The Following

The Following Information

The Following is an American television drama series starring Kevin Bacon and created by Kevin Williamson. It premiered January 21, 2013 on Fox. The series is produced by Outerbanks Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television. It also stars James Purefoy and Natalie Zea. The first season will consist of 15 episodes.

On March 4, 2013, the series was renewed for a second season.


The series follows a former FBI agent who finds himself in the middle of a network of serial killers, when a diabolical serial killer uses his charisma and the Internet to create the network. In Entertainment Weekly, features TV writer Melissa Maerz wrote in a preview article, "Purefoy plays Joe Carroll, a former college professor who taught the works of Poe and killed young women in the gothic hero's honor—until he got caught. Since then he's been spending hours on a computer in the prison library, building a social network of copycat killers who hang on his every command. When the series begins, he's just escaped from death row with help from those followers, and the FBI calls in former agent Ryan Hardy (Bacon)—who brought down Joe the first time—to consult on the case".



Kevin Williamson pitched The Following to Fox, because it was "home of his all-time favorite show, 24". Comparing Hardy with Jack Bauer, he told interviewer Maerz, "Sometimes I lie awake at night and cry for Jack Bauer! Clearly, there's some of Jack in Ryan. Ryan will die saving the moment. He carries the weight of every victim on his shoulders".

Williamson knew he wanted to produce a show that would be gory; he knew it would also be controversial. Marisa Guthrie of The Hollywood Reporter interviewed Fox Broadcasting Chief Operating Officer Joe Earley about the subject material; Earley answered, "We definitely feel pressure to bring in a big, broad audience with something we are telling people is very intense. This show is such a fantastic, thrilling edge-of-your-seat ride".


To slip gory scenes past the Standards and Practices department at Fox Broadcasting, Williamson explained, "There are tricks... Okay, in the same episode there's an actor cutting someone in the jugular, and you're harping on the sex scene? So I sent a little email to [Fox Entertainment chairman] Kevin Reilly, and within 15 minutes the broadcast-and-standards people were like, It's okay".


Williamson wanted to cast a tough guy with a boyish side. "I told my agent, 'I want to get someone like Kevin Bacon.' And he said, 'What about Kevin Bacon?'" As it happened, Bacon had spent four years trying to find a television program he would like to do. Bacon told Maerz, "I had been looking for quite some time, even trying to develop stuff for myself. One thing that's consistent about the shows I'm drawn to is that they're life-or-death situations". Jeananne Goossen was cast in the role of FBI agent Jennifer Mason in the pilot, but the role was reworked and in subsequent episodes of the series her character was replaced by Special Agent Debra Parker, played by Annie Parisse.


Main cast

  • Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy, a former FBI agent who, in 2003, led the FBI team that captured serial killer Joe Carroll. Although placed on disability after being stabbed in the heart by Carroll, requiring him to use a pacemaker, Hardy is called back to service as a consultant after Carroll escapes from prison. Hardy has also written a true crime book on the Joe Carroll case entitled "The Poetry of a Killer".
  • James Purefoy as Dr. Joe Carroll, an ex-professor of English literature with a focus on the romantic period at Winslow University, and a budding novelist. Believing, like his hero Edgar Allan Poe, in the "insanity of art", he initially began to make "art" by eviscerating 14 female students. In prison (Virginia Central Penitentiary, Waverly, Virgina), Carroll gathers a cult-like collection of followers, who are willing to murder, kidnap, and even sacrifice themselves in order to execute his plan of revenge focused on Ryan Hardy.
  • Natalie Zea as Dr. Claire Matthews, Joe Carroll's ex-wife, who also had a relationship with Ryan Hardy. Like her ex-husband, she is a college professor.
  • Annie Parisse as Debra Parker, an FBI specialist on cult behavior, and head of the Bureau's Alternative Religion Unit. Parker is called in to head the investigation of Carroll and his followers.
  • Shawn Ashmore as Mike Weston, a young FBI agent. Weston wrote his thesis on Joe Carroll while in training and sees Ryan Hardy as a hero. He is considered the team's expert on Joe Carroll.
  • Valorie Curry as Emma Hill/Denise Harris, a fan of Joe Carroll. Emma Hill meets Dr. Carroll at a book reading in 2003, and ends up becoming one of his first followers. She later, at his direction, takes the position as the Nanny, Denise Harris, in Carroll's ex-wife's household, caring for Carroll's only son, Joey Matthews.
  • Nico Tortorella as Jacob Wells/Will Wilson. Jacob Wells is Emma Hill's lover and another of Carroll's followers. As Will Wilson he and Billy Thomas lived next door to Sarah Fuller (the woman who got away from Carroll) as a gay couple as part of their cult activities.
  • Adan Canto as Paul Torres/Billy Thomas. As Billy Thomas (with Will Wilson) he lived next door to Sarah Fuller. As Paul Torres he has to share Jacob with Emma, and is unhappy with the relationship, often referred to as a "third wheel."
  • Kyle Catlett as Joey Matthews, Joe Carroll and Claire Matthews' son.


