Max Hawthorne is a 9-year-old schoolboy who lives in Patience. He is able to see through Harry Vanderspeigle's human form and is greatly disturbed by him, at least at first. His bedroom is filled with paraphernalia related to aliens and outer space. He is the son of Ben and Kate Hawthorne.
He is one of only one in a million humans who is able to see through the molecular reconstruction process used by the alien's species to assume another identity, thanks to a genetic mutation. Vanderspeigle finds it uncanny that someone like him would be present in a town of only a thousand people. Max's ability is such that he is actually physically unable to see the guise that Vanderspeigle has adopted, seeing only the true form of the alien. The same power also gives him the ability to see a "green glow" emitted by items of alien origin, even when such items are hidden. Max's ability initially leads to antagonism between him and Vanderspeigle, the alien seeking to kill him as a threat, while he tries to expose the alien's true nature. When he befriends the girl Sahar, a truce is eventually brokered, resulting in Max and Vanderspeigle finding themselves no longer at odds and Max even aiding Vanderspeigle at times.
His mother is a teacher at his school, which has led to him becoming something of an outcast, and his public claim that Vanderspeigle is an alien has not helped him either. He has also taken to wearing tinfoil hats, believing that it can protect him from any mental powers that the alien might try to use on him. Max forms a friendship with a girl named Sahar after he is kind to her when she is bullied. She is his only friend at school and the only one of his classmates to believe his claim that Vanderspeigle is an alien, even though she herself is unable to see through his human disguise.
Max is a young Caucasian schoolboy of approximately average height for a child his age. He has short, dark brown hair.
Max Hawthorne is out in the downtown of Patience, Colorado with his mother, Kate, when he sees Harry Vanderspeigle emerging from the town clinic. The come face-to-face and Max immediately screams upon seeing Harry, racing for the family car and locking himself inside. Kate is puzzled by her son's strange behavior, but Vanderspeigle immediately recognizes that Max is one of the one people in approximately one million humans able to recognize him as an alien by seeing through the molecular reconstruction process used to create his alien disguise.
Following a night of drinking, Vanderspeigle's thoughts turn to the boy and he decides that his only solution is to kill him in his sleep before he becomes a problem. He sneaks into his bedroom and proceeds to try to kill him, but is unable to prevent him from screaming, sending his parents, Kate and Ben, into the room. He hides under Max's bed and manages to evade detection, as the tired parents, having heard one too many stories of aliens under the bed, think that Max is just imagining things from having watched too many scary movies. The two allow Max to come with them to sleep in their bed and Vanderspeigle gets away. As Max's parents escort him out of his bedroom, Vanderspeigle gives him the finger.
Not long afterwards, Vanderspeigle assumes the role of the new town doctor. He is told that his first patient is waiting for him in the exam room. He heads there and pulls back the curtain, to reveal Max, who screams. "Yeah, this is some bullshit," agrees Vanderspeigle.
Annoyed at once again seeing the boy, Vanderspeigle makes another cursory attempt to kill him, but he runs away and hides underneath a bench outside. When confronted by his parents, he tells them that the doctor is an alien and warns them that he'll kill them too if they don't get away and protect themselves. Once again, the two do not believe him, but Max adamantly refuses to return to the clinic. Exasperated, Ben finally agrees to take him with him to his office, but warns that he's bringing him back if his throat doesn't get better.
At the office, the topic of discussion is the recent murder of Sam Hodges, the town doctor that Vanderspeigle has replaced. Hearing everyone talking about, Max tells the sheriff, Mike Thompson, that it was Vanderspeigle who killed Hodges and that he's an alien. Thompson, a highly-strung man, is not impressed, certain that Max is just making up stories. He asks Max if he has HBO in his home and suggests that he binge-watch the first season of Oz, then come back and tell him if he wants to go to prison. He leaves him with his deputy, Liv Baker, who apologizes for Thompson's attitude, commenting that Thompson is merely a big teddy bear... with severe anger and control issues. Max is unimpressed, whining that Thompson didn't believe him about the alien, that nobody does. She suggests that the alien is putting up some some sort of mind shield that only he can see through. He agrees that makes sense and she tells him that she's a sketch artist and could draw a picture of the alien.
