Though little is known about Ronnie, he has proven more and more in recent times to be the most solid, well-rounded member of the Strike Team and has remained fiercely loyal to Vic through thick and thin.

The burn scars present on his face after he shaved his beard in Season 6 (given to him by Armadillo in Season 2) are proof of his loyalty to the team. Ronnie is the quiet one that Vic could always depend on…more than he ever knew until recently.

Officer Julien Lowe (Michael Jace)

During the formation of a new Strike Team, Claudette offered Julien to Kevin Hiatt as a possible addition to the team. Claudette made the offer to Julien, who was hesitant, mainly because of the thought of being partnered with Vic on a daily basis.

After being assured that Mackey was going to be moved out of the team, Julien accepted the promotion, and is now an official member of the Strike Team.

Councilman David Aceveda (Benito Martinez)

A politically ambitious former police captain, elected to the Los Angeles City Council. He is one of Vic Mackey’s main rivals, although often they have forged uneasy alliances for various reasons. He was orally raped at gunpoint, which eventually drove him to arrange a deal with druglord Antwon Mitchell to kill his rapist in prison.

Aceveda is no saint, but unlike Mackey, he tries to do some good. Often looks like a complete dick in the process. He doesn’t like Vic for the sole reason that he knows Vic is dirty. He just isn’t ever able to prove it. However, he is willing to turn Vic loose when he must.

Captain Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder)

A veteran detective. Claudette is the self-appointed voice of morality at the Barn and often butts heads with Vic over his tactics. Claudette is a black woman who appears to have somewhat of a chip on her shoulder and this often causes her to clash with others, particularly authority figures. Claudette revealed to Dutch that she has had lupus for 15 years.

In season 5, she is appointed Captain after several attempts in previous years. Claudette is the best damn detective in the series. While moral, she isn’t stupid, and she has done more to squelch Vic than Aceveda ever could have hoped to.

Detective Holland “Dutch” Wagenbach (Jay Karnes)

Dutch is characterized by many as a socially inept nerd even though he is a successful police detective. Assigned to the Farmington District of Los Angeles, he is often the first called to investigate violent crimes due to his specialization in criminal profiling and serial killers.

Along with his partner, Detective Claudette Wyms, Dutch is widely considered to be the moral center of the show due to his willingness to do the right thing in spite of the temptation to engage in illegal police activities.Dutch is the best interrogator on the series, and second only to Wyms as far as detectives go in the series.

He is Vic’s exact opposite in the series and the best character foil.

Sergeant Danielle “Danny” Sofer (Catherine Dent)

A patrol officer who aspires to become a detective. She has an on-again, off-again sexual relationship with Vic, and a complicated history with Dutch. She is assigned desk duty as a result of her pregnancy and takes maternity leave after the birth of her baby.

The identity of the father was initially unknown, although it was heavily implied to be Vic’s. Then, in the Sixth season episode “Chasing Ghosts,” Vic was finally revealed as the baby’s father. Shortly afterwards she returned early from maternity leave so that she could take the position of Sergeant at the Barn.


Description

Mackey is played by Michael Chiklis. He is a short bald man that is fairly well built. He is extremely fierce looking and can intimidate most criminals with, but a mere glare. He tends to wear fairly ordinary clothing jeans and T-shirt while on the job occasionally donning a bullet proof vest when things get heavy.


Personality

Mackey is an extremely complex character and is a perfect example of what modern law enforcement officials refer to as “noble corruption” or corruption with a higher purpose.

Mackey was a veteran detective who started with a simple mission to make his community a better place by cleaning up the streets so that ordinary honest citizens wouldn’t have to live in fear. However years of being part of the legal system have embittered him.

He got sick of seeing violent dangerous criminals get away with horrendous crimes simply because their guilt could not be proven and with other such criminals getting unbelievably light sentences by cutting some sort of deal with the powers that be.

