Life TV NBC CharlieCrews infobox 01
Charles "Charlie" Crews Jr.
Family Charles Crews Sr. (father)
Jennifer Conover (ex wife)
Occupation Homicide detective
Played By Damian Lewis

Detective Charles "Charlie" Crews Jr. is a homicide detective in the Los Angeles Police Department. He is currently partnered with Jane Seever. His previous partners were Detective Dani Reese and Officer Bobby Stark.


Charlie appears happy and full of life.

While incarcerated, Crews began reading The Path to Zen, leading to his adoption of a zen Buddhist outlook. While he often appears dreamily preoccupied and makes esoteric zen remarks, Crews is still deeply troubled and exhibits conflict between following Buddhist precepts and seeking retribution for his imprisonment.

Throughout the series it is implied that he has never killed, but when anyone mentions his time in prison and what he did to a guard, Charlies either changes the topic or just say "In prison I did a lot of things."

Charlie will often hint at his incarceration if given a chance, but rarely if ever brings up his imprisonment - even if doing so would improve his rapport with a suspect or victim. [citation needed]

Early LifeEdit

Crews was an ordinary police officer whose simple life came to an abrupt end when his friends, the Seybolt family, were brutally murdered. The sole survivor was the daughter, Rachel Seybolt. Charlie and Tom Seybolt owned a bar together. Crews was put on trial and convicted for the murders. Stripped of his badge and innocence, Crews was given a life sentence, where he suffered horribly. Because he was a police officer, the prisoners were eager to beat him regularly and brutally. His depression worsened as his friends and loved ones turned on him, believing him guilty, and the world at large moved on without him. Charlie's wife divorced him while he was in prison.

While Charlie was in prison at Pelican Bay, he spent some of his time in solitary for his own protection. One day out in the "yard", he discovered the book of Zen.

After twelve years, Crews' lawyer proved his innocence. Charlie was exonerated, given a substantial settlement ($50 million) which Ted Earley (his former prison friend and new roommate) manages and expands over the course of the series. Additionally, he was reinstated to the LAPD, and promoted to detective in the homicide division.


Charlie Crews served twelve years of a life sentence for a triple homicide he did not commit. During that time, Charlie lost everything he had - his wife, his friends, and his fellow cops.

Charlie Crews was a cop in prison. It would have been easier if they had sentenced him to death. Everyone wanted a piece of him, guards as well as inmates. Charlie was in the prison hospital more than he was out. In order to ensure his safety, it was decided that Charlie would serve the remainder of his sentence, the remainder of his life, in twenty-three hour a day lockdown. Twenty-three hours a day in a six by eight foot cell. Charlie lost his mind. He talked to the walls, to himself, to his wife who couldn't hear him. And always, he heard the voice in his head saying, "I didn't do it."

After two years in that locked box, though, guilt began to creep into Charlie. He began to wonder, "Did I do it?" If he was in this box being punished, he must have done something. Then during his one hour a day all alone in the isolated prison yard, he discovered a book lying on the ground - The Way of Zen. When he finally decided to pick it up, Charlie read the whole book in one sitting. He read it again the next day. Sometimes he read only one page a day, sometimes only one word. That book gave him himself back. He was here, in this cell. That was all he had but it was all he had. This was his life. It was then that Charlie requested a spot back in general population. If this was his life, he would live it in the presence of other human beings.

When Constance Griffiths came to see Charlie with the proposition of re-opening his case, of giving Charlie hope, Charlie told her there was no outside world to which he could return. There was only this place, and he was here, now. Please leave him alone. But Constance wouldn't do that. And finally Charlie consented to let her help him.

The first tests were negative for Charlie's DNA. The path to exoneration looked clear. Along with his Exoneration Plea, Constance had filed suit against the Los Angeles Police Department and the City of Los Angeles. They were both more than happy to pay cash in order to get the exoneration put behind them. But Charlie wanted more than cash; Charlie wanted his badge and gun back. He would have been a detective by now, so Constance got that for him as well.

Freedom nearly blinded Charlie Crews. It was as if he had to learn everything again. Constance helped him shop for a house, and he bought the first one he saw, big and new and empty. He also bought a car, a Bentley. He went to the doctor, the dentist, the beach. Constance was always by his side.

After the first month of freedom, Charlie found Ted Earley, whom he had taken under his wing in prison, alone and broke in a cheap motel. Charlie took Ted home with him and gave him a room above his garage. Although Ted can no longer handle money in publicly held companies, he can handle Charlie's settlement money, which he does. Maybe it's not a good idea to let a convicted felon handle your settlement money. But maybe it's not such a good idea to get attached to that money in the first place.

When Charlie returns to the force, he brings his prison knowledge with him. He now knows the law from both sides, as cop and con. He also understands that his version of Zen applies to being a cop. Charlie believes everything is connected - victims, bystanders, witnesses, even his new partner, Dani Reese, who has a wall at which Charlie insists on picking away, not only out of curiosity, but also because it's fun. Regardless, she is his partner, and Charlie will back her up one hundred percent.

But the badge and the newfound wealth can't change what Charlie has been through. His world is a different one than the rest of us see, because his world lacks social pretense. And although there is darkness in Charlie's story, darkness in Charlie's job, Charlie will never stop trying to find the light.[1]


Crews has a particularly difficult relationship with his father, Charles Crews Sr. shows open contempt for him (to the point he insists on being called "Charlie" to distinguish himself from him), as he was among the first to believe Charlie guilty, and went so far as to forbid Charlie's mother from visiting Charlie in prison, which Charlie believes lead to her death. Crews' father broke into Crews' house to deliver a wedding invitation and was shot by Crews, who believed him to be a home invader. The wound was minor and his father recovered, but their relationship is still strained.

Season OneEdit

While fulfilling his police responsibilities, Crews attempts to reconnect with his friends and loved ones, working to put his life back together and come to grips with his place in the world. He is most successful with his former partner, Officer Bobby Stark, enlisting his help on cases and even briefly re-partnering with him in an unofficial capacity. Crews also attempts to reconnect with his ex-wife Jennifer, who believed him guilty, divorcing him and remarrying while Crews was still in prison. Unknown to anyone except Ted, Crews is pursuing an unauthorized and illegal investigation to uncover the truth about his conviction and incarceration.

Season TwoEdit

Crews' investigations gradually gained more and more attention, most notably from the Group. In response, they sent FBI Special Agent Paul Bodner, one of their operatives, to kill Crews. Bodner shot Crews as he answered the door. Crews nearly died and had an out-of-body experience. Once he recovered, he re-cast the bullet Bodner shot him with, and shot Bodner in the leg with it to "get even."



  • Charlie displays an intense enjoyment of fruit. According to him, fresh fruit is never available in prison. He eats fruit repeatedly in each episode.


  1. Official site