Orphan Black

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Orphan Black
Orphan Black logo.png
Created by Graeme Manson
John Fawcett
Starring Tatiana Maslany
Dylan Bruce
Jordan Gavaris
Kevin Hanchard
Michael Mando
Évelyne Brochu
Maria Doyle Kennedy
Ari Millen
Theme music composer Two Fingers
Composer(s) Trevor Yuile
Country of origin Canada
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 20 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Ivan Schneeberg
David Fortier
Graeme Manson
John Fawcett
Location(s) Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Running time 43 minutes
Production company(s) Temple Street Productions
BBC America
Bell Media
Original channel Space (Canada)
BBC America (U.S.)
Original run March 30, 2013 (2013-03-30) – present
External links
Official Space website
Official BBC America website

Orphan Black is a Canadian science fiction television series created by screenwriter Graeme Manson and director John Fawcett, starring Tatiana Maslany as several identical people who are revealed to be clones. The series focuses on Sarah Manning, a woman who assumes the identity of one of her clones, Elizabeth Childs, after witnessing Childs' suicide. The series raises issues about the moral and ethical implications of human cloning and its effect on issues of personal identity.[1]

The series premiered on March 30, 2013, on Space in Canada and on BBC America in the United States.[2][3] The second season premiered on April 19, 2014.[4] The series is produced by Temple Street Productions in association with BBC America and Bell Media's Space.[5] On July 9, 2014, the series was renewed for a ten-episode third season to premiere on April 18, 2015.[6][7]


The series begins with Sarah Manning, a con artist by trade, witnessing the suicide of a woman, Beth Childs, who appears to be her doppelgänger. Sarah takes on Beth's identity and occupation as a police detective after Beth's death. During the first season, Sarah discovers that she is a clone, that she has many 'sister' clones spread throughout North America and Europe, and that someone is plotting to kill them and her. Alongside her foster brother, Felix Dawkins, and two of her fellow clones, Alison Hendrix and Cosima Niehaus, Sarah discovers the origin of the clones: a scientific movement called Neolution. The movement believes that human beings can use scientific knowledge to direct their evolution as a species. The Neolutionists thus advocate eugenics. The movement has an institutional base within the large, influential, and wealthy biotech corporation, the Dyad Institute. The Dyad Institute conducts basic research, lobbies political institutions, and promotes its eugenics program, aided by the clone Rachel Duncan. But it also seeks to profit from the technology the clones embody. It has thus placed "monitors" into the clones' personal lives, allegedly to study them scientifically but also to keep them under surveillance.

Orphan Black cast members in 2014

Sarah eventually discovers that she's also wanted by the police and by a secret religious group, the Proletheans. A faction of the Proletheans carries out the clone assassinations. They use a clone, Helena, to kill the other clones. Yet Sarah and Helena share a surrogate birth mother and are twins both genetically and with respect to their early maternal environment. The Proletheans assassinate clones because they believe them to be abominations. Eventually, the Dyad Institute and the Proletheans discover Kira, Sarah's daughter. Kira's importance issues from the fact that she is the only-known biological offspring of a clone, all other clones being sterile by design. The plot lines of the series revolve around Sarah and Kira's efforts to avoid capture by the clearly sinister Neolutionists and Proletheans as well as around the efforts made by each clone to give sense to her life and origin. The attempt to control the creation of human life provides the key or dominant theme which drives the various story lines. A second key theme forms around the intrigues made by the Dyad Group and the Proletheans along with the earlier intrigues made by the authors of Project Leda (see the Greek myth Leda and the Swan) and Mrs. S., Sarah’s foster mother, and her political network. Both themes intersect in the effort to control the creation of human life. Sarah, who matures because of her struggles, defends the bond which exists between parent and child against the Neolutionists and Proletheans.

Cast and characters[edit]


