Damages (TV series)

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Damages title card.jpg
Genre Legal drama
Psychological thriller
Created by Todd A. Kessler
Glenn Kessler
Daniel Zelman
Starring Glenn Close
Rose Byrne
Željko Ivanek
Noah Bean
Tate Donovan
Ted Danson
Anastasia Griffith
Marcia Gay Harden
Timothy Olyphant
William Hurt
Campbell Scott
Martin Short
Dylan Baker
John Goodman
Ryan Phillippe
Opening theme "When I Am Through with You" by The VLA
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 59 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Todd A. Kessler
Glenn Kessler
Daniel Zelman
Location(s) New York City, New York
Running time 40–60 minutes
Production company(s) KZK Productions
Sony Pictures Television
FX Productions
Bluebush Productions
Gotham Music Placement
Distributor Sony Pictures Television
Original channel FX (2007–10)
Audience Network (2011–12)
Picture format 480i, 576i (TV)
480p (DVD)
720p (FX HD; BBC HD; AXN HD)
1080p (Blu-ray)
Audio format DD 5.1 (DVD, HDTV)
Dolby TrueHD (Blu-ray)
Stereo Surround (TV)
Original run July 24, 2007 (2007-07-24) – September 12, 2012 (2012-09-12)
External links

Damages is an American legal thriller television series created by the writing and production trio of Daniel Zelman and brothers Glenn and Todd A. Kessler (collectively known as KZK). It premiered on July 24, 2007 on FX and aired for three seasons before moving to the DirecTV channel Audience Network in 2010, where it aired for a further two seasons, concluding with the fifth season.[1][2]

The plot revolves around the brilliant, ruthless lawyer Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) and her protégée, recent law school graduate Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne). Each season features a major case that Hewes and her firm take on, while also examining a chapter of the complicated relationship between Ellen and Patty. The first two seasons center on the law firm Hewes & Associates (located in New York City). Later seasons center more on Patty and Ellen's relationship as Ellen attempts to distance herself from Hewes & Associates professionally and personally.

Known for its depiction of season-long cases from the point of view of both the law firm and the target, the series is noted for its plot twists, nonlinear narrative, technical merit, and the Emmy Award winning performances of its cast. The series has received widespread critical acclaim and several television award nominations, with Close and first-season co-star Željko Ivanek winning a Primetime Emmy Award for their performances, while several of the other performers have been nominated as well. The series has attracted various stars to play characters on the side against Close's character Hewes, including Ted Danson, William Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden, Martin Short, Lily Tomlin, John Goodman, Dylan Baker, Ryan Phillippe, and John Hannah.



Creators Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman devised the series as the relationship between a mentor and a protégée: two women in powerful positions. Although the initial story idea did not have the series set in the legal arena, the creators chose it because they felt the legal world included women who commanded power and influence.[3] The concept was inspired by the creators' interaction with their superiors along with their experiences in the entertainment industry.[4] The setting steers away from usual legal dramas, where storyline is set inside the courtroom and instead describes the characters' lives and interactions outside the courtroom, thereby focusing on the behind-the-scenes power maneuvering and manipulation.[4] About the characters of the show Zelman notes, "We don't look at any of the characters as good or bad or anything like that. What really motivated us to write about this world, first and foremost, was our interest in power dynamics, the dynamics of power in society."[5]


The series was designed with the main character, Patty Hewes, tackling one case per season.[6] The first season of the series focuses on a class-action lawsuit against the fraudulent multi-billionaire CEO of a defunct company. The plot was inspired by various corporate scandals and characters involved in them,[7] most notably from the 2001 scandal surrounding Enron.[8] The second season deals with the energy industry and related environmental issues. The story is influenced by recent and ongoing environmental cases in the United States in the mining industry and also by the events of the 2001 California energy crisis.[9] The writers were guided by environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who shared his experience in the field with various corporations and CEOs.[10] The third season is largely based on the 2009 epic Bernie Madoff scandal, with veiled references and similarities to the case of the collapse of the Stanford Financial Group of companies and their use of Antigua's opaque banking laws.

The series uses nonlinear narrative, employing flashforwards, foreshadowing and red herring narration techniques. This approach has given the writers flexibility in storytelling.[11] The narrative handles multiple plot lines and has loose ends. Zelman explains, "We know where we’re going. We have tent-pole moments that we’re building to all the way through to the end, and it’s very clear to us where we want to end up. [However], we want to leave room for improvisation..."[7] While the two different time-frames format was initially intended for the first season, in preparation for the second season the producers felt that the nonlinear format had become a signature of the series and decided to continue it for the second season.[12] With the serialized format of the show decreasing the viewership,[11] Todd Kessler contended that the second season would contain stand-alone storylines to make the show more accessible.[13]


