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"A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns."
Vito Corleone[src]

Thomas "Tom" Hagen was the consigliere and head lawyer of the Corleone family, as well as being the adoptive son of Vito and Carmela Corleone and the adoptive brother of Sonny, Fredo, Michael, and Connie Corleone. Alongside Michael, he is the only child of Vito Corleone to have gone to college. However, Michael Corleone graduated from Dartmouth in order to be a Marine Corps officer whereas Tom Hagen graduated from University of Michigan in order to be a lawyer for the Corleones.


Thomas "Tom" Feargal[4] Hagen was the son of German-American Martin and Bridget Hagen. Martin was a hard-working carpenter, but he was also a violent alcoholic who would beat Hagen. When Hagen was eleven years old, his mother caught an eye infection that resulted in blindness, and died soon after from venereal disease. Tom also caught the eye infection, which went untreated until he lived with the Corleones, where Vito Corleone personally paid for the eye operator. Torn up with grief, Tom's father drank himself to death. Tom and his sister were sent to an orphanage, but Tom ran away. His sister ended up in a foster home, but the social agencies of the time did not follow up on Tom's case. Tom lived on the streets alone for more than a year.

Living with the Family

"I have a special practice. I handle one client. Not more than one at the time, I'm afraid."
―Tom Hagen[src]

Tom at the surprise birthday party for Vito.

After encountering a homeless Tom on the streets, Sonny took him home and persuaded his father to take him into the family. Although the Don never formally adopted him, thinking that this would have been an act of disrespect to Hagen's real parents, Hagen thought of Vito Corleone as his true father. In many ways, Vito's adoption of the street urchin Hagen paralleled how Vito himself was taken in by Signor Abbandando when he was a child.

After graduating from law school, Hagen offered to work for Corleone as though he were one of the Don's own sons and lawyers. He did so knowing full well that Vito wasn't merely an olive-oil importer, but the most powerful crime boss in the nation. Vito was more than willing to take Tom into his employ, saying that a lawyer could steal more than a phalanx of gunmen. His German ancestry precluded his formal membership in the Mafia, which did not accept non-Italians and the Commission got angry at Vito for this, although many other families followed in his example, shortly thereafter. Despite this, Tom wielded immense power within the Corleone family under Vito, as he was both Vito's advocate and his most trusted advisor in most matters; his cunning and diplomacy had always been a more valuable asset than Sonny's open aggression.

Becoming Consigliere

"Mr. Corleone never asks a second favor once he's refused the first, understood?"
―Tom Hagen[src]
Tom and Vito

Tom and Vito.

In mid-1945, longtime Corleone family consigliere Genco Abbandando became seriously ill, and Hagen was named acting consigliere. Don Corleone formally appointed Hagen to the post after Genco's death, making him the first non-Italian to achieve that important position. In the novel, it was said that Hagen's ascension to consigliere caused certain rival Mafia families to refer jokingly to the Corleones, behind their backs, as "the kraut gang" due to Hagen's German ancestry.

In 1945, shortly after Connie Corleone's wedding to Carlo, Hagen was dispatched by Vito Corleone to Hollywood in order to convince Jack Woltz, a big-time movie studio head, to give singer Johnny Fontane (Vito's godson) the lead role in his new war film instead of Johnny Carlton. When Woltz discovered who exactly Hagen worked for, he invited him over to his palatial estate for dinner, and showed him his prize horse, Khartoum. During the dinner, when Hagen again "suggested" that Woltz give Fontane the role, Woltz erupted at him and revealed that Johnny would never get the career-making role because of his ruination of one of Woltz's brightest up-and-coming underaged female stars and even disrespected Don Vito. Later, men stole into Woltz's stables and Rocco Lampone decapitated Khartoum, then placed the horse's severed head and a large amount of its blood in Woltz's bed to send a message. Shortly afterwards, Johnny was given the role by Woltz, who would never be the same after the incident.

Declining Role

"Maybe I could help."
"You're out, Tom. Get out of here.
―Tom Hagen and Michael Corleone[src]
Tom Hagen

Tom as consigliere.

