Homeland TV Wiki
David Estes
David Estes 2
Status: Deceased
Age: 44 (at death)
Date of death: December 12, 2012
Nationality: Flag of the United States American
Affiliation: Central Intelligence Agency
Profession: Director of the Counterterrorism Center, CIA
Marital status: Separated or divorced
Children: Kenneth Estes
Felicia Estes
Played by: David Harewood
Season(s): 1, 2
First episode: "Pilot"
Last episode: "The Choice"

David Arthur Estes (1968– December 12, 2012) was Carrie's boss at the National Counterterrorism Center of the Central Intelligence Agency, until he was killed in a terrorist attack at CIA headquarters. Estes is boss of Saul Berenson. These make no attempt to hide their dislike for Carrie Mathison and stand in his way at every opportunity.


David Estes is a character, who appears in the novel written by Andrew Kaplan:

The mention of David Estes 's name came in the novel:

About Him[]

It was often hard to tell what David Estes is thinking on Langley. As director of the CIA, he had to remain calm and collected, rarely breaking for a vulnerable moment, constantly calculating his next move.

David Estes is a rising star in the CIA and Carrie's boss. He is the youngest director of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center in the agency's history. Estes makes no attempt to hide his dislike of Mathison and stands in the way of Carrie's attempts to do her job at every opportunity. But is Este's dislike of Carrie professional or based on other, more personal reasons?


David Estes heads the counterterrorism unit within the CIA and is therefore the superior of Saul Berenson and Carrie Mathison. He doesn't think much of Carrie's way of working, as she has often gotten him into trouble. For example, after sneaking into an Iraqi prison to get information from death row prisoner Hasan Ibrahim, she almost triggered a diplomatic crisis. Estes therefore banishes her to the "penalty box" (a desk at CIA headquarters Langley and keeps her away from operations).

When Nicholas Brody is freed from torture in Iraq, Estes receives some praise and even recognition from the President for this action. When he finds out that Carrie is linking Brody to Abu Nazir, he becomes angry. He wants the liberation campaign to be in a good light for as long as possible and for it to be reported positively in the media. Estes doesn't like Carrie making a fuss without any real evidence.

However, Estes doesn't seem to have always been frustrated with Carrie. The two once had an affair (Carrie's Run), but his wife found out about it and moved to Palm Beach, Florida with the children (Semper I). Now he can only see his children twice a year and, as a result of this affair, he is probably no longer in good terms with Carrie (pilot). When Carrie then gives him a reason to be suspended with her nervous breakdown in the Brody case, he takes advantage of this moment.

Because he has a very high ranking within the CIA, Estes is also responsible for the security of the President and Vice President from terrorist attacks. When William Walden decides to run for president and Nick Brody becomes his vice chancellor, Estes takes a closer look at the man. However, this is purely a formality and partly a friendly service for his old friend Walden, who was formerly head of the CIA.

Aside from that, Estes also has to take care of the command during the CIA's foreign operations. When a woman approaches the CIA with information about Abu Nazir's whereabouts, he needs Carrie's help to get the information. Although he still doesn't trust her and she no longer works for the CIA, Estes sends her to Saul in Beirut. When the information turns out to be true and there is an opportunity to take Abu Nazir out of circulation using snipers, Estes makes the decision together with Vice President Walden. The plan goes wrong because Brody is also present at this briefing and he is able to warn Abu Nazir in time.

Although Carrie once again resorted to unusual methods, Estes is grateful to her for her efforts in Beirut. She was able to obtain important information and is accepted back into the team at Saul's insistence. In the meantime, since they know from Brody's Martyr video, which he filmed with the explosive vest before the planned assassination attempt, that Brody is being used by Abu Nazir, Estes sets up a small task force under Peter Quinn and Saul to accompany Brody at every step Tritt observed in order to track down Abu Nazir's plans. However, Estes doesn't tell Saul that Peter Quinn was hired solely to execute Brody after Abu Nazir was captured. But since Brody sticks to all agreements and Nazir can be caught, Quinn refuses to kill him and tells Estes about this late at night.

David Estes is killed in a bomb attack on the CIA headquarters during William Walden's memorial service.

Amidst the wreckage, Saul Berenson became sworn in as acting Director of the agency. In season 3, in the CIA notes, he appears in a photo in which he tagged as one of the 219 killed in the 12/12/2012 attack.


David Estes

David Estes at work.

David Estes was the ambitious Deputy Director of the Counterterrorism Center of the CIA. When Carrie caused a diplomatic incident by sneaking into an Iraqi prison to speak to Hasan Ibrahim, he pulled her out of the field and sat her behind a desk at Langley. He took some personal credit for the rescue of Sgt. Nicholas Brody, which scored him brownie points with the current President of the United States. Thus he was frustrated when Carrie attempted to link Brody to Abu Nazir.