Dylan Bruce, Jordan Gavaris, and Tatiana Maslany in 2014
  • Tatiana Maslany as a number of clones (see below), all born in 1984 to various women by in vitro fertilisation. The series focuses on Sarah Manning, a small-time con woman and orphan who is the only clone to have a biological daughter. (All other clones were presumed to be sterile before Sarah was discovered, with one of the original scientists revealing that the clones, as 'prototypes', were all designed to be sterile, although there is speculation that Helena may also be able to conceive given her origin as Sarah's specific twin.) Other clones include Elizabeth "Beth" Childs, a police detective who commits suicide at the start of the series leading Sarah into the conspiracy; Alison Hendrix, a soccer mom who tries to be the perfect housewife, but suffers from pill and drink addiction as well as jumping to conclusions; Cosima Niehaus, a bisexual[8] graduate student studying evolutionary developmental ("evo-devo") biology who researches the clones' biology; Helena, a fanatic assassin trained by the Proletheans who has suffered severe abuse throughout her life and the twin sister of Sarah; Rachel Duncan, an executive at the Dyad Institute and raised self-aware that she is a clone from childhood.
  • Jordan Gavaris as Felix ("Fee") Dawkins, Sarah's foster brother and confidant. He identifies as a modern artist, but moonlights as a prostitute. He is the first person Sarah confides in about the existence of clones, and has developed his own friendship with Alison in particular while helping her cope with the stress of her existence as a clone.
  • Dylan Bruce as Paul Dierden, an ex-military mercenary, who was blackmailed into being Beth's monitor under the guise of being her boyfriend. Following the discovery of Beth's death and Sarah's impersonation of her, he chooses to continue trying to protect Sarah, calling it his job. The two continue a sexual relationship. However Dyad still holds his past over him and makes him Rachel's new monitor, with Rachel forcing him into a sexual relationship with her. In the season 2 finale it is revealed he is still in the military and was a double agent from Project Castor spying on Dyad and Project Leda.
  • Kevin Hanchard as Detective Arthur "Art" Bell, Beth's police partner. He cares for Beth and tries to guide her through tough times even when she is dead as he unknowingly is helping Sarah as Beth. After he learns of Beth's stolen identity and death he decides to side with the clones over the police department, carrying out off-the-books research for them.
  • Michael Mando as Victor "Vic" Schmidt, Sarah's abusive, drug-dealing ex-boyfriend. He grieves over her death (mistaking Beth's corpse for Sarah) and is angered when he discovers she is alive upon bumping into Alison believing she is Sarah. He becomes a police informant for Angie and under her orders he befriends Alison at rehab. He is later intimidated by Donnie to stay away from the Hendrix family. (regular season 1; recurring seasons 2–3)
  • Maria Doyle Kennedy as Siobhan Sadler, Sarah's and Felix's Irish foster mother; they call her "Mrs. S.". She acts as guardian to Sarah's daughter Kira while Sarah is away. She is shown to be intelligent and resourceful, hiding Sarah for years and protecting her and Kira. Mrs. S used her network to hide Ethan Duncan and find Sarah as a child, claiming to have protected her from Dyad Sarah's whole life. Mrs. S makes a deal with Paul and the military to work with them and abduct Helena in exchange for a way to help Sarah and Kira.
  • Évelyne Brochu as Dr. Delphine Cormier, Cosima's monitor, girlfriend, and fellow scientist. She is torn between her job at Dyad and her love for Cosima. After finding out about Cosima's illness she works with her in the Dyad to try to find a cure. She is promoted to the public leader of Dyad after Leekie's death and unintentionally helps Rachel kidnap Kira. Rachel then bans her from working with clones and sends her away to Frankfurt. (recurring season 1; regular seasons 2–3)
  • Ari Millen as Mark Rollins, a homicidal Prolethean. He marries Gracie in an official ceremony after running away from the Prolethean farm. In the season 2 finale, Mark is revealed to be a clone, created as a part of Project Castor (see below), the male counterpart to Project Leda. (recurring season 2; regular season 3)[7]


Grouped by associated storyline, and listed in order of appearance.

