Tao is the Priority Homicide Division's and later Major Crimes Division's forensic specialist and often leads the processing of the crime scenes.
At some point in his career, he worked at the LAPD's Scientific Investigation Division and has been described by Taylor as a "technical genius". He is apparently also the MCD's unofficial liaison with the SID. After his time in the Scientific Investigation Division, he has held detective assignments in the Robbery-Homicide Division (“Hindsight, Part 1”) and in the Vice Division (“Family Law”).
In “Before and After”, Tao gives some advice to Det. Sykes when she asked him why Lt. Provenza doesn't like her. Tao told Amy that Provenza doesn't like anybody but also gave her a tip to care more about the victim and not what everybody else thinks about her.
In “The Ecstasy and the Agony”, Mike became frustrated with himself after he was unable to remember something he thought was important from the crime scene. He eventually remembered that he saw that the victim had opened the peep hole on his front door and therefore wouldn't have opened the door except if it was someone he trusted. This realization helped MCD to discover a new suspect as their victim would have never opened the door for their original suspect.
During “Risk Assessment” he explains to Rusty Beck that he originally wanted to be a doctor but found that doctors spent too much time protecting themselves. He instead joined the LAPD who protect each other and others.
In “Open Line”, Tao is forced to fatally shoot a suspect and it clearly affects him greatly.
In the 5-part story arc "Hindsight" of Season 4, Mike came in contact with his old partner Mark Hickman. Hickman is a disgraced former detective who committed perjury on the witness stand and lost them the murder case of an LAPD police officer. He had protected his partner during an IA investigation which was handled by Captain Raydor when she was still in FID, by not telling her about Hickman's extramarital relationship with a murdered LA County DDA, but he had no problem "throwing him under the bus" when he lied on the stand.
When Hickman later gained access to the MCD murder room with a visitors badge he was supposed to have returned, Mike got very angry at him, something that is nearly never seen in him. Even when Hickman was most likely drunk and acting aggressively, Capt. Raydor ordered that it was not a use-of-force situation and told every detective to calm down, Mike disobeyed that order, something he has never done before, and forcefully attacked Hickman to remove his visitors badge. He later apologized to Raydor in her office and told her that he won't cause anymore problems. He has been a man of his word as that kind of behavior has not been seen since.
In “By Any Means, Part 4”, Tao is forced to kill Phillip Stroh's accomplice Dylan Baxter in self defense. As a result, Tao is forced to wait in a house with a possible bomb until FID arrives to clear him for the shooting. After checking Dylan's computer, Tao comes to believe that it's a dead man's switch leading to information being sent to the LAPD and FBI rather than a bomb. Tao is proven right when the countdown ends and Dylan's dossier is sent to both parties. He is cleared by FID and joins the majority of the LAPD at the airport to await the arrival of Stroh.
- The Sniper (alongside Lt. Flynn, Det. Sanchez and Det. Sykes) (“Long Shot”)
- Felix Kosta (“Open Line”)
- Dylan Baxter (“By Any Means, Part 4”)
- Tao is married to a Japanese-American woman, Kathy, and has children, one of them a teenage boy named Kevin.
- Tao still has friends in the SID and sometimes gives them Kahlua as gifts to expedite their processing of evidence in cases he works.
- While not as close to Rusty Beck as Sharon Raydor or Buzz Watson, Tao is shown to be fond of the boy. At the beginning, he is also shown to not dislike Rusty as much as Andy Flynn and Buzz did, giving up money to bring Rusty's mother to town but not saying anything bad about him as the other two did. When Rusty faces down Daniel Dunn, Tao stands with him with the rest of the squad and signs on as a witness to Dunn giving up his parental rights to the boy. He is later clearly unsurprised when Rusty admits to being gay, showing how well he knows Rusty and is very proud of him graduating high school. At Rusty's graduation party, Tao pulls Rusty aside and tells him that he hopes that everything the squad has done for him has impacted him well and moments like Rusty graduating are why they help him so much. Tao congratulates Rusty on how far he's come since they met and shakes hands with him. He later aids Rusty in his search for Alice Herrera's identity by giving him advice on hacking her voicemail and is immensely proud of Rusty when he succeeds, telling him proudly "you did it Rusty. You did it."
- In “Do Not Disturb”, Tao is shown to be amused though he tries to hide it when a missing girl's friend flirts with a taken-aback Rusty.
- He is the only person who knows that Fritz Howard has had a heart attack and wears a pacemaker (having taken him to the hospital after blindly promising not to tell others, including Brenda, what Fritz is about to tell him).
- Mike has started a second career in Hollywood as a technical advisor for a show called Badge of Justice. He has even won a story credit award for his work on the show. It is indicated that he makes a great deal of money from this job and often references Badge of Justice and things done on the show. On at least one occasion, he used Badge of Justice equipment to help solve a case (“Hostage to Fortune”).
- In “Heroic Measures”, Mike mentioned that he did a year of medical school. Later in Major Crimes, “Risk Assessment”, he explained to Rusty why he quit. It was due to red tape and doctors covering their backs instead helping patients.
Career Information Edit
- Mike's badge number is 2641.
- When in uniform, Mike wears four service stripes on his uniform. Each stripe represents five years of service in the LAPD, meaning he has served for 20-24 years. (“Repeat Offender”)
- When Mike was seen in uniform in “By Any Means, Part 1”, his arm and service stripes could not be seen definitely. His service years can be speculated based on his service awards. According to his awards, Mike has seen service during the 1984 Summer Olympics, meaning at least 33 years of service.
- Medals and service awards worn by Lt. Tao: (“By Any Means, Part 1”)
- Medal and service award goofs:
- Lt. Tao could be seen wearing the standard Detective Service Ribbon on his uniform, meaning 5 years of service in investigative units as a detective and/or lieutenant even though he has served more than that. He would at least wear the Detective Service Ribbon with a Bronze Oak Leaf cluster but it would not be impossible for him to have the Silver Star either.
|The Closer Characters|
|Brenda Leigh Johnson • Sharon Raydor • Fritz Howard • Will Pope • Russell Taylor • Louie Provenza • Andy Flynn • Michael Tao • David Gabriel • Julio Sanchez • Irene Daniels • Buzz Watson • Dr. Fernando Morales|
|Major Crimes Characters|
|Sharon Raydor • Louie Provenza • Andy Flynn • Michael Tao • Julio Sanchez • Amy Sykes • Wes Nolan • Camila Paige • Buzz Watson • Rusty Beck • Russell Taylor • Leo Mason • Fritz Howard • Dr. Fernando Morales • Andrea Hobbs • Kendall|