Tom's personal power began to decline almost immediately after the first assassination attempt on Vito, despite the fact that Sollozzo and the rival Families wanted him to remain consigliere for the Corleones. Knowing that he was very close to Sonny (who was now acting Don) they needed his diplomacy skills to convince Sonny to take the narcotics deal, as he, Fredo and Sonny all had realised its potential when Vito refused it. However, Sonny's temper caused him to ignore most of the advice Tom gave him, and initiate a costly mob war that lasted several years due to Sonny's incompetence.

While he loved all the Corleones, Hagen always idolized Sonny, even when Sonny showed his hatred for Hagen and regret that he picked him up from the street, but when Sonny was murdered, Hagen blamed himself. He had to drink some anisette and eat some fries to calm his nerves before breaking the news to Vito. After Michael Corleone became operating head of the Corleone family after returning from Sicily, he removed Hagen as consigliere on his father's advice, restricting him to handling the family's legal business in Nevada, Chicago, and Los Angeles due to seeing Hagen as some sort of weak link. When Tom asks why he was being removed, Michael answers by telling him he just isn't "a wartime consigliere", adding that it was no reflection on the work he had done for them in the past.

Despite his reduced role, Tom worked closely with Michael in planning the massive slaughter of the other New York dons, basically breaking Vito's vow, showing that Hagen cared more for Michael in the end that he did for Vito. Immediately after Michael formally becomes the Don (following his purge of the other Families), Tom is reinstated to his former position.


"I give you complete power: over Neri... Fredo, everyone. I am trusting you with the lives of my wife and children, and the future of this family."
Michael Corleone[src]
Tom, Michael, Senate

Tom Hagen at the Mafia hearings in 1959.

Tom remained on when Michael made the move to Nevada, albeit in the somewhat reduced role that he disliked. For instance, he was excluded from the negotiations with Hyman Roth. He also made moves towards becoming a Nevada Congressman, which were ultimately unsuccessful.

After an attempt on Michael's life at their Nevada compound, Hagen was appointed as acting Don by Michael, a mark of deep trust. Michael explained that this was why Michael had to exclude him before and trusted only him at that point; he knew that Tom didn't know certain things and therefore had no motive or information to make moves against him. Hagen was instrumental in both securing the friendship of powerful Senator Patrick Geary and defending Michael as his lawyer during the Senate hearings on the Mafia.


Tom and Michael

Tom and Michael.

The fall of Fulgencio Batista's regime in Cuba to the communists forced Michael to temporarily abandon his dream of becoming a legitimate businessman and retake his place as the Don of the Corleone family. He also reappointed Tom as consigliere. Despite considerable misgivings about Michael's vendetta with Roth, Tom rejected offers for jobs elsewhere and helped Michael defeat Roth and his other enemies. He was instructed by Michael to convince turncoat and former caporegime Frank Pentangeli to commit suicide to secure his silence, protecting Michael and the Family from his testimony forever. With Pentangeli and other enemies dead, the Corleone family as it regained its position as the most powerful crime family in the nation.

Death and legacy

"His father was a great lawyer... Didn’t live to see him ordained."
―Michael Corleone[src]
Andrew Hagen

Tom's son Andrew, who became a priest.

Sometime in the 1970's, Tom died from cancer. He did not live long enough to see his son Andrew ordained as a priest, something Tom actually protested against. Tom's wife and children continued to attend Corleone events and remained close to the family, despite Michael's initial mistrust of them. Tom's role as the Corleone family attorney was later taken over by B.J. Harrison after his death. Michael acknowledged his adoptive brother years after his death, stating in 1979 that Tom "was a great lawyer".[5]


Tom Hagen was married to an Italian-American woman named Theresa. Together they had four children: Frank, Andrew, born in the 1940s, Gianna and Christina, born in the 1950s. They also owned a dachshund named Garbanzo, a border collie named Elvis, a pug named Santino (nothing to do with Sonny, though), a poodle named Napoleon and a pet pig named Porky. Andrew later becomes a priest much to Hagen's dismay, while Frank followed in his father's footsteps to become a lawyer, cementing his role as Tom's favourite child.[4][5][5]

