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. Sheriff Mike is haunted by the death of his partner and long-time best friend, Jesse, who was killed on duty, something he blames himself for. Much of his anger and control issues stem from this loss, which he never talks about, and which he fears could happen again with Deputy Liv.
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.
The doctor's murder
Mike Thompson arrives with his deputy, Liv Baker, at the lakeside cavern of Harry Vanderspeigle, a doctor who regularly takes a week's vacation once a year at the cabin before returning to his practice. He explains to Baker that this year, instead of returning, he simply stayed and has been there ever since. The two summon Vanderspeigle from the lake, where he was fishing, not realizing that the individual in question is actually an alien who has killed Vanderspeigle and assumed his form. Mike introduces himself by the nickname "Big Black," telling Liv that there has been a murder in town and they need him to come down and look at the body. He asks why they need him to do this, if there isn't a town doctor, and Thompson explains that the individual who has been murdered is, in fact, the town doctor, Sam Hodges of the Patience Health Clinic.
After Harry determines that the cause of death is, in fact, murder, Sheriff Mike and Deputy Liv continue to investigate the case. Mike comes to believe that they might be facing a serial killer after a fisherman trawling the town's lake discovers a foot. He launches a full search of the lake, overriding the pleas of Mayor Ben Hawthorne, who has seasickness. However, no body turns up and, unbeknownst to them, the body they are seeking is actually that of the human Harry Vanderspeigle. The alien discovers the body and hides it before they can investigate further.
Mike and Liv's investigations lead them to a new clue when they learn from the nurse Asta Twelvetrees that one of Sam Hodge's prescription pads has been stolen from the Patience Health Clinic. When they ask why she did not report this sooner, she tells 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 discovers that Liv has created her own "murder board" regarding the case, theorizing that the killer had poisoned Hodges's insulin. Though he has never shown much respect for her before, he is impressed with the theory, telling her that it is good work.
Arrest and reconciliation
However, things soon sour again between Mike and Liv. Continuing to follow up on the lead of the prescription pad, they act on Asta's tip that it might have been stolen by her estranged husband, Jimmy. Under questioning, Jimmy admits to having stolen the prescription pad. He is, however, clearly not a murderer, as he is in no way a criminal mastermind. He admits that had sold the prescription pad to the school janitor, Richard Ferguson, who goes by the alias "the Pharmacist" and is using it to illegally prescribe pills to high school students. Mike and Liv then track down Ferguson and Baker manages to chase him down, but Thompson is annoyed by her reading him his Miranda rights and using a contraction. He later confronts her at Joe's Diner, saying that he felt she was disrespectful to him. Liv, astonished at his lack of appreciation, then quits on the spot.
Following this incident, Thompson is at first unrepentant. When Liv comes by the sheriff's office to pick up some possessions, he refuses to even speak to her, only willing to talk through Mayor Ben. Later, he is displeased to find her having lunch with his father, Lewis, at Joe's Diner. He confronts Lewis about eating with her, saying that she is surely saying bad things about him, but Lewis replies 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 force Mike to reconsider. He brings back out Liv's murder board and, considering the evidence she had gathered, begins investigating Sam Hodges's wife, Abigail. He discovers that she has been having an affair, and furthermore, often uses Botulinum toxin in her work at the town salon, the method by which Sam Hodges was murdered. With this evidence, he visits the salon and arrests her. That evening, he visits Patience's bar, The 59, where Liv is singing karaoke, "Wind Beneath My Wings." He unexpectedly joins her in the song, before dropping to his knees and offering her his deputy's badge, an admission that he had been wrong. Delighted, she takes it back, agreeing to be a deputy again.
The two are called out to the cabin of Harry Vanderspeigle by D'Arcy Bloom, who had reported breaking in and discovering Harry's body in the freezer. Upon arriving, however, they discover Harry there, very much alive. What none of them know is that the body D'Arcy had discovered was actually that of the human Harry and that the alien realized her discovery and hid it somewhere else. With no body to discover in the freezer, Mike and Liv conclude that Bloom has been drinking and tell her that it is time to leave. She insists they are gaslighting her and refuses to leave, at which point Liv is forced to wrestle her inside the sheriff's car. Following this incident, the sheriff's office receives a call from Mayor Hawthorne, who reports intruders in his home. They warn him not to engage, but by the time they arrive, they discover that he and his wife Kate have fought off the intruders. Mike admits to being impressed despite normally not being an advocate of taking the law into one's own hands. Back at the office, he and Liv discuss the recent spate of strange incidents. Mike admits that he is into it, perhaps a bit too much, but he doesn't see how it all fits together. He praises Liv's work on the case and she notices a box - a coffee-maker that he has bought her. Excited, she thanks him profusely, though he tries to play it off as having bought it for the office as a whole.