When creators Kesslers and Zelman pitched the show to executives at FX, network president John Landgraf suggested that they should consider Glenn Close for the main character Patty Hewes.[14] Close had earlier worked on FX's The Shield and had conveyed to the network officials that she would be interested to be cast as a lead in another show, so long as the show was set in New York City.[15] After a three-hour meeting with the creators, Close accepted the role, impressed particularly by the powerful persona of the character "as the head of her own law firm [...] in a male-dominated world."[7] In preparation for the role, Close met with several female attorneys in New York, including Mary Jo White, Lorna Schofield and Patricia Hynes.[14] The creators chose Ted Danson for the part of Arthur Frobisher, a corrupt billionaire CEO, because of his role in the 1979 film The Onion Field.[15] Danson was immediately attracted to the project after he learned that Close would be playing the lead role.[16] As part of preparation, Danson studied the collapse of Enron by watching documentaries such as The Smartest Guys in the Room and meeting CEOs of various Fortune 500 corporations.[17] The producers also suggested that Danson consult Close's acting coach Harold Guskin. Danson was initially hesitant about this suggestion, but found the consultation extremely helpful.[18]

Series cast members Rose Byrne and Tate Donovan, portraying Ellen Parsons and Tom Shayes respectively, secured their parts through auditions. Byrne had been unavailable the first time she was approached because she was shooting the film 28 Weeks Later, but was able to audition later when the part had not yet been cast.[8] Both Byrne and Donovan prepared for their roles by consulting lawyers and attending court trials.[19] According to producers, the characters of Ellen's fiancé David Connor and his sister Katie were the hardest to cast.[3]

For the first season cast, Noah Bean, who got the role of David, said he "gave an awful first audition," but managed to get the part when he was given a second chance while waiting for an elevator.[3] When British actor Anastasia Griffith auditioned for the part of Katie Connor, the producers were hesitant to have a British actor play an American, especially since they already had an Australian (Byrne) playing an American. However Griffith convinced the producers by speaking in an American accent throughout their follow-up meeting.[20] At the time of casting, Griffith's role was intended only for three episodes, but was extended after the producers realized the success of the character.[4] Željko Ivanek scored the initially very-minor role of Ray Fiske through an audition, but as producers watched Ivanek's work in the dailies they beefed up the role considerably.[21]

For the second season cast, Marcia Gay Harden was, according to producer Josh Payne, a "no-brainer" for the role of Claire Maddox. They wanted an actress that could hold her own against Close. Harden's casting was also due in part to the fact that she lived in New York City where Damages shoots.[22] William Hurt and Timothy Olyphant were cast late in the process. The producers debated whether they should go with one actor that created a love triangle involving Patty and Ellen, but they ultimately went with the two separate actors.[23]

For the third season cast, Lily Tomlin's casting evolved out of her fandom for the show. At an art exhibit she bumped into creator/exec. producer Todd A. Kessler, and interrogated him for information about upcoming twists on the show. Todd kept her in mind, and later cast her as Marilyn Tobin.[24] Dominic Chianese was also cast because of his past relationship with Kessler, as the two worked together on The Sopranos.[25] Martin Short was the last major actor to be cast that season; he too was a Damages fan. Producers were excited to work with Martin, though he had very little dramatic work to refer to; he added to the Damages reputation of casting against-type.[26]

For the fourth season cast, producers initially considered actors like Edward Burns and Wentworth Miller for the role of Howard T. Erickson because they were closer in age/physique to Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater whom the season was based on. John Goodman stressed his availability and the role was tailored to suit his style.[27] Creator Daniel Zelman saw Dylan Baker on stage years ago when Daniel was an apprentice at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Massachusetts. His performance left an impression, and producers had thought about casting him several times before and the timing didn’t work out until Season 4, where he was cast as Jerry Boorman.[28] Chris Messina at his first casting call, refused to play a Republican or a lawyer on the show because he was repeatedly cast in such roles beforehand. He was awarded the role of PTSD-plagued Chris Sanchez, and went through considerable preparation for the role. He would "stay awake and not sleep...and right before action...drink two Red Bulls." He was also reluctant to join a show so late in its run.[29] The role of Bill Herndon was, like with Ray Fiske or Katie Connor, conceived as a very minor role but was significantly increased after Judd Hirsch made a good impression.[30]

For the fifth season cast, Ryan Phillippe initially wasn't too interested in doing Damages, but on a phone call with producers he changed his mind after being told his character was modeled after Julian Assange, with whom Phillippe was fascinated.[31] Jenna Elfman followed in the steps of Ted Danson, Martin Short, and other well-known comic actors by playing against-type on Damages as Naomi Walling, the innocent victim in a lawsuit. She enthusiastically signed on for the opportunity to "play the types of scenes I haven't yet had the opportunity to play."[32] Janet McTeer became close friends with Glenn Close while working on the film Albert Nobbs, and Close worked with producers to offer her a key role as Kate Franklin, a recent empty-nester returning to law.[33]

Title sequence[edit]

The title sequence, set to the song "When I Am Through with You" by The VLA, depicts images of New York City public sculpture, including "The Glory of Commerce" atop Grand Central Terminal, "Civic Fame" atop the Manhattan Municipal Building, and "Asia" in front of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. The frieze of the New York County Supreme Court Building is also shown, inscribed with a quote from George Washington, "The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government." The title sequence, produced by the graphic design firm BigStar, was nominated for a People's Design Award, awarded by the Smithsonian Institution's Cooper–Hewitt, National Design Museum.