  • Billy Brown as Agent Troy Riley, an FBI agent killed in "The Poet's Fire" by one of Carroll's followers.
  • Steve Monroe as Jordy Raines, a prison guard at Virginia Central Penitentiary and serial killer in training. Raines was instrumental in Carroll's Internet contact with his followers while in prison, as well as his subsequent escape. Raines killed three sorority girls on the Winslow University campus before being captured by Hardy and the FBI and subsequently committing suicide in the prison infirmary.

Series overview

Season Episodes Originally aired DVD release date
Season premiere Season finale Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 15


Season 1 (2013)

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date Production
U.S. viewers
ProdCode = 296815 Viewers = 10.42 ShortSummary = Infamous serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) escapes from prison and Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon), a retired F.B.I. agent responsible for capturing Carroll, is pulled back into the field to assist the manhunt. The police secure both Claire Matthews (Natalie Zea), Carroll's ex-wife (and mother of his son Joey) with whom Hardy had an affair, and Sarah Fuller (Maggie Grace), the only one of Carroll's victims to survive. Assisted by FBI agents Mike Weston (Shawn Ashmore) and Jennifer Mason (Jeananne Goossen), Hardy attempts to track down a prison guard who helped Carroll escape and is now being taught how to be a serial killer. When a young woman commits suicide in front of Hardy at Carroll's request saying the same last words as Edgar Allan Poe, Hardy begins to suspect that Carroll has used the internet to create a following of disciples he uses to carry out his plans. Sarah is kidnapped by two such followers (men posing as gay neighbors) and is tortured and killed by Carroll. Hardy is too late to save her, but Carroll allows himself to be taken back into custody, where he tells Hardy that this is only the beginning. Denise, Joey's live-in nanny who is completely trusted by Claire, takes Joey for some time out while the FBI is over, but is revealed to be another of Joe's followers (real name Emma Hill), and hands Joey over to the two men who kidnapped Sarah. LineColor = 000000 }}

ProdCode = 2J7402 Viewers = 10.10 ShortSummary = Special Agent Debra Parker (Annie Parisse), an expert on alternative religions, joins the case as the hunt for Carroll's son intensifies. Carroll's prison guard protege Jordy (Steve Monroe) makes his first kill, slaughtering three college girls in their sorority house. Claire tries to discover Joey's whereabouts from Carroll, but the interview only serves to reveal her prior relationship with Hardy to everyone. Joey's nanny-turned-kidnapper Emma Hill (Valorie Curry), having convinced him that he's on an adventure, takes him to an isolated house, along with Sarah Fuller's "gay" neighbors Paul Torres (Adan Canto) and Jacob Wells (Nico Tortorella). Tensions begin to rise between the three as Paul, having pretended to be Jacob's lover for years, is now jealous of the intimate relationship between Jacob and Emma. Hardy is attacked by a Poe masked man while investigating Emma's old residence. Jordy attacks Claire in her home, but Hardy wounds him and he is arrested. Parker delivers a book of Poe's works to Carroll in prison, which results in a short but noticeable unspoken communication between the two of them. The next day, the man in the Poe mask lights a random civilian on fire in a crowd. LineColor = 000000 }}

ProdCode = 2J7403 Viewers = 9.01 ShortSummary = Ryan Hardy and his team obtain video footage of the immolation incident and he recognizes the victim (Todd Faulkner) as a literary critic who gave Joe Carroll's book a scathing review. Emma, Paul and Jacob continue to keep Joey at the house, but Paul confronts Emma about her relationship with Jacob, and she cuts his arm. He leaves the house and picks up a convenience store worker, Megan (Li Jun Li), later knocking her out to kidnap and hold her hostage at the house. Another follower, Rick Kester (Michael Drayer), is also uncovered. His wife, Maggie (Virginia Kull), goes to Hardy and his team, saying he was abusive, having stabbed her on a previous occasion. He also killed the dean at the college where Carroll worked, as revenge for his having denied Carroll tenure. Maggie returns home under police surveillance, and soon receives a text message, which Agent Reilly reads. He is fatally stabbed by her and Rick shows up, ready to flee. Hardy shoots him but Maggie escapes. Special Agent Parker also tells Jordy she will allow him to meet Carroll if he confesses to Joey's whereabouts. He does but soon realizes she lied to him, and kills himself by swallowing his own bandages. Claire receives a disturbing video of Joey being goaded into killing small animals by Jacob. LineColor = 000000 }}

