Halt and Catch Fire (TV series)

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Halt and Catch Fire
Halt and Catch Fire Intertitle.jpg
Genre Period drama
Created by Christopher Cantwell
Christopher C. Rogers
Theme music composer Trentemøller
Composer(s) Paul Haslinger
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 40 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Christopher Cantwell
  • Christopher C. Rogers
  • Jonathan Lisco
  • Mark Johnson
  • Melissa Bernstein
Location(s) Atlanta, Georgia
Running time 42–53 minutes
Production company(s) AMC Studios
Lockjaw Productions
Gran Via Productions
Original network AMC
Original release June 1, 2014 (2014-06-01) – October 14, 2017 (2017-10-14)
External links
Official website

Halt and Catch Fire is an American period drama television series created by Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers that aired on AMC from June 1, 2014, to October 14, 2017.[1][2] Taking place over a period of ten years, the series depicts a fictionalized insider's view of the personal computer revolution of the 1980s and later the growth of the World Wide Web in the early 1990s.[3] The show's title refers to computer machine code instruction HCF, the execution of which would cause the computer's central processing unit to stop working ("catch fire" was a humorous exaggeration).[4]

In season one, entrepreneur Joe MacMillan (Lee Pace) joins the company Cardiff Electric and leads them into the personal computing industry with computer engineer Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) and prodigy programmer Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis). Seasons two and three shift focus to an online community startup company, Mutiny, that is headed by Cameron and Gordon's wife Donna (Kerry Bishé), while Joe attempts to venture out on his own. The fourth and final season focuses on competing web search engines involving all the principal characters. Filmed in Atlanta, Georgia, the series is set in the Silicon Prairie of Dallas–Fort Worth for its first two seasons, and Silicon Valley for its latter two.[5][6]

Though it experienced low viewership ratings throughout its run, Halt and Catch Fire debuted to generally favorable reviews and grew in acclaim in each subsequent season.



Halt and Catch Fire was created by Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers. The two met while working at the Walt Disney Company. Cantwell's online movie company was acquired by Disney and he was moved into its marketing department, while Rogers was hired by Cantwell's team to manage Disney's editorial program for social media. After a year of working together, they learned that each had graduated from screenwriting programs in college—Cantwell from the University of Southern California as an undergraduate student, and Rogers from the University of California, Los Angeles as a graduate student.[7] Rogers referred to himself and Cantwell as "dream-deferred writers".[8] In August 2010, the two agreed to partner with each other on screenwriting, and their first script together, a pilot about the assassination of John F. Kennedy called The Knoll, landed on the Black List of popular unproduced screenplays.[8][9] It also solidified the relationship with their talent agents, who urged them to work on another script that they could use as a staffing sample. Since their agents thought it was unlikely that a network would option a script from two first-time writers, the intent was to use the staffing sample to land them entry-level writing positions in the industry. Consequently, their agents advised them to write something they were personally invested in.[8]

The original IBM Personal Computer. The real-life attempts to reverse engineer it inspired the series' pilot.

As Cantwell and Rogers brainstormed for their staffing sample, Cantwell recalled his childhood in Plano, Texas, where his father moved their family in 1982 to take a job as a systems software salesman.[8][5] As a child, Cantwell had been unaware of Texas' role in the personal computer revolution of the 1980s, but after speaking to his father and researching the era with Rogers, they learned how the Silicon Prairie of Dallas–Fort Worth (in which Plano was located) became a secondary technology hub behind California's Silicon Valley.[8] Companies in the Silicon Prairie included Texas Instruments, EDS, Tandy, and RadioShack, while elsewhere in Texas, Dell (in Austin) and Compaq (in Houston) also were prominent players in the PC industry.[7][5] Executive producer Jonathan Lisco said, "[Texas] was viewed by a lot of people at the time, per our research, as sort of a catch basin for people who had not succeeded [in Silicon Valley]. On the other hand, there was a lot of wonderful tech going on here."[5] Cantwell said that he and Rogers were intrigued by the lesser-known players and settings of the tech industry: "We wanted to find the place you didn't know. Silicon Valley, Boston, New York, IBM, Microsoft, all those stories and companies have been exploited dramatically to great effect."[7] During their research, Cantwell and Rogers came across stories of computer engineers taking risks in attempting to reverse engineer the IBM PC. These stories informed their script for the Halt and Catch Fire pilot,[8] which the two conceived in January 2011.[10] As the duo wrote the pilot, Cantwell left Disney; Rogers remained until the future of their project was assured.[8]