Season one[edit]

Main article: Damages (season 1)

The regular cast consists of Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, Ted Danson, Tate Donovan, Željko Ivanek and Noah Bean.

A young woman, Ellen Parsons, is found running through the streets half-naked and covered in blood. During the following Investigation by the police her fiancé, David, is found bludgeoned to death in their apartment and Ellen is arrested.

Six months earlier, Ellen, a newly minted lawyer, is being courted for prestigious jobs. She turns down an offer to work with the defense attorney Hollis Nye (Philip Bosco). Ultimately, she chooses a job at Hewes and Associates, headed by notorious lawyer Patty Hewes. When Nye finds out about this, he warns Ellen of the dangers in working for Patty and asks her to sign his business card. Ellen later notices he wrote "I was warned" above her signature.

Ellen becomes engrossed in a major case that Hewes and Associates is pursuing. Patty has been retained in a class action lawsuit by the former employees of billionaire Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson). In a case reminiscent of Enron, Frobisher is accused of insider trading and lying to his employees about the health of his company even as he unloaded hundreds of millions of his own stock, depriving his employees of retirements and benefits. Early in the season, Patty shows that she is willing to take extreme, unethical and illegal lengths to win her case. As the season progresses, Ellen becomes more and more involved in the case and in Patty's tradecraft. A portion is caused by Ellen's personal connections to the case. Her fiancé's sister turns out to be an important witness in the case. Much of the season, Ellen skirts the edge of what is unethical, but eventually comes to cross that line. As Ellen becomes more and more devoted to the case, her relationship with her fiancé becomes strained. The situation is not helped when Patty betrays his sister. Eventually Ellen and David tire of Patty, and Ellen publicly leaves Hewes and Associates. Nevertheless, she continually has an interest in the case and soon becomes personally and professionally embroiled in it again.

Throughout the first season, the series plays with time. Instead of unfolding in the present and showing flashbacks of the past, the main narrative unfolds several months in the past, and is interspersed with flashes of events that are taking place in the present time of the story. These flashes gradually reveal that Ellen's fiancé David has been murdered, and that Ellen, while staying at Patty's apartment, appears to have been attacked. These glimpses of what will happen to the characters later heighten the suspense and increase viewers' speculation about the main narrative and the identity of David's murderer. Viewers are led to suspect one character after another of the crime—including Ellen, Patty, Frobisher, and a character who has been stalking David.

By the finale of the first season, the past-tense main narrative of the show has caught up with the flashes of the present and most of the questions raised by those flashes have been resolved. The murder charges against Ellen are dropped. The identities of David's murderer and Ellen's attacker are revealed to the audience, and the Frobisher case is resolved: Frobisher gives two billion dollars of his personal fortune to the employees, in exchange for a guarantee that no criminal charges will be filed against him. He is later shot and left for dead by a former employee whom he had double-crossed earlier by manipulating him for information.

Season two[edit]

Main article: Damages (season 2)

Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, and Tate Donovan returned as regulars. Season 1 recurring star Anastasia Griffith became a regular and season 1 regular Ted Danson returned for five episodes. William Hurt, Timothy Olyphant and Marcia Gay Harden joined the regular cast. John Doman guest starred.

Once naive young attorney Ellen Parsons talks to an unknown person off-screen. Suddenly, she pulls out a gun and pulls the trigger twice.

Six months earlier, an old acquaintance of Patty, scientist Daniel Purcell (William Hurt), convinces Patty to take a case involving a conspiracy between Purcell's scientific firm and a huge energy corporation, Ultima National Resources (UNR). Patty's initial refusal to assist Purcell is understood better when it is revealed that Purcell is the father of Patty's son, Michael, a relationship that she abused to win a case during Michael's childhood. Currently, Purcell is having an affair with Patty's opponent in the courtroom Claire Maddox (Marcia Gay Harden), the attorney of UNR's CEO. On a similar note, a partner in UNR, Dave Pell (Clarke Peters), conspires with Patty's husband Phil against her while he is also having an extramarital affair. When Phil's affair is leaked to the press anonymously (found to be by Patty), Patty kicks him out of their apartment. Ellen, still believing that Patty had tried to have her killed, deals with her past by attending group grief counseling and working with the FBI to bring Patty down. Patty's partner Tom Shayes, whose wife is pregnant with a son, continues to be in the dark on certain issues regarding cases. Eventually, Ellen uses Tom to further the FBI investigation, causing him to get fired in the process.