Sarah's acquaintances
  • Skyler Wexler as Kira Manning (Tag #615C33), Sarah's biological, naturally-conceived, daughter. The only child of a clone, she has inherited the apparent accelerated healing ability demonstrated by Sarah and Helena, and has shown the ability to tell the clones apart even when they are posing as each other.
  • Nicholas Rose as Colin, a morgue attendant, and sometimes lover of Felix.
  • Melanie Nicholls-King as Amelia, Sarah and Helena's surrogate birth mother. (season 1)
  • Michiel Huisman as Cal Morrison, one of Sarah's past con-victims and Kira's father. (season 2)
Beth's acquaintances
  • Inga Cadranel as Detective Angela "Angie" Deangelis, Art's new partner, trying to uncover the clone conspiracy behind Art's back.
  • Ron Lea as Lieutenant Gavin Hardcastle, commanding officer of Beth, Art and Angie. (season 1)
  • Jean Yoon as Janis Beckwith, coroner and co-worker of Beth, Art, and Angie. (season 1)
  • Raymond Ablack as Raj Singh, a police technician smitten with Sarah-as-Beth. (season 1)
Alison's acquaintances
  • Kristian Bruun as Donnie Hendrix, Alison's husband and monitor.
  • Drew Davis and Millie Davis as Oscar and Gemma Hendrix, Allison's and Donnie's adopted kids.
  • Natalie Lisinska as Aynsley Norris, Alison's nosy neighbor. (season 1)
  • Kristi Angus as Charity Simms, neighbor of Alison and Aynsley.
  • Priya Rao as Meera Kumar, neighbor of Alison and Aynsley.
  • Eric Johnson as Chad Norris, Aynsley's promiscuous husband. (season 1)
  • Terra Hazelton as Sarah Stubbs, Alison's co-star in the community theatre production of the musical "Blood Ties." (season 2)
  • Alex Karzis as Alexander, the director of "Blood Ties". (season 2)
  • Raven Dauda as Yvonne, Alison's therapist at the rehabilitation center. (season 2)
Cosima's acquaintances
  • Josh Vokey as Scott Smith, a fellow student of Cosima at the University of Minnesota, who develops a crush on her and later joins her and Delphine at the Dyad Institute.
The Dyad Institute and Project Leda
  • Matt Frewer as Dr. Aldous Leekie, frontman of the Institute and the face of the Neolution movement. (seasons 1–2)
  • David Richmond-Peck as Olivier Duval, Paul's handler within the Institute. (season 1)
  • Matthew Bennett as Daniel Rosen, a Dyad associated lawyer, assigned to do Rachel's shady work. He had a sexual relationship with Rachel and also acted as her monitor with her knowledge. (seasons 1–2)
  • Cynthia Galant as Young Rachel Duncan, seen in the home videos from Rachel's childhood; and as Charlotte Bowles, the last living clone of the 400 attempts that were made to perpetuate Project Leda. (season 2)
  • Christy Bruce as Susan Duncan, Rachel's adoptive mother and one of the scientists behind Project Leda. Killed years prior to the series, only appearing in video footage from Rachel's childhood. (season 2)
  • Andrew Gillies as Ethan Duncan, alias Andrew Peckham, Rachel's adoptive father and the other Leda scientist. Living off-grid since his wife's death. Commits suicide in front of Rachel to prevent Dyad from getting the science to make more clones. (season 2)
  • Michelle Forbes as Marion[9] Bowles, a high-ranking official within Topside–a group controlling Dyad–who outranks both Leekie and Rachel. She contacts Cal and Mrs. S to free Sarah and Kira from Dyad. It is revealed she is raising the youngest Leda clone Charlotte, and is battling the military and their male clones of Project Castor, holding one of the male clones in her home. (season 2)
The Proletheans
  • Daniel Kash as Tomas, responsible for the kidnapping and training of Helena. (seasons 1–2)
  • Peter Outerbridge as Henrik "Hank" Johanssen, a Prolethean leader, attempting to revalue their view on science and proliferate Helena's miraculous genes at the expense of everyone closest to him. (season 2)
  • Kristin Booth as Bonnie Johanssen, Henrik's devoted wife who travels to find more "breeding mares" for Henrik to artificially inseminate. (season 2)
  • Zoe De Grand'Maison as Grace Johanssen, Henrik and Bonnie's teenage daughter who eventually rebels against the Prolethean way of life. She marries Mark in an official ceremony after running away from the Prolethean farm. (season 2)
The Birdwatchers
  • Julian Richings as Benjamin Kertland, one of Mrs. S's most trusted allies who has no association with the Dyad Institute or the Proletheans. Most of his past history with Mrs. S is unknown, but he has been referred to as a "Birdwatcher", a term used to describe the network of individuals who helped shelter Mrs. S, Sarah, and Felix after they fled Brixton. (season 2)


Listed in order of appearance.

  • Diana Salvatore as Bobby, the owner of a bar that Sarah and Felix frequent.
  • Jean-Michel Le Gal as Stephen Riggs, the manager of the bank at which Beth has a bank account. He accepts Sarah's bribe of sponsoring his charity run in exchange for expediting the withdrawal of Beth's $75,000 balance. (season 1)
  • Elizabeth Saunders as Dr. Anita Bower, Beth's psychiatrist who prescribed her conflicting drugs and later questions Sarah-as-Beth in regards to Beth's shooting of Maggie Chen. (season 1)
  • Jack Fulton as Trevor, the little boy who encounters Helena stitching up her bloody wound in the bathroom of his home. (season 1)
  • Miriam McDonald as Madison, Paul's secretary at Trexcom Consulting. (season 1)
  • Sarain Boylan as Astrid, Olivier's sidekick who works at club Neolution. (season 1)
  • Alex Ozerov as Ramon, Alison's drug and weapons dealer who assists Sarah in her initial confrontation of Rachel.(season 2)
  • Rob Deleeuw as Barry, one of Mrs. S's birdwatchers who is later revealed to be connected with the Proletheans. (season 2)
  • Nora McLellan as Brenda, Barry's mother who began associating with the Proletheans after accepting a monetary bribe. (season 2).
  • Roger R. Cross as Carlton Redding, one of Mrs. S's English associates who helped shelter undocumented children, including Sarah, and later helped Mrs. S, Sarah, and Felix escape from Brixton. It is later revealed that he and Mrs. S had a romantic relationship which is rekindled in "Governed as it Were by Chance". (season 2)
  • Patrick J. Adams as Jesse, a man who Helena meets in a bar in Cold River. The two quickly develop an intimate relationship which is later interrupted by Helena's arrest. (season 2)
  • Kathryn Alexandre as Alexis, a Prolethean midwife and preschool teacher. Alexandre is also Maslany's acting double when a scene requires more than one clone on screen. (season 2)
  • Tom McCamus as Dr. Nealon, a doctor who examined Sarah in her sleep when she was impersonating Beth. He is a high-ranking Dyad official who processes and interrogates Sarah after she surrenders and he then arranges her oophorectomy. (season 2)

Known clones[edit]

By the end of the first season, 10 clones are revealed. They are of various nationalities and stations in life. Additional clones are revealed in the second season, including Jennifer, who died from the same respiratory illness that affected Katja and Cosima.[10] In episode 8 of season 2, Tony, a transgender clone is introduced.[11] In the season one finale, Cosima discovers each clone has a different DNA tag based on ASCII coded basepairs. In addition to the identification code is the text "THIS ORGANISM AND DERIVATIVE GENETIC MATERIAL IS RESTRICTED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY" followed by a series of patent numbers. Sarah is given a photograph whose caption suggests that the cloning project that produced her was called "Project Leda". In the season 2 finale Charlotte, an 8-year-old clone with a leg disability, is introduced.