Baker draws the picture and, using it, Max creates a number of wanted posters and begins posting them around town. Vanderspeigle sees the posters and is aggravated, ripping them down, but decides that Max isn't going to just go away and he needs to try something else. He calls up Max's house in a high-pitched voice and asks to speak with him, pretending to be one of his classmates. When Max takes the phone, however, he realizes that he doesn't recognize him from school and calls him out of on this. He then changes his story, claiming to be a "post office man" who saw one of his posters, but Max sees through this story also. Frustrated, Vanderspeigle curses at him before hanging up.
The next day, Max falls off his bike in the driveway and scrapes his leg badly after Vanderspeigle cut the brakes on his bicycle. His father Ben takes him to the clinic, where Vanderspeigle apologizes for his loss, not seeing Max at first and believing incorrectly that he killed him. When Ben, however, reveals that Max, however, only needs stitches, he is irritated. The two have a fraught conversation in which Max puts on a show of obeying the good doctor for the benefit of his father, while at the same time telling him in a whisper that he won't be a good boy and refusing to allow him to administer Novocain to dull the pain. Max therefore sits and takes it as Vanderspeigle stitches up his wound, even boldly suggesting that he might need more stitches and likening the pain to a mosquito bite on his arm. Finally all stitched up, Vanderspeigle warns him that something horrible could happen to him if he's not careful, but Max simply tricks him by telling him his shoe's untied.
Someone who believes
Max's mother Kate pays a visit to Vanderspeigle, asking why her son is behaving why he is. At first, he thinks that she believes her son's story, but after realizing this is not the case, suggests that it might be neglect. Kate agrees that this could be the case, saying that it's hard for her son, having a teacher who works at school.
That morning, Max is bullied in the halls of his school by students who have seen his posters and think he's some sort of freak. They ridicule his claim and knock him to the ground, another of them also bullying a Muslim girl named Sahar, knocking her Trapper-Keeper out of her hands. Seeing her being bullied, Max walks over and picks up it for her.
At lunch, Max sits at a lonely table. To his utter embarrassment, his mother approaches him, telling she just wanted to stop by to see how he was doing. Mortified, he asks what she's doing and even offers to pay her to go away. She then exacerbates the situation by giving him a hug before leaving, causing everyone to again begin ridiculing him, recognizing him as the boy who put up the posters. As his face burns, Sahar comes up and sits in the seat across from him. He asks if she wants to make fun of him too, but she replies that she doesn't, that she believes him.
The next day, the two visit a cafe where Vanderspeigle is having lunch. Seeing him, Sahar agrees with Max that he's disgusting, and definitely the person who cut the brakes on his bike. She then tells him that she's going in for a closer look. Max watches in astonishment as she approaches his table, then knocks over his drink cup. She and Max then race out of the cafe together, leaving Vanderspeigle to wonder "What the hell?"
Dinner and an apple
Max's parents sit him down for a talk, offering him cookies. Convinced that they're about to give him bad news, he comes to the conclusion that they're getting a divorce. To his shock, they tell him that they're not getting a divorce, but rather that they've invited Harry Vanderspeigle over for dinner. Hearing this, he races into his room, screams, and then radios Sahar via walkie-talkie and tells her that his life is over. When he tells her about the dinner date, however, she says that it's good news. She says that he's been wanting to get into Vanderspeigle's cabin and that she has a plan.
When Vanderspeigle arrives for dinner, Max plays the role of the good boy, dressing in his Sunday best and acting as though Vanderspeigle is a prized guest. His behavior confuses Vanderspeigle, who doesn't know that while Max is being nice to him, Sahar is busy stealing the keys to his cabin and having copies made. As the dinner comes to a close, Max tries various stall tactics to get him and his guest, D'Arcy Bloom, to stay longer, including reading a school book report. Finally, the two leave, despite Max's best efforts, but Sahar reveals that Max that she was successful in their mission.