Troubled by certain anomalies, the two begin to investigate Harry Vanderspeigle as a possible suspect in both Sam Hodges's death and the death of whoever the severed foot belongs to, still unaware of the fact that the foot actually belonged to the human Harry Vanderspeigle. Liv wonders if they should talk with him, but Sheriff Mike suggests a "deep dive" in order to get inside Harry's head. His opportunity comes when Harry unexpectedly joins the town's weekly poker game. With Deputy Liv set up and monitoring from a wire outside, Sheriff Mike learns that of a rumor that six years ago Harry Vanderspeigle lost all his money and tried to sell his cabin to the uncle of the nurse Ellen Cho, only to unexpectedly back out of the deal at the last minute.
Armed with this information, Mike and Liv go undercover and meet with the realtor who was involved in the potential sale of Harry's cabin, pretending to be a married couple interested in another of her properties. They confirm from her the fact that Harry Vanderspeigle put the market on the cabin six years ago because he needed money, only to then turn around and pay the whole thing off with $500,000 in cash a week later. A bit later on, Sheriff Mike learns from Deputy Liv that a contact of hers at St. Helen's Hospital told her that Harry Vanderspeigle was once disciplined for being found in a lab he wasn't supposed to be in, one containing Botulinum toxin. Based on this, Mike decides it's finally time to go and pay Harry a visit.
The two arrive at Harry Vanderspeigle's cabin, only for Asta Twelvetrees to try to stall them, suggesting they come back later. When they come in, Sheriff Mike finds Botulinum toxin hidden under a loose floorboard. Mike insists that Asta talk and she tells them that Harry is hiding in the basement. When they head down there, however, they find, to their great confusion, Asta. They head back upstairs, only to find Harry, who it turns out was using alien abilities to take Asta's form. They then try to place him under arrest, only for him to use more alien abilities to evade them, and then erase their memories. The next day, Mike and Liv arrive at Joe's Diner and greet both Harry and Asta cheerfully, completely oblivious to the events of the night before. Their memories have been replaced by a memory of an Agent Fisher of the FBI telling them that the FBI was taking over the case and that Harry Vanderspeigle was not the killer.
It soon transpires that what Harry had done to alter Mike and Liv's memories was not perfect. One day, Sheriff Mike arrives at the office with a dress that Liv had gotten dry-cleaned, but had apparently never picked up. Liv, however, has no memory of ever having dropped off any dry-cleaning. She is confused by the incident, but puts it aside for the time being, instead trying to hook Mike up with Judy Cooper, who has come in to see him. Mike does not end up going out on a date with Judy Cooper, but does date another woman, which ends abruptly when she tries to pry into his past.
Later, Sheriff Mike has breakfast with his father Lewis when Lewis tells him that his biopsy came back negative. Mike, however, is confused, because he doesn't remember anything about any biopsy. Lewis tells him that he took him to the clinic two weeks ago to have a mole checked. Mike doesn't recall this at all and Lewis tells him that he hasn't been the same since D.C., suggesting that he see someone. Mike tries to play it off, but secretly is deeply concerned. During Patience's Family Day celebration, he takes Harry Vanderspeigle aside, hoping to make an appointment with him to get checked out. Harry, however, again alters his memory, this time inserting a memory of him having a happy day of fishing together with his father.
While Sheriff Mike finds himself satisfied with the memory he has of the missing day following Harry's intervention, Deputy Liv remains convinced that something strange has happened. She ascribes the lost memory to alien abduction, having once seen a UFO in her childhood. She begins investigating sightings of UFOs in Patience. Sheriff Mike gets angry with her for wasting police time, telling her to do it her own time.