It is also revealed the military carried on with a male cloning initiative named Project Castor, which created Mark the Prolethean, a soldier clone, and a third male clone held in the home of Marion Bowles.

Project Leda[edit]

Name Place of origin Date of birth Status
Sarah Manning London, United Kingdom March 15, 1984 Alive
A con artist and thief. Sarah took on Beth Childs' identity upon witnessing Beth's death, originally as a scam to steal Beth's savings, but then got drawn into the hidden conspiracy of illegal human cloning. Sarah has a seven-year-old biological daughter, Kira; a foster brother, Felix; a twin sister Helena, and a foster mother, Siobhan Sadler. Street-smart and tough, Sarah at first wants no part of the other clones, caring only about getting together enough money to start over somewhere else with Kira and Felix, but discovers that she cares about others more than she thought. Although Sarah was born in the UK, she and Felix were raised in North America by their Irish foster mother Mrs. S. Upon retrieving Kira she leaves her daughter with her ex, Cal, refusing to tell him about the clone conspiracy. Sarah battles Dyad and Rachel and soon discovers Helena survived much to her shock. When she digs into the origins of the experiment she is stunned to learn Mrs. S helped Ethan Duncan many years ago and remains distrustful of her foster mother. Sarah reluctantly considers bringing Kira to Dyad in order to try and save Cosima's life. Sarah arranges for Kira's bone marrow to be extracted and taken to Dyad for Cosima's treatment, however Rachel manages to kidnap Kira. Sarah surrenders to Dyad in hopes they will release Kira, Dyad plans on extracting one of her ovaries. Sarah's allies and Marion Bowles are able to arrange for Sarah and Kira to escape. Marion introduces Sarah to one of the male clones created by the military.
Elizabeth "Beth" Childs East York, Canada Birth certificate: April 1, 1984
Cosima's chart: March 13, 1984
Died on November 23, 2012
Police detective. The series begins with her suicide by stepping in front of a train. Prior to the start of the series, she was suspended from the police department pending an investigation into her shooting of a civilian, Maggie Chen, who she knew was an agent of the Proletheans. Beth was prescribed a large number of psychoactive drugs by the psychiatrist treating her during her suspension, which she reportedly mixed and abused. She was infertile. Beth found out about the clones when Katja Obinger contacted her about the assassinations in Europe; Beth then tracked down Alison and Cosima and they formed a group (the "clone club") for mutual protection. Paul, her live-in boyfriend, was Beth's monitor. The reason for her suicide has yet to be revealed, but Sarah suspects that it was because she felt out of control of her life after discovering her nature as a clone. Before she stepped off the train platform, in a deliberate manner she removed, neatly folded, and set down her jacket, her high heels, and her handbag in an orderly row.
Alison Hendrix Scarborough, Canada Birth certificate: April 4, 1984
Cosima's chart: April 18, 1984
A suburban woman whom Sarah calls a "soccer mom", she is married and has two adopted children. She is the clone with whom Beth, then Sarah, is in the most direct physical contact, due to their geographical proximity. Conservative, orderly and highly protective of her family, she is prone to emotional instability when taken out of her comfort zone. Upon discovery that each clone is assigned a "monitor", she suspected both her husband Donnie and her neighbour and friend Aynsley of being her monitor. After interrogating and torturing her husband with a hot-glue gun, she became convinced that it was Aynsley. She repeatedly tried to get Aynsley to admit her role, and finally had sex with Aynsley's husband as revenge. She became obsessed with getting Aynsley to admit she's the monitor and let Aynsley die during an accident. In the first season finale, however, the identity of her monitor was revealed to the audience as her husband, Donnie. She signed a contract offered individually to herself, Sarah, and Cosima with the Neolutionists that supposedly freed her from further monitoring without knowing that they had "patented" the clones when they were created. Alison soon discovers that Donnie is her real monitor, this coupled with her guilt over Aynsley's death led her to abuse alcohol and prescription pills. Eventually she is forced into rehab by Donnie and befriends Vic, not knowing Vic is monitoring her for the police. Felix and Sarah are able to discredit Vic. It is revealed Donnie had no idea about the clones and thought he was part of a long-term sociology study he started in college. Donnie is furious Dr. Leekie ruined his family and accidentally kills him. Alison and Donnie bond over the deaths they caused, burying Leekie under their garage floor and rekindling their romance. Donnie intimidates Vic and Angie into staying away from their family.
Cosima Niehaus (Tagged 324B21 by Dyad) San Francisco, United States March 9, 1984 Alive
PhD microbiology student focusing and majoring in evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota. She has the most scientific understanding of herself and her sister clones and the possible reasons as to why the illegal project started and why Helena wants to kill them, but is somewhat overconfident in science and her own ability to pursue risky courses of action. She is originally from San Francisco, California, and is believed to have received her bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley. She suspects, correctly, that her girlfriend, Delphine, is her monitor. Cosima eventually reveals to Delphine that she knows, and Delphine decides to betray the Neolutionists to help her. It is revealed that she is experiencing respiratory problems (coughing up blood) like Katja Obinger, but has not told any of her fellow clones, only revealing her affliction to Delphine. Leekie later informs Sarah of her illness. Cosima begins treatment at the Dyad Institute with stem cells but when Delphine discovers the stem cells are from Kira she keeps it secret from Cosima. When Cosima learns the truth she is angered with Delphine and reluctantly asks Sarah to bring Kira to Dyad so she can continue treatment. Ethan claims he can cure her and begins working with her just as Cosima goes into critical condition, needing Kira's bone marrow to survive. Sarah gives some bone marrow to Delphine, but Delphine is tricked into helping Rachel kidnap Kira. Ethan claims the disease is an unintentional autoimmune defect of making the clones infertile, and he will cure her, but he will not give Dyad the science to create more clones. Ethan kills himself to prevent them from getting the original genome and Rachel destroys the bone marrow when Sarah cannot tell her where the information is. Cosima and Scott build a contraption that allows Sarah to stab Rachel in the eye with a pencil. Cosima finds the genome written in a book Ethan gave Kira, giving her a chance to live.

