Mike Thompson is the sheriff of Pike County, in which the city of Patience, Colorado is located. His deputy is Liv Baker. He is a no-nonsense individual who is immediately suspicious of the odd behavior of Harry Vanderspeigle, an alien who has assumed the identity of a doctor. He has designated the town's mayor, Ben Hawthorne, as "Mayor Snowflake." He possesses the quirky ability to both beatbox and hum at the same time. Baker describes him as being a "teddy bear... with severe control and anger issues." He prefers to be called by the nickname "Big Black," though the other characters on the series don't like calling him this, due to the racial overtones, of which he is apparently unaware. He previously worked in Washington D.C. before moving to Patience and at some point prior to this served in the military.
Mike Thompson has a highly controlling personality which often rubs other individuals the wrong way. His take-charge natures leads to him wanting to be in control of everything, sometimes even to the detriment of an investigation. He often discards the advice of others, but his sometimes complete disregard for others' feelings pushes his deputy Liv Baker to the breaking point, causing her to quit. Afterwards, a conversation with his father forces him to re-evaluate his behavior, leading him to realize that he has been ignoring and belittling someone with a truly keen investigative mind. He makes up with his deputy and invites her back onto the force, after which he begins treating her deductions with much more respect, even going so far as to purchase her a gift to express his appreciation.
Mike Thompson is a tall, African-American male. He typically wears a black sheriff's uniform and hat and has a near-perpetual scowl due to his high-strung personality.
Mike Thompson arrived with his deputy, Liv Baker, at the lakeside cavern of Harry Vanderspeigle, a doctor who regularly took a week's vacation once a year at the cabin before returning to his practice. He explained to Baker that this year, instead of returning, he simply stayed and has been there ever since. The two summoned Vanderspeigle from the lake, whre he was fishing, not realizing that the individual in question was actually an alien who had killed Vanderspeigle and assumed his form. Thompson introduced himself by the nickname "Big Black," telling Thompson that there had been a murder in town and they needed him to come down and look at the body. He asked why they need him to do this, if there wasn't a town doctor, and Thompson explained that the individual who had been murdered was, in fact, the town doctor, Sam Hodges of the Patience Health Clinic.
After Vanderspeigle determined that the cause of death was, in fact, murder, Sheriff Thompson and Deputy Baker continued to investigate the case. Thompson came to believe that they might be facing a serial killer after a fisherman trawling the town's lake discovered a foot. He launched a full search of the lake, overriding the pleas of Mayor Ben Hawthorne, who had seasickness. However, no body turned up and, unbeknownst to them, the body they were seeking was actually that of the human Harry Vanderspeigle. The alien discovered the body and hid it before they could investigate further.
Thompson and Baker's investigations led them to a new clue when they learned from Asta Twelvetrees that one of Sam Hodge's prescription pads had been stolen from the Patience Health Clinic. When they asked why she had not reported this sooner, she told them that she thought at first Hodges might have simply used it himself to write his own prescription for his insulin, because he was diabetic. Thompson later discovered that Baker had created her own "murder board" regarding the case and theorized that the killer had poisoned Hodges's insulin. Though he had never shown much respect for her before, he was impressed with the theory and told it was good work.
However, things soon soured again between Thompson and Baker. Continuing to follow up on the lead of the prescription pad, they acted on Twelvetrees's tip that it might have been stolen by her estranged husband, Jimmy. Under questioning, Jimmy admitted to having stolen the prescription pad. He was, however, clearly not a murderer, as he was in no way a criminal mastermind. He admitted that had sold the prescription pad to the school janitor, Richard Ferguson, who went by the alias "the Pharmacist" and was using it to illegally prescribe pills to high school students. Thompson and Baker then tracked down Ferguson and Baker managed to chase him down, but Thompson was annoyed by her reading him his Miranda rights and using a contraction. He later confronted her at Joe's Diner, saying that he felt she was disrespectful to him. Baker, astonished at his lack of appreciation, then quit on the spot.
Following this incident, Thompson was at first unrepentant. When Baker came by the sheriff's office to pick up some possessions, he refused to even speak to her, only willing to talk through Mayor Hawthorne. Later, he was displeased to find her having lunch with his father, Lewis, at Joe's Diner. He confronted Lewis about eating with her, saying that she was surely saying bad things about him, but Lewis replied that she had actually mostly just listened. He told her that his relationship with Baker reminded him of his relationship with his mother - that she had always challenged him whenever he was wrong and would not back down until he admitted it. His words forced Thompson to reconsider. He brought back out Baker's murder board and, considering the evidence she had gathered, began investigating Sam Hodges's wife, Abigail. He discovered that she had been having an affair, and furthermore, often used Botulinum toxin in her work at the town salon, the method by which Sam Hodges was murdered. With this evidence, he visited the salon and arrested her. That evening, her visited Patience's bar, The 59, where Baker was singing karaoke, "Wind Beneath My Wings." He unexpectedly joined her in the song, before dropping to his knees and offering her deputy's badge, an admission that he had been wrong. Delighted, she took it back, agreeing to be a deputy again.
The two were called out to the cabin of Harry Vanderspeigle by D'Arcy Bloom, who had reported breaking in and discovering Vanderspeigle's body in the freezer. Upon arriving, however, they discovered Vanderspeigle there, very much alive. What none of them knew was that the body Bloom had discovered was actually that of the human Vanderspeigle and that the alien realized her discovery and hid it somewhere else. With no body to discover in the freezer, Thompson and Baker concluded that Bloom had been drinking and told her that it was time to leave. She insisted they were gaslighting her and refused to leave, at which point Thompson was forced to wrestle her inside the sheriff's car. Following this incident, the sheriff's office received a call from Mayor Hawthorne, who reported intruders in his home. They warned him not to engage, but by the time they arrived, they discovered that he and his wife Kate had fought off the intruders. Thompson admitted to being impressed despite normally not being an advocate of taking the law into one's own hands. Back at the office, he and Baker discussed the recent spate of strange incidents. Thompson admitted that he was into it, perhaps a bit too much, but he didn't see how it all fit together. He praised Baker's work on the case and she noticed a box - a coffee-maker that he had bought her. Excited, she thanked him profusely, though he tried to play it off as having bought it for the office as a whole.
"We got some Ted Bundy shit going on around here and I need to put a stop to it before he strikes again."
- Mike Thompson to Harry Vanderspeigle, "Secrets"
"Everybody's innocent until proven guilty... unless they guilty."
- Mike Thompson to Kate Hawthorne, "Sexy Beast"
"You got me a coffee pod machine!"
"Oh, what are you doing? I got that for the whole office. What are you doing? Nope."
"You got it for me, and you agree with my doorknob instincts."
"You got decent doorknob instincts, all right? But this whole thing is for everybody. It ain't just for you."
- Mike Thompson and Liv Baker, "Heroes of Patience"
Behind the scenes
In an interview, actor Corey Reynolds expressed his appreciation for the character of Mike Thompson, saying that Sheriff Mike was unlike any black character he had seen on television. He continued that he chose to commit to the series on a gut instinct, having a choice between it and another role, but that it was an easy choice because the script jumped off the page.
- Hollywood Soapbox: INTERVIEW: Corey Reynolds opens up about playing Sheriff Mike on ‘Resident Alien’. March 10, 2021.