Little is revealed about Chuck’s childhood other than that his mother left him and his sister Ellie when he was nine years old, leaving them to take care of themselves since their father “wasn’t really there”. Though he didn’t know about it, Chuck had accidentally uploaded a prototype version of the Intersect that his father was working on. It is unknown whether or not this prototype was ever removed. Chuck ended up going to Stanford where he met Bryce Larkin, who became his best friend in college and Jill Roberts, who became his girlfriend. In 2002, Bryce planted test answers in Chuck’s room and reported him to the school board, causing him to get expelled. Jill ended up dumping Chuck for Bryce, causing him to lose his confidence. He spent the next 5 years working at a BuyMore, where he became the Nerd Herd supervisor, and he moved in with his sister and her boyfriend.
The Beginning of His Spy Life
On his 26 birthday, Chuck receives an email from his old college friend Bryce Larkin. Chuck cracks the password and unlocks the contents of the email, which turns out to be the Intersect. He spends the entire night watching his computer screen as it displays images which have hidden government secrets inside. When the CIA and NSA realize that Bryce not only destroyed the Intersect, but sent it to him, they send their own agents to retrieve the Intersect. While they attempt to figure out where the Intersect is, Chuck is experiencing strange sensations where he knows government information about specific people and items through sudden epiphanies dubbed “flashes”. While he is trying to figure out what is going on with him, he meets a beautiful woman named Sarah Walker, who comes in to get her phone fixed. After he fixes it, she gives him her number and asks him to call her. Chuck puts the number in his pocket and decides that Sarah is joking about calling her. When he gets home, he finds someone dressed in black trying to steal his computer. Chuck tries to fight the intruder off, but is easily defeated. During the fight, his computer is broken and the intruder escapes. Unknown to Chuck, the intruder is Sarah Walker, who is working for the CIA in trying to retrieve the Intersect.
The next day, Chuck goes to LargeMart to buy new locks for the apartment and he flashes on a known terrorist. He escapes from the LargeMart without the locks and goes to work at the BuyMore. Sarah later returns to the Buy More and asks Chuck why he didn’t call her. Chuck is shocked to find out she really wants to go out with him and takes her out for dinner that night. While on the date, John Casey, an agent of the NSA tries to kidnap Chuck. Chuck is frightened and he and Sarah start running away from Casey. The two run onto the top of a building across from the building where a big political party is being held, where Sarah is forced to reveal that she works for the CIA in charge of retrieving the Intersect. Chuck then tells her that the e-mail that Bryce had sent him just a bunch of pictures and that he is having these flashes. As soon as Casey arrives, Sarah tells him that Chuck is the Intersect and Chuck flashes on the building holding the party. He then tells the two agents that a terrorist is about to blow up a famous political figure and the three of them go and infiltrate the party. They find the bomb, but there is little time left to defuse it. Sarah and Casey have Chuck defuse it because they think he can use the Intersect to do so. Chuck is unable to flash on how to defuse it, but instead uses a computer virus to short out the computer and defuse the bomb. After the incident, Sarah and Casey become Chuck’s handlers, going under cover with Sarah posing as Chuck’s girlfriend and Casey his co-worker, until they can figure out how to get the Intersect out of his head.
Because he downloaded the Intersect into his brain, Chuck is known by a select group of people as Human Intersect. So far, there are two actual Human Intersect, but Chuck Bartowski is the only one to have downloaded multiple Intersects. So far he has downloaded:
- Intesect 1.0
- Intersect update from special sunglasses
- Fulcrum Intersect
- Intersect 2.0
- Laptop Intersect Update
As the Intersect, he has the unique ability to pull top secret government information on people, items, and other government/spy stuff. After downloading the Intersect 2.0, Chuck became able to flash on physical feats like kung-fu or acrobatics in order to get out of tight situations.
Chuck was just an ordinary person with an incredible knack for retaining high amounts subliminal information. This is how he accidentally downloaded the Intersect information from the special pictures Bryce Larkin sent him. After this, he is able to flash on certain objects, like pictures, names, or code words and recall information from the Intersect regarding it. After he downloads the Intersect 2.0, Chuck becomes able to use a range of skills from combat, acrobatics, playing the guitar when the situation demands it. After using certain skills after a while, Chuck becomes able to use them without using flashing. This is apparent from with his marksmanship.