Similar to the first season, the majority of the narrative is past-tense, with glimpses of the present. This season gradually reveals it is Patty that Ellen had at gunpoint, attempting to force the truth out of her. Several minutes after Ellen fires the gun, Patty is found bleeding in the elevator.

In the season finale, Ellen convinces Patty to bribe the judge to accept evidence, a setup to incriminate Patty. At the same time, Patty makes a deal with Pell to call off the FBI, reveal Ellen as the insider for the Feds and hand over the data proving UNR is using toxic chemicals. In return, Patty will drop the energy trading angle of the case. She also sets up Ellen as the fall guy for bribing the judge. Ellen, meanwhile, procures a handgun. After destroying the FBI cameras in the room by shooting at them, Ellen confronts Patty about her actions from season one, leaving to bribe the judge after Patty confesses that she was responsible for the attempted murder of Ellen. Soon after, Patty is found in the elevator, bleeding. Here, it is revealed Patty was stabbed by Fin Garrity before her confrontation with Ellen. When Ellen bribes the judge, she and the Judge are arrested for bribery by the FBI agent previously working with Ellen. As they leave, Federal Marshals arrest the corrupt agent Ellen was assisting, freeing Ellen.

One month later, Patty is recovering at home, Tom is returning to Patty's firm, and Ellen has a new job offer. Patty says Ellen will return soon enough.

Season three[edit]

Main article: Damages (season 3)

Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, and Tate Donovan returned as regulars for the third season. Season 1 regular Ted Danson returned for five episodes. Martin Short and Campbell Scott joined the cast. Lily Tomlin and Keith Carradine special guest starred.

Patty is the victim in a car crash. The other car belongs to Tom Shayes, who is found dead in a dumpster. Ellen is implicated in Tom's murder because her blood-stained purse is found in the hands of a homeless man near the dumpster. When a detective questions Ellen, they discuss what the homeless man said and he asks whether she and Tom were romantically involved. Ellen replies, "We were starting a law firm together."

Six months earlier, Patty Hewes is tackling a new case. Appointed a trustee by the US government, she is tasked to recover billions of dollars lost to the largest investment fraud in Wall Street history: a fraudulent Ponzi scheme run by Louis Tobin (Len Cariou), a Bernie Madoff-type. Patty believes Tobin has hidden the money, and that members of his family, specifically his loyal son Joe (Campbell Scott), Louis' secretive wife Marilyn (Lily Tomlin), daughter Carol, and his trusted attorney and family friend Leonard Winstone (Martin Short), know much more than they claim. Tom has a personal involvement because he invested in the Tobin fund and lost his savings, which compromises his professional involvement. Ellen, meanwhile, has stayed true to her promise not to return to Patty, and has avoided contact for the past year that she has been working at the District Attorney's office. Ellen runs into Tom and she mentions she is having trouble cracking a drug case. Soon after, Ellen's case is suddenly resolved under suspicious circumstances, and she receives a package from Hewes & Associates containing an expensive Chanel bag from Patty (the same bloodstained bag that ends up in the hands of the homeless man). Believing Hewes & Associates is more capable than the D.A. to bring about restitution for the victims, Ellen begins to secretly cooperate with Patty and Tom and they all get drawn into the Tobin family's world of deceit.

From the beginning of the season, the relationship between Patty and Ellen has reached a point of clarity and distance. Nevertheless, the bond between them resurfaces as they work on the case together. Throughout the third season, Ellen is trying to prove that she can get to and manipulate Patty but never succeeds. Ellen is replaced by a new, young and ambitious lawyer, Alex, whose career Ellen is sabotaging.

Ellen and Patty deal with family crises. Patty finds out that her son, Michael, and his girlfriend, who is at least fifteen years his senior, are expecting a baby. At the end of the season, Jill finds herself in custody for having sex with a minor and about to lose her freedom and custody of the baby. Toward the end of the season, it is revealed that the car that hit Patty was driven by Michael, raging because of Jill's incarceration. Ellen's sister is arrested on a drug charge. Finally, we also learn about an old and painful secret Patty has been keeping for years. Through memories and dreams Patty repeatedly sees herself, highly pregnant, walking somewhere up to a ranch with horses and a man she briefly talks to. He asks her what she's doing so far away from her home in her condition and Patty answers her doctor said she'd be ok. However, the doctor actually told Patty she must stay in bed and avoid any physical activity or else the baby will die. Following Tom's funeral, Patty indirectly admits to Ellen that she brought on a miscarriage so that she could go to New York and accept an important job offer thus beginning her climb to the top of the legal profession. Ellen then asks, "Is it worth it?" Patty does not reply and Ellen leaves.

