The Leftovers (TV series)

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The Leftovers
The LEFTOVERS, written in gray letters, lit from behind by a white background, casting forwards a shadow of the letters.
Season 1 title card
Created by
Based on The Leftovers
by Tom Perrotta
Theme music composer Max Richter (season 1)
Opening theme
  • "Let the Mystery Be" by Iris DeMent (season 2 and series finale)
  • Various (season 3)
Composer(s) Max Richter
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 28 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Nan Bernstein Freed (season 1)
  • Patrick Markey (season 2)
  • Alma Kuttruff (season 3)
  • Amanda Crittenden (season 3)
Running time 51–72 minutes
Production company(s)
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Original network HBO
Original release June 29, 2014 (2014-06-29) – June 4, 2017 (2017-06-04)
External links

The Leftovers is an American television drama series created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, that aired on HBO from June 29, 2014, to June 4, 2017.[1] It is based on Perrotta's novel of the same name.[2] The pilot was written by Lindelof and Perrotta, and directed by Peter Berg.[3] The series stars an ensemble cast featuring Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Chris Zylka, Margaret Qualley, Carrie Coon, Ann Dowd, Regina King, Jovan Adepo, Kevin Carroll, Janel Moloney, and Scott Glenn. The series was renewed for a second season, which premiered on October 4, 2015, and concluded December 6, 2015.[4][5] On December 10, 2015, HBO renewed the show for a third and final season,[6] which premiered on April 16, 2017 and concluded on June 4, 2017.[7]


The Leftovers starts three years after a global event called the "Sudden Departure", the inexplicable, simultaneous disappearance of 140 million people, 2% of the world's population, on October 14, 2011.[8] Following that event, mainstream religions declined, and a number of cults emerged, most notably the Guilty Remnant.[9]

The first season revolves around the Garvey family and their acquaintances in the fictional town of Mapleton, New York. Kevin Garvey is the Chief of Police. His wife Laurie has joined the Guilty Remnant. Their son Tommy has left home for college, and their daughter Jill is acting out.[2] In the second season, the lead characters move to the fictional town of Jarden, Texas, where not a single citizen was lost in the "Sudden Departure". The third and final season unfolds three years later, in 2017, starting 14 days before the cryptic seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure, with events taking the main characters to Australia.

Cast and characters[edit]


  • Justin Theroux as Kevin Garvey, Jr., Mapleton's Chief of Police and a father of two, who is trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy in this new world. The breakup of his family puts more and more of a strain on him.
  • Amy Brenneman as Lorelei "Laurie" Garvey, Kevin's wife and Tom and Jill's mother, who left her life behind to join a mysterious cult called the Guilty Remnant.
  • Christopher Eccleston as Matt Jamison, a former reverend and current editor of a self-published tabloid that outs sinners. He struggles with his inability to accept that he, a good Christian, was not taken in the Sudden Departure while many sinners were. He has a wife, Mary.
  • Liv Tyler as Megan "Meg" Abbott, a woman about to get married when she becomes the target of the Guilty Remnant.a
  • Chris Zylka as Tom "Tommy" Garvey, Laurie's son (whom Kevin has raised as his own), who has recently dropped out of college and taken refuge with a mysterious guru called "Holy Wayne".
  • Margaret Qualley as Jill Garvey, Kevin's teenage daughter, a straight-A student who has a difficult relationship with her father.a
  • Carrie Coon as Nora Durst, a wife and mother who lost her husband, son and daughter in the Sudden Departure. She is Matt's sister.
  • Emily Meade as Aimee, Jill's free-spirited high school friend, who seems untroubled by the rapture. (season 1)
  • Amanda Warren as Lucy Warburton, Mapleton's take-no-prisoners mayor. (season 1)
  • Ann Dowd as Patricia "Patti" Levin, the leader of the local chapter of the Guilty Remnant.
  • Michael Gaston as Dean, a man who seems to understand that times have changed and addresses it head-on—often violently. (season 1, recurring season 3)
  • Max and Charlie Carver as Adam and Scott Frost, happy-go-lucky identical twin brothers. (season 1)
  • Annie Q. as Christine, one of Holy Wayne's former "groupies" and whose role apparently has a special and mysterious meaning. She was also Tommy's friend. (season 1, guest season 3)
  • Janel Moloney as Mary Jamison, Matt's wife, who was rendered comatose by a car crash during the Sudden Departure. (seasons 2–3, recurring season 1)a
  • Regina King as Erika Murphy, a doctor who runs an urgent-care facility. The Murphys are the Garveys' neighbors in Jarden, Texas. (seasons 2–3)a
  • Kevin Carroll as John Murphy, Erika's ex-husband and head of the town's volunteer fire department. (seasons 2–3)
  • Jovan Adepo as Michael Murphy, Erika and John's teenage son. (seasons 2–3)
  • Scott Glenn as Kevin Garvey, Sr., Mapleton's former chief of police who has been committed to a mental health institute. (season 3, recurring seasons 1–2)a


1.^ During season 3, Tyler, Qualley, Dowd, Moloney, King and Glenn are only credited with the main cast in the episodes in which they appear.