Cantwell's and Rogers' agents liked the script but were not optimistic about their chances of selling it. Nonetheless, they sent it to several television networks, leading to meetings with HBO and Showtime, none of which proved fruitful.[9] In late 2011, the writers met with AMC; by that point, Cantwell had been out of work for five months and was quickly depleting his savings. He and Rogers were surprised to find that the AMC executives had a copy of their script on hand in the meeting. One of the executives, Ben Davis, said: "We were really interested in trying to tap into that world — into the spirit of innovation, and the tech world specifically. I loved the idea that it took place in Dallas and that I didn't hear Steve Jobs' or Bill Gates' name. It approached it from the backdoor instead of straight ahead." The network held a second meeting with Cantwell and Rogers to discuss how they would flesh out their story.[8]

Development history[edit]

AMC ordered the pilot for Halt and Catch Fire in November 2012.[11] The project was Cantwell's and Rogers' first jobs in television;[9] Cantwell said, "The first writers' room we walked into was our own."[10] Production on the pilot began in April 2013.[12] AMC announced in July 2013 that it had ordered Halt and Catch Fire to a series of ten episodes.[13]

Due to Cantwell's and Rogers' inexperience in the television industry, the network chose to hire someone else as the series' showrunner.[14] As part of a two-year deal with AMC, Jonathan Lisco was named to the role, having just concluded three seasons as executive producer on the television drama series Southland.[15] Lisco was impressed by the script for the Halt and Catch Fire pilot but was initially unconvinced that he was best suited for the role of showrunner. He did not view himself as a technophile and questioned if there would be "enough stakes in the bits and the bytes",[16] saying the subject matter did not "dramatically blow your hair back".[17] However, the network helped change his mind by telling him the series could not be exclusively about technology and the reason for their interest in him was his desire to delve deep into the characters to create stakes. After meeting with Cantwell and Rogers, Lisco felt an immediate creative connection and sensed that they had a strong vision for the series, convincing him to sign on as showrunner.[16][18] Leasing office space in Studio City, Los Angeles, he helped walk Cantwell and Rogers through the process of assessing and hiring writers.[8]

Halt and Catch Fire premiered on June 1, 2014. The pilot episode was the only one distributed to critics for review, an uncommon practice for new series, which usually make multiple episodes available upon premiering.[19]

Lisco stepped down as showrunner after the second season to work on the TNT television series Animal Kingdom; AMC's president of original programming and development Joel Stillerman called his departure "completely amicable".[20] Cantwell and Rogers took over as showrunners beginning with the third season.[21] Rogers called Lisco the duo's mentor, saying: "He kept us creatively involved and really showed us the ropes, and we felt like it was a master class in how to run a room, both in terms of getting a great story out of people, and in terms of being a really good and decent and fair person in what can sometimes be a brutal industry."[22] During the same offseason, all of the writers other than Cantwell and Rogers themselves also departed, forcing the duo to build a new staff. Due to series' shift in setting from Dallas to California for the third season, Cantwell and Rogers wanted the visuals to have a sunnier look, resulting in them hiring a new director of photography, Evans Brown.[23]

Pre-production, filming, and production design[edit]

Halt and Catch Fire was produced in-house by AMC Studios, which has infrastructure and crew in Atlanta, Georgia, due to state tax incentives that are favorable to filming.[5] Although the series was set in Dallas and Silicon Valley, it was primarily filmed in the Atlanta area.[7] The writing staff, however, was based in Los Angeles.[10] Many crew members who worked on another Atlanta-based AMC series, The Walking Dead, were borrowed during its offseason to work on Halt and Catch Fire.[24]

The pilot was shot on location in the Atlanta area, with the exception of one set that served as the condominium of the Joe MacMillan character, and a few shots that were taken in Dallas.[7][24] After the series was picked up, several scenes from the pilot episode were re-shot.[25][26] Lisco said that the staff wanted to make the tone "a little more jagged, a little more ambiguous" by giving the Cameron Howe character more edge and by exploring whether Joe MacMillan is "a visionary or a fraud".[25]