The character is based on Cosima Herter, the show's science consultant. Herter is a PhD student at the University of Minnesota, working on the History and Philosophy of Biology.[12]

Helena (Tagged E302A by the Proletheans) Born: London, United Kingdom
Nationality: Ukraine
March 15, 1984 Alive
Assassin, known to have killed Katja Obinger, and probably the other deceased European clones. Her last name has not been revealed. A highly disturbed religious fanatic, she has been manipulated by the Proletheans to believe she is the "original" while the other clones are satanic doppelgängers, and that it is her duty to kill them all. Mentally unstable, she self-mutilates by cutting. Her self-harm is focused on her back, and her cuts give the appearance of feathered angel wings. She is often seen eating or trying to experience tactile sensations with her fingertips. Her caretaker Tomas, a member of the Proletheans, subjected her to physical and emotional abuse and instructed her to kill her fellow clones. Helena has no monitor because the Neolutionists lost track of her after her surrogate birth mother hid her in a Ukrainian convent, where she was reared. She and Sarah are twin sisters, both gestated by the same surrogate birth mother. Sarah shoots her in the season 1 finale after Helena stabs and kills their surrogate birth-mother. In season 2, Helena is revealed to have survived the gunshot, contrary to previous beliefs,[13] because she is a mirror twin of Sarah, meaning her organs were formed on the opposite side of her body, including her heart, which is a rare occurrence in mirror twins. Henrik and his new group of Proletheans believe the clones are part of God's Work and should be used to understand the world. Henrik kidnaps and "marries" Helena then extracts one of her eggs and fertilizes it intending Helena to carry the pregnancy, believing that Helena's connection to Sarah means that she is the only other clone capable of conceiving a child. Helena allows Henrik to impregnate her because she wants a family. However, she learns he also implanted another of her embryos in his own daughter, Gracie and intends to do so to many other women. Helena lets Gracie and her boyfriend Mark escape and then takes her revenge on Henrik, before burning down the Prolethean's farm. Helena meets Alison and Cosima in Felix's apartment and has a dance party with them, Sarah and Kira before leaving her other eggs behind. In the season 2 finale, Helena is abducted by the military and put on a plane while Paul and Mrs. S watch.
Katja Obinger Würzburg, Germany Passport: March 24, 1984
Driving license: March 12, 1984
Died on November 25, 2012
Killed by Helena via sniper rifle while meeting with Sarah as "Beth". She is the second clone Sarah encountered (Beth being the first) and it was Katja's death that got her directly involved in the conspiracy. Katja contacted Beth and told her about the existence of the clones and that their counterparts in Europe were being killed. At the time of her death, Katja was suffering from a serious respiratory illness that made her cough blood; Cosima is trying to determine if this is a genetic risk to all the clones.
Rachel Duncan Cambridge, United Kingdom 1984 Unknown
Raised by the Neolutionists after the alleged death of her adoptive parents Ethan and Susan Duncan, working as a high-ranking official within the Dyad Institute. Sarah refers to her as the "Proclone". Rachel speaks fluent German. Ethan and Susan were the scientists behind Project LEDA, and were supposedly killed in a lab explosion that destroyed all data on the original person the clones were created from. However, Ethan is still alive, hidden by Mrs. S's network in exchange for giving them Sarah's location when she was a child. Ethan claims the Neolutionists hijacked Project LEDA and changed it from its original purpose, also revealing that Leekie killed Susan after the Duncans destroyed the data and planned on escaping with Rachel. When Rachel hears Ethan's story, she contacts Marion Bowles who orders Leekie's death. Rachel lets him run as one act of mercy because he raised her. Upon learning the clones were designed to be infertile, her psyche begins to crack, which results in her abducting Kira. She admits to Ethan she cannot feel love like she did as a girl and is forced to watch as Ethan kills himself saying she does not deserve him anymore. After Rachel destroys Cosima's cure in a rage, Sarah shoots her in the eye with a makeshift weapon, using a pencil propelled by a fire extinguisher. Her fate is unknown at the close of the second season. Amelia, Sarah's and Helena's surrogate birth mother, was originally supposed to give birth to the clone raised by the Duncans.
Danielle Fournier Paris, France Birth certificate: March 20, 1984
Cosima's chart: March 12, 1984
Died on September 24, 2012
Presumed dead before the events of the series.
Aryanna Giordano Rome, Italy Birth certificate: April 4, 1984
Cosima's chart: April 28, 1984
Died on April 11, 2012
Presumed dead before the events of the series.
Janika Zingler Salzburg, Austria March 10, 1984 Died on July 13, 2012
Presumed dead before the events of the series.
Jennifer Fitzsimmons United States 1984 Dead
A teacher and swim coach from the Midwest who suffers from respiratory illness, similar to both Katja and Cosima. She received treatment for her illness at the Dyad Institute and was asked to document her experience in a video journal. She is unaware that she is a clone and was being monitored by her boyfriend Greg. Delphine shows Jennifer's dead body to Cosima to give her a deeper look into the terminal condition. Cosima's autopsy of Jennifer leads her to speculate that the illness begins in the uterus, which could also cause the infertility of most of the clones.
Tony Sawicki Cincinnati, United States 1984 Alive
A transgender clone. He rejected Beth's call when she said she was a cop. He worked as a thief with his friend (and probable monitor) Sammy, who was killed in an ambush. Sammy was an ex-military man who had contact with Beth and had some sort of history with Paul. Tony learns of the clones from Sarah and Felix before they send him away for his own safety. He is shown injecting testosterone. Tony also has a brief romantic interaction with Felix Dawkins, sharing a kiss.
Charlotte Bowles Unknown 2006 Alive
An eight-year-old clone with one disabled leg. She is the sole survivor of 400 attempts to make new clones. She is being raised by her adoptive mother Marion Bowles.