Season four[edit]

Main article: Damages (season 4)

Glenn Close and Rose Byrne returned as regulars for the fourth season. John Goodman and Dylan Baker joined the cast. Chris Messina guest starred.

The fourth season opens to reveal Ellen's new job at another law firm (the same firm she was offered a position at in season one). Ending Ellen's search for a career-defining case, she begins researching and gathering witnesses for a wrongful-death suit against private military contractor Howard T. Erickson (John Goodman), who heads the "HighStar" security company. Erickson made his fortune supplying the U.S. Government with security forces in Afghanistan and is protected by his connections within the highest echelons of power in Washington, D.C. During a high school reunion, Ellen enlists her old friend Chris Sanchez (Chris Messina), a HighStar employee, as her key witness. Unfortunately, the law firm Ellen works for, fearful of repercussions, rejects the case, forcing Ellen to seek the resources for case elsewhere. After Patty sees Ellen harassed by a supporter of HighStar while she and Ellen have lunch together, she offers Ellen everything necessary to file the case. As the case unfolds, Jerry Boorman (Dylan Baker), a opportunist deeply tied to Erickson and the CIA, works all angles to prevent the case from progressing, fearful that his true involvement in the wrongful-deaths will be discovered.

Once the case is clearly resolved, Ellen and Patty meet in Manhattan in a spot overlooked by the Statue of Liberty. Ellen is angry because Patty put Chris in danger to continue the case despite her protest. In response, Patty offers Ellen her hand claiming that they "can do great things together." Ellen refuses and says goodbye.

Season five[edit]

Main article: Damages (season 5)

Glenn Close and Rose Byrne returned as regulars for the fifth and final season. Ryan Phillippe joined the main cast. Chris Messina, Jenna Elfman, Janet McTeer and John Hannah guest starred.

After four seasons of manipulation and deceit that cross professional and personal lines, season five sets the stage for the final showdown between Patty and Ellen. In a storyline inspired by the vicissitudes of the whistleblower website WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, Channing McClaren (Ryan Phillippe) is a computer expert and the iconoclastic founder of a website, McClarenTruth.org, devoted to government and corporate transparency.[34] It is shown, in the premiere, that Ellen and Patty are set to go head to head in a case over the death of Ms. Walling (seen to have been attacked by two anonymous people), as Patty claims that McClaren murdered her, as well as stealing personal information and posting it on his site.

The final season opens with Patty walking into her office to see her granddaughter sitting in at her desk drawing. Patty says to her, "Get out of mommy's chair." The girl responds, "You're not my mommy." When Patty approaches the desk, Ellen appears in place of the girl, saying, "I love you mommy." The end of the season premiere depicts Patty being questioned by the police about Ellen's disappearance. Ellen is shown in an alley, unconscious and bleeding. While this case is occurring, Michael organizes a custody case over Catherine. With Ellen agreeing to testify against Patty after the McClaren case was over. Also, in Ellen's personal life, her mother has left her father, after he threw something at her and she was scarred. She lived in Ellen's apartment for a while, before moving into her own apartment. Only to move back in with Ellen.

The McClaren case continues, with both Ellen and Patty being contacted by a hacker by the name of Samurai Seven. He sold information to both of them about the involvement of prince-field in Naomi's death. However, only Patty relieves this information and then Samurai seven is found dead in a burnt out car. In the court, Ellen suspects that Patty has a personal relationship with the judge, seemed to be confirmed when a personal call is made to her from him. However, once Ellen has raised attention to this and removed the judge from the case, Patty reveals that it was all a set up, and that she and the judge disliked each other. As Ellen finds out that Patty has received the Prince Field information, she tells the new judge and Patty is forced to give Ellen the information. This gives Patty no leverage on the case.

When questioning Naomi's daughter Patty finds out that Naomi and McClaren possibly had a sexual relationship, and so Patty goes to the media and accuses McClaren of rape. This results in both Ellen and Patty being given a gag order. Soon after, McClaren offers Naomi's daughter a settlement and she wants to take it. Yet, Ellen and Patty team up to give false evidence so that the settlement isn't took and the case continues. As Ellen and Patty are both given time to ask questions to a doctor but would have to travel to him. Once the interview is over, Ellen finds out that her flight is cancelled and so Patty invites her onto her private flight, which has been delayed. While waiting in the airport, Ellen and Patty discuss the attempted murder of Ellen and the confession that Patty made. However, Patty says that the accusation was false and that the confession was a lie because she was at gunpoint.