In sequel novels

The Godfather Returns

The Godfather ReturnsMark Winegardner's 2004 sequel to Puzo's original novel, portrays Hagen's role as consigliere in the first few years after Michael ascends to the head of the family. The novel, which covers the period from 1955-1962, portrays Hagen once again acting as Michael's right-hand adviser and taking an important role in the Corleones' dealings with a powerful political family, the Sheas (analogous to the Kennedys). Hagen makes a deal with patriarch Mickey Shea (Joseph Kennedy) that the Corleone family would help get his son, James, (John F. Kennedy) elected President on condition that his youngest son, Danny (Robert Kennedy), the new attorney general, would take a soft stance on organized crime. Meanwhile, Hagen has sights on a political career, running for a House of Representatives seat in Nevada (which Hagen was initially appointed to and serves a partial term as) with the ultimate goal of becoming the state's governor; he is badly defeated, however, due to his connections with the Corleones, and he abandons any hopes of holding public office.[6]

The novel also portrays Hagen covering up for Michael's brother Fredo when he kills a man in San Francisco, and bailing him out of jail when he attacks his wife's lover. Hagen and Fredo get into an intense argument over Fredo's recklessness and Hagen's blind loyalty to Michael. When Michael has Fredo killed (as originally portrayed in The Godfather Part II), Hagen guesses what really happened, but remains willfully ignorant.[6]

In 1961, following the failed plot by traitorous former caporegime Nick Geraci and Don Vincent Forlenza against the Corleones, Louie Russo invited Tom Hagen to his supper club/gambling house in rural Illinois with the intention of killing him. Russo, Hagen, a rower, and two of Russo's bodyguards went out on a gondola in his man-made lake. On the course of the trip, as part of Michael's revenge, Hagen killed one man by strangulation with his belt while the rower hit the other with his oar. Hagen then personally killed Russo on his boat, with Russo's own gun, and dumped the bodies in the lake.[6]

The Godfather's Revenge

In Winegardner's 2006 novel The Godfather's Revenge, Hagen acts as Michael's right-hand man in dealing with the Shea family, especially Attorney General Danny Shea, who publicly declares war on organized crime.[4]

During a Commission meeting in 1963, Tom was arrested under suspicion of murdering his mistress, Judy Buchanan, whose death had in fact been orchestrated by enemies of the family. This situation ruined any chance he had of a political career, despite being acquitted. During this time, he was represented by Jewish lawyer Sid Klein. His wife Theresa left him for a brief time after discovering the affair, but the two reconciled soon after and Theresa was present when Tom went to visit Jack Woltz again later in the year.[4]

In 1964, shortly before the president's assassination, while on vacation with his family in Florida, Tom was doing some business for Michael at the Deauville Hotel in Miami, after meeting with Ben Tamarkin and Senator Patrick Geary. He left and was surprised by Nick Geraci who had been hiding in the back of Tom's car and secretly following him for days. He had Tom drive to a rural, swamp filled area and then knocked him unconscious with his pistol.[4]

When Tom came to, he realized that his hands and feet had been duct-taped together and that his car was sinking into the swamp and quickly filling with thick, brown water. While waiting for his death, Tom recalled some of his fondest memories: meeting Sonny, being taken in by the Corleone family, his wife Theresa, his two sons Frank and Andrew, and his two daughters Gianna and Christina. He died with happy memories in his mind, as the water engulfed Tom and the car totally. Though his body was never found, Michael Corleone was sent by Nick Geraci a dead baby alligator with Tom Hagen's wallet in its mouth, to imply that Tom Hagen "slept with the alligators" (an allusion to Luca Brasi's death years earlier, in which his murderers sent the Corleones a dead fish to signify that Brasi "slept with the fishes"). Tom was 54 years old.[4]

The Godfather's Revenge and The Godfather Returns are not considered canon by Paramount Pictures, so this death is not canonical in the films, which implied Tom died of natural causes some time in the 1970s.[7][8]

The novel also expands on how Hagen became an informally adopted member of the Corleone family. Hagen recalls that when he was living on the streets, he saved Sonny Corleone from a pimp who was notorious for raping and murdering boys. Tom grabbed a board with a nail sticking out of it and brought it down on the back of the man’s head, killing him. Sonny was so grateful that he brought Hagen home to live with his family. [4]