The two then bike to Vanderspeigle's cabin, though on the way there they are stopped Sheriff Mike Thompson for failing to signal while turning. Thompson sends them on their way with a warning, complimenting them on being outside and getting fresh air instead of staying at home being glued to screens. The two arrive at the cabin and make their way to Vanderspeigle's basement, where they discover pieces of metal, a padlock on his freezer, and most disturbingly of all, an apple floating over a saucer. When they reach out to touch it, they are blasted backwards and land unconscious on the basement floor. Vanderspeigle arrives home and discovers the two, the feels for their pulses and is disappointed to discover that they're still alive. He places them in duffle bags and takes them upstairs, where is disturbed to discover a woman who claims to be his wife.
Georgia on My Mind
Vanderspeigle returns both Max and Sahar to their homes alive, reflecting on how much he hates Max for pretending to like him only for him to have sneaked into his cabin. Meanwhile, back at the Hawthorne home, Max's parents are in a panic about Max being missing, only to discover him apparently sleeping safely in his bedroom closet. They try to fend off Sheriff Mike Thompson, who was about to launch a full investigation, only for Thompson to reveal that he had caught Max out biking on Route 16. The group is then shocked when Max admits to having broken into Vanderspeigle's cabin, but then he claims to have discovered evidence of Vanderspeigle being an alien and says that Sahar will back him up. When they visit Sahar's place, however, Sahar tells them that she doesn't even remember going to Vanderspeigle's cabin.
Ben and Kate take Max to the clinic, trying to make him apologize to Vanderspeigle. Vanderspeigle, however, refuses to accept Max's apology, saying that it's not sincere, and Max admits that he doesn't really want to apologize. Deciding to play Max's parents against him, Vanderspeigle gives Max a test, showing him a set of photos and telling him to pick out the photo that depicts him, Harry Vanderspeigle. Since Max can only the alien, he fails the test. Vanderspeigle then tells Max's parents that Max suffers from teraphobia (a severe fear of monsters) as well as face-blindness and anxiety. He recommends a special school in Georgia as the best choice for Max.
Back at home, Max overhears his parents planning to send him to the special school. He walkie-talkies Sahar, complaining about her not believing her, and tells her about his having to go away. She replies that she never said that she doesn't believe him, just that she doesn't remember. She also tells him that she has a plan. The next day, the two meet Vanderspeigle in the cafe. There, Sahar paints a strange scenario in which she and Max somehow both hold their breath until they die and their deaths get blamed on Vanderspeigle. She convinces him to make a truce with Max, that Max stops trying to convince everyone that Vanderspeigle is an alien, and in exchange, he tells Max's parents that he doesn't need to go to the special school, and also stops trying to kill him. Vanderspeigle reluctantly agrees and asks Max if he has any questions. Max asks how it is that he's able to see him as an alien and he explains about his special genetic makeup. He then asks Max why it is that humans fold their pizza and the two spend some time talking and bonding, Vanderspeigle's hatred of Max melting away.
Following the arrival of a new doctor in Patience, Dr. Ethan Stone, Max's father Ben thanks Vanderspeigle for his service before he leaves. Vanderspeigle tells him that he made a mistake and that his son doesn't need to go to the institute in Georgia. Ben is shocked at the possibility that Vanderspeigle misdiagnosed his son and, afraid of looking stupid in front of the new doctor, Vanderspeigle backpedals and tells him that his son is actually very sick and does need to go the institute.
The green glow
Max's parents present him with a video of what life is like at the institute in Georgia, "the Donnelly Institute, providing the highest quality of care to your children." Kate asks what he thinks, saying that they have horses and Max asks why they hate him. They tell him that they love him, and they don't use the word "hate." Max, however, calls them out for hypocrisy. They try to turn the conversation back to the institute, saying that it's like Hogwarts and Harry Potter, but Max shouts that Harry Potter was a freak. He asks if Vanderspeigle called them, saying that he had changed his mind, but they tell him that Dr. Ethan Stone is the new doctor now and he agrees with the assessment. They tell him that their decision is final and he stalks off and slams his door. He then confronts Vanderspeigle at Joe's Diner, asking what's going on. Vanderspeigle tells him that he told his parents he could rot at the institute, that he's not good at truces. He tells Max to go away, saying that he has a lot of "being human" to do, and Max shouts at him that if this is so, he shouldn't have alien stuff in his truck.