Mackey has always been a bit of a black sheep because of some of his more violent and brutal tactics. Makcey was however smart enough to do some decent political maneuvering and land the position of the Strike Team’s commander. Soon after obtaining this position he grew sick of all the rules and regulations and decided that a more extreme form of justice was needed.

He began planting evidence and framing suspects when their guilt could not be proven, but eventually one thing led to another and to keep out of jail and keep his badge he eventually made the decision to murder a fellow officer.

This and other things led to a constant downward spiral of Mackey and his team having to cover up some of their more extreme practices to save their own hides.

Borderline morality

Vic is not absolutely evil, but he definitely a corrupt cop. He looks out for his own interests, which still have some grounding in keeping the peace on the streets, but his way of doing so are by cutting corners and deals with the various forces on the streets. When those ties are cut or stretched thin later, he can’t manage as he did, and he has to keep cutting corners while at the same time trying to reestablish his street cred.

His own actions are his ultimate downfall though. It’s a well-known secret he’s corrupt, but no one can prove it. However, the scrutiny takes it toll on him as the series progresses.

Mackey often approaches his work with the egotistical attitude that he rules the streets of Farmington and tends to respond most aggressively when he feels someone is defying that control. This has led to Vic committing impulsive acts of violence such as mutilating Armadillo, an act that played into Armadillo’s plans by giving him leverage against Vic and the strike team.

Many of Vic’s worst mistakes have stemmed at least in part from an arrogant belief that he had more control over a given situation than was actually the case. However, his ability to manipulate situations to recover from these mistakes suggests that his attitude is not entirely unwarranted.

As a result of the above, Vic also takes being insulted very poorly, which is another circumstance that tends to trigger Vic’s most intemperate responses. The best example of this was seen when he was half a heartbeat away from shooting Shane over the caustic remarks he made about Vic in the argument that led to their first falling out: Vic drew his gun and actually started walking back toward the departing Shane before coming to his senses.

Vic always looks out for himself and his immediate circle of close-knit friends in the end. This is his only redeeming quality. Once you have Vic’s loyalty, you have it until you turn on him. Because of this and many of his leadership qualities he is the type of leader that men would follow into hell – and likewise he is the type of man who would lead his team into hell if he thought that there was the slimmest chance that he would be able to rescue a fallen teammate.


Quotes

“Wipe those smiles off your faces ya shit heads. You don’t score points with me bagging 12 year olds.”

“Ay, Mo. Your sister’s ass really tastes as sweet as Alvarez here says it does ? He wants to know what your momma’s putting in the corn muffin.”

Vic Mackey: “Hi. I’m detective Vic Mackey.”
Cop: “These your men ?”
Vic Mackey: “It depends. What did they do ?”

Officer: “You guys have anything to declare ?”
Vic Mackey: “Just that is great to be back in the States.”

David Aceveda: “It doesn’t bother you, the things he does ?”
Claudette Wyms: “I don’t judge other cops.”
David Aceveda: “Mackey’s not a cop. He’s Al Capone with a badge.”
Claudette Wyms: “Al Capone made money by giving the people what they wanted. What people want these days is to make it to their cars without getting mugged. Come home from work and see their stereo is still there. Hear about some murder in the barrio, find out the next day the police caught the guy. If having all those things means some cop roughed up some spic or some nigger in the ghetto… well, as far as most people are concerned it’s don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Holland Wagenbach, about Vic Mackey: “Why does everyone like that asshole so much ?”

Claudette Wyms: “The evidence is lacking.”
Vic Mackey: “So is Dutchboy’s dick, but I’m not helping with that.”

Suspect: “What are you supposed to be ? The bad cop ?”
Mackey: “Good cop and bad cop left for the day. I’m a different kind of cop.”

“Until now I’ve tolerated you. Come near my men again… I’m gonna lose patience.”

(After inspecting the crime scene where two Latin gang bangers were burnt to death using tire necklaces) “Maybe it would help to recreate the crime : ’Ai, Dios mio. I’m burning.‘. Hey, hey Smitty. Get these two to the morgue ASAP.”