After the series' order, the staff also determined that the production facility housing Joe's condo set was too far away from other locations at which the crew would need to shoot. As a result, the staff collaborated with Mark Henderson, Daniel Minchew, and Glenn Murer to convert a facility that previously served as a DuPont plant and a dog food factory into a sound stage over six weeks. The space, named Atlanta Filmworks, comprised two adjacent 20,000-square-foot warehouses and a 17,000-square-foot production office. The soundproofed Studio A, measuring 110 feet wide by 200 feet long by 42 feet high, housed the set for Cardiff Electric's corporate offices, which occupied 9,000 square feet. Initially envisioned as a flex space for set construction, Studio B was also used for filming, housing the set for Joe's condo, among others. As a result, several enhancements were made prior to season two, such as quieter heaters and additional lighting.[24]

After the first season, the production staff decided to dismantle all of the sets except for the Clark family house.[27] Cantwell said that the decision was made to force the series to reinvent itself and to parallel the reinvention common within the technology industry.[28] The season two set for the house that headquartered Mutiny, Cameron's start-up company, was designed to mimic the homes found in the Lakewood neighborhood of Dallas. Modeled after a single-story American Craftsman–style home that was popular in the 1920s, the set's design featured hardwood floors, ample trim moldings, built-in shelving painted white, and curved kitchen woodwork.[29]

For research, the production staff and cast studied Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs, Tracy Kidder's book The Soul of a New Machine, and Robert X. Cringely's documentary Triumph of the Nerds.[30][31] The series had at least three technical advisors,[32] among them Bill Lowden[16] and industry veteran Carl Ledbetter, the latter of whom worked at IBM, AT&T Consumer Products, and Sun Microsystems. In addition to reviewing early scripts for authenticity,[33] Ledbetter helped operate props on set, controlling lights on a breadboard from underneath a table or hand feeding a printout through a dot matrix printer.[10] At the series' onset, much of the vintage computer props were obtained on eBay or from private collectors.[10] Many props were also borrowed from the Rhode Island Computer Museum.[34] From season two onwards, the series' staff collaborated with the Living Computers: Museum + Labs in Seattle to obtain vintage equipment. One prop that could not be sourced was an IBM 3033 mainframe computer, requiring a replica to be built in consultation with Living Computers using original plans from IBM's archives.[35][36]

Due to the production schedule, the actors did not have formal table reads of the scripts. Instead, they organized their own, gathering at Lee Pace's house on weekends to prepare dinner, drink wine, and discuss the scripts and their characters. Actress Mackenzie Davis said of the cast dinners, "it was really nice, because you got to hear other people's point of views about your character."[37][38] For the third season, Pace, Davis, and Scoot McNairy lived together in a rented house in Atlanta,[39] with Toby Huss joining them for the fourth season.[40] The arrangement helped foster a camaraderie among the cast members.[39]


Main cast[edit]

Lee Pace portrayed Joe MacMillan, one of the series' protagonists.
  • Lee Pace as Joe MacMillan: A technology entrepreneur and former IBM sales executive. He joins Cardiff Electric where he provides the impetus for the IBM clone. Later in the series, he initiates projects involving time-sharing, NSFNET, antivirus software, a web browser and a search engine. He has limited technical expertise and has a difficult relationship with other characters, including a complicated romantic relationship with Cameron Howe, and he is estranged from his parents.[41]
  • Scoot McNairy as Gordon Clark: A computer engineer who is selected by Joe MacMillan to build the IBM clone in the first season after Joe reads an article that Gordon wrote on open architecture. Motivated about the failure of Symphonic, a computer he created with his wife Donna,[10] Gordon works with Joe to build the hardware for the new computer. He suffers from a degenerative brain disorder caused by toxic encephalopathy throughout the later seasons and the breakdown of his marriage.[42]
  • Mackenzie Davis as Cameron Howe (born Catherine Howe): A technology prodigy who is recruited from university by Joe MacMillian to write the BIOS for the IBM clone. She later forms her own gaming company Mutiny with Donna Clark and creates Space Bike, a successful video game series for Atari.[43] Her father died in the Vietnam War and she has a difficult relationship with her mother.[41]
  • Kerry Bishé as Donna Clark (née Emerson): A computer engineer and wife of Gordon. She originally works for Texas Instruments, before joining Mutiny to support Cameron.[44] After Mutiny, she becomes a partner in a top Silicon Valley venture capital firm. Donna is shown to put her own ambition above her relationships, particularly the one she has with Cameron.[45]
  • Toby Huss as John Bosworth: The senior VP of Cardiff Electric who hired Joe at Cardiff. At the end of the first season, he is incarcerated for illegally funding the PC project. He is shown to be a good salesman and in season 2 he works for Mutiny. He sees himself as a father figure to Cameron Howe.[46]
  • Aleksa Palladino as Sara Wheeler (season 2): A freelance journalist and Joe's girlfriend during season 2.

