Francis York Morgan is the protagonist of Deadly Premonition. According to Deadly Premonition creator SWERY, York grew up near Washington, D.C. and graduated from George Washington University with a double major in Forensics and Psychology. He is thirty-two in the beginning of the story and his blood type is AB+.
Special Agent Francis York Morgan has been with the FBI for a number of years, largely due to his personal interest in crimes against young women. This interest likely stems from the deaths of his parents, when his father shot his mother to death and then committed suicide. Morgan, then seven years old, was a horrified witness to these events; the only thing his father said to him was "Some things must be removed from this world, even if it means losing someone you love."
As Deadly Premonition begins, Agent Morgan (who prefers being called by his middle name, York) is tasked with solving the murder of teenaged waitress Anna Graham in the small town of Greenvale with the aid of his imaginary friend "Zach", an unseen entity (possibly the player) with whom he often converses. Popular topics of conversation include movies (mainly from the 1980s), Tom and Jerry cartoons, and, of course, the murder case at hand.
Agent York is also an expert at profiling, a skill he uses in the field to identify the culprits behind heinous crimes. He has solved a number of vicious serial killer cases over the years, and he is more than happy to share the stories, with little thought as to how objectionable the gruesome details may be to civilians, or how inappropriate they may be to the current situation, such as graphically describing the practices of a murderer while eating lunch with friends.
York's mental state is difficult to pin down. He describes himself as "eccentric," though he may very well be insane. His mental state was likely the result of the traumatic deaths of his parents. It was immediately following this event that he first began speaking to Zach, who has been with him ever since. Regardless of the cause, York can conceal many of his quirks so as not to alienate himself from strangers; talking to Zach without moving his lips too much and not always divulging his reasons for pursuing leads that stem from his hunches. York is also obsessed with certain rituals: practicing a unique form of divination using his coffee, discussing movies with Zach in the car, always introducing himself in exactly the same manner, and searching his dreams for clues to the case and the background of the town.
The scars over York's left cheek and the side of his head have become the subject of gossip in Greenvale. They apparently stem from his last case where a woman attempting to emulate the comic book super-villain Catwoman attacked him using razor blades concealed under her fingernails. The larger, more well-healed scar on his left eyebrow seems to be glossed over and ignored, but is addressed late in the game.
He also loves sampling local cuisine in the places he visits, and really enjoys a good biscuit and a cup of coffee. However, he is extremely picky about the quality of coffee and pastries. After originally seeing Harry Stewart order a turkey, strawberry jam, and cereal sandwich York is disgusted. However after trying the creation for himself, he finds the dish fantastic.
His character is similar to that of Kyle MacLachlan's character FBI special agent Dale Cooper from the 1990's cult television series Twin Peaks, from which Deadly Premonition takes numerous inspirations. Cooper, like York, also had a love for coffee and an eccentric personality.
Agent York uses a non-standard issue Sig Sauer P226 chambered in 9MM rounds that has unlimited ammo. He has also attached a flashlight to the bottom of the Glock 17, thought this is clearly not where the light that York uses in dark areas emanates from, which appears to come from within his chest, due to the limitations of the primitive game engine.
Late in the game, it is revealed that Francis Morgan's middle name isn't York, but Zach. It was seven-year-old Francis Zach Morgan witnessed his parents' deaths; his mother was actually murdered by the demon Forrest Kaysen, and his father committed suicide in despair at being unable to save her. Zach then passed out after being attacked by Kaysen on his way out of the house, upon discovering that the scene had been observed by the child. It was Zach who then "met" another personality named York, whom he allowed to take over his mind, so that Zach wouldn't have to deal with the intense psychological trauma that his young mind couldn't handle. From then on, York became the dominant personality in Francis Morgan's body, with Zach relegated to the role of "imaginary friend". It is revealed late in the game that unlike what the player has been seeing, Francis Morgan has white hair, not brown, and the healed scar over his left eye - which he received from the blow delivered to him by Forrest Kaysen - is still painful looking, with his left eye damaged and permanently discoloured from the blow that caused it. It also seems that he may have been introducing himself as 'Zach' all that time, because suddenly other people refer to him as such without him ever having to correct them.
The real state of York's existence is left ambiguous, as he may just be a figment of Zach's imagination (which would make sense due to the time of their meeting) but there is an argument for him being a real entity, as the Ingram twins have seen him and Zach at the same time, and Harry Stewart has acknowledged York's existence to Zach.
"Do you feel it, Zach ? My coffee warned me about it."
(repeatedly) "FBI Special Agent Francis York Morgan. Please, just call me York. That's what everyone calls me."
"She'll think you're a psycho. Don't want that, do we Zach?"
"We're as far forward as the middle ages, and we've just met the king."
"There's a proper procedure for everything. Right, Zach?"
"Did you see that Zach? Clear as a crisp, spring morning."
"The balance of milk and butter you've achieved here...oh my..."
"If that's the case Zach, you and I are rivals..."
"All secrets are hidden until they are inevitably divulged."
"George, which do you prefer? Mustard or hot sauce?"
"FK... in the coffee..."
Quotes from Observing
"Taking a shower might clear our thoughts, Zach."
"Looks like the door wasn't locked."
"Looks somewhat nervous, though I sense an inner strength in him. He's serious, and an excellent cook..."
- In the 2007 trailer for Deadly Premonition, York's name is David Young Henning. Though not the character's final name, his middle name would still be consistent with the game's curious method of having a major character whose name begins with every letter of the alphabet, with York and Zach being the final two in the list.
- Swery's episodic mystery game D4 features a protagonist named David Young. The name is taken from the name given to Francis York Morgan early the development of Deadly Premonition.
- Among the collectable cards found in Deadly Premonition, Francis York Morgan is trading card #1.
- York's beard grows as the game progresses. While the beard does not grow indefinitely, it remains with him until the player decides to shave, though bugs in the game can cause the beard to temporarily disappear. The beard was designed to grow at a fairly realistic pace.
- Similarly, if the player does not change York's suit every day or so, flies will begin to fly around him. This results in a "Stinky Agent" penalty and the player is fined money. Regularly hanging York's suit will alleviate this problem, but the dirty suit must be properly cleaned in order to use it again without incurring the penalty.
- In the Giant Bomb editors' deliberations for Best New Character of 2010, Francis York Morgan was declared a third-place runner-up behind Mordin Solus and Bayonetta, who took first and second places, respectively. The editorial staff was adamant that, in their view, the unique character of York was one of the few brights spots, if not the only bright spot in the entire game.
The following is a list of films Agent Morgan mentions he's fond of during the course of play.
- An American Werewolf in London
- Attack of the Killer Tomatoes
- Back to the Future Part II
- Blue Thunder
- Cat People
- The Deadly Spawn
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off
- The Goonies
- Starship Troopers (as mentioned by Agent Morgan on his Twitter feed)
- Star Wars (taped it off TV)
- Superman I, II, and IV, but not III.
- Forrest Gump