Vic Mackey: “What the hell are you doing ?”
Shane Vendrell: “I’m not doing anything that we weren’t doing before. I’m just pumping things up a level.”
Vic Mackey: “And what level is that ? Prison ?”
(Shane doesn’t answer)
Vic Mackey: “All right, where’s my investment now ?”
Shane Vendrell: “It’s all tied up in the coke shipment.”
Vic Mackey: “That coke that had Tio’s guy bleeding from every orifice ?”

(To Captain Aceveda after he’s just ordered him to write a report) “Well 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.”

Vic Mackey: “You still got that boyfriend ?”
Lauren Riley: “You still got that wife ?”
Vic Mackey: “No. You still got that boyfriend ?”

(Vic doesn’t do anything and the suspect starts screaming)
Suspect: “Help ! Help ! HELP !”
David Aceveda (walks in): “What’s going on in here ?”
Vic Mackey (confused): “Nothing.”
(Aceveda glares at him)
Vic Mackey: “Really.”

(Regarding his killing of Terry Crowley in cold blood) “Get over it and don’t bring it up again.”

(To the Strike Team) “Hey, option one is : we take him alive. But feel free to consider option two.”

Vic Mackey: “You better figure out how much you hate me. And how you’re going to deal with that. ‘Cause I’m not going anywhere.”
Claudette Wyms: “Neither am I.”

(Vic is trying to scare a suspect in a third floor apartment)
Vic Mackey: “Write what I tell you.”
(Vic puts a notepad and a pen in the suspect’s hands)
Vic Mackey: “L. I. F. E. New word, new word! S. U. X.”
(Rips off the page and puts it into the lapel pocket of the suspect’s shirt, then leads him towards an open window)
Vic Mackey: “Looks like you’re going to die a bad speller.”

“I don’t step aside. I step up.”

Vic Mackey (after he identified Ben Gilroy’s body) “How’d he die ?”
Medical Examiner: “Take your pick. Cirrhosis, malnutrition, official cause was suffocation. Aspirated on his own vomit.” (looking at a file) “Christ, this guy was the Assistant Police Chief ? What happened ?”
Vic Mackey: “Take your pick.”

Vic Mackey, about Shane’s baby, Jackson: “Cute kid.”
Shane Vendrell: “Thanks. He’s got his mother’s looks.”
Vic Mackey: “Thank God !”

Captain Monica Rawling: “Let me guess – you’re either with Vic Mackey or you’re against him.”
Vic Mackey: “Keeps things simple.”

Vic Mackey, after shooting a dog: “Sir, I’m telling you, the kid had no choice. The dog was reaching. It was kill or be killed.”
Captain Monica Rawling: “Oh come on, Roy. The dog had a piece, he was gonna use it.”

(To a witness) “A lot of people wanna know what evil looks like.”

Holland Wagenbach: “You ever hear of a Canadian super pot ?”
Vic Mackey: “What, you looking to buy a bag ?”

(Holland asks Vic’s help on a case)
Vic Mackey: “Well, seeing as you and Claudette’s Wonder Twin Powers aren’t fully activated yet, I’ll do you a favor and pick up the slack on this one.”

Smitty: “Why are you guys always coming to me with this shit ?”
Vic Mackey: “Because you’re the last honest guy we know.”


DC Universe History

Mackey and his crew would fit right into Gotham, Bloodhaven, or any other extremely brutal city where criminals run rampant. However the important thing is this means that he would most certainly but heads with costumed vigilantes. In order for them not to remove him from his position by proving his corruption it is possible that he could have stumbled on someone’s secret identity and black mailing them.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Detective Vic Mackey

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Anti-heroic Seeking Justice
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 07 Occupation: Farmington Police Detective and Former Commander of the Farmington Strike Team
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 07 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 018 HP: 060

Skills:
Charisma: 07, Detective (counterfeit recognition): 03, (clue analysis, police procedure): 04, (legwork): 07, Martial artist: (EV): 04, (AV): 05, Medicine (first aid): 03, Military Science (demolitions): 03, (danger recognition, field command): 05, Thief (Stealth): 05, Vehicles (land): 04, Weaponry (firearms, melee weapons): 05

Bonuses and Limitations:
Remember that characters with MA can’t use more than one subskill per phase. In Vic’s case he would either use only his EV or only his AV when in hand to hand combat he can choose to have an EV:4/AV:4 or an AV:5/EV:3, but not both at the same time.