Rutger Simon is revealed as to be the one who intentionally leaked Naomi Walling's personal e-mails, hoping to implicate McClaren as the leaker so he can be take control of the McClarentruth.org. Simon convinces Patty Hewes to become an investor in the site when he takes over in exchange for his testimony against Channing McClaren, Helmut Torben, and Bennett Herreshoff. Patty subsequently informs Ellen of her intention to call Simon as a witness for the Plaintiff. Upon getting this information, Ellen informs Torben (McClarenTruth.org's primary benefactor) of Simon's intention to testify against Channing McClaren and the possibility of Simon implicating both him and Bennett Herreshoff as part of his testimony and tenebrously suggests having Simon taken out of the picture. In a meeting with Torben and Herreshoff, Simon informs them that he intends to testify against Channing McClaren, and promises not to implicate either of them in in his testimony. After booking an emergency flight out of the country to Dublin, Simon is killed by hitmen hired by Herreshoff and Torben. On the day of the trial, shortly before opening arguments, Patty Hewes is informed that Simon has left the country. Because Simon was Patty's only valuable witness she drops the lawsuit. Later on Patty suggests that she intentionally gave Ellen her witness list early to see how Ellen handled the information. Patty knew Ellen would share the information with Torben, who would have Simon killed, thus proving in Patty's eyes that Ellen would not be who she was without her.

Attention then turns to the custody case, and Ellen has the blood, which was on the card she had with her the day she was attacked, tested to find the identity of Patrick (the murderer). Ellen hires a man to track and find him. She offers Patrick immunity if he was to testify against Patty. He agrees. The story has now caught up to the future shown in the premiere and Ellen is shown walking to her office through the alley. The scene then cuts to Patrick and the spy in Ellen's office, saying how Ellen is two hours late. They ring up the detectives and have Patty arrested. As the two men search the roof, they discover Ellen unconscious in the alley below. As they seem to run down to help her, only one does as Patrick goes back to the office to find Michael who has just arrived. As Ellen is being brought too, a scan picture is found in her bag, revealing she is pregnant. Once awake, Ellen goes back to her office to find Michael dead, having being shot by Patrick. Patty is told about this in a mimed scene. At the end of the series finale, the final scene takes place 'a few years from now' showing Patty entering a shop to find Ellen and her daughter. In her limo, Patty has a vision of Ellen coming to thank her for everything she has done. Instead, Ellen walks away, telling her daughter that she knew "that woman" back when she was a lawyer. Ellen walks with her daughter and tells her that they're going to visit her dad at the VA (the Department of Veterans Affairs) which means the child's father is Chris Sanchez. The scene ends with a closeup on Patty's face; she sits with a stoic expression on her face in silence.

Cast and characters[edit]

Actor Character Seasons
1 2 3 4 5
Glenn Close Patty Hewes
Rose Byrne Ellen Parsons
Tate Donovan Thomas Shayes
Ted Danson Arthur Frobisher
Noah Bean David Connor
Željko Ivanek Ray Fiske
Zachary Booth Michael Hewes
Michael Nouri Phil Grey
Anastasia Griffith Katie Connor
William Hurt Daniel Purcell
Marcia Gay Harden Claire Maddox
Timothy Olyphant Wes Krulik
Tom Noonan Victor Huntley
Martin Short Leonard Winstone
Campbell Scott Joseph Tobin
Lily Tomlin Marilyn Tobin
Ben Shenkman Curtis Gates
John Goodman Howard Erickson
Dylan Baker Jerry Boorman
Chris Messina Chris Sanchez
Judd Hirsch Bill Herndon
Ryan Phillippe Channing McClaren
Jenna Elfman Naomi Walling
John Hannah Rutger Simon
Janet McTeer Kate Franklin

The series details the mentor-protegee relationship between high-stakes attorney Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) and newly graduated attorney Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne). During the first three seasons Tom Shayes (Tate Donovan) acts as Patty's associate, right-hand man and later partner. Michael Nouri stars in the first two seasons as Patty's husband Phil Grey, and makes periodic guest appearances in subsequent seasons due to their characters' separation. Zachary Booth stars throughout the series as Patty's damaged son, Michael Hewes.

The first season mainly focused on a case involving Arthur Frobisher, played by Ted Danson, a man blamed for embezzlement and fraud; Željko Ivanek played his regretful attorney Ray Fiske. Noah Bean starred as David Connor, Ellen's fiancé, with Anastasia Griffith recurring prominently as Katie Connor, David's sister and the key witness in the Frobisher case (at the end of the first season Bean and Ivanek leave the main cast with the death of their characters, but still serve as occasional guest stars with their characters appearing in flashbacks). Notable recurring characters during the first season were played by Peter Facinelli, Philip Bosco, and Peter Riegert.

