❝Enough! This is not 'some other guy's kid', this is Mateo and I love him, and I love Jane way too much to be putting up with this disrespect❞— Michael to his parents
Michael Cordero is a 34-year-old man. He has lived in Montana under the name Jason for 4 years, after being presumed dead following the abduction and suffering amnesia as a result of electroshock. Until this happened, Michael worked as a homicide detective in Miami, Florida and was married to Jane Villanueva. When he was young, Michael used to steal cars and sell the parts for profit, with his younger brother, Billy. After getting arrested, Billy took the fall so Michael wouldn't go to prison (as he was 18 and Billy a minor).
This was a wake-up call for Michael, who then worked to clean up his act and, ironically, trained as a police officer. Michael eventually became a detective and worked in homicide, being assigned to the Sin Rostro case. Sin Rostro becomes a defining figure in Michael's life, as she kidnaps Jane's newborn, kills his former partner, Nadine, and eventually shoots Michael. Though Michael survives wounds, he is presumed dead of an aortic dissection 9 months later.
Michael is tenacious in his work, perhaps with a thirst to prove himself following his criminal youth. He seems to have trouble letting people in, despite coming from a loving and caring family, as seen when he doesn't tell Jane about his past, which could also indicate that he has low self-esteem, thinking he would lose Jane if she knew of his past mistakes.
The show opens with him and his partner Nadine Hanson hunting down the elusive Sin Rostro, "The Man Without a Face" – a known drug lord. As Detective he has shown that he will do anything to keep his loved ones safe – even if that means cutting a few corners along the way. He has been dating Jane for 2 years and understandably has his own feelings about Jane's pregnancy. Michael is supportive of Jane's abstinence and her work towards becoming a teacher.
Michael's dismissal of Jane's feelings and lying to her about his dealings with Petra put a strain on their relationship, which leads to the ending of their relationship. Almost immediately after Michael realizes Jane and Rafael are getting together, he starts up a sexual relationship with Nadine. The two continue their bantering work relationship but become perhaps all the more synchronized since their personal relationship has progressed. Although Nadine calls Michael out on his lack of professionalism in his pursuit of any evidence that might link Rafael to Sin Rostro's crimes, what she doesn't know is that Michael goes to illegal lengths to secure this.
When Petra discovers and accidentally murders the very much alive Roman Zazo, who was posing as his twin brother, Aaron, Michael comes to her rescue and gets a hold of the flash drive with the names of every Sin Rostro associate – including Nadine. Michael gives Nadine a head start after she explains the danger her family's in, and she later returns to cut a deal with the police. Michael and his superior put a tracker on Nadine's phone, hoping she will lead them to Sin Rostro's associates, or the woman herself. After Jane's break-up with Rafael, she and Michael get closer and reaffirm their friendship, leading Michael to hope that maybe there is a chance for them to begin again.
Taking Mateo's arrival and the strengthened connection between Jane and Rafael hard, Michael jumps at the chance to help them return Mateo when Rose contacts him, and he succeeds – even with Nadine questioning his duty as a Detective in not retrieving the flash drive. He even doles out Villanueva family advice to the two new men in the family – Rogelio and Rafael. After Jane says to Rafael and Michael that she is in love with them both, Michael tells her that she doesn't really love Rafael and he's not worried about his chances. Jane eventually chooses Michael and Michael is walking on air, elated. The joy is short-lived as he's fired from the Miami Police Department and takes his wrath out on Rafael, causing Mateo to sustain a minor injury. This inability to control himself around Rafael has Jane deciding to end their romance.
More fuelled than ever, Michael sets out on a quest in Mexico with Nadine to catch Sin Rostro, at any cost. Sadly, the cost turns out to be Nadine's life and Michael blames himself, feeling responsible for her death. But he did return their undercover mission with a clue, as it turns out Michael was not fired after all. Together with his new partner, who was originally hired to keep an eye on him for their superior, he works hard at figuring out the connection between Sin Rostro, and notorious Miami crime lord Mutter. After Rafael's mother, Elena Di Nola, attacked him and revealed herself to be Mutter, Michael is forced to reveal to Susanna that he let Nadine go in exchange for Mateo, as well as the flash drive. Susanna is livid and writes up a report on Michael to give to their superior, but relents as Michael discovers the flash drive 'on himself'.
Finding the first criminal, Cordero and Barnett devise a plan to lure Sin Rostro out in the open, but Barnett is wounded when Sin Rostro uses her as to escape and ends up strangled by Mutter. Michael tells Jane that he kept his distance and lied about having a girlfriend to protect her and Mateo, and they reunite. Michael re-proposes to Jane and they get engaged. He goes through conflict with his parents when they learn that he and Jane are engaged, as they don't want Jane breaking his heart again. Michael stands up for Jane and his choice when his parents rudely interrogate Jane about her leaving Michael. Eventually, Jane manages to create a "ceasefire" with Michael's parents, which alleviates the pressure on their impending union. Michael and Jane move into a new house together, but Michael is suddenly fired from the police force due to an exposé on his handling of the Sin Rostro case.
