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James Gillies is a student first introduced in Season 2 of Murdoch Mysteries, portrayed by Michael Seater.

James Gillies, a young criminal mastermind, becomes William Murdoch's arch nemesis.

Appearances and Mentions

Big Murderer on Campus

  • James Gillies appears to be a gifted teacher's assistant and student, along with his friend, fellow TA and student, Robert Perry. They shadow William Murdoch as he investigates the murder of their physics professor Samuel Bennett (shot in the head), however, it comes to pass that the two students themselves had killed their professor - purely for testing whether they could do it using their knowledge of physics.
  • Robert Perry breaks down and confesses after he is tricked into believing Gillies is out to kill him as well, and they are promptly arrested. James Gillies is judged to be a cold, calculating murderer, who hides behind a polite façade.

Murdoch in Toyland

  • James Gillies abducts Veronica Bowden as a means to tormenting Murdoch. Not harmed, she is rescued the next day.
  • Gillies taunts Murdoch by recording messages for him on some of Edison's talking dolls, along with previous accomplice, Robert Perry, whom he ultimately kills in a gruesome decapitation. His identity is hidden for much of the episode, as he was supposedly hanged weeks prior to the events, but it is revealed he paid the family of a terminally ill guard to switch places with him and avoid the noose. He kidnaps and buries Julia Ogden alive and further taunts Murdoch face-to-face that he has doomed her to die by being so set on finding him and later takes a beating from the inspector when he refuses to reveal where she is. Some time after Julia has been rescued (with no time to spare), James is to be taken away to prison, though Murdoch assures him that this time, he will watch him hang, to be sure. Murdoch receives one final doll from Gillies in the post with the message that they will meet again; it is discovered that the prison car transporting Gillies fell into a river, killing both the driver and guard, but Gillies body was never found, suggesting he may have escaped once again.

Crime and Punishment

  • Gillies appears at the climax when Murdoch spots him clapping behind him after Julia is convicted. Murdoch gives chase, but Gillies escapes before anyone else can even notice him; Murdoch suspects him to be behind the meticulous framing of Julia for the murder of Darcy Garland who is shot through the head in an ingenuous manner.

The Murdoch Trap

  • James Gillies appears to the imprisoned Murdoch via projector. He reveals his motive for framing Julia was out of twisted curiosity to see how far one would go to save their loved one. He presents the detective with evidence of the entire plan he used to frame Julia, and the time limit of twelve hours before she will be hanged of whether he will call to tell of his location, which will result in the room filling with carbon monoxide gas that would kill him. As Gillies pressures Murdoch into finally using the phone just minutes before Julia is due to be executed, Murdoch is rescued and James apprehended. At the episode's end, Gillies is seen to be locked away behind bars, but with a devious smile to propose that he isn't done with Murdoch yet.

A Midnight Train to Kingston

  • The plot line is centered around James Gillies going to Kingston on a train to be hanged for his crimes. Many happenings take place during the turbulent train ride, and eventually Gillies escapes from the train. Murdoch catches up with him and beats him up, and Gillies kisses Murdoch after, implying that he may be a homosexual. Gillies then proceeds to jump off a bridge and then Murdoch follows him in hopes of catching him once and for all. Murdoch is later found unconscious by Julia and Thomas, and Gillies could not be found, and it is uncertain if he drowned or escaped death once again.

Unfinished Business

  • Julia finds a letter from Gillies telling her to reject Murdoch's proposal, or he will die. He also tells her that if she tells Murdoch of the letter, they will both die. Included in this is a picture of Murdoch and Julia kissing in an alley, taken from above.

The Murdoch Sting (mention)

  • Julia goes to investigate who was staying in the room in which the picture was taken. There she finds another note, telling her to stop investigating or both will die. At the end of the episode, William proposes to her (yet again) and she declines and runs into her house crying.

Kung Fu Crabtree

  • Murdoch, Ogden and Brackenreid investigate the possibility of Gillies being alive. Brackenreid receives a telegram from the constabulary informing him that a body was found down the river from where James Gillies threw himself off of. After Murdoch compared the bullet taken from the body from when Crabtree shot Gillies to the bullets from the guns used by the constabulary at station house four, Dr. Grace and Dr. Ogden did a partial facial reconstruction the body, revealing it to be Gillies, who is declared dead by the trio. Dr. Grace retrieves a bullet fired by Crabtree wounding Gillies that Murdoch matches to the rifle used, confirming the body is indeed James Gillies. Murdoch then deduces that Leslie Garland was the one who wrote those notes to Julia.

The Devil Inside

  • Mr. Foley is an unwitting accomplice and James Gillies final victim.
  • Gillies survived jumping off the bridge. As his face was severely deformed and living in chronic pain, he watched Murdoch and plotted his revenge – kidnapping Roland and forcing the crime of murder, but Murdoch shoots him with rubber bullet instead. Gillies finally hangs, with the Detective and Doctor as witnesses.
  • Ultimately, Dr. Ogden removes his brain for scientific study.

Murdoch Escape Room (mention)


  • James Gillies and Robert Perry are a take-off on the real crime duo of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb.
  • Gillies' fans continued to speculate how his mastermind could have defy that death fall (ep.709), but the MM writers waited...until Season 10's The Devil Inside to reveal how. Now, some MM fans debate how he could have survived the hanging and Dr. Ogden's autopsy like the 'bad penny' that he has proven to be.
  • Showrunner Mitchell has often said, "We don't always give the fans what they want." Often, when they do deliver, it is not the way fans expect.


Murdoch Mysteries Recurring Actors and Characters
Daniel Maslany as Detective WattsShanice Banton as Violet HartLachlan Murdoch as Henry HigginsArwen Humphreys as Margaret BrackenreidCharles Vandervaart as John BrackenreidClare McConnell as Effie NewsomeBea Santos as Louise CherryPeter Keleghan as Terrence MeyersPeter Stebbings as James PendrickMatthew Bennett as Allen CleggNigel Bennett as former Chief Constable Giles • Siobhan Murphy as Ruth NewsomeShailene Garnett as Nomi JohnstonStephanie Belding as Nurse SullivanSebastian Pigott as Dr. DixonColin Mochrie as Ralph FellowsJames McGowan as Dr. ForbesPatrick McKenna as Hamish SlorachDmitry Chepovetsky as Nikola TeslaJohn Tench as Alexander Graham BellMartin Moreau as Theodore RooseveltCyrus Lane as Rupert NewsomeCraig Brown as Eddie CrawfordDavid Reale as Mr. ClementsErin Agostino as Nina BloomMouna Traoré as Rebecca JamesJordan Johnson-Hinds as Nate DesmondDylan Neal as Jasper LinneyKristian Bruun as Constable JacksonRichard Clarkin as Chief Constable DavisMichael Seater as James GilliesRothaford Gray as Alderman William Peyton HubbardCyrus Lane as Roger NewsomeGeorgina Reilly as Emily GraceCharlotte Sullivan as Charlotte (formerly Minerva Fairchild)Sean Harraher as Constable WorseleyTamara Hope as Edna Brooks (née Garrison)Giacomo Gianniotti as Leslie GarlandNicole Underhay as Margaret HaileSarah Gadon as Ruby OgdenKate Greenhouse as Sally PendrickStephen McHattie as Harry MurdochGeraint Wyn Davies as Arthur Conan Doyle