Friday Night Lights Wiki


"I hate him. I-I don't like hating people. But I just put all my hate on him so I don't have to hate anybody else. And so that I could be a good person, you know. To my grandmother and to my friends. To your daughter. That's all I want to say. I just want to tell him to his face that I hate him. But he doesn't even have a face."
-- (to the Taylors about his dad in "The Son")

Matt Saracen (portrayed by Zach Gilford) is the son of Henry Saracen and Shelby Saracen. Before leaving Dillon, he lived alone with his grandmother, Lorraine Saracen, whom he took care of due to her old age and dementia. Matt enjoys football and art.

Personality and Traits



Season One


Season 1

Matt is the back-up quarterback (QB2) for the Dillon Panthers. No one notices him on the field because Jason Street is one of the top high school quarterback in the nation. Along with his best friend Landry Clarke, he is a social outcast. When Jason suffers a career-ending injury, Coach Taylor is forced to move Matt into the starting quarterback position. The town and team pressure Coach Taylor to find a new quarterback, because no one (besides Coach) believes Matt can get the job done. As Matt continues to work his heart out and impress his teammates, a new quarterback, Ray "Voodoo" Tatum, joins the team and temporarily replaces Matt as the starter. However, Voodoo's inability to be a team player forces Coach Taylor to bench him and return the starting position to Matt. He finishes his sophomore season with a 60% completion percentage, 2,586 yards, 19 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and a 121.3 quarterback rating. In the state championship game, Saracen passes for 283 yards and 2 touchdowns in leading the Panthers to a 27-26 epic comeback victory over West Cambria High School.

Matt also begins a relationship with Coach Taylor's daughter, Julie. At first it was a one-sided crush, as Julie had no intentions of ever dating a football player. Coach Taylor isn't very pleased that they're dating and often interferes in their relationship. However, both Matt and Julie make it clear that they are going to stay together regardless of his approval.

Matt's father Henry is a member of the Armed Forces who is largely absent in his life and shows little signs of caring for his son's troubles. Henry comes home for a bit in Season 1, before ultimately leaving once more. Matt begins to develop a father-son bond with Coach Taylor, and he feels betrayed when Coach Taylor accepts a job at TMU at the end of the season. Matt tells Julie that even though she will no longer be living in Dillon, they will stay together.

Season 2

Season 2 begins with Matt and Julie's (who has stayed in Dillon with her mom while Coach Taylor lives in Austin) relationship falling apart. Julie's feelings for her co-worker along with problems at home cause the two to break up. Julie tries to reconcile but Matt refuses and quickly begins dating the new cheerleader at school. Matt's friendship with Smash also begins falling apart. Matt believes that Smash does not care for the team now that he is a senior and only cares for himself and his college prospects. The two get into a fight after the first game of the season and continue fighting until Coach Taylor, back from his stint at TMU, benches them until they can get their act together. They quickly realize they're fighting for nothing and become friends again.

Problems at home force Matt to get an at-home nurse, named Carlotta, for his grandmother. At first, neither Matt nor his grandmother like Carlotta very much, but soon he welcomes her into their home. Matt develops feelings for Carlotta and breaks up with his cheerleader girlfriend so he can be with her. She denies him at first but gives in and sleeps with him. Their relationship does not last long, as Carlotta leaves the Saracen house to return to her family in Guatemala. A heartbroken Matt begs her to stay, but it's not enough.

Tired of everything he has gone through, Matt begins skipping school and practice so he can get drunk with Tim. A night at the strip club with Tim ends early when his grandmother has an accident at home and is taken to the hospital. Matt passes out waiting for his grandmother to be released, which forces Coach Taylor to drive both of them home. A furious Coach throws Matt into a cold shower and berates him before Matt breaks down asking Coach what is wrong with him that everyone in his life leaves him for something better. Coach responds by telling Matt there is nothing wrong with him at all. Matt gets his act together after this.

Season 3

Season 3 begins almost a year after the conclusion of Season 2. Matt's quarterback position is threatened when J.D. McCoy, a new freshman quarterback, moves to Dillon to play for the Panthers. Though Matt is playing well, J.D's skills along with town pressure force Coach Taylor to give J.D. the starting position permanently. Matt, furious over Coach Taylor's decision, threatens to quit before Coach talks him out of it. Matt agrees to stay on the team and sit on the bench but tells Coach that he'll hate it just as much as he does. After a few weeks on the bench, Matt suggests that Coach Taylor give him the wide receiver position, saying he'll be an asset since he already knows all the plays. Coach hesitates but gives him the position after he proves his knowledge of the position. Matt's final game as a Panther sees him return to the quarterback position in the second half of the State Championship game after a poor performance from J.D. The team is able to get back into the game after being shut out, but they lose in the end when the other team kicks a field goal.

During his senior year of high school, Matt also slowly begins to reconnect with his mother. Shelby left Matt when he was a child after divorcing Henry (the full extent of their relationship is unknown, but it is implied that Henry may have been an abusive husband). He had initially set out to find her because he wanted to become an emancipated minor so he could become his grandmother's legal guardian and take care of her medical issues. After learning about Matt's problems, his mother comes to Dillon hoping Matt will allow her to help out at home even if he doesn't forgive her for leaving when he was a child.

Julie and Matt are drawn to each other again at the beginning of the season. Matt reconnects with Julie at the lake where they have sex for the first time with their relationship developing into a serious one. Coach Taylor once again is not too pleased, especially after catching Julie in bed with Matt.

Matt's college prospects also come into play. Knowing he won't be playing football anywhere after being benched, Matt considers art schools and decides on the Art Institute of Chicago. Knowing he'll be away from home, he helps his grandmother move into an assisted living home. However, Matt ultimately changes his mind and stays in Dillon, unable to leave his grandmother knowing that she was the only person who ever stayed by his side all his life.

Season 4

As season 4 kicks off, Matt attends community college at Dillon Technical College in the Fine Arts Department, where his natural "pluck" lands him an internship with an eccentric artist, Richard Sherman. He also is working for the new local pizza parlor, "Panther Pizza" where he "makes more money than at the Alamo Freeze." After he witnessed a Drunken JD McCoy about to throw Julie in the pool at a party, Matt picks a fight with JD, with the latter yelling insults at Matt afterwards.

During hunting with Tim Riggins he admits he is still staying at Dillon because of Julie. Upon returning from hunting he learns his father is dead after stepping on an IED in Iraq. At the Taylor house, he says he hates his father, that he doesn't like hating people and he concentrated all his anger towards his father so he can be a good person to his grandma, friend and Julie. In the funeral eulogy, he recounts a funny story involving the whole Saracen family and says he got to have his birthday because his father kept him safe by being a soldier in Iraq. After the funeral ceremony finishes, he stays behind to bury his father alone with Julie staying with him for support.

While Matt and Julie go to a music festival in Austin, they have a fight and Julie knows that Matt hates Dillon and he only stays there because of her. Upon returning, he decides to leave Dillon abruptly and move to Chicago without saying goodbye to Julie leaving her heartbroken. After some time he calls her trying to explain things but Julie devastated tells him he is her other half but still hates him. In the season finale, he explains that if he tried to say goodbye to Julie he would never have left. Near the end of the episode, they are seen at their 'special' spot where they pronounce their love for each other but end their relationship amicably.

Season 5

Matt gets a visit from Julie in Chicago, where they spend almost a week together. She feels she no longer fits into Matt's life, and Matt kisses her right after she says that, saying, "I've been waiting to do that since you showed up." The two rekindle their relationship and admit their profound love for each other after sleeping together, but Julie tells Matt about the affair and is at first unaffected by the news, but tells Julie he doesn't want to be her "safety net" and tells her she should go back to college where her life is currently. The next morning Julie goes back to university, but as she is driving away, Matt runs up to her car, kisses her, says that they'll find a way to make it work out and say I love you to each other again.

In the series finale, Matt shows up for Christmas and proposes to Julie, and Julie accepts. They attempt to convince Eric and Tami that they're making the right choice which they succeed and have their support. Eight months later, Matt and Julie are living happily in Chicago.


Family Members

Lorraine Saracen


Henry Saracen


Shelby Saracen



Julie Taylor

Main article: Matt and Julie

Carlotta Alonso

Main article: Matt and Carlotta


Matt Saracen's appearance across all mediums
Color Key
Appears Absent
Movie Absent
Book Absent

TV Series
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
Season 1
Season 2
Season 3
Season 4
Season 5

TV Episode Appearance List
Season 1 Season 2 Season 3

Season 4 Season 5

5x08: Fracture
5x09: Gut Check
5x12: Texas Whatever
5x13: Always