Things come to a head when Mike discovers Liv interviewing a woman named Mrs. Plunkett. Liv tells him that Mrs. Plunkett was robbed, but Mrs. Plunkett says that she's telling Liv about a UFO that she saw. Mike pulls Liv aside, asking her if she thinks police work is a joke, that everything he says goes in one ear and out the other. Just then, a suspect breaks loose and Liv goes after him, only for him to shout at her to stay back. When she doesn't, he tells her he told her to stay back and she asks why she would. He asks if she thinks it's a game, that this is how people get killed.
That evening, Mike pays a visit to a local park, where Deputy Liv has summoned him. She thanks him for meeting her there, and he asks if it's about him yelling at her. To his surprise, she handcuffs him to a bench. She tells him that it's not about him yelling, it's about why he's yelling. She tells him that he's been acting weird all summer. When he refuses to open up, she leaves, saying that it's a nice night for a froyo. When she returns, Sheriff Mike admits the truth. He explains that six years ago, he lost his partner, Jesse, in Washington D.C. He explains that the anniversary messes with his head every time it comes.
Mike gets up, wanting to leave and go be with his father. However, he stops himself, explaining to Liv that he and Jesse were childhood friends who grew up and went through the academy together. He tells her that he doesn't understand grief, how people can just move on from something. She tells him that he can talk to her, but he says that it's his fault, that he was the one who sent Jesse to his death. He tells her that he can't lose her either, that he can't let anything happen to her. She asks what he'd do, if he'd kill her. "Yeah, I'd murder your corpse," he agrees, laughing. She tells him that nothing is going to happen to her, and that nothing will happen to him, that she won't let it.
A new lead
With their relationship repaired, Sheriff Mike and Deputy Liv head out on a call to the residence of Abigail Hodges. There, they meet a man who is upset about Abigail having a yard sale, describing it as a "murder sale." Mike chastises the man for wasting police time, telling him that Abigail is awaiting trial on charges and is perfectly within her rights to have a yard sale until she is found guilty in a court of law. He sends the man on his way and then goes over to Abigail. She thanks him, saying that she's probably just going to box up everything since nobody wants to buy from a murderer. Mike, however, picks up a hat and tries it, saying that he looks like Dick Tracy in it. He asks how much Abigail wants for it and she tells him $20. He accepts, but then she refuses to part with it, saying that it reminds her too much of Sam. He then offers her $50 for a set of mystery novels that Sam once tried to get him to read, but she tells him that if Sam wanted him to have them that badly, then he should just take them.
Sheriff Mike and Deputy Liv return to the sheriff's car, where Mike asks Liv if Abigail looked to her like somebody who killed her husband. Liv replies that she didn't and Mike agrees that it looks like grief to him, that a woman who killed her husband doesn't hang on to a hat to remember him by. Later, he brings one of the novels to Joe's Diner and simply sits, the proprietor Dan Twelvetrees pointing out that he hasn't turned a page since he came in. He tells Dan that he was hoping the novels would help him take his mind off things, but that it's not working so well. Dan asks him if he wants to share anything with a fellow soldier, appealing to their past history as war veterans.
Mike tells him that he feels stuck and that he thinks he made a mistake, that he put the wrong person behind bars. He continues that the last time he made a mistake, his partner didn't go home. Dan then tells him the story of Joe, about how Joe served with him in Vietnam and how his group got ambushed. Joe hit the floor and he just stood there until he bled out. The medic told him it wasn't his fault, but he blamed himself for years, but eventually learned to honor Joe, hence the cafe's name, Joe's Diner. He tells Mike that if he wants to honor his partner to be the best cop he can be and put the right person behind bars. Based on something he read in the novels, Mike summons Liv to help him investigate Sam Hodges's office. He explains that in the novels, the protagonist would hide clues in the backings of paintings. The two of them then start searching the paintings in the office and eventually discover exactly what they're looking for: a note with a list of names and the heading "Galvan/Powell Group."
The surprise party
Sheriff Mike attends a surprise party for Harry Vanderspeigle that Mayor Ben is hosting in the hopes of luring him into once again becoming the town doctor. During the party, he enjoys Deputy Liv's deviled eggs, but like many of the other guests, gets a terrible case of gas from them. During the party, an alien baby gets loose, but Harry lies and tells everyone it's a rabid racoon. Mike chats with Liv's husband John, telling him that he read on the Internet that 100% of people who have rabies go insane, but only 20% of insane people have rabies. Later, he inadvertently spills the beans on a secret that Ben has been keeping, that D'Arcy Bloom kissed him.
"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.