Recurring cast[edit]


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 10 June 1, 2014 (2014-06-01) August 3, 2014 (2014-08-03)
2 10 May 31, 2015 (2015-05-31) August 2, 2015 (2015-08-02)
3 10 August 21, 2016 (2016-08-21) October 11, 2016 (2016-10-11)
4 10 August 19, 2017 (2017-08-19) October 14, 2017 (2017-10-14)


The pilot was screened at the South by Southwest festival on March 8, 2014.[51] It was also made available online for streaming on AMC's Tumblr page beginning May 19, 2014, making it the first TV series to premiere on Tumblr.[52]

Home media[edit]

The first season was released on DVD and Blu-ray in region 1 on May 5, 2015.[53] The second season was released on DVD in region 1 on August 9, 2016.[54]

Season 1 was released on Netflix and AMC.com for home streaming on April 8, 2015, for a limited time.[55] It is also available on Amazon Video in the UK and Germany.[56] As of December 2017, all four seasons are streaming on Netflix.[57]


The series premiered in Australia on June 23, 2015, on Showcase.[58] The series also appears on AMC's international channels in Asia, Europe and Latin America.[59]


Critical response[edit]

Season Critical response
Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
1 78% (40 reviews) 69/100 (31 reviews)
2 90% (20 reviews) 73/100 (8 reviews)
3 96% (23 reviews) 83/100 (12 reviews)
4 100% (24 reviews) 92/100 (8 reviews)

First season[edit]

The first season received favorable reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the first season received an average score of 69, based on 31 reviews.[60] According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the first season holds a 78% approval rating with an average score of 7.27 out of 10, based on 40 reviews; the site's consensus said, "A refreshingly well-acted period drama, Halt and Catch Fire convincingly portrays the not-too-distant past."[61] Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe said the series premiere showed promise, writing: "it's easy to see why the network chose it. Set in Dallas in 1983, it has a distinctive visual style... it digs into material that has not already been done to death elsewhere on TV. And with a pair of unfamiliar and interesting lead actors, the show might be able to delve beneath the surface of its milieu."[62] Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter called the opening episode a "triumphant pilot with excellent writing, impressive acting and a noteworthy cinematic visual style". Although cautious about how the show would evolve beyond its premiere, Goodman said, "It's a premise with possibilities and could be AMC's best offering of the post-classics (Breaking Bad, Mad Men) era."[63] Mary McNamara of the Los Angeles Times said that although the pilot "doesn't hit the gloriously high bar set by the opening episode of Mad Men, it is provocative and promising nonetheless."[64] Reviewing several episodes, Chris Cabin of Slant Magazine said "the show's creators choose to tailor the series to focus on the enigmatic MacMillan, which might explain why Halt and Catch Fire comes off as overtly coy and more than a little aimless". The review concluded by calling the show "a hungry anticipation for what machines can and will do, but it only has a cursory interest in the complex humans that built them."[65] Alan Sepinwall of HitFix believed the series was derivative of others and made an analogy to its plotline of reverse engineering the IBM PC, calling Halt and Catch Fire "a series that has not only been reverse-engineered from past cable drama hits, but that seems acutely aware of that fact."[66] Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club echoed these sentiments, writing that the pilot "feels like the network trying to reverse engineer... its success with Mad Men". VanDerWerff, though, said that "the pilot moves with a kind of confidence that's hard to fake" and that it has "some intriguing direction from Juan José Campanella that turns both the human face and circuit boards into things to be broken down into component parts and understood."[67]