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Farmington), Credentials (police, medium), Gift of Gab, Headquarters (confined, the Strike Team room in the Barn), Iron Nerves, Languages (some Spanish), Leadership, Omni-connection, Scholar (Farmington gangs), Sharp Eye

Connections:
It’s actually quite complex, really. Vic is typically assumed to have the following connections normally. Street (high or low) as the plot dictates, Underworld (low), Detective Ronnie Gardocki (high), LAPD (powerful, low) was high in the 1st 2 seaons, but soured after Gilroy went rogue. Any other connections that Vic has are tenuous at best. See the breakdown by season.

Connections (Season 1):
David Aceveda is both an enemy and a low connection. He would love to have Mackey and his team removed, but realizes that it wouldn’t be in his best interest so he eventually tries to help Mackey to an extent to keep the negative PR off his doorstep in order to further his political ambitions. Connie the prostitute (high) although considering the upkeep of keeping her out of trouble she’s almost a dependent (almost), Assistant Chief Gilroy (high, powerful), but he eventually tries to pit Mackey and Aceveda against one another to save his job and cover up a hit and run he did. Rondel Robinson the drug dealer was a high connection until Mackey sold him out and allowed him to be murdered thus he basically traded the incompetent Rondel for the more competent Tio, Detective Shane Vendrell (high), Detective Claudette Wyms (low), Sergeant Danielle “Danny” Sofer (low), Corrin his wife can be counted as a high connection and then low after she comes back from running away for the rest of the series. What was the name of the Latino police officer that they worked with a bit dealing with some of Mexican gangs? He’s worthy of a low connection.

Connections (Season 2):
Tio the drug dealer (high) until his death, Emma the manager of the women’s abuse center (low, but eventually high at least until she disappears into obscurity), The city auditor Lainey is actively trying to work against Mackey and his team, but she doesn’t really count as an enemy, Armadillo (enemy) throughout this season, Wyms, Garris, and Wagenbach (low), Shane Vendrell (high), Tevon the new addition to the Strike Team (high at first later low and finally irrelevant due to brawl with Shane that result in him crashing his car and becoming brain damaged.

Connections (Season 3):
The Decoy Squad and it’s individual members (low at first, but eventually high as the two teams start to share a sort of comradary and friendly rivalry. Officer Tommy (low), but eventually finished when Tommy goes to jail, Officer Julien Lowe oddly enough is a high connection for brief period during the period he became increasingly violent (this story line was unfortunately dropped with no explanation as to how he resolved his anger management issues), but low for most of this season, The Armenian Maffia aren’t an enemy during this season, but they are suspicious and are deffinately sniffing around the Strike Team and the Barn in general. Aceveda, Dutch, and Wyms all somewhat suspect the Strike Team’s involvement in the Armenian Money Train heist, but no one is able to prove it.

Connections (Season 4):
Antwon Mitchel (enemy, powerful) and connection (low), although he is the force of major opposition throughout the series they do meet off and on and are able to negotiate certain terms when they are mutually beneficial or they are trying to put one over on the other party, Captain Rawlings (low in the beginning, high in the end), Sergeant Danielle “Danny” Sofer (high), “Army” (low). What’s Vic’s ex-partners name. He’s worthy of a high connection from season 4 onward. He also seems to have a low connection to a Russian stripper who’s name I can’t remember from here onward as well.