He agrees to take a temporary job as security detail for Rogelio, but misses detective work and takes it upon himself to uncover the connection between Derek and Mutter and realises that Derek actually was working with Sin Rostro to take out Mutter, who is imprisoned. Happily getting married, Michael on a fluke suddenly realizes that his supposed partner is the one who leaked the story on him and she shoots him.
Following the shooting, Michael is brought to the hospital and Jane has to decide whether to risk him never walking again when he's in surgery. She decides that he would take the risk and lets them perform the surgery, which is successful. Michael will recover, but needs to spend a good deal of time recuperating and rehabilitating. He and Jane temporarily move in with Alba and Xo and for the first time, Michael feels the emotional weight of having been shot and cries. As he gets better, Michael and Jane have sex for the first time and move into their new house. Although not entirely back at work, Michael helps Rafael with finding Luisa and when she returns, Rafael brings Michael over to hear Luisa's story, which leads Michael to call in a check on Elena Di Nola, who has just been poisoned. He and Jane learn that their rent is actually double of what they thought and that they're being evicted because they haven't paid for months. They find out that Petra actually paid the other half of their rent in secret and decide to try and cope with the dent in their budget. This leads to a fight between Michael and Jane when Michael realizes Jane has padded their budget and not told him, as she's always had to be in control in her household. Michael is offended and retorts that she's always lived at home and in the last few years has had help from Rogelio, while he's been on his own for 10 years, despite what Jane may think of his shoebox bookkeeping. They decide to move into a smaller place as the strain of their budget limitations is too much and have a farewell-housewarming party.
Michael is determined to return to the force, which is a point of contention for a worried Jane, who ultimately is supportive of his decision. He trains to get back in shape for his work physical to be allowed to return to work and Rafael offers Michael use of the Marbella gym and to work out together. When Michael gets there, he's intimidated by Rafael's physique and becomes petty, making snide comments to Rafael. He also tries to talk with Rafael about the Mutter case, which Rafael doesn't really want to discuss in public at his workplace. Afterward, Michael sees Rafael being cozy with a woman whom Michael assumes is married. He tells Jane, who talks to Rafael and Michael is proven wrong. He confides in Rogelio how he's derailed all the progress in his family dynamic with Rafael and Rogelio takes it upon himself to stage an intervention hang-out with the three of them and Mateo. Rafael is tired of all the crap he has to suffer from people's assumptions about him and, when they get a flat tire and Rogelio has to leave for his audition, they guys start fighting. In the midst of their quarrel, Mateo's suddenly gone and they panic. Luckily he crawled one lawn over, but Rafael and Michael are freaked and gain some perspective. They have a heart-to-heart where Michael admits that he is still mad at Rafael for making a move on Jane when she was engaged to Michael. Rafael apologizes to Michael and Michael, in turn, apologizes for having been such a dick to Rafael, lately, although they don't discuss their relationship before that. They reach a new understanding and go to pick up Rogelio after his audition. When there, Michael has a stroke of inspiration regarding the words in Mutter's bible and realizes it's a bank account number.
Michael and Jane move into their new house, where Michael temporarily becomes insecure when Jane is angry about Catalina dating Rafael. Michael suspects it's because feels insecure about her life in comparison to Cat's jet-setter lifestyle. They go to a socializing date with Jane's new colleagues and, irritated, Michael challenges Jane to a karaoke-off to prove to her that they aren't a boring couple. Michael continues work on the Mutter case and the account number leads them to discover Rafael's true parentage — he's not a biological child of Mutter and Emilio Solano. When he doesn't pass his physical to return to work, he's assigned desk duty instead. He's frustrated with not having access to all the work he has done and impulsively quits his job. He's upset afterward that he didn't talk with Jane first, but she tells him she understands after he explains how he felt and that he's sorry and Michael's relieved that she supports him. He gets 6 months of severance pay and is thrust into finding out what this move means for him. After making a speech to his colleagues that got a lot of laughs, he decides to try his hand at stand-up comedy. After learning that Jane didn't exactly find him super-hilarious, he changes his mind about comedy and takes an aptitude test, which suggests he should be a detective. Thinking it over, Michael realizes he has an interest in the legal proceedings he's observed as a witness in cases and decides to pursue his new career path – as an attorney.
❝And friends, I did say, Michael would love Jane until his dying breath❞— The Narrator
Four years after his death, Rafael learns from Sin Rostro that Michael is alive and that she faked his death. Rafael finds Michael and brings him to Miami, to Rafael's apartment, where Michael waits. Jane shows up for her plans with Rafael and he lets her in to see Michael standing inside. Michael looks at Jane and she's overcome to see him alive.