  • Paterson Joseph as Henry "Holy Wayne" Gilchrest, Jr., a post-Sudden Departure savior who "heals" people of their burdens (seasons 1–2)
  • Natalie Gold as Sam's Mother, a woman who lost her baby son Sam in the Sudden Departure (seasons 1, 3)
  • Marceline Hugot as Gladys, a member of the Guilty Remnant (seasons 1–2)
  • Wayne Duvall as Detective Louis Vitello (season 1)
  • Sebastian Arcelus as Doug Durst, Nora's husband who departed with their two children (season 1)
  • Jasmin Savoy Brown as Evangeline "Evie" Murphy, Erika and John's teenage daughter, Michael Murphy's twin (seasons 2–3)
  • Darius McCrary as Isaac Rayney, a fortune teller (season 2)
  • Steven Williams as Virgil, Evie and Michael's grandfather (season 2)
  • Dominic Burgess as Dr. Brian Goodheart, an Australian scientist (season 2)
  • Mark Linn-Baker as himself (seasons 2–3)
  • Turk Pipkin as Pillar Man, a mysterious figure residing atop the pillar in Jarden Square (season 2–3)
  • Brett Butler as Sandy, the wife of the Pillar Man and a friend of Matt's (seasons 2–3)
  • Joel Murray as George Brevity, an agent of the Department of Sudden Departure (seasons 2–3)
  • Bill Camp as David Burton, an Australian man appearing to Kevin in the afterlife (season 2–3)
  • Lindsay Duncan as Grace Playford (season 3)[10]
  • Damien Garvey as Kevin Yarborough, an Australian Chief of Police (season 3)
  • David Gulpilil as Christopher Sunday (season 3)
  • Katja Herbers as Dr. Eden (season 3)

Development and production[edit]

HBO acquired rights for series development with Perrotta attached as writer/executive producer and Ron Yerxa and Albert Berger as executive producers in August 2011, shortly before the book came out.[11]

Damon Lindelof had reportedly been a fan of Perotta's earlier novels and had first learned of the book from a positive review by Stephen King in The New York Times in August 2011.[12][13] In June 2012, Lindelof announced he would be developing the series alongside Perrotta. He served as the series' showrunner.[2]

In February 2013, HBO ordered a pilot and, in September, ordered a 10-episode first season.[14][15] The Leftovers is the first series HBO acquired from an outside studio that it did not produce in-house.[16]

Second season promotional art

The first season covers the entirety of the book; the second and third seasons are completely original material.[17][18] In April 2015, it was reported that the setting for the second season would shift from Mapleton, New York to a small town in Texas.[19] The series shifted filming locations from New York to Austin, Texas, with nearby Lockhart serving as the mainstreet of fictional Jarden, Texas, when principal photography commenced in late April.[20][21] For the second season, which features several changes, including cast, location, and storylines; Lindelof cited The Wire and Friday Night Lights as influences.[22][23]

The final season began principal photography in early May 2016, in Austin.[18] In June 2016, the production moved to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, where it filmed the remainder of the series and completed post-production. On the move to Melbourne, Lindelof said, "We're immensely grateful for the opportunity to try something that looks and feels different from the preceding seasons and we absolutely cannot wait to bring our story to its conclusion down under."[24][25] It was also confirmed that the season would have a shortened 8-episode run.[26]


In June 2013, casting announcements began. Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler, Christopher Eccleston, Ann Dowd, Amanda Warren, Michael Gaston, and Carrie Coon were announced to star in the pilot.[27][28][29]

For the second season, eight of the 14 main cast members from season one returned,[5] while Emily Meade, Amanda Warren, Annie Q., Max Carver, Charlie Carver and Michael Gaston did not.[30] In April 2015, casting began for a Black American family comprising a father, ex-convict John Murphy; his hearing-impaired doctor wife, Erika; and their teenage children Evie, an outgoing athlete, and Michael, a pious Christian.[19] The roles of John, Erika, and Michael are portrayed by Kevin Carroll, Regina King and Jovan Adepo, respectively, all as series regulars.[31][32] Darius McCrary was cast in a recurring role as Isaac Rayney, John's friend and a palm reader.[32] Steven Williams was cast in a recurring role, playing Virgil, a confidant of Kevin's.[33] Janel Moloney, who had a recurring role in the first season as Mary Jamison, was promoted to a regular cast member in season two.[5]

