He has lived in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, since the mid-1970s. On February 26, 1972, he was struck by a passing car while he attempted to help a friend move a stalled truck, which caused him to lose both his legs. Fifteen years to the day after the accident, he started appearing on Wiseguy as Daniel Burroughs, better known as Lifeguard.
lieutenant was his first major role and lasted until 1990.
He starred in his own short-lived television show, called The Jim Byrnes Show. He played a recruiting sergeant for the Union Army in an episode of "Copper" called "The Children of the Battlefield." His other television roles include Higher Ground and cartoon voices in Beast Wars: Transformers, Beast Machines: Transformers, Shadow Raiders, Stargate Infinity, Dinosaur Train as Percy Paramacellodus, Colonel Nick Fury in X-Men: Evolution and as Duke Dermail in Gundam Wing.
He appeared in the Taken mini series, which broadcast on the Sciences-Fi Channel and an episode of Twilight Zone entitled "Harsh Mistress". He has also appeared on the Syfy series, appearing as the father of Helen Magnus, played by Amanda Tapping and as Shineoa San in an episode of Andromeda as well as the voice of Virgil Vox in nine additional episodes.
Byrnes was also honoured at the 2006 Maple Blues Awards, as Male Vocalist of the Year, and at the 2006 and 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Later, he starred in the fantasy television series Highlander: The Series as Joe Dawson, a member of a secret society known as the "Watchers." He reprised his role as Joe Dawson in Highlander: Endgame and Highlander: The Source, later installments of the Highlander film series, as well as providing voices for the anime Highlander: The Search for Vengeance.