Detective Michael Cordero, for 5 years, has been the backbone in the background when it comes to Jane the Virgin’s story. He started out as Jane’s fiancée before she left him for Rafael and then left Rafael to finally marry him. Michael died halfway through season three, though, only to come back, without his memories, in the fifth season. Straight out of a telenovela! Which, of course, this is.
Through the unorthodox road to happiness and back again, Michael has shown his competence as a detective, friend, and soulmate, almost as much as he has shown his complete inability to be those three things. He’s a mixed bag, as is everyone on this wild, weird, and wonderful show.
10 Good - Getting Mateo Back (S02E01)
There’s a lot to be said for how Michael’s ferocious need to capture Sin Rostro put everyone in his life, especially young Mateo, in danger (and don’t worry, that’ll be covered below). But when the going got tough, Detective Cordero stepped up to plate. Without a moment of hesitation, once finding out about Mateo’s kidnapping by Rose, Michael puts together a plan to hand over the most concrete evidence he has on Rose to maintain Mateo’s safety.
The worst parts of Michael were always his obsession with his job, but seeing his job and his loved ones come to a head so drastically, and how quickly he tossed his job to the side, is very sweet. Michael might be a bit of a rubbish detective sometimes, but he can be a fantastic partner/godfather/friend.
9 Bad - Line Dancing (S05E02)
How much of Michael still lives in Jason, the kidnapped, memory-wiped version of Michael that showed up in season 5? That’s the question the show tries to answer in its first few episodes of the season before his memories started to return, and the first real indication of pure Michael is his envy and willingness to put himself above the needs of those around him.
Jason takes Jane line dancing, since he’s a rancher now, and even though she’s in a committed relationship with the father of her child, he kisses her. Jane quickly rejects him, and it’s almost a charming scene seeing Michael back to his old ways, fighting for Jane. The only problem comes when Jane isn’t looking to be fought for.
8 Good - “You Can Tell Me To Go Away, I’ll Understand” (S05E01)
It’s hard to put Jason too many times on this list, so this’ll be the last time he appears here, but Michael does have a way of shining through a few times. One of the most notable times was his conversation with Jane at the end of the season five finale after she’s realized the truth. Seeing how much confusion and pain is caused by his presence, Jason tells Jane that she has free reign to kick him to the curb, that he is a new person and is no longer her responsibility.
While Jason does turn around on this idea after Jane rejects his offer (see above), it’s still a nice reminder that the sweetness and almost self-destructive selflessness that Michael has could never be truly extinguished.
7 Bad - Severe Jealousy (S01)
As the chips started to fall on Jane the Virgin, and both the characters and the audience started to see where this telenovela adventure was going, the love triangle between Jane, Michael, and Rafael started to form. Jane started this journey with Michael, but as she slowly started to drift towards Rafael, Michael kept giving her reasons to drift farther.
Michael’s jealousy, especially in season one, is understandable, if difficult sometimes to watch. Everyone can empathize with having the person they love walk into someone else’s arms. But his character arc, at least for the first half of the show, is about letting go, accepting these falling chips, and turning away from the jealousy, no matter how much sense it makes.
6 Good - The Honeymoon (S03E02)
After getting shot by his arch nemesis disguised as his new partner, nobody would blame Michael for focusing hard on recovering and getting back to work. However, never to be outdone by Jane’s romanticism, Michael turned his hospital room into a surprise honeymoon spot for him and his wife, since his bedrest put any honeymoon plans they had on hold.
In addition, when he and Jane are finally together in their medical Maui, he puts any romance on hold so she can look up Mateo’s most recent problem. Sweet and understanding, even when those two things contradict each other? Season three Michael really was the perfect package.
5 Bad - Obsession With Sin Rostro (S01 & S02)
As a newly single man, Michael had many options to deal with his heartbreak. He could have an ill-advised rebound (he did with Nadine), completely shut out everyone in his life (he did), or leaned into solving the mystery of a serial killer/crime lord that turned out to be his arch-rival’s step-mother (he did that the most).
Michael’s obsession with the Sin Rostro case and its fallout become the core obstacles throughout Jane the Virgin, leading to many plot twists and broken hearts. But it started with Michael abandoning everyone close to him to pour himself into his work. While it’s commendable for the detective, it’s hard to watch Michael walk away from everything important to him to dedicate both his life and death to a single baddie.
4 Good - “Just Focus On Mateo” (S01E22)
As Michael starts to be more comfortable with his place in Jane’s life, either as a friend or a partner, he gets wiser and more understanding. After Mateo’s birth in the season one finale, he looks at her and tells her that even though she’s focusing on whether to choose him or Rafael (something he desperately wants the answer to), her priority is, and should be, her son.
Michael slips back into his jealousy a few more times, especially whenever Rafael is in the room, but this small light at the man he’s becoming is one of the first signs that Michael is a truly good person.
3 Bad - Hiding Petra’s Affair (S01E05)
Back before the wedding, the rage, and even before his fiancée gave him back the ring, Michael was a man whose betrothed has just been accidentally inseminated with another man’s sperm. And he wanted more than anything to keep that man married so that Jane wouldn’t be drawn to keep the child growing inside of her.
Michael’s desire to keep Rafael and Petra together would be enough for an entry on this list, but covering up Petra’s affair so Rafael wouldn’t have a reason to leave takes it to a whole other level. One of the main things that tore Michael and Jane apart in the beginning, Michael’s cover-up was the first hint that this well-intentioned man could go to upsetting lengths to keep the order he loves so much.
2 Bad - Fight With Rafael (S02E05)
Mateo’s crying in this scene still rings in viewers' ears three years down the line. After finding out that Rafael got him fired, Michael comes storming in and causes a match of egos between Jane’s two suitors that ends with a glass table broken and a cut on baby Mateo’s arm.
The look on Michael’s face says it all: he’s too obsessed with his work and his rivalry to be a worthwhile partner. This event sends him far into the doghouse, forcing him to crawl out of this dark place to be someone worthy of being around Jane and Mateo. It’s a turning point for him, but turning points are often also known as rock bottom.
1 Good - The Vows (S02E22)
Don’t trust anyone who doesn’t tear up during this scene. After two intense, complicated, and stressful seasons, Michael and Jane step up to the altar to be married and start their lives together. It gets to be Michael’s turn to say his vows, and he drops them in perfect Spanish. Jane starts crying. The wedding audience starts crying. The show audience starts crying.
Even without the reveal that Michael spent weeks working with Alba to get the Spanish pronunciations right, it’s not only one of the most heartwarming moments of Jane the Virgin, but one of the most heartwarming moments in television history.