The second season found Patty and her firm inadvertently thrown into a massive case against the billion dollar-worth energy corporation Ultima National Resources (UNR). William Hurt played Daniel Purcell, a mysterious man from Patty's past who initiates the case and puts it in Patty's hands. John Doman played Walter Kendrick (in a billed recurring role), the primary antagonist of the season as the CEO of UNR, while Marcia Gay Harden joined the cast as UNR's misinformed but smart and vicious lead counsel Claire Maddox. On the personal front, Anastasia Griffith returned as Ellen's friend Katie Connor, who helps her in taking down Frobisher, while Timothy Olyphant played a man in grief counseling who bonds with Ellen under ambiguous motives. Returning recurring actors in prominent roles were Ted Danson, David Costabile, Tom Aldredge, Mario van Peebles and Glenn Kessler. Notable recurring characters during the second season were played by Clarke Peters, Brett Cullen, Kevin Corrigan and Darrell Hammond.

The third season, inspired by the Bernie Madoff scandal, tracked Patty's aggressive pursuit of bringing down the disgraced Tobin family after they were revealed to be a part of a Ponzi scheme that ripped off millions of citizens. Campbell Scott played Joe Tobin, the shamed but ultimately spoiled and selfish youngest son of the family. Martin Short played the family's longtime trusted lawyer Leonard Winstone who finds his place in this family changes as the Tobins reveal their true colors. Lily Tomlin special guest starred throughout the season as the secretive matriarch Marilyn Tobin, while Len Cariou appeared as the patriarch of the family blamed for all of the fraud and conspiracy. Returning recurring actors in prominent roles were Ted Danson, and also Timothy Olyphant in a single guest appearance. Notable recurring characters during the third season were played by Dominic Chianese, Mädchen Amick, Ben Shenkman, and Keith Carradine. Wallace Shawn also made a notable guest appearance.

The fourth season, the first without Tate Donovan, followed a wrongful-death suit filed against a military contractor over a mysterious incident in a war zone. John Goodman played Howard Erickson, the CEO of the shadowy military contractor who becomes the defendant against Patty and Ellen over the corruption that occurred in the war zone. Dylan Baker played Jerry Boorman, a mysterious figure with secretive ties to the Middle East. Chris Messina played Chris Sanchez, an old high school friend of Ellen's and a decorated soldier suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Notable recurring characters during the fourth season were played by Derek Webster, Griffin Dunne, Judd Hirsch, Fisher Stevens, and Bailey Chase.

The fifth and final season pitted Patty and Ellen against one another in court, with the case surrounding the suit of the founder of a WikiLeaks type of website, Channing McClaren, played by Ryan Phillippe. Jenna Elfman played Naomi Walling, the investment bank employee whose daughter Rachel (Alexandra Socha) sues McClaren after he releases Naomi's personal information along with the financial records she leaked to him - leading to Naomi's suicide (in reality, she was murdered and the suicide faked). Janet McTeer played Kate Franklin, an old colleague of Patty Hewes who teams up with Ellen. John Hannah played Rutger Simon, the gatekeeper of McClaren's website who is devoted to exposing fraud and corporate misconduct. Returning recurring actors in prominent roles were Judd Hirsch and Chris Messina. Notable recurring characters during the fifth season were played by Victor Garber, M. Emmet Walsh, William Sadler, Gbenga Akinnagbe and Gillian Alexy.


The first season of Damages received positive reviews from critics[35] with the series ranking in the top ten lists of several critics, including Robert Lloyd (The Los Angeles Times), Alessandra Stanley (The New York Times) and Robert Abele (LA Weekly) among others.[36] TV Guide ranked the season one finale episode #52 on its list of "TV's Top 100 Episodes of All Time".[37] The return of the series for its second season was also met with critical acclaim.[38] Damages also received high critical acclaim for its third season,[39] Verne Gay from Newsday, gave it an A+ and stated it was "Gorgeously acted, written, paced, structured and conceived, it remains one of the best shows on TV--and maybe the most enjoyably addictive."[40] When it returned for its fourth season in July 2011, after it was saved by DirecTV, Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post gave it an 80 and said "Damages knows what it's about these days. And if you want to see some prime, grade-A Acting, well, you could do a lot worse."[41] While TV Guide '​s Matt Roush gave it a 91 and stated that "Damages is worth it. And for those without access to DirecTV, worth the wait."[42]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Damages is a winner of 4 Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, a Casting Society of America Award, and a Satellite Award. It has been nominated for a Producers Guild of America Award, a Writers Guild of America Award, 4 Screen Actors Guild Awards, and 4 Television Critics Association Awards, among others.

