|“||But I'm only a vigilante hacker by night. By day, just a regular cybersecurity engineer. Employee number ER28-0652||”|
Elliot Alderson is a cybersecurity engineer and vigilante hacker who lives in New York City. He is played by Rami Malek.
Elliot suffers from social anxiety disorder, clinical depression, delusions and paranoia. His internal life is revealed via voice-overs that provide insight into his mental state, his opinions of the people he encounters and the activity around him. These dialogues with the audience are designed to help us interpret Elliot's world, but given his mental illness, he is an unreliable narrator, leaving us unsure whether what he tells us we're seeing is actually what is happening. Typical of this is when Elliot hears everyone around him refer to E Corp as Evil Corp, reflecting his own opinion of the conglomerate.
Although not much is known about his childhood, Elliot describes his relationship with his father to be a very positive one. He tells Mr. Robot that his father was the only one he could talk to. His father died of leukemia which he developed after working at E-Corp, leaving him in the care of his mother. Elliot's father tried to keep the cancer a secret, but when he was very ill by the time Elliot was eight, he told his father's secret to his mother, resulting into his father flying into a rage, pushing him out of the bedroom window and breaking his arm. This affected Elliot's otherwise positive opinion of his father, however, Darlene informs him that this did not happen - in fact, he fell out of the window due to his own breakdown with a baseball bat. He did not have a good relationship with his mother, who was somewhat abusive towards Elliot as a child both physically and mentally. She seemed to have a negative relationship with Elliot's father, acting indifferent after his death. Darlene is Elliot's younger sister, although he does not always remember that she is.
Before Elliot worked as an engineer at Allsafe Cybersecurity, he previously worked as a white-hat hacker for a cyber company, looking for holes in the system until it was "hacker-proof". On Memorial Day weekend when everybody else wanted to leave to party, Elliot continued to hack the company and they couldn't lock down the servers. They locked Elliot in the server room for the night. When Elliot woke up after falling asleep after a few hours, he found all the servers in the room had been destroyed, but he had no memory of it, suggesting this was a 'black out' where another personality had taken over. He was subsequently taken to court and the judge made him go to therapy with Krista Gordon for anger management. It was childhood friend Angela Moss who encouraged him to take the job at Allsafe.
Elliot gets the job at Allsafe. He has proven himself to be knowledgeable and proficient, and has gained the trust of his superiors. Though he likes most of the people he works with, he must protect large corporations like Evil Corp, which he deeply resents. Much of Elliot's anger is focused on E Corp, to the degree that whenever he hears or sees the name of the corporation's name he mentally translates it to "Evil Corp", which is the derogatory name he has assigned to it.
When he is not working, much of Elliot's time is devoted to grey-hat hacking. He stays up to date on forums and boards, and maintains contacts through the internet. He is skilled in information gathering and observation, and demonstrates skills in social engineering, which allow him to learn as much as possible about the people around him. He uses his skills to bring what he sees as justice to people who might otherwise escape the notice of law enforcement, as demonstrated by his confrontation with Ron, a prosperous coffee house owner who also runs a child-pornography website. He also uses his skills to help ordinary people who may have been wronged, such as when he hacked his therapist's boyfriend to protect her from his more violent tendencies.
Elliot is an introverted, socially awkward person who holds in a lot of anger, mainly towards the society that he is unable to participate in. He suffers from anxiety, which makes it difficult for him to participate in social situations. Because of this anxiety, he is unable to bring himself to attend Angela's birthday party, much to her frustration. Despite this, he will at times try to overcome his fear. Elliot is rarely seen not wearing a black hoodie which may be his personal uniform for the world and a comfort blanket of sorts. It also allows him to blend in to the world, much like a featureless, black anonymous avatar.
He confronts a coffee shop owner about the latter's illegal website in person in part to work on talking to people, but when he goes to the restaurant where Angela's birthday party is held and sees Angela with her boyfriend, he decides to leave. Additionally, he does not like to be touched.
Elliot receives mandated therapy to help him deal with his anxiety, as well as his emotional issues and anger management. Though he tells Krista, his therapist, that he is taking his medication, there are moments when he questions whether his perceptions are accurate. He self-medicates with morphine, using suboxone to help with any withdrawal he may experience, but also uses recreational drugs such as Ecstasy.