Second season[edit]

The second season received strong reviews, with many critics noting the series' improvement over its first season. At Metacritic, the season received an average review score of 73 out of 100, based on 8 reviews.[68] According to Rotten Tomatoes, the second season holds 90% approval rating with an average score of 8.32 out of 10, based on 20 reviews; the site's critical consensus said, "Halt and Catch Fire version 2.0 has received some upgrades and improvements, including a welcome focus on its female leads."[69] Sepinwall praised the acting, writing, and directing of season two, and noted that one of his frustrations with the first season, the downplaying of Donna and Cameron, was resolved: "Now it's essentially Halt and Catch Fire 2.0, with all the bugs worked out so that it can function exactly as it first promised." Sepinwall summed up the season's changes by saying, "Those who stayed patient with Halt season 1, or those who come to the show now that the quality has gone up significantly, will be rewarded."[70] Andy Greenwald of Grantland called season two a "hard reboot" that was exponentially better. He praised the emphasis placed on the female leads, particularly Davis' performance, and how it reframed the male leads, while noting that the focus on Mutiny "inject[ed] the show with the jittery, caffeinated energy of a start-up". Greenwald liked most how the season "casts its characters, male and female, not as fundamentally unhappy but as deeply dissatisfied" and how it motivated them to innovate.[71] Willa Paskin of Slate said that the series was able to successfully pivot by shifting focus to a startup setting and to Cameron and Donna, the latter of whom Paskin said "has blossomed into a character with ambitions all her own". Commenting on the season's exploration of issues facing working women, Paskin wrote, "what is so satisfying about its treatment of sexism... is not the extent to which the sexism conforms to our expectations, but that the women involved do not."[72] Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker called season two "such a startling upgrade of the first that it begs for technological metaphors". She said that the chemistry between Donna and Cameron "is looser, releasing the show from the burdens of its gloomy forerunners", and that the marriage between Gordon and Donna felt nuanced. Nussbaum said the series was best at being "a platform for a fascinating, buried period of history" that provided "oddly profound meditations on the nature of originality in the digital age, nested within relationship talk".[73] James Poniewozik of Time said the show "remade and refocused itself in its second season" by focusing on the Cameron–Donna partnership and that "it now has a compelling subject". Poniewozik said, "true to Moore's Law, it has become magnitudes better."[74]

Third season[edit]

The third season received critical acclaim. At Metacritic, the season has an average review score of 83 out of 100, based on 12 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[75] According to Rotten Tomatoes, the third season holds a 96% approval rating with an average score of 8.62 out of 10, based on 23 reviews; the site's critical consensus said, "Halt and Catch Fire finds its footing in an optimistic third season that builds on the fascinating relationship between a pair of emerging protagonists."[76] David Sims of The Atlantic said Halt and Catch Fire was "one of TV's most elegantly crafted shows", "the best drama on television", and the most underrated. Sims praised the series for creating emotional investment in the characters' ideas, for its depiction of teamwork and the act of creation, and for using "[Joe] MacMillan to satirize the Jobsian cult of personality that defines so much of the tech world".[77] Todd VanDerWerff of Vox Media said, "This is the rare recent TV drama that's both as good as it is and as optimistic as it is." He praised Cantwell and Rogers for continued character development and highlighted the series for leading the movement of what he called "empathy dramas".[39] Daniel Fienberg of The Hollywood Reporter called out the Donna–Cameron partnership as the highlight of the show, writing, "There's nothing like it on TV." He praised the lead actors' performances, the nuanced characters, and the directing, calling Halt and Catch Fire "one of TV's best-directed shows".[78] Maureen Ryan of Variety called the series "both a retro pleasure and a forward-looking gem" that was bolstered by its performances, soundtrack, and individual episode story arcs. Ryan said the irony of the characters striving to connect through their work but instead fracturing their relationships was effective because of "its compassionate approach to its core characters".[79] Jen Chaney of Vulture wrote that the third season "covers familiar thematic ground while remaining a very good period piece that traces the rise of digital technology and simultaneously uses it as a metaphor to explore its characters' frailties". Chaney said the series earned its "should-watch status" through its cast, use of restraint, and, with the benefit of hindsight, the irony of depicting characters close to technological breakthroughs who do not realize it.[80] Poniewozik, writing for The New York Times, said the season "makes its past future feel dewy and new" and that despite some initial slow pacing, "The character dynamics are solid... and the '80s details continue to be spot on."[81] Hank Stuever of The Washington Post said, "The show's bugs and glitches also persist, but, if nothing else, Halt and Catch Fire has become an above-average specimen of 'slow television,' should you want such a thing in your life." The review said that the show "survives — and arguably thrives — in Season 3" on the Donna–Cameron storyline, but that it still struggled with Joe's character.[82]