He has a tense relationship with Carrie, partly due to a past affair with her which led to the end of Estes' marriage.

Early life[]

Pre-Baghdad they, Carrie e David, were in a relationship (an affair, really), David probably told her he loved her, Carrie freaked, went to New York, left for Iraq.

Estes hinted that some of his anger toward Carrie was caused by a relationship they had that ended up in his wife leaving him to live in Palm Beach, Florida. Because of that he then saw his children only twice a year.

A devout careerist, his personality was strictly professional and bitter. He showed virtually zero compassion and had virtually no life outside of work.


Estes owed his success to former Vice President William Walden.

The two were close colleagues when Walden, then Director of the CIA, endorsed an American drones strike of a madrasa in Syria which killed 82 innocent children. His unwavering loyalty got him promoted to be Deputy Director, and a Walden presidency would have most likely made him Director.

Leaving behind a relatively short tenure, his main achievement was overseeing the death of Abu Nazir (despite having little involvement in the strike).

Carrie tells Brody she was in Iraq for “a couple three-year stints.” (The pilot)

“All About Allison” takes place in 2005 and that was when she first arrived in Iraq. So she would have been in Iraq for the first assignment from early 2005 to early 2008.

The head plot that her affair with Estes takes place between the first and second assignments, for about six months. This would make sense because in 'Semper I' Carrie says he was the “smartest guy in the Near East Division by a mile,” which suggests they actually worked together. Estes never gives any indication he was doing operational work. The plot indicates he worked instead on the analysis side (what Danny Galvez did).

When it gets too serious with Estes, she flees to New York (her own admission in 'Semper I') and then I think she probably went back to Iraq from there. So her second assignment is mid-to-late 2008 and then was cut short when she bribed the Iraqi prison guard in the first few scenes of the pilot. These scenes take place in early 2011 (supposing Brody is “rescued” in October 2011-ish, and that’s established as nine months after the Iraqi prison stuff.)

Working as a case officer for the CIA in Iraq, she met with Hasan Ibrahim, who claimed to have intel about an attack Abu Nazir is planning against the United States. Shortly before Hasan's execution, she sneaked into his prison where he said that "an American POW has been turned". Sneaking into a prison like this caused a diplomatic incident, which led to her boss, David Estes, David placing her in behind a desk at Langley.  

He fires Carrie upon learning of her bipolar disorder and her multiple contraventions of CIA protocols, but later on, he must reinstate her when she is proven to have been right about Brody. Saul discovers that Estes and then-CIA-director Walden ordered a drone strike launched in Abu Nazir's homeland, resulting in the destruction of a nearby school and that his efforts to undermine Carrie were actually an attempt to cover up the incident. Estes makes plans to have Brody assassinated once Abu Nazir is neutralized, and when Saul opposes this action, he threatens Saul's job. He is among those killed when a bomb explodes at the CIA building.


On December 12, 2012, mere days after the death of both Walden and Nazir, a funeral service was held at CIA headquarters for the Vice President (who was a former Director). David Estes was delivering the eulogy when a massive explosion rocked the building, killing him and 218 others.

The event would become known as the Langley Bombing, 12/12, and the Second 9/11. An al-Qaeda cell planted explosives in Congressman Nicholas Brody's SUV. It was done to frame Brody as payback for his betrayal. Nazir's death was thus highly strategic, as it allowed the CIA to let its guard down

Character profile[]

David Estes is a character in the critically acclaimed TV series Homeland, played by actor David Harewood. Estes serves as a bureaucratic leader within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and frequently finds himself at odds with the unconventional and sometimes controversial methods employed by protagonists Carrie Mathison and Saul Berenson. However, beneath his bureaucratic exterior, Estes represents an intriguing character study that raises questions about the nature of leadership, the tension between adherence to rules and the pursuit of results, and the complex dynamics that occur within high-stakes organizations.

At first glance, David Estes may seem like the archetypal antagonist to our beloved protagonists. He is often portrayed as the embodiment of the rules and regulations that Carrie and Saul consistently push against. Estes holds a position of authority within the CIA, and his primary concern appears to be maintaining the agency's reputation and integrity. This often leads to clashes with Carrie and Saul, who are willing to bend or break the rules in their tireless pursuit of justice and the protection of national security.

However, upon closer examination, Estes' portrayal as a bureaucratic leader is more nuanced than it initially appears. The show's writers skillfully inject layers into his character, shedding light on the complex motivations and challenges he faces. Estes is not a two-dimensional villain, but rather a multidimensional character who is driven by his own set of beliefs and responsibilities.

One could argue that Estes embodies the concept of institutional leadership, representing the need for adherence to established procedures and protocols. He serves as a counterbalance to the idealistic and sometimes reckless actions of Carrie and Saul. This conflict raises thought-provoking questions about the role of rules and regulations in leadership. Can one truly maintain a sense of justice and security while operating outside the boundaries set by the institutions they serve? Alternatively, can a leader like Estes, who prioritizes institutional reputation, truly achieve meaningful results in an ever-evolving world of uncertainty and moral ambiguity?