The Family Corleone

The Family Corleone is a 2012 prequel novel by Ed Falco, which takes place in 1933-1934, before the events of The Godfather. Tom Hagen is portrayed as a college student attending law school. He had a one night stand with Kelly O'Rourke, unaware that she was Luca Brasi's girlfriend. It was only due to Vito's intervention (bribing Brasi to forget the insult) that Tom was not murdered by Brasi in revenge for this action. It is also revealed that Tom's father was killed on the orders of Vito Corleone before Tom was taken in by the Corleones, though only Vito, his caporegimes and Sonny were aware of this.[2]

In video games

The Godfather: The Game

"The Don is a man of ragione, of reason."
―Tom Hagen to Aldo Trapani[src]

Tom Hagen in The Godfather: The Game.

Tom Hagen appears in The Godfather: The Game, with Robert Duvall reprising his role. He is saved by Aldo Trapani after being kidnapped by Sollozzo, and serves as an advisor throughout the story.

Like most other family members, he can be punched and will surrender in return.

The Godfather II

"Consigliere just like old times."
―Tom to Dominic Corleone.[src]
Tom hagen game

Tom Hagen in The Godfather II.

In The Godfather II, Tom Hagen becomes consigliere for the Trapani Family, after Michael is in trouble with the trial and after Aldo's death in Cuba. He is therefore added to Dominic's family tree. Tom becomes to a loyal consigliere to Dominic and is present at the Mangano Compound following the defeat of the family's enemies.

Personality and traits

Tom always tried to approach a dangerous situation with hopes of a negotiated, civil outcome. He was known throughout the Family as a kind and loyal person who would help in times of need. He loved his adoptive family, the Corleones and was devastated by the death of Sonny, as the two were best friends ever since Sonny brought him in to the family as a child. Tom did have a temper but never really showed it as he knew to act calm in dangerous situations. Tom was one of the most intelligent of the Corleones, as he had to be to be consigliere. However, he was never much of a fighter and, though well-intentioned, was never brutal enough to be a great wartime consigliere.


Tom Hagen is believed to be loosely based on gangsters Joseph N. Gallo, who was the Gambino crime family consigliere, and Frank DeSimone, who started his career as a lawyer, but ended up being the Los Angeles crime family boss.[9]

However, it is believed he could also be inspired by Chicago Outfit mobster Murray Humphreys.


Behind the Scenes

  • In The Godfather's Revenge, Tom Hagen is murdered by Nick Geraci in 1964. However, the supplements disc of the Blu-ray states that Tom Hagen died somewhere in the 1970s. Additionally, Paramount Pictures has stated that it did not authorize The Godfather's Revenge, which means that his death in the novel is noncanonical.[7][8]
  • In Dean Reisner's draft of The Godfather Part III, Hagen was in his car along with his driver Fritz and Michael's son Anthony "Tony" Adams. They were escorted by various buttonmen working for Rocco Lampone when suddenly, a shotgunner gets out from a nearby car, carrying a 12-gauge pump gun. The first hit blows Fritz's head off and the car goes out of control. The second hit kills Hagen instantly. The shotgunner then disappears and when the car crashes nearby, Rocco and several buttonmen jump out of their cars and rush to the crash site. Tony was the only survivor of this ambush.
  • In a subsequent 1989 draft of Part III, Hagen remained a prominent character, with Michael slating him to become head of their legitimate business once it has been assisted by the Vatican bank. It is Tom's birthday, rather than Michael's celebration after being inducted into the Order of St. Sebastian, which is being celebrated at the film's opening.

Notes and References

  1. The original novel states that Tom was of the same age as Sonny, whose year of birth was changed from 1910 to 1916 in The Godfather Part II. Thus, it could be presumed that Tom's birthday in the continuity of the films is in 1916 as well.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Family Corleone
  3. The Godfather Supplements
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 The Godfather's Revenge
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 The Godfather Part III
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 The Godfather Returns
  7. 7.0 7.1 Paramount Sues to Stop New 'Godfather' Book From Mario Puzo Estate
  8. 8.0 8.1 Mario Puzo Estate Sued by Paramount Over 'Godfather' Prequel
  9. Cowie, Peter (1997). The Godfather Book. Faber and Faber, p. 196. ISBN 0571190111.