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This isn't going to have a happy ending.
~ William Somerset

Detective William R. Somerset is the main protagonist of the 1995 thriller movie Seven. He is an aging, cynical man who believes that crime is natural and good is temporary.

He is portrayed by Morgan Freeman.

Biography

In a large unnamed city, ridden with near-constant rain, crime and urban decay, soon-to-be retiring Detective Somerset, is partnered with short-tempered but idealistic Detective David Mills, who recently transferred to the department. They discover an obese man who was forced to feed himself to death, and the next day investigate a fatal bloodletting of a rich attorney. The detectives find fingerprints and other clues that lead them to believe they are chasing a serial killer relating to the seven deadly sins and who has represented "Gluttony" and "Greed". Two days later, the fingerprints lead them to an apartment where they find an emaciated man strapped to a bed. Though he initially appears to be dead, they find he has been kept alive and immobile by the killer for one year to the day; a drug dealer and child molester before his captivity, this victim represents "Sloth". Though unable to learn anything from the insensate man, the detectives agree the killer has planned these crimes for more than a year.

Detective Mills' wife Tracy is unhappy with their recent move to the city. She meets Somerset and he becomes Tracy's confidante. Upon learning she is pregnant but has not told her husband, Somerset confides in her his fear that the city is no place to start a family, and reveals he had ended a relationship years earlier after pressuring his girlfriend to have an abortion. Somerset advises her to not tell Mills if she plans to have an abortion.

Using library records, Somerset and Mills track down a man named John Doe (Spacey), who has frequently checked out books related to the deadly sins. When Doe finds the detectives approaching his apartment, he opens fire on them and flees, chased by Mills. Eventually, Doe gains the upper hand and holds Mills at gunpoint, but then abruptly leaves, sparing Mills's life. Investigation of Doe's apartment finds handwritten volumes of his irrational judgments and clues, leading to another potential victim, but no fingerprints. They arrive too late to find their "Lust" victim, a prostitute killed by an unwilling man wearing a bladed S&M device, forced by Doe to simultaneously rape and kill her, severely traumatizing the man. On Sunday morning, they investigate the death of a young model whose face had been mutilated. Having chosen to kill herself rather than live with a disfigured face, she is the victim of "Pride".

At the police station, Doe offers himself for arrest, with the blood of the model and of an unidentified victim on his hands. The detectives learn he has been cutting the skin off his fingers to avoid leaving fingerprints. Through his lawyer, Doe claims he will lead the two detectives to the last two bodies and confess to the crimes, or otherwise will plead insanity. Despite Somerset's concern, Mills agrees to the demand. Doe directs the two detectives to a remote desert area; along the way, he claims God told him to punish the wicked and reveal the world for the awful place that it is. He also makes cryptic comments toward Mills.

After they arrive, a delivery van approaches. Somerset intercepts the driver, leaving Mills and Doe alone. The driver hands over a package he was instructed to deliver at precisely this time and location. While Mills holds Doe at gunpoint, Doe mentions how much he admires him, but does not say why. Somerset opens the package and recoils in horror at the sight. He races back to warn Mills not to listen to Doe, but the killer reveals that the box contains Tracy's head. Doe claims to represent the sin of "Envy"; he was envious of Mills's normal life, and killed Tracy after failing to "play husband" with her. He then taunts the distraught Mills with the knowledge that Tracy was pregnant, asking if Mills will kill him and become "Wrath". Somerset is unable to contain Mills as he repeatedly shoots Doe, killing him and completing Doe's "work". After Mills is taken away in shock, Somerset is asked by his Captain where he will be, and replies, "Around. I'll be around." We hear him paraphrase an Ernest Hemingway quote: "'The world is a fine place, and worth fighting for'...I agree with the second part."

Quotes

  • "I just don't think I can continue to live in a place that embraces and nurtures apathy as if it was virtue."
  • "I didn't say I was different or better. I'm not. Hell, I sympathize; I sympathize completely. Apathy is the solution. I mean, it's easier to lose yourself in drugs than it is to cope with life. It's easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it. It's easier to beat a child than it is to raise it. Hell, love costs: it takes effort and work."
  • "People don't want a hero, they want to eat cheeseburgers, play the lotto and watch television."
  • "If we catch John Doe and he turns out to be the devil, I mean if he's Satan himself, that might live up to our expectations, but he's not the devil. He's just a man."
  • "If John Doe's head splits open and a UFO should fly out, I want you to have expected it."
  • "California, tell your people to stay away. Stay away now, don't - don't come in here. Whatever you hear, stay away! John Doe has the upper hand!"
  • "I had a relationship once. It was very much like a marriage. We got pregnant. This was a long time ago. I remember getting up one morning and going to work. Just another day like any other, except it was the first day after I knew about … pregnancy. And I felt this fear for the first time ever. I remember thinking, "How can I bring a child into a world like this? How can a person grow up with all this around them?" I told her I didn't want to have it, and over the next few weeks, I wore her down. I can tell you now that I know… I mean, I'm positive that I made the right decision. But there's not a day that passes that I don't wish that I had made a different choice. If you don't keep the baby – I mean, if that's your decision – don't ever tell him that you were pregnant. But if you choose to have this baby, you spoil that kid every chance you get. That's about all the advice I can give you, Tracy."
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