Project Castor[edit]

Name Status
Mark Rollins Alive
A Prolethean, with a past in the military, extremely loyal to Henrik Johanssen, killing Tomas and twice retrieving Helena under Henrik's orders. He eventually turns against Henrik after Henrik impregnates and imprisons Gracie. He and Gracie have an official marriage after running away from the Proletheans. He is regularly troubled by nightmares.
Soldier Clone Alive
A male clone that witnesses Helena being forced onto a military plane. The name tag on his uniform says Miller. He is credited as Corp. Styles.
Rudy[14] Alive
A male clone with a large scar on his face (hence called “Scarface” by Orphan Black's executive producer Graeme Manson[15]) that is being held in Marion Bowles' house.


Bell Media announced on June 12, 2012 that they had commissioned a 10 episode season of Orphan Black that would be produced by Temple Street Productions and distributed internationally by BBC Worldwide.[16] The second season, also 10 episodes, was announced on May 2, 2013.[17] A third 10-episode season was announced by BBC America general manager Perry Simon on July 9, 2014, which began production in fall 2014 and is scheduled to premiere in spring 2015.[18]

The show is executive produced by writer Graeme Manson, director John Fawcett, and Temple Street co-presidents Ivan Schneeberg and David Fortier. Co-executive producers are Karen Walton and Kerry Appleyard, while the Temple Street producers are Claire Welland and Karen Troubetskoy.[19]

On June 26, 2012, BBC America announced that they had picked up the show in the U.S.[3] Though Canadian actress Ellen Page was originally considered for the lead role,[20] the casting of fellow Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany as the lead was announced on September 17, 2012.[21] The rest of the principal cast was announced in late October 2012 as production began in Toronto for the first season.[22] On February 7, 2013, it was announced that Matt Frewer had been cast as an edgy philosophical professor, Dr. Leekie, and Évelyne Brochu was cast as a graduate student in molecular and cellular biology.[23]

In November 2014, BBC America announced several new cast members for season 3, including James Frain as Ferdinand, a ruthless "cleaner," Ksenia Solo as Shay, a holistic healer, Kyra Harper as Dr. Coady, a military doctor, Earl Pastko as Ferdinand’s bodyguard, and Justin Chatwin as drug dealer Jason Kellerman.[24]

In March 2014, BBC Worldwide North America signed a deal with Amazon.com for exclusive streaming rights to the series on its Prime Instant Video. The show's "binge-worthy" quality was cited as a major reason for Amazon's interest.[25] In April 2014, the show's second season premiere scored a 91% rise in viewership from the 18–49 year old demographic through DVR playback, the largest for any cable drama premiere that season.[26]