Later, having come to a realization, Vanderspeigle again breaks into Max's room. Max asks him what he's doing there and he tells him that he wanted chips and it was easier to break into his house than a grocery store. He asks him how he knew there was "alien stuff" in his truck with it being under a tarp and Max tells him that it's because of the "green glow." Vanderspeigle realizes that Max can see the alien technology using the same ability that allows him to see through his reconstruction. He asks Max to help him find his device and to put popcorn on the shopping list. Max tells him he's not doing anything for him unless he gets him out of going to the Donnelly Institute and Vanderspeigle agrees. He leaves, but not before telling Max he peed in his bed.
He talks to Max's parents, telling him that he misdiagnosed their son. He then meets up with Max and tests him, discovering that Max's ability only works normally when he uses his naked eye. He tells him that he's going to construct something to assist him. Max asks what his device does and he lies, saying that it's a sort of radio. The two then break into the school, where Vanderspeigle steals materials from a science lab and uses them to construct a telescope. He then trains the telescope on the mountain and Max uses his ability, successfully locating Vanderspeigle's device on the glacier. He tells Vanderspeigle that there's no way he can go there, but Vanderspeigle leaves anyway. He shouts at him not to go, attracting the attention of Asta Twelvetrees and D'Arcy Bloom. They ask him what's going on and where Vanderspeigle is going and are shocked when he tells them he's headed to the glacier. "Why?" they ask him, but he shouts at them to talk to his lawyer and runs off.
The Men in Black
After learning that Vanderspeigle nearly died on the glacier, Max pays him a visit. There, he learns that Vanderspeigle would have died if not for Asta Twelvetrees's help, and is a bit annoyed to find out that now Twelvetrees knows Vanderspeigle's secret as well. Vanderspeigle points out that it stopped being a secret when Max told Sahar, indicating Sahar, hovering outside. Max lets her in and she asks if he's trying to shut her out, pointing out that there would be no truce if not for her. They ask him about his "radio," and he reveals that it lost power in the accident. Sahar asks why he doesn't just leave in his spaceship and then realizes that it's been captured, suggesting that it might have been taken by the Men in Black. She suggests the hardware store as a possible source of parts for his radio, but he replies that he's out of luck unless they know somebody else that has encountered aliens. At this, Max gives him a suggestion, which leads him to a UFO Con in New Mexico. While he is attending the con, Lisa Casper and David Logan attend dinner at Max's house, Casper having discovered one of Max's flyers with Vanderspeigle's picture. They pose as a married couple and during a lull in the dinner, Casper sneaks into Max's room and discovers a piece from Vanderspeigle's spaceship in a candy box. Later, Max, who had been out watching a movie with Sahar, returns to his room and discovers a recording of the incident on his computer, having set up cameras in the room.
While Casper hopes to use Max in order to track down the alien, Max and Sahar spring a trap, using Max's mother's cell phone to track them instead. The plan backfires, however, when Casper realizes the ploy and instead breaks into the Hawthorne family household. She then corners Max and Sahar and demands information from Max, Logan trying to appeal to the boy's better instincts by explaining that he believes that the alien is there to kill them all. Kate Hawthorne then finishes her exercising in an upstairs room and comes down, so Casper locks her in a closet, determined to get the information out of Max. One of Logan's comments leads Sahar to realize that Logan is likely right about Vanderspeigle, though Max says that he can talk him out of it. When Casper threatens violence if Max does not tell her the truth, he tries another ploy: when she demands to know why his picture of the alien is wearing a white coat, he tells her that the alien is the "town doctor." Kate then breaks out of the closet and her husband, Ben, who has managed to make his way into the house, joins her in delivering the two government agents an epic drubbing, forcing them out of the house. A stunned Max then watches as his parents kiss and make out.