Although he has working relationships with some peers, his closest friend, Angela, is from childhood. Krista, his therapist, encourages him to connect with other people, but his anxiety generally prevents him from being comfortable in social situations. Despite this, he has a sexual relationship with Shayla, who eventually becomes his girlfriend. He is also able to connect with the fsociety group, and to interact with people related to his hacks.
Elliot's therapy sessions and his own voice-over provide insights into his diagnosis. Elliot acknowledges his own social anxiety disorder, and later, his extreme sadness, indicative of his clinical depression. Krista notes his delusions in one session, checking to be sure he has taken his medication. His actions, such as his hyper-vigilant awareness of those around him, suggest paranoia as well, a syndrome that frequently accompanies or causes delusions. Later, Elliot's mind identifies his own dissociative identity disorder, involving four different personalities created to protect the host.
- Social anxiety disorder: intense fear of social situations. This may affect an individual's ability to function in one or more aspects of their lives. In Elliot's case, his job demands minimal social interaction, and allows him to work in a cubicle, reducing social contact, but he is unable to join large social activities, such as Angela's birthday. His anxiety lightens during the short period he is with Shayla, making it possible for him to attend the dinner at Gideon's loft.
- Depression: Pervasive low mood, sadness, and/or loss of interest in or enjoyment of normal activities, often accompanied by low self-esteem. Depression can be treated by medication and therapy, such as with Elliot.
- Paranoia: Thoughts influenced by fear or anxiety. Paranoia may accompany or trigger delusions.
- Delusions: Delusions are strongly held systems of beliefs or interpretations of reality that differs from reality, despite evidence to counter them. Elliot's belief system includes the feeling he is being followed, and the need to rescue individuals from people he feels are hurting others, such as in the case of Krista's boyfriend or Ron, the coffee shop owner. Unlike hallucinations, where the individual sees what is not there, delusions are about how the individual interprets reality. Through much of the series, we see reality through Elliot's filter, and thereby his delusions. In “eps1.7_wh1ter0se.m4v”, the audience sees the reality that Elliot is interpreting for the first time.
- Dissociative Identity Disorder: In Elliot's mind prison, Krista discusses Elliot's dissociative identity disorder with him. The first personality, the protector personality, was created the day Elliot jumped out the window. This personality was created to replace his father to protect him from intolerable situations - the person Elliot named as Mr. Robot. The second personality, the prosecutor, was Elliot's mother personality. She was created later in life, and blamed Elliot for the abuse and punished him. Not long after her came Elliot's younger self - he emerged to handle the abuse he couldn't tolerate. Thus, Elliot created his own family of sorts. Krista then reveals that there is a fourth personality - he tried to shelter Elliot by changing his past, and protect his future. This personality tried to take down all the evil that surrounded him in the real world, hence why fsociety was born. He loved him so much, he wanted to make the entire world better for him. This was the reason he hid the real Elliot in his mind prison - to try and turn his harsh reality into fantasy, to keep him safe until he was ready. Krista then talks about real-Krista and how she was never realized she wasn't talking to the real Elliot, only ever the fourth personality, the one created to carry Elliot's rage, the vigilante hacker that sought vengeance. He forgot that he was only just another personality - he was the mastermind. The false Krista implies that the viewers themselves are another part of Elliot's mind, voyeurs feeling satisfaction as the fourth personality achieves greater and greater success in his vigilantism. .
- Writer Sam Esmail gave Elliot his own birthday, September 17.
- Elliot's pet fish Qwerty is named after the American 'QWERTY' keyboard layout.
- In the original script of pilot episode, in Elliot's opening monologue, he claims that he believes in aliens.
- He is ordered by the court to see Krista for anger management issues.
- Elliot doesn't have any social media profiles including Facebook.
- He uses GNU/Linux and the Gnome desktop environment. The specific distribution used is Kali Linux
- When Elliot deletes his number from Michael Hansen's phone, we see it is (212) 555-0179.
- Elliot's laptop has a piece of tape over his webcam, to prevent other hackers from spying on him, much like what happens to Ollie after being hacked by The Dark Army.
- Elliot's computer is a Dell Optiplex GX280.
- Elliot's keyboard is a Gigabyte FORCE K7