In April 2014, writer Stephen Hendricks sued the BBC and Temple Street for $5 million, alleging that they had stolen the idea for Orphan Black from a screenplay he had written in the late 1990s called Double Double. He had submitted this screenplay to Temple Street in 2004, where it went into review and was ultimately passed on.[27]


When filming scenes in which Maslany has multiple parts the scene is filmed multiple times using motion control cameras mounted on dollies to replicate the movement between each shot. This apparatus, the Technodolly, is referred to as the "Time Vampire" on the Orphan Black set due to the amount of time filming multiple clone scenes can "suck" from the production schedule. In these scenes Maslany first acts the scene with her body double Kathryn Alexandre in the alternate clone role, then again with the roles swapped, and a third time with the scene filmed with just the camera motion for a background plate. Suspended tennis balls are also used to help Maslany retain the proper eye lines. In post-production Alexandre and the tennis balls are replaced with the images of Maslany from the alternate shots, thereby allowing for more action in scenes where she interacts with herself.[28][29][30] In the season 2 finale, when a dance party scene called for the presence of four different clones, two days of shooting and several additional body doubles were used to create the effect, and post-production work from Geoff Scott and his team at Intelligent Creatures VFX is rumored to have taken hundreds of hours to complete.[31]

Alexandre's performances are central to Maslany's ability to create the characters. Maslany said, of Alexandre, "She's so amazing. She memorizes all of the lines, all of my blocking, all of her blocking, my mannerisms, my impulses; she, somehow, memorizes all of that and gives it back to me with a performance I can play off of." Alexandre had worked as a reader for auditioning actors in the casting stages of Orphan Black '​s initial production. She auditioned for the role of Maslany’s double and earned the spot because the producers were in search of, in Alexandre's words, "an actor as opposed to just a double."[29]

Maslany created different music playlists to listen to, to help her differentiate the various characters she portrays.[28] She also used dance to develop the physicality of the characters, including their postures, gestures, and movements, and relied on her background in improv to develop the characters more fully.[32]

The character of Cosima is named after science historian Cosima Herter, a friend of showrunner Graeme Manson who serves as the show’s science consultant. Herter works with the writers to ensure that the cloning and other scientific and technological aspects of the series are scientifically plausible and that the philosophical and ethical concerns the show raises are given the necessary complexity and weight.[33] She also answers fan questions about the show's science in the writer's room blog known as "The Hive".[34] Makeup artist Stephen Lynch, hair stylist Sandy Sokolowski, and wardrobe department head Debra Hanson are instrumental in creating the visual differences necessary to distinguish between each clone, often developing the characters' personalities through these visual elements before any lines of dialogue are written for them.[35] Art drawn by Sarah's daughter, Kira, in the show is created by art department member Sash Kosovic.[31]


Orphan Black is shot on location in Toronto, Ontario. This is apparent from details such as cars with Ontario license plates, Beth's Ontario driving license, Mrs. S having an Ontario driving license, the color of currency, scripted references to the suburb of Scarborough, Ontario, and a plane ticket in the pilot episode identifying Toronto Pearson International Airport.[36] Toronto's Bridgepoint Health and Don Jail are stand-ins for the exterior of the "Dyad Institute".[37] Scenes set in the Scarborough suburb where Alison lives are actually filmed in Markham, Ontario, another Toronto suburb.[38] However, details like currency are often deliberately obscured, the train station in the pilot announces a next stop as "New York", and American pronunciations of words like "lieutenant" are used.[39]

Graeme Manson said that the setting is deliberately ambiguous. "It’s meant to be Generica. It’s part of the price you pay for this kind of co-production."[40] John Fawcett concurred, arguing that "To be honest, we don't want to say we're American and alienate the Canadians, or say we'e Canadian and alienate the Americans. The bottom line is we're one big happy family. We're just a little bit further North than you."[41] Grantland's Tara Ariano argued that this ambiguity is "a daring new way for a producer to work within CanCon strictures: Set your show in Canada (technically), employ a Canadian crew, run it on a Canadian channel...and make room for recurring guest stars like Maria Doyle Kennedy...by casting one Canadian to play close to a dozen roles.”[42]

The co-production also influenced another important aspect of the show: Sarah's British accent and background. John Fawcett explained that BBC America asked them to make the lead character British, which she was not originally, to better fit the BBC brand. Fawcett, however, saw this directive as an advantage, as it allowed for an easy differentiation of Sarah from the other clones and a broadening of the geographical scope of the show's plot.[43]

Despite the co-production-induced lack of textual specificity, Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever called the show "quintessentially and undeniably Canadian; even its grittiness and violence have a way of looking clean and orderly."[44]