Fourth season[edit]

The fourth season received critical acclaim, and the strongest reviews of any season of the series. At Metacritic, the season has an average review score of 92 out of 100, based on 8 reviews[83] According to Rotten Tomatoes, the fourth season holds a 100% approval rating with an average score 9.53 out of 10, based on 24 reviews; the site's critical consensus said, "Halt and Catch Fire's character-driven drama culminates in an optimistic ode to the early internet age that's bound to stand the test of time."[84] Michael Roffman of Consequence of Sound called the fourth season "a victory lap for everyone who championed the show from the very beginning". He said the series' refusal to offer reassurances that the characters will prevail "doesn't just make for great television, but great characters, and those characters are partly why Halt has staved off its own demise."[85] Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly said that the extended conversation between Joe and Cameron in the season's second episode mirrored the show's ability to overcome "a sputtering start to become a luminous drama". He praised Cantwell and Rogers for progressing "from aping the antihero playbook to refining it" and for making the characters "incredibly compelling and unique". He concluded his review by calling the series "an urgent story of rehumanization for a cold, wired culture".[86] Eric Thurm of The Verge called the show "the best depiction of technological innovation on television, because it focuses on collaboration rather than constraint, problem-solving over vision, and people instead of potential Academy Award trophies". The review lauded the "truly formidable" cast and the show's visual style for "charg[ing] meetings, coding sessions, or a group of people standing in front of a whiteboard with creative potential".[87] VanDerWerff commended the series' ability to create nostalgia for the early days of the Web "by creating nostalgia for that moment in anybody's life when they've been waiting and waiting and waiting for someone or something to come through". He called it one of the few dramas that did not need to overhaul its cast to "stay nimble and sharp, because it finds endless new iterations of the characters it already has, simply by throwing them into new groupings with each new season."[88] In his end-of-year rankings of the best series, VanDerWerff called Halt and Catch Fire "the best TV show of 2017" and said the season's final four episodes "were as emotionally overwhelming as anything [he's] ever seen on television".[89] J.M. Suarez of Popmatters said the season "never sacrifices nuance and thoughtfulness for twists or attempts to outdo itself," calling the show "confident enough to let its characters succeed and fail without having to spell out who's right and wrong".[90] Sims said the fourth season "succeeds by making its tech narrative not a dry history lesson, but rather a battle of wills between four very flawed, compelling characters, each possessed of the kinds of manic ambition and tendency toward self-destruction that make for the best television drama".[91] Alex Cranz of Gizmodo called the fourth season "easily one of the best seasons of a television show ever produced",[92] while Brian Grubb of Uproxx similarly called it "one of the best seasons of television [he's] ever seen".[93]

Many publications ranked the fourth season among the best television series of 2017 on their end-of-year lists; The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Vox Media shortlisted it on their lists of best TV shows,[89][94][95] while two critics at Variety included it in their top five,[96] Uproxx ranked it third-best,[97] The A.V. Club and Forbes fifth-best,[98][99] IndieWire seventh-best,[100] Paste ninth-best,[101] Rolling Stone 13th-best,[102] and The Guardian 39th-best.[103]

Viewership ratings[edit]

The premiere episode drew 1.2 million viewers according to Nielsen data, 433,000 of them in the 18–49 age demographic;[104] it was the only episode of the series to surpass one million viewers during its initial broadcast.[105] The first season drew modest overall viewership, averaging 760,000 viewers per episode, and a 0.3 rating in the 18–49 age demographic for live plus same-day viewings.[106] When accounting for time shifting via digital video recorders (DVRs), the season averaged 1.3 million viewers per episode in live plus 7-day viewings; 606,000 of them were ages 18–49,[107][108] making Halt and Catch Fire among the "most upscale dramas on ad-supported television" behind Mad Men and The Good Wife, according to AMC.[108] Despite the low overall ratings, AMC renewed the show in August 2014 for a second season of ten episodes. The network's president Charlie Collier said, "We have a history of demonstrating patience through the early seasons of new shows, betting on talent and building audience over time."[109]