Max then gets into touch with Asta Twelvetrees, telling her that Vanderspeigle is there to kill everyone on Earth and that he thinks he knows where he's going. The two then track Vanderspeigle to the government facility where his spaceship is being held. The watch him start to take off with it, but then are captured by a trio of government agents. Seeing them, Vanderspeigle reluctantly lowers his spaceship. Twelvetrees tells Max to run and hide as Vanderspeigle blasts the government agents holding them. She then manages to talk Vanderspeigle out of killing everyone on Earth. He returns to spaceship and allows his device to detonate harmlessly in space, at which point Max reveals that he was hiding aboard the spaceship. He asks Vanderspeigle "You're taking me home, right?" and the alien replies "This is some bullshit!"
Return to Earth
When Vanderspeigle refuses to take Max home, the two of them get into a struggle. The struggle results in the spaceship crashing back to Earth. Vanderspeigle rescues Max, but loses his memory in the process. Asta, who was unable to find Max at the launch site, pays a visit to his household, carrying the unhappy duty of telling his parents that he is missing. She is stunned to find him there with them when she arrives, apparently no worse for the wear. As she leaves, Max takes her aside and tells her to meet him at Patience's baseball field in twenty minutes. She does so, and he reveals that Vanderspeigle's spaceship is there, but invisible. Asta wonders where Vanderspeigle is and takes off in search of him, telling Max to stand guard over the spaceship.
The plan quickly runs into a snag when a couple of teenagers show up and don't buy Max's statement that the field is closed. Just then, however, Sahar shows up, sounding and airhorn and warding off the teens with a story about an underground sewage leak and how they'll catch "eye-arrhea" if they get too close. She and Max then work together to guard the field until Ben shows up, saying that Kate is worried sick. He makes Max go back home and Sahar has to leave as well. Max and Sahar then contact Asta, warning her that the plan to guard the field has been compromised.
The ball and the hair
Max later pays a visit to Vanderspeigle in his cabin, happy to say him and expressing his appreciation at him having protected him the wake of the crash. Vanderspeigle, however, refuses to admit to this, instead chastising Max for having caused the crash in the first place. He tells him to chop himself up in a ceiling fan. He shows him the balls that he was forced to shrink his spaceship down into. Max tells him that he can pretend that he doesn't like him but he knows he does, that he saved his life on the ship. Harry insists that he didn't, but Max says that he did and he's like his father. Harry demands that he take it back and grabs him and playfully spanks him as if he is his parent. He tells Max that he is meaningless to him. "I know you are, but what am I?" asks Max, trapping him with the childish gambit. Before leaving he steals one of Harry's spaceship balls. That evening, Max discovers that hair has grown all over his chest.
Harry wakes up in the morning to discover that in addition to the hair on his back, he has also grown a full mustache and beard. He calls in the help of Sahar, who is happy to help him shave. As he does not reveal having stolen Harry's spaceship ball, she believes that Max's rapid hair growth is simply a result of going into space. She researches the matter, but is confused when she learns that astronauts returning from space experienced lowered levels of testosterone and other growth hormones. The two confront Harry, but Harry refuses to divulge any information because Max won't admit the truth about having stolen his spaceship ball. Max later develops hair upon his back, which Sahar helps him to wax, but balks when he speaks to her in a deep voice, trying to hit on her. She finally gets the truth out of him and the two of them again confront Harry. She tells him that she's taken his ball and she suspects that Max will now go back to normal, but that she's hidden his ball where he'll never find it.
Harry later confronts Max and Sahar at Joe's Diner, saying that he's built a radio to call his people and tell them not to come. He says that they can now give him his ball back, but Sahar claims that she gave it to her father to golf. In response, Harry threatens to have his people kill only just them, but Sahar threatens something vile in return. After he leaves, Max comments that it's cool he's building a radio to save him, but Sahar replies that he's building a bomb and not a radio. The two later go to Asta Twelvetrees, where they report to her Sahar's bomb theory.