Jane faints after seeing Michael alive and Michael's new dog, Bo, brings her back by licking her face. Michael's lived in Montana for the last 4 years, goes by Jason and has a different dialect. He tells them that he woke up in a field and a woman told him not to try to uncover his identity, as people were looking for him. This scared Jason, who decided to just live a quiet life. Rafael tells them that Rose abducted Michael after drugging him so his heart rate would slow enough to simulate death. She then fried his temporal lobe and hippocampus with electroshock, until he couldn't remember who he was. Michael just tells Jane what he knows and calls her M'am, which Jane finds strange and somewhat unsettling. Feeling uncomfortable, he takes a walk to clear his head. Jane waits for Michael after Rafael leaves and Michael comes back the moment she's about to leave. She awkwardly hugs him and leaves the apartment. Later on, he goes to the Villanueva House to look at Michael's things that may jog his memory. He also re-meets the family, and Rogelio is sad that he doesn't remember him. In Chapter Eighty-Five, Michael regains his memory and stays married to Jane for the time being.
When they were teenagers, Michael had a record and the two worked together stealing cars and selling the parts out of a garage. When they were caught by the police, Billy took the fall due to Michael's record and the fact that Billy was underage. Michael tells Jane that he subsequently got his life together, while Billy stayed in the illegal trade. Michael's reaction to Billy's arrival at his engagement party is defensive and watchful, and Billy even makes threats about Jane to Michael, when asking him for money. Later, however, they are seen working together as Michael asks Billy for help and there is an almost natural rhythm to their co-operation. Billy is not present at Jane & Michael's wedding.
Michael's mother seems to be well-meaning in her dislike of Michael's engagement to Jane, as Michael apparently talked to his parents after the break-up. She's adamant that Michael not marry Jane, but tries to give them a chance by showing up to the engagement party, only to balk at Jane's non-appearance. Patricia found out her husband cheated on her with his dental hygienist and they acrimoniously divorced, yet come together in their attempt to stop Michael from marrying Jane.
Michael Cordero Sr.
Michael's parents are acrimoniously divorced and haven't been in the same room since Michael's high school graduation in 2004. That all changes when they find out that Michael and Jane are engaged to be married – again. Michael Sr. disapproves of Michael marrying Jane, seeing as how she broke his heart. Along with his no-longer-so-estranged ex-wife, he doesn't take well to Jane, and Patricia lets Jane know that she and Michael Sr. will only show up at the wedding for Michael's sake.
Michael's grandmother makes an appearance at his and first Jane's engagement party, but nothing is really known about her, nor whether she is the paternal or maternal grandmother.
- Main article: Michael and Jane
Michael meets Jane, while on duty as a cop, on her 21st birthday in 2012 and they are instantly attracted to one another. They date for two years and Michael quickly plans to propose. Their relationship is altered by Jane's pregnancy and they ultimately break up but stay in each other's orbit as Jane relies on Michael being a part of her life, and Michael is unwilling to let her go. After Rafael breaks Jane's heart, she and Michael toy with reuniting but are halted and take some time apart from each other's lives. When Sin Rostro is killed, they reunite and start dating again. They are currently married until Michael's death, leaving Jane a widow. However, as of recent events, it's been revealed that Michael is still alive having apparently faked his own death.
- Main article: Michael and Nadine
Michael and Nadine are assigned to each other as partners before the beginning of the show and seem to be quite familiar with one another. Their relationship is competitive in nature and consists mostly of banter and racing towards finding Sin Rostro. After Jane breaks up with Michael, he kisses Nadine and they start a fling. When Nadine is revealed to be working for Sin Rostro because she threatened Nadine's family, Michael lets her go and Nadine later returns and agrees to help Michael track down Sin Rostro, and is killed in the process.
Andie and Michael started dating again in 2015, after not seeing each other for 3 years. It turns out Andie net stalked Michael a bit and spent time with Jane to get back together with him and suss out whether he and Jane were completely through. Michael found this out and dumped Andie via text message after he found out that Jane and Rafael had broken up.
- Michael wasn't supposed to be alive, but Jennie Urman decided to bring him back after finishing Season 3.
- Originally, Michael was supposed to die sooner, but due to Brett Dier's performance, the character was kept alive long enough for him and Jane to marry and move in together.
- This quote from Chapter Ten started the ongoing theory that Michael was going to die, which came true:
- Michael – We belong together. And I'll never stop believing that
- The Narrator – And for as long as Michael lived until he drew his very last breath, he never did
- ―Chapter Ten
SEASONS 1 & 2 — All episodes
- Chapter Forty-Five • Chapter Forty-Six • Chapter Forty-Seven • Chapter Forty-Eight • Chapter Forty-Nine • Chapter Fifty • Chapter Fifty-One • Chapter Fifty-Two • Chapter Fifty-Three • Chapter Fifty-Four • Chapter Fifty-Five • Chapter Sixty-Four
- Chapter Eighty-Two • Chapter Eighty-Three • Chapter Eighty-Four • Chapter Eighty-Five • Chapter Eighty-Six • Chapter Eighty-Seven • Chapter Eighty-Eight
Notes and references