ProdCode = 2J7404 Viewers = 7.79 ShortSummary = Emma sees Paul's captive, Megan, as a threat and instructs Paul to kill the woman. Paul hands the knife over to Jacob and threatens Jacob with his menacing secret. Maggie is disclosed by Carroll as his follower. Joey locates the phone Emma used to leave a voice mail for Maggie. In a brief conversation with Emma about Jacob, Paul reveals to her that Jacob has been lying to them, and has never actually killed. Ryan Hardy and his team see Maggie in a surveillance footage stabbing a victim in a parking lot after buying puzzling utilities. Hardy receives a call from his sister, Jenny (Susan Misner) and Maggie interrupts the conversation, stating that she has abducted Jenny and wants to trade her for Hardy. Jacob is confronted by Emma, leading him to confess his lies; she orders him to kill Megan as a redemption. Megan, however, pleads for her life and Jacob, unable to kill her, cuts her bonds, telling her to escape. Special Agent Parker gets curious with Hardy's sudden caller, and sends FBI agent, Mike Weston, to go after Hardy. He agrees to help Hardy rescue his sister. Hardy arrives at Jenny's restaurant, and blindfolds himself under Maggie's instruction. Maggie tortures Hardy by putting magnets on top of his body, intending to disturb his pacemaker's functionality. Megan fails to escape and is caught and tied up once again by Emma and Paul. Agent Weston kills Maggie with a single shot to the chest. Jacob finds Megan in the house again and joins Paul and Emma in the shower. LineColor = 000000 }}

ProdCode = 2J7405 Viewers = 8.39 ShortSummary = Joey gets his hands on the hidden phone, while Emma, Paul and Jacob leisure in the bedroom. He manages to have an informative conversation with Claire, before Paul pulls him away from the phone. Caroll's attorney, Olivia Warren (Renee Elise Goldsberry) is seen in the department, while Paul continues to convince Jacob to kill Megan. Warren addresses Caroll's "The Following" allegation by quoting Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" in his press conference that triggers a follower to start his mission. Special Agent Parker deputizes Hardy. Emma reveals one of the followers, Charlie Mead (Tom Lipinski). Warren meets Claire and informs her of Caroll's instruction in order for her to see Joey. Joey escapes from the house and stumbles upon a nearby male neighbor, who leads him to his house after Joey requests to borrow his house phone. Emma finds Joey and convinces him that she will lend him her phone if he comes along with her. The neighbors notify the police. After being told by Emma, Paul breaks into the neighbor's house with a hoe and kills them. Hardy rushes to the location with a police officer. Claire escapes from an FBI agent, Marshall Turner (John Lafayette) who is watching her having lunch with her friend. Emma locks Joey in the bedroom, and finds a man sent by Charlie, Hank Flynn (Josh Segarra), who is to move them out of the house. Hardy arrives at the neighbor's home, only to find that they are both murdered. He tracks the nearby path and sees Jacob and Paul. Hank fatally shoots the police officer, and Hardy later kills Hank. Claire arrives at the location instructed by Warren and follows Charlie. But before Hardy can save Joey, Paul points a gun to his head. LineColor = 000000 }}

ProdCode = 2J7406 Viewers = 8.58 ShortSummary = While being held captive with Megan, Hardy is able to cause dissension among Emma, Paul and Jacob. Emma sneaks Joey away while Paul and Jacob scuffle with Hardy. She is caught by Weston, who is shot by a local policewoman later revealed to be working with the mysterious "Roderick". Paul and Jacob are able to escape with the help of other followers disguised as FBI agents. Meanwhile, Claire is also being held by an insane follower who was supposed to take her to see her son. At a remote warehouse, he mentions that Carroll wants her to survive and reveals an attraction for her after years of surveilling her. It is also revealed that Agent Parker's parents were in a cult, leading to her expert knowledge of the subject. LineColor = 000000 }}

