Tom Hagen from The Godfather was absolutely loyal. He never had done something which was not in the family interest. He never orchestrated any coup. He might not be so foresighted as Genco but was it a smart move to fire him?

Actually what was the motive to fire him? Why did Michael insult him sometimes?


8 Answers 8


In this movie, we do see Michael firing Tom as the consigliere. What happens at the end of The Godfather makes sense when Michael is targeted for an assassination attempt in his own home in The Godfather Part 2.

Firstly we need to keep in mind the meaning of the word "Consigliere".

consigliere (kɒnsɪˈljɛːreɪ/) noun noun: consigliere; plural noun: consiglieri a member of a Mafia family who serves as an adviser to the leader and resolves disputes within the family. Source: Merriam Webster

After the attack on Vito Corleone, when Michael takes charge of the Corleone family, as he has learnt from his own father, he knew the first thing to do is to make his own family secure. We do see, even between the five families, there was never much faith or loyalty which becomes prominent after the demise of Sonny. Sonny's death at the hands of Barzini family shook the Corleone family to the very root. So, here Michael wanted a person to fall back to in times of distress. He wanted a person who would not be directly linked to the direct actions taken by Michael, but someone on whom he could count for his own family's safety. That was none other than Tom Hagen.

Secondly, it wasn't only Michael's decision:

Michael: When we make our move there you're going to be my right hand man. Tom Hagen is no longer Consigliari. He's going to be our lawyer in Vegas. That's no reflection on Tom it's just the way I want it. Besides, if I ever help who's a better Consigliari than my father. That's it. [Everyone except Hagen leaves]

Tom Hagen: Mike, why am I out?
Michael: You're not a wartime Consigliari, Tom. Things could get rough with the move we're making.
Don Corleone: Tom, I advised Michael. I never thought you were a bad Consigliari. I thought Santino was a bad Don, rest in peace. Michael has all my confidence as do you. But there are reasons why you must have nothing to do with what's going to happen.
Tom Hagen: Maybe I could help.
Michael: You're out, Tom.

Here, Don gives us a small hint of the fact that there are bigger designs in the making, and for the family's safety, Tom Hagen should have no part in it.

In Godfather Part 2 we find:

Michael telling Tom, just after the assassination attempt, that he is the only one he can trust with his family.

Michael: There's a lot I can't tell you. Tom. And I know that's upset you in the past.You felt it was because of some lack of trust or confidence.But it's because I admire you and love you that I kept things secret from you.That's why at this moment you are the only one I can completely trust.

We see, he could not trust even his own brother Fredo. Here Michael asks Tom to "take over" as Don.

To answer your first question: He wouldn't have been able to do this if Tom Hagen had continued being directly involved in the actions and steps taken by Michael.His interactions with the outside world, or with other families would have kept Michael from having full faith in him. That's what exactly happened with Fredo.

For your second question: We have seen Michael becoming very sensitive, hostile and protective when it comes to his family. As Michael had already started thinking of Tom as his own brother, more than Fredo at times, he was hurt to find that Tom has kept things from him.

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Michael eventually grew to embody the worst of everything his family represented. Yet, he loved his family dearly. Family was the most important thing in the world to him. However, he was so vengeful, he would kill his own brother, Fredo. He was sane and mad, kind and cruel, powerful and weak. He was a masterful, strategic thinker blinded by vengeance. He would publicly renounce Satan and all of his works at the baptism of his godson and promise that he would protect that child from the wickedness of the world while outside his men murdered all of his enemies.

Source : Character analysis


Why did Michael fire Tom Hagen as Consigliere?

Short answer: just as Michael tells him, Tom is not a wartime consigliere. While Tom is skilled with legal maneuvers, basic intelligence gathering and diplomacy, a wartime consigliere needs also to be ruthlessly skilled at things like espionage and counter-espionage. Much of "Godfather 2" is Michael's struggle with deception and routing out duplicitous agency.

Actually what was the motive to fire him?

Recall in the first "Godfather" that Sonny berates Tom for not being a wartime consiglieri, specifically, not a Sicilian:

Tom's biggest failure as consiglieri was not seeing the angles which put Barzinni and Solozzo in cahoots - many of which stem from "the old country". Were Tom Sicilian, he might have questioned how Solozzo "The Turk" came to have heroin processing plants in Sicily in the first place and investigated this more deeply. Tom also suggests to Don Corleone that it might be a good idea to get into the drug business or else the "five families" might. He was unaware that they had already gotten into the business and Solozzo was only looking to Don Corleone for legal and political protection. Tom did not suss out that the Tattaglia's were a front for Barzini - he was playing catch up the whole time:

Given his character, Michael realizes Tom won't be able to rise up to the difficult and international maneuvers which he is planning for the family interests. Given Tom's strengths, he is also much more valuable to Michael as a legitimate lawyer for the family.