Season two premiered on May 31, 2015, and concluded on August 2, 2015.[110] Despite the critical acclaim that season two garnered, viewership declined. The season averaged 520,000 viewers per episode and a 0.2 rating in the 18–49 age demographic in live plus same-day viewings.[106][111] Still, AMC renewed the series in October 2015 for a ten-episode third season. Stillerman said, "The critical momentum was a big part of the decision."[112]

The first episode of season three aired on August 21, 2016,[113] ahead of the two-hour season premiere on August 23, 2016.[114] AMC renewed Halt and Catch Fire for a fourth and final season of ten episodes on October 10, 2016.[115] The final season began with a two-hour premiere on August 19, 2017,[3] and concluded with a two-hour series finale on October 14, 2017.

Halt and Catch Fire : U.S. viewers per episode (thousands)
Season Ep. 1 Ep. 2 Ep. 3 Ep. 4 Ep. 5 Ep. 6 Ep. 7 Ep. 8 Ep. 9 Ep. 10 Average
1 1190 970 765 844 575 718 832 627 549 574 764
2 659 494 452 451 543 558 499 497 588 485 523
3 367 339 397 312 324 280 307 366 407 287 339
4 340 340 270 344 313 354 322 327 394 394 340
Source: Nielsen Media Research[116][117][118][119]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2014 Satellite Awards Best Television Series – Drama Halt and Catch Fire Nominated [120]
Best Actor – Television Series Drama Lee Pace Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Awards Most Exciting New Series Halt and Catch Fire Won [121]
2015 Casting Society of America's Artios Awards Outstanding Achievement in Casting – Television Pilot – Drama Sharon Bialy, Sherry Thomas, Lisa Mae Fincannon (location casting), Craig Fincannon (location casting), Allison Bader (associate), and Jen Ingulli (associate) Nominated [122]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Main Title Design Patrick Clair (creative director), Raoul Marks (animator), Eddy Herringson (designer), Paul Sangwoo Kim (typographer), and AMC Nominated [123]
SXSW Film Design Awards Excellence in Title Design Patrick Clair Nominated [124]
Hollywood Post Alliance Awards Outstanding Sound – Television Susan Cahill (supervising sound editor), Keith Rogers (re-recording mixer), Scott Weber (re-recording mixer), Jane Boegel (dialogue editor), Mark Cleary (sound effects editor), Kevin McCullough (sound effects editor), and NBC Universal Studio Post
for episode: "SETI"
Nominated [125]
2017 Guild of Music Supervisors Awards Best Music Supervision in a Television Drama Thomas Golubic and Yvette Metoyer
for season 3
Nominated [126]
2018 Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Dialogue and ADR for Episodic Short Form Broadcast Media Susan Cahill (supervising sound editor), Sara Bencivenga (supervising ADR editor), and Jane Boegel (dialogue editor)
for episode: "So It Goes"
Nominated [127]
Peabody Awards Entertainment honoree AMC Studios and Gran Via Productions
for Halt and Catch Fire
Nominated [128]
Women's Image Network Awards Actress Drama Series Kerry Bishé Nominated [129]
Drama Series Halt and Catch Fire
for episode: "NeXT"
Won [129]


  1. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 26, 2013). "TCA: AMC Picks Up 'Halt & Catch Fire' & 'Turn' To Series". Deadline.com. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  2. ^ "AMC Drama 'Halt and Catch Fire' to Bow June 1 After 'Mad Men' Finale". Variety. March 5, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Shapiro, Marissa (June 27, 2017). "Premiere Date for the Final Season Revealed". AMC. Retrieved June 27, 2017. 
  4. ^ Roots, Kimberly (June 1, 2014). "Halt and Catch Fire: Does AMC's New Drama Compute?". TVLine. Retrieved June 2, 2014. 
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External links[edit]