Connections (Season 5):
Internal Affairs Department Lt. Jon Kavanaugh (enemy), Detective Shane Vendrell (high), Councilman David Aceveda (low) although they spend most of season butting heads they don’t seem to work against each other all that much and they do eventually rally against Kavanaugh, Sergeant Danielle “Danny” Sofer (low) arguably high, but since they don’t cross paths much this season and each have their own major problems I went with low, Antwon Mitchel (low), Acting Captain Billings (low, but at least Billings thinks it’s high), Emolia the informant (low)

Connections (Season 6):
Detective Kevin Hiatt (was high about midway through the series, but is now completely gone), He had a low connection with Cruise towards the end of the series, but it’s likely that Cruise will be a powerful enemy in the next season. It also seems it is highly like that he has a high connection with Councilman David Aceveda at the very end of the series. Vic’s reputations and street cred have taking a beating during this season and he has considerably less pull than he did previously. That and he gains the miscellaneous drawback of forced retirement. The next season is likely to focus on this.

Drawbacks:
Dependent (wife and children), Dark Secret (killing fellow law enforcement office Terry Crowley), Dark Secret (robbing the Armenian money train), Enemy (See the Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend section below), Guilt

Genre:
Near Real

Equipment:

  • .45 Smith & Wesson 4506-1 [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 08, R#02]
  • Belt radio [BODY 03, Radio communications: 05]
  • TAC VEST [BODY 06, Skin armour: 02, Invulnerability: 05, Limitations : Skin armour and Invulnerability only vs. blades and bullets, Partial coverage (vest), Drawback: Real armour]. A quite visible, heavier piece of body armour.
  • Hardened flashlight [BODY 06, EV 03 (04 w/STR), Flash: 03, Limitation : Flash only for illumination]
  • Smith & Wesson Model 640 Centennial [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 03, Ammo: 06, R#02 – a concealed backup piece]
  • Handcuffs (x3) [BODY 05]
  • Sports Car [STR 05 BODY 07, Running: 06, R#02]
  • Remington shotgun [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 06 (Diminishing), Range: 03, Ammo: 07, R#03, Advantage: Scattershot, Limitation : Projectile weapons has No Range – use the Range listed instead, Drawback: Very long reload time]

Previous Statistics

At the beginning of season 4 Vic suffered from diminished SPI 5 (possibly as low as 4), but he rather quickly gains this back.

Shortly after the death of Detective Curtis Lemmanski he had Serious Rage, MPI, SIA (avenging Lem’s death). He also didn’t have Guilt either. Also after Lem’s death lower his Mind to 5. Vic did recover from this however and his statistics seem to have returned to normal by the end of the 6th season.

On a lighter note Vic had an MIA to playing practical jokes on Dutch at the very beginning of the series and quite possibly regressed for a brief period a few seasons later.


The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

As previously stated there is a lot of moral ambiguity in this series and thus listings of any connections would need constant updating as they rapidly change not just from season to season, but from episode to episode. In particular Aceveda and Mackey have gone from having a Low Connection to Enemy no less then a dozen times.

It is even debatable that they currently (at the end of the 6th season) have a High Connection to one another. Thus it is best to assume that Mackey’s Connection and relationship to the rest of his supporting cast should be dictated as the situation and plot requires as well as what has happened recently between the characters.

It should also be assumed that Mackey usually has at least two Enemies at any given time one of which should be powerful. However Mackey should be able to reasonably contact them and vice versa. Both parties should be able to set up a meeting on neutral ground and negotiate their differences if one party has something to offer the other.

Whether these are legitimate negotiations or an attempt to gain an edge on the opposing party is entirely up to character motivation. Mackey’s Enemies are, after all human, and have their own agendas as well so truces or even peace can and are negotiated if one party has something to offer the other.

Again Aceveda has had multiple opportunities to ruin Mackey’s career, but has always refrained simply because it went against his political interest at the time and might have hurt his chances of advancing his own political career.

By Tom Eilers

Helper(s): wikipedia.org, Gareth Lewis, Jobe, Roy Cowan, Mike, Eric Langendorff, Sébastien Andrivet, KalEl Vigilante

Source of Character: The Shield on FX

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