Why did Michael insult him sometimes?

Because they're brothers and sometimes brothers lash out at each other. Tho I don't think he blames Tom for Sonny's death or the assassination attempt on Don Corleone, Michael knows if Tom were a better consigliere, these tragedies may have been avoided.


I think Tom did well with the Sollozo ordeal as far as what he gathered. Even Sollozo was impressed by Tom there. What even the Godfather failed to see was Barzini backing Tattalagia from the beginning.

Tom being demoted from consigliere was for 2 reasons, neither of which had much to do with Hagen's inability.

  1. Don Corleone was the best consigliere Mike would ever have.
  2. They were planning to go legit and didn't need Tom, a brilliant attorney, unable to represent the family due to being tied into illegal activity himself. Being charged with planning 5 murders would make Tom unable to represent Mike at trial. Being able to represent the Corleone family legitimately while they muscled their way into Vegas was just as important to the families future as killing the heads of the 5 families.

Tom Hagen was a great consigliere and Micheal loved and admired him since he's the only individual in the family who could be trusted after Fredo's betrayal. Since Micheal wanted to legitimize the family business, he felt that a war time counselor wasn't needed anymore. However, Michael assured Tom that should anything happen to him, Tom will become head of the family.

  • Hello and Welcome to Movies and TV StackExchange. Your answer doesn't really add anything that has already been said in other answers. It's fine to add other answers, even if one seems to be accepted, but one should try to offer something new. Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 15:03

As Sonny said in Godfather I "You're not a 'Wartime' consigliere." Meaning you don't know what to do or have the balls to do what is necessary at times of war between the families. We all know Tom as the mature, intelligent, intellectual, calm, quiet one of the bunch. Adopted off the streets by Vito Corleone. So when it's Mike's turn he fires Tom as consigliere and keeps him on as his Lawyer. Michael respects Tom and doesn't want him knowing or seeing all the dirty deeds that have to be done to stay on top. This also allows Tom to be an unbiased shoulder to lean on in times of trouble. Tom isn't built to be a Wartime consigliere, not because he doesn't trust him or because Tom isn't smart..it's because it just isn't Tom's nature to go around killing people. Just like when Sollozo talks to Tom after the attempted assassination of Don Vito Corleone, Sollozo says," Your boss is dead. I know you're not in the muscle end of the family,Tom, so I don't want you to be scared. " So it's simply because Tom's just a non-violent guy.

  • Hi Nicole, did you read the other answers here? The points you make have already been made in those.
    – Joachim
    Commented Dec 2, 2021 at 10:55

My thought is that Tom was present when Vito committed to never break the peace and bound by that oath as much as Vito. And as such, if he were part of the planning for the baptism of fire, it would have been going back on Vito's word. But by publicly pushing him out, no one could say that he broke that oath and left Michael free to do what he wanted. That's why he waited until Vito was dead to do the killings. He could have done so sooner if he wanted, the three regimes were built.


The reason he was removed was that when Michael became the New Goodfather in the first part he puts his father as consiglierie. ( if he would need one ) Tom is a lawyer who should not know about the brutal murders Mike Will order in the future. Mike becomes Goodfather 1954 and Vito dies 1956. So at least he had his father as comsiglieri for 2 years. Mike takes the Corleone family to much higher power than his father. His father had to fight the 5 families in New York. And There was a commision Where all the maffia heads of families met. Michael kills all the heads of the 5 families + other important characters. After that he becomes the most powerful maffia Don in the USA so the commision has No importances anymore and disappears. All other Dons has to Ask him so there is No need for a commission anymore because Michael is so much more powerful than all the other dons. He has become the absolute most powerful crime boss in USA.

  • Hello and Welcome to Movies and TV StackExchange. Your answer doesn't really add anything that has already been said in other answers. In the future it is also helpful to use sources to help solidify and prove your answer. Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 15:01

I still haven't found a satisfying answer to this question. I suppose the best is about him not knowing about the murders of the heads of the families but he knew about the murder of mccluskey and solozzo.

In my opinion, it was just a plot development piece to show how he was having to make the tough decisions. Vito isn't under him and Santino is dead, there aren't many characters left that the audience has enough respect for that would show this. Certainly not clemenza nor fredo.

I think they knew this was a bit if a hole and tried to tidy it up in Part II with Michael telling Tom he is the only one he can trust.

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