Season Episodes Originally aired DVD and Blu-ray release date
Season premiere Season finale Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 10 March 30, 2013 (2013-03-30) June 1, 2013 (2013-06-01) July 16, 2013 (2013-07-16)[45] April 14, 2014 (2014-04-14)[46] March 5, 2014 (2014-03-05)[47]
2 10 April 19, 2014 (2014-04-19) June 21, 2014 (2014-06-21) July 15, 2014 (2014-07-15)[48] N/A June 30, 2014 (2014-06-30)[49]
3 10 April 18, 2015 (2015-04-18)[7] 2015 (2015) N/A N/A N/A

Critical reception[edit]

Season 1[edit]

The series received generally favourable reviews, with the first season scoring a 73 out of 100 on Metacritic.[50]

Tatiana Maslany has received universal acclaim for her performance as the various clones. Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter called her performances "fantastic".[51] Maslany's failure to receive a nomination for Lead Actress in a Drama Series at both the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards and 66th Primetime Emmy Awards was seen as a snub by many critics.[52][53][54] Goodman called it an "outrageous oversight".[55]

Season 2[edit]

Orphan Black continued to receive very positive reviews from critics, with the second season scoring a 79 out of 100 on Metacritic.[56] Mary McNamara of The Los Angeles Times wrote that "Beneath the twists and turns...lie the even more basic theme of revelation: How would you react if you discovered that what you had come to know as your life was based on misinformation."[57] Alan Sepinwall of HitFix praised the show, calling it "a good, solid show that understands its strengths and keeps playing to them in season 2."[58]

When Maslany again failed to garner an Emmy nomination for her work on the series, many critics and fans derided it as a snub.[57][59]

Awards and accolades[edit]

Awards and accolades for Orphan Black
Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2013 Critics' Choice Television Award[60] Best Actress in a Drama Series Tatiana Maslany Won
Television Critics Association Award[61] Individual Achievement in Drama
Outstanding New Program Orphan Black Nominated
Young Hollywood Awards[62] Breakthrough Performance — Female Tatiana Maslany Won
EWwy Award[63] Best Actress in a Drama Series
Best Drama Series Orphan Black
Tubey Award[64] Most Underrated Show
Best New Show
2014 Satellite Award[65] Best Television Series or Miniseries, Genre Nominated
Best Actress in a Drama Series Tatiana Maslany
People's Choice Award[66] Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Actress
Golden Globe Award[67] Best Performance in a Television Series – Drama Actress
Canadian Screen Awards[68] Shaw Media Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role Won
Shaw Media Award for Best Dramatic Series Orphan Black
Best Costume Design "Instinct" Nominated
Best Direction in a Dramatic Series "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" Won
Best Photography in a Dramatic Program or Series
Best Writing in a Dramatic Series "Natural Selection"
"Unconscious Selection" Nominated
Best Picture Editing in a Dramatic Program or Series Won
Best Production Design or Art Direction in a Fiction Program or Series "Conditions of Existence"
Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program or Series Michael Mando Nominated
Kevin Hanchard
Jordan Gavaris Won
Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Program or Series Maria Doyle Kennedy
Best Performance in a Guest Role, Dramatic Series Natalie Lisinska
Peabody Awards[69] Peabody Award Orphan Black
GLAAD Media Award[70] Outstanding Drama Series Orphan Black Nominated
Gracie Award[71] Outstanding Female Actor in a Breakthrough Role Tatiana Maslany Won
Writers Guild of Canada Award[72] Drama Series "Variations Under Domestication"
"Unconscious Selection" Nominated
"Parts Developed in an Unusual Manner"
Canadian Cinema Editors Award[73] Best Editing in Long Form Television Series "Variation Under Nature" Won
"Unconscious Selection" Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Award[74] Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series Tatiana Maslany Won
Television Critics Association Award[75] Individual Achievement in Drama Tatiana Maslany Nominated
Constellation Award[76] Best Male Performance in a 2013 Science Fiction Television Episode Jordan Gavaris Won
Best Female Performance in a 2013 Science Fiction Television Episode Tatiana Maslany
Outstanding Canadian Contribution to Science Fiction Film or Television in 2013
Best Science Fiction Television Series of 2013 Orphan Black
Best Overall 2013 Science Fiction Film or Television Script "Variations Under Domestication" Nominated
EWwy Award[77] Best Actress in a Drama Series Tatiana Maslany Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Jordan Gavaris
Hugo Award[78] Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form "Variations Under Domestication" Nominated
Directors Guild of Canada[79] Best Direction TV Series John Fawcett Won
Best Drama TV Series Orphan Black
Best Picture Editing Stephen Lawrence
Screen Actors Guild Award[80] Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Tatiana Maslany Pending


In Canada, the series originally airs on Space,[2] and it made its broadcast network television debut on CTV on August 16, 2013.[81] In the U.S., it airs on BBC America.[3] It began airing in the UK on September 20, 2013, on BBC Three,[82] and season 2 debuted on April 30, 2014.[83] It premiered in Australia on January 14, 2014, on SBS2.[84] The series premiered in the Philippines on April 7, 2014, on Lifetime.[85]

Comic books[edit]

A comic book series published by IDW Publishing will begin in early 2015.[86]


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External links[edit]