Is there any particular reason why The Americans Philip and Elizabeth never wear gloves when they are on a mission?

Apparently they know about fingerprints and how they can be used to identify someone. In Season 1 there is mentioned multiple times that they wiped their prints after using a car. This even leads to suspicion when the FBI finds Amador's car without any prints in it.

In Episode 2 of Season 2 Philip breaks into a house, but uses a screwdriver not to leave any prints, which I imagine is quite inconvenient for opening doors and searching the house in general.

Screwing around

Why are they not simply wearing gloves?

  • On some show (maybe NCIS?), an investigator mentions that even latex gloves leave a latex residue that can be traced. I don't have anything to back that up, and I can't even remember what show it's from, so I don't want to add it as an Answer. Just a fun bit of (possibly-true) trivia. Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 22:23
  • 2
    Possible, but remember that the show plays in the cold war era. I'm not sure how far forensics were back then.
    – magnattic
    Commented Aug 14, 2014 at 23:55
  • Really good point. Commented Aug 15, 2014 at 18:10
  • I remember seeing Elizabeth wearing gloves on at least one occasion while in one of her disguises.
    – Keavon
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 11:20
  • Several times, Philip and Elizabeth are seen cleaning off fingerprints with some cloth.
    – Déjà vu
    Commented Feb 26, 2019 at 12:58

1 Answer 1


There are a couple of reasons why they might choose to not to wear gloves when on a mission:

  • They would look more suspicious if caught (holding a screwdriver would look odd, but not quite as suspicious)
  • If it's not winter (which it generally isn't in the show), having gloves in you possession while going to your mission draws attention
  • Gloves would smudge existing fingerprints, such as on doorknobs, alerting forensics to the fact that someone wearing gloves was there

That said, I think there are definitely a few times when they might have benefitted from wearing gloves. I imagine they avoided those situations so that they could either show how clever Philip and Elizabeth are or to look more dramatic (pushing a door open with a screwdriver is far more interesting than slowly opening a door with an off-shot gloved hand).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .