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Michelle Payne is late wife of Max Payne which she was killed by Valkyr test subjects in 1998.

Despite having little appearances in the game, she is mentioned in all 3 games by her husband in his grief for his family death and her death is responsible for Max's endless depression before he resolves after dealing with the incident in Brazil.



Early life[]

Michelle was born on May 12, 1964. At some point during the 1990s, she began to work at a District Attorney's office.

Meeting her husband[]

"I thought I would be her knight in shining armor."
―Max, on saving Michelle.

Max and Michelle's first meeting

One day, September 1992, in Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, Michelle was assaulted by two robbers who tried to steal her bag, but she was saved by a young NYPD officer named Max Payne, who had beaten up the robbers.

The two began to hang out together, with Michelle often teasing Max, and married ten months after meeting each other, circa June 1993. Michelle took Max's surname and the two went to Montauk on their honeymoon. Five years later, on February 4, 1998, she gave birth to Rose.

Later life[]

Work at the D.A.[]

"An army dossier found its way to my desk yesterday. Valhalla? Isn't that a Norse myth? Something about Vikings? I tried to tell Max about that, but he was busy, that cute frown on his brow. Guess it's nothing, just a mix-up at the courier service..."
―Michelle in her diary, on her discovery.

Prior to 1998, Michelle Payne worked part-time at the District Attorney's office. During her work on some papers, she came upon the Project Valhalla documents that Alfred Woden had sent to incriminate Nicole Horne. Michelle tried to tell Max about her find, but as he was too busy to hear about her find, she let it go.

It was finding these documents that eventually led Horne to disperse several Valkyr test subjects into the Payne residence to kill Michelle and her family and steal the evidence leak a few days later, a grave mistake that would seal Horne's fate three years later.


Main article: Payne Residence Massacre

―Max upon finding Michelle's corpse.

Max finding a deceased Michelle at their bedroom

One summer evening in 1998 (August 22) , three green jumpsuit-wearing Valkyr-pumped maniacs break into the Payne family's New Jersey house and wreak havoc, destroying property and holding the terrified Michelle in her bedroom, along with her baby daughter.

Her husband Max arrives at the Payne residence at the moment of its invasion and hears her screaming in terror for help. Although the detective rushes to aid her, killing the invaders in the progress, he arrives too late and, to his horror, finds Michelle and Rose shot dead. Max holds Michelle's corpse, whilst screaming.


"We'd only been married a short time. By now, she had been dead longer than I knew her."
―Max Payne near Michelle's grave, 2012.

Michelle and Rose's grave, 2012

Michelle Payne and her daughter's deaths are what sets Max Payne to begin his journey to get revenge on those who are responsible. He joins the Drug Enforcement Administration to build the Valkyr trafficking case. After three years of investigation, he starts to work undercover in the Punchinello Crime Family. During his search for Michelle's murderer, Max was framed in murder of his partner Alex Balder (who was actually killed by B.B.). Eventually, after three long years, Max, with the help of Woden, discovered Nicole Horne's part in Michelle's death, and killed her in a final showdown at the Aesir HQ.

Michelle and Rose were buried in the Golgotha Cemetery, in a single grave. In 2012, Max comes to the cemetery to pay respects to his deceased family one last time, before leaving New Jersey for São Paulo, following a job offer from an old friend.

A few hours before the events leading to his escape from New Jersey, Max sat at Walton's Bar in Hoboken, and looked back at much of his life prior to Michelle's death, including their first meeting, marriage, and daughter's birth.

Max Payne's nightmares[]

Michelle in Max's nightmares

Payne hears Michelle's voice many times during his haunting nightmares. When Max finds her diary in one nightmare he has, he reads aloud that Michelle had merely stumbled across the Project Valhalla documents and wasn't fully aware of the matter.

Michelle Payne appears in Max's nightmares during his 2003 Cleaner Case. In one nightmare, the NYPD detective forsakes Michelle in a bid to win Mona Sax. He immediately regrets the decision. Michelle is later mentioned after Max has killed Vladimir Lem and witnessed Sax's death. Max seems to finally make peace with her passing, as he mutters: "I had a dream of my wife. She was dead, but it was all right."

Personality and traits[]

During her years prior to marrying Max, Michelle was a rather talkative and witty woman, and seems to enjoy teasing her future husband in various ways. She was also more careless and relaxed, freely talks about various subjects. She was a very sarcastic person, cynically laughing at her husband's name, which is a pun on the word 'Max(imum) Pain".

Following her marriage to Max, she became a more serious and responsible person, devoted to her role in the family as a mother, and deeply cared about her husband and daughter.

When she met and married Max, she had rather short and spiky hair, similar to her husband's during this time. By the time of her child's birth, she still had a similar hairstyle, and by the time of her death, she had longer and wavier hair. Her hair color was brown, though a family picture shows blonde hair, hinting that she dyed her hair to blonde or golden-brown during the six months between the birth of her child to her death.


  • According to Max in "Hoboken Blues", Michelle used to drink gin and tonic.
  • Max and Michelle were married for exactly Five years and two months as they had married in June 1993, and Michelle died on August 22, 1998.



External links[]