ProdCode = 2J7407 Viewers = 8.81 ShortSummary = Olivia, Carroll's lawyer, is able to arrange being transported to another jail. The FBI are wary of the transfer and monitor every step, save for the actual exit of the van. The van is pulled over and checked. Carroll is not inside. Hardy has the warden's car pulled over and the trunk checked. The warden mentions his daughter's safety as Carroll's henchmen have kidnapped her, but his trunk is also empty. Olivia has sprung Carroll, who forces her to call Hardy. He strangles her while Hardy listens. Hardy and Weston arrive on the scene and pursue Carroll through a building where Carroll reveals he has planned all of this for "years" before escaping. With help from a follower, Joe arrives at a mansion where dozens of more followers appear to greet him. Then Joe sees Joey as a grown child for the first time. LineColor = 000000 }}

ProdCode = Viewers = 8.15 ShortSummary = Distracted by the search for Joey and unable to find any leads in Carroll's escape, the FBI lose faith in Hardy's ability to catch him and his followers and usher in a new agent to oversee the investigation. As Hardy and Parker become frustrated with having to play office politics whilst conducting a manhunt, Carroll's plans escalate even further as he puts its next stage into action. LineColor = 000000 }} </ref>

DirectedBy = WrittenBy = OriginalAirDate = ProdCode = Viewers = ShortSummary = Carroll reaches out to Hardy with an unusual request, and despite the threat of swift and violent retribution if his demands are not met, Hardy realizes that he might be holding onto a bigger bargaining chip than first thought. LineColor = 000000 }}

ProdCode = Viewers = ShortSummary = Knowing that it is only a matter of time before Carroll finds her, Hardy must outsmart a group of followers and move Claire to a safe place. Jacob and Emma are reunited, but the meeting turns sour. LineColor = 000000 }}

ProdCode = Viewers = ShortSummary = LineColor = 000000 }}

ProdCode = Viewers = ShortSummary = LineColor = 000000 }}

ProdCode = Viewers = ShortSummary = LineColor = 000000 }}

ProdCode = Viewers = ShortSummary = LineColor = 000000 }} </ref>

DirectedBy = Marcos Siega WrittenBy = Kevin Williamson OriginalAirDate = ProdCode = Viewers = ShortSummary = LineColor = 000000 }}

Season 2 (2014)

On March 4, 2013, Fox renewed The Following for a second season, which will consist of fifteen episodes.



Including other digital sources, the premiere episode was watched by a total of 20.34 million viewers.

DVR ratings

Episode No. Title Air date DVR
DVR viewers
1 "Pilot" 1.9 4.68 5.1 15.10
2 "Chapter Two" 1.8 4.11 5.1 14.21
3 "The Poet's Fire" 1.8 4.21 4.7 13.22
4 "Mad Love" 1.7 3.73 4.1 11.53
5 "The Siege" 1.6 3.73 4.5 12.12
6 "The Fall"
7 "Let Me Go"
8 "Welcome Home"

Critical reception

The Following was given 62% on Metacritic based on 32 reviews, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.

USA Todays Robert Bianco rated the show highly, calling it "one of the most violent, and certainly the most frightening, series ever made by a commercial broadcast network," adding "some plot twists seem implausible at best, others are overdone or gratuitous. But some implausibility comes with the horror/suspense genre, and there's no question [Kevin] Williamson has mastered it "? just as there's no question that the match of wills between the wounded [Kevin] Bacon and malevolent [James] Purefoy is exceedingly well played."

Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly stated: "The weakest part of The Following is the idea that Carroll was a college professor who held his classes spellbound with lectures about Thoreau, Emerson, and, most crucially, Edgar Allan Poe." He added: "The drama's strongest elements override this flaw. Both Bacon and Purefoy are so intensely earnest, The Following quickly supersedes its patent Silence of the Lambs setup. The moments that focus on Carroll's criminal cult give the series its real power, and the modern-day variations on Charlie Manson's kill-crazy crew are genuinely spooky."

The Wall Street Journal's Nancy Dewolf Smith considers the series "both better and worse than those movies where a procession of young people get killed so reliably and gorily that the audience laughs after it screams," adding, "There is some suspense here, even if it is mainly because the violence when it comes is so swift and sickening. But the show still feels slack. Is it a case of a serial-killer cliché too far?"

Hank Stuever of The Washington Post called the series "a trite, gratuitously violent exercise in still more stylishly imagined American horror stories." He added, "It is filled with melodramatic sleuthing that you've seen over and over."

Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times said the series was "hard to turn off and even harder to watch" and that "precisely because it is so bleak and relentlessly scary, The Following offers a more salutary depiction of violence than do series that use humor to mitigate horror "? and thereby trivialize it."

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