Max pays a visit to the town cemetery with his father, Ben. There, Max is delighted when he learns that there is a monument there to the 59 who died trying to save one in the town mine collapse and that they're all buried there. During the visit, the two encounter Deputy Liv Baker. Liv asks Max if he remembers the sketch that he had her draw of the alien, but he lies to her and tells her that he made it all up, that aliens aren't real.
Later, Max is outside spending time with Sahar, who has recently started a dog-walking business. The two stop by Joe's Diner for ice cream cones and Sahar leaves the dog that she walking, Murphy, to a railing outside. When they exit, however, the dog is gone and in the dog's place is a note from Harry telling her to return the alien ball if she ever wants to see the dog again. Max says that they win again, that the dog isn't even Sahar's. Sahar, however, tells him that the dog is her responsibility and she has to get it back. They head to the RV where she hid the alien ball inside a teddy bear, only to discover that it is gone, having been taken by one of the government agents.
Following this, Max takes part in a play about the 59 along with a number of the other town schoolchildren, including Sahar. The play is a bizarre affair which shows the miners' deaths in grisly detail, followed by song titled "Where Have All the Daddies Gone?" The play seemingly makes Mayor Ben the laughingstock of the town. That evening, however, when Max and Kate are leaving for a trip to Kate's mother's house, Ben discovers Max singing the song. He is surprised, but Max tells him that the song is the best ever, that the play was awesome and that the blood was so cool.
After Max and Kate return from the trip, he and Sahar and spend an evening at the Hawthorne house while Ben and Kate are busy attending a surprise party for Harry Vanderspeigle that Ben has arranged in the hope of getting him to again become town doctor. Sahar overhears the details of this in a phone conversation that their babysitter, the nurse Ellen Cho, is having. She asks Max what happened to Dr. Ethan and Max tells her that Dr. Ethan "left" the same night that the government agents came. Sahar ask him if his brain is up his butt. She explains to him that Dr. Ethan didn't leave, that he was kidnapped by the government agents because Max told them that the alien is the "town doctor." She says that they have to go and warn Asta, but Max wonders how they can do so, given that they have a babysitter. Sahar tells him that she has the perfect plan. "Sleeping pills?" he asks, but she replies "Nature convoy videos."
The two of them bore Ellen to sleep by showing said nature convoy videos on a tablet. They then make to sneak out, only for Ellen to startle awake as they're about to exit. She asks where they're going and they both tell a different lie in unison. She tells them to just get home before their parents come back and to not do drugs. As they leave, Sahar mutters to Max that she's a terrible babysitter. They arrive at Harry's cabin, only to be shocked as they witness an alien baby eating a racoon and spitting out the bones. Sahar asks Max if he knows what it means. "That racoon bones don't taste good?" he wonders, but Sahar says it means that Harry is breeding alien babies.
They eventually find Asta and tell her that they came to warn her about the Men in Black, that they took Dr. Ethan. Sahar starts to explain, saying that in the spring, Max told them that Dr. Ethan was the alien. Max turns to Sahar, saying that she doesn't speak for him, but then confirms that what she just said is right. They also warn her about the alien baby, but she already knows. She asks what they're doing there, given that they have a babysitter, but Sahar tells her it's Ellen. Asta then tasks her adoptive father, Dan Twelvetrees, with taking them home.
"There's an alien under the bed!" - "Pilot"
"Is there a mosquito in here? 'Cause I think I just got a tiny bite on my arm." - Max, regarding the pain from Vanderspeigle's stitches, "Homesick"
"You're taking me home, right?" - Max, revealing he has stowed aboard Harry Vanderspeigle's spaceship, "Heroes of Patience"
- Despite still being credited as starring cast, Judah Prehn does not appear as Max Hawthorne in the sixth episode of Resident Alien, "Sexy Beast."
- He is one of only two characters on the series to date depicted as being able to see through to the Harry Vanderspeigle alien's true form and, in fact, is completely unaware of what his human form looks like. The other character is Peter Bach, whom Vanderspeigle meets at an alien convention.