To delve deeper into the theoretical underpinnings of Estes' character, one can apply the concepts of transformational and transactional leadership. Carrie and Saul epitomize transformational leadership, exhibiting qualities such as passion, innovation, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. On the other hand, Estes embodies transactional leadership, focusing on maintaining order and enforcing existing protocols. This dichotomy between transformative and transactional leadership styles is a recurring theme within organizations, where leaders must strike a delicate balance between encouraging innovation and maintaining stability.

Furthermore, Estes' clashes with Carrie and Saul highlight the inherent tension between bureaucracy and individual autonomy. Bureaucratic organizations such as the CIA rely on standardized procedures, hierarchies, and established roles to ensure smooth operations. Individual autonomy, however, allows for creative problem-solving, adaptability, and thinking outside the box. Estes' clashes with Carrie and Saul provide a microcosmic representation of the age-old struggle between conformity and rebellion within organizations. It is through this conflict that Homeland explores the delicate equilibrium between structure and flexibility, and the potential consequences of tipping the scales too far in either direction.

In conclusion, David Estes serves as a captivating character study in the TV series Homeland. Initially portrayed as the bureaucratic foil to Carrie and Saul's unconventional methods, Estes reveals deeper layers as the series progresses. The tension between his adherence to regulations and his desire to achieve results raises important questions about leadership, the role of rules in organizations, and the balancing act between structure and autonomy. Through Estes' character, Homeland invites viewers to reflect on the complex dynamics that occur within high-stakes organizations and encourages a deeper understanding of the multifaceted nature of leadership. [x]


Aside #1: Carrie tells Otto that she was in Beirut in 2004 and this would have been her first overseas assignment. This makes sense in relation to her arriving in Iraq in 2005. (Season 5)

Aside #2: The one detail that doesn’t match up with this timeline is Saul telling Carrie in S04.E12 that Frank had called George Tenet (the director of the CIA from July 1997 to July 2004) and demanded Carrie be reassigned home from Iraq. This obviously doesn’t match up because by the time Carrie was in Iraq George Tenet had already resigned from that position. The plot is it’s a line showrunners didn’t put that much thought into and Season 5 on the whole seems more invested in addressing the question of Carrie’s backstory and former assignments.

Aside #3: The “authorized” Homeland tie-in novels Carrie’s Run and Saul’s Game address the before-show timeline pretty well.  I have read Carrie’s Run (and actually enjoyed it a lot as really good fan fiction) and IIRC the Estes affair is covered and the New York line explained. In Saul's Games, it also gives more weight to the “they hung my interpreter from a bridge”. Consider it just one head plot over another.

David had been a football player in college. (Carrie's Run)


Really interesting David Harewood interview, especially the parts about Estes’ relationship with Carrie. A snippet:

I mean I played every scene as if I was still in love with [Carrie]. I mean it wasn’t written that way. It wasn’t supposed to be written that way but, you know, if somebody breaks your marriage up – And I mentioned to Claire, during the pilot I even mentioned it to Alex, that Estes seemed to me to be the type of guy who would tell his wife. I don’t think she found out. He’s such a square guy, that I just thought to myself: she must have just blown his mind. I mean the sex must have been insane. So I think he just thought “This is it. I’m in love,” went to his wife and said “Look, I’m in love. I’m gonna leave you.” And Claire agreed with that’s what freaked her out and she then ran away. And I think if somebody hurts you like that it’s in your heart. So for me every time I got together with Carrie I was trying to bury my emotions,… they were just underneath the surface. - By Sarah Caldwell


  • Estes: "That's a school, sir".
  • Walden: "If Abu Nazir is taking refuge among children, he is putting them at risk. Not us". - Episode Marine One
  • Carrie says that David Estes: "He was the smartest guy in the Near East Division by a mile,”
  • David Estes was talking to Saul saying “youve got a giant blind spot when it comes to her” referring to carrie and them he said “trust me i did too and now my wife lives in palm springs and i see my kids twice a year”.
  • "You've never made a bad move in your romantic life?" - Quinn to Estes
  • David Estes: “So tell me what’s so important it couldn’t wait?”
  • Saul: “Abu Nazir, David, remember him? Two horns, long tail, strong scent of sulfur?”


Season 1
Pilot Grace Clean Skin Semper I Blind Spot
The Good Soldier The Weekend Achilles Heel Crossfire Representative Brody
The Vest Marine One
Season 2
The Smile Beirut is Back State of Independence New Car Smell Q&A
A Gettysburg Address The Clearing I'll Fly Away Two Hats Broken Hearts
In Memoriam The Choice

External links[]