For its first season, Damages was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series at the 2008 Primetime Emmy Awards, along with six other nominations. Co-creators Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler, and Daniel Zelman were nominated for writing and Allen Coulter for directing the pilot episode ("Get Me a Lawyer"). Glenn Close received a nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, with co-stars Ted Danson and Željko Ivanek nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.[43] Close and Ivanek won in their respective categories, with the series also receiving a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series.[44] The series earned four nominations at the 65th Golden Globe Awards, including Best Television Series – Drama, Close for Best Actress, and Rose Byrne and Ted Danson for their supporting roles. Close won the award in her category.[45]

For its second season, Damages was nominated for seven Primetime Emmy nominations at the 2009 Primetime Emmy Awards, with Glenn Close receiving her second Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Ted Danson also received another nomination, for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. Rose Byrne earned her first Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and William Hurt was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. It was also nominated for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (Todd A. Kessler for "Trust Me") and received its second and final nomination for Outstanding Drama Series. On September 20, 2009, the show won its fourth Emmy Award when Glenn Close won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.[44] The series earned three nominations at the 67th Golden Globe Awards, including Close for Best Actress, and Byrne and William Hurt for their supporting roles.[46]

For its third season, Damages earned its most acting nominations at the 2010 Primetime Emmy Awards. Along with Glenn Close, Rose Byrne, and Ted Danson returning in their respective categories, featured cast additions Martin Short and Lily Tomlin as newly nominated actors. Short was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and Tomlin was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. For the first time, Damages was unable to win a major Primetime Emmy despite their success in the nominations, as Glenn Close lost for the first time in her category, losing to Kyra Sedgwick.[44]

For its fourth season, Damages earned a Critics' Choice Television Award nomination for Dylan Baker as Best Guest Performer in a Drama Series,[47] a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Glenn Close for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series,[48] and a fourth consecutive Emmy nomination for Glenn Close, in the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series category.

For its fifth and final season, Glenn Close received her third Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress – Television Series Drama, after being absent the previous two years.[49]


The series premiere on July 24, 2007 drew 3.7 million viewers, with total of 5.1 million viewers including re-airing on the same night,[50][51] becoming the most watched cable television program for the night.[52] However, the viewership declined over the first season, partially due the story's serialized approach, with the season finale drawing 1.4 million viewers.[53] Regardless of its critical acclaim, Damages seriously suffered in its second season ratings. Season Two premiered with only 1.7 million viewers watching, even with the momentum that was built following its Golden Globe and Emmy wins. Despite the show's low ratings, FX picked up and secured the program for a third season. John Landgraf hoped the show would continue on the air following its third season; after taking into account the encore presentations and "extraordinary" DVR numbers, the ratings appeared to be quite good.[54]

The third season premiere, which aired on January 25, 2010, only managed to draw in 1.483 million viewers.[55] The third season finale managed to pull in only 960,000 viewers.[56]

Move to DirecTV[edit]

Due to the low ratings and high costs, it was speculated early that Season 3 might be the last season of Damages. However, Sony reached an agreement with DirecTV to share the cost of future seasons with its Audience Network (formerly The 101 Network and originally Freeview). Other outlets were also approached about sharing the cost of a new season. However, no other network opted to pick it up, leaving Audience Network as the new broadcaster.[57] Damages made its first premiere on DirecTV on January 5, 2011. Season one through three ran until the season 4 premiere on July 13, 2011.[58]

DVD releases[edit]

The first four seasons have been released on DVD in regions 1, 2, and 4, while only first season has been released on Blu-ray Disc.

Season Episodes Region 1
release date
Region 2
release date
Region 4
release date
Special features
The Complete
First Season
13 January 29, 2008 (2008-01-29)[59] April 14, 2008 (2008-04-14)[60] December 19, 2007 (2007-12-19)[61]
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Shield: Final Season Tease
  • Willful Acts: The Making of Damages
  • Understanding Class Action: Interactive Guide
  • Trust No One: Insight from the Creators
  • Two Episode Commentaries
The Complete
Second Season
13 January 19, 2010 (2010-01-19)[59] August 31, 2009 (2009-08-31)[62] November 23, 2009 (2009-11-23)[63]
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Four Episode Commentaries
  • Season 1 Recap
  • Character Profiles
  • Post Mortem: Reflecting Back on Season Two
The Complete
Third Season
13 July 12, 2011 (2011-07-12)[59] October 18, 2010 (2010-10-18)[64] October 27, 2010 (2010-10-27)[65]
  • Episode Introductions
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Two Episode Commentaries
  • Damages Season 3 Teaser
  • Damages Season 3: A Look Back
  • Bloopers
  • Directing Damages
The Complete
Fourth Season
10 June 26, 2012 (2012-06-26)[59] July 16, 2012 (2012-07-16)[66] September 5, 2012 (2012-09-05)[67]
  • Deleted Scenes
  • A Case for War: The Cast and Crew Discuss the Fourth Season
  • The Evolution of Patty Hewes
  • Bloopers
The Complete
Fifth and Final Season
10 July 16, 2013 (2013-07-16)[68] July 15, 2013 (2013-07-15)[69] August 8, 2013 (2013-08-08)[70]
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
The Complete
59 October 29, 2013 (2013-10-29)[71] N/A N/A
  • Includes all previous extras

Damages is also available for purchase through Amazon Instant Video,[72] the iTunes Store,[73] and Netflix.[74]


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External links[edit]