For the third season, it was confirmed in May 2016 that the entire main cast from the second season would return, with the exception of Dowd, and that Scott Glenn and Jasmin Savoy Brown had been promoted to series regulars,[26] however, Brown remained a guest star for the third season. Actress Lindsay Duncan joined the cast on December 6, 2016.[34] Main cast members Michael Gaston and Annie Q. from season one returned as guest stars.

Opening credits and theme music[edit]

The main title from the first season uses "The Leftovers (Main Title Theme)", an original piece of music by composer Max Richter, accompanied by images like a fresco in the style of the Sistine Chapel. The second season uses "Let the Mystery Be" by Iris DeMent. In addition, the opening changes to one that shows images of pictures and people who were departed missing from them and in their place is various images of earth-related phenomena like rain, clouds, aurora borealis and lightning. Season 3 retains the opening from Season 2 but several episodes contain a different theme song. In addition, the Season 1 main title theme and the song "Let the Mystery Be" were both reprised for the penultimate episode and series finale respectively.


Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 10 June 29, 2014 (2014-06-29) September 7, 2014 (2014-09-07)
2 10 October 4, 2015 (2015-10-04) December 6, 2015 (2015-12-06)
3 8 April 16, 2017 (2017-04-16) June 4, 2017 (2017-06-04)


Critical response[edit]

Season Critical response
Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
1 81% (60 reviews) 65/100 (42 reviews)
2 93% (33 reviews) 80/100 (22 reviews)
3 98% (35 reviews) 98/100 (17 reviews)

Season one of The Leftovers received mostly positive reviews from critics. Metacritic scored season one 65 out of 100, based on 42 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[35] Rotten Tomatoes scored the season 81%, based on 60 reviews, with an average rating of 7.68/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Its dour tone and self-seriousness may make for somber viewing, but The Leftovers is an artfully crafted, thought-provoking drama that aims high and often hits its mark."[36] IGN reviewer Matt Fowler gave consistently high scores to all the season one episodes, including two perfect 10 scores for "Two Boats and a Helicopter" and the season finale "The Prodigal Son Returns."[37] He then gave the entire first season a review score of 9.4 out of 10, particularly praising the character-centric episodes, Max Richter's score and the performances, particularly Carrie Coon's.[38]

Season two received critical acclaim. On Metacritic, it has a score of 80 out of 100 based on 22 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[39] Rotten Tomatoes gave the second season a rating of 93% with an average score of 8.73 out of 10 based on 33 critic reviews, with the critical consensus "The Leftovers continues to be unpredictable and provocative in season two with its new location, though the inexplicable circumstances will still frustrate many viewers."[40] Alan Sepinwall of HitFix gave it an "A" grade and wrote that "The Leftovers is still TV's best drama as season 2 begins"; it has "tighter focus, but same powerful, immersive experience".[41] In his five out of five star review, Todd VanDerWerff of Vox wrote: "It's a show that wants to provoke a reaction in you, whether it's admiration, hatred, or just bafflement. It's HBO's best drama—and thus must-see TV."[42]

The third season has received unanimous acclaim from critics. On Metacritic, it has a score of 98 out of 100 based on 17 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[43] On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 98% rating with an average score of 9.43 out of 10 based on 35 reviews with the critical consensus "With reliably ambitious storytelling and outstanding performances from its cast, Season 3 of The Leftovers approaches the series' conclusion as thoughtfully, purposefully, and confidently as it began."[44] Maureen Ryan of Variety wrote the final season "is spectacular, in every sense of that word."[45] The Leftovers was ranked as the best TV series of 2017 according to Metacritic.[46]

Critics' top ten lists[edit]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2014 Critics' Choice Television Awards Most Exciting New Series The Leftovers Won [53]
Hollywood Music in Media Awards Best Main Title – TV Show/Digital Streaming Series Max Richter Won [54]
Outstanding Music Supervision – Television Liza Richardson Nominated
2015 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Christopher Eccleston Nominated [55]
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Carrie Coon Nominated
International Film Music Critics Award Best Original Score for a Drama Series Max Richter Nominated [56]
Gold Derby TV Awards Best Drama Supporting Actress Carrie Coon Nominated [57]
Satellite Awards Best Genre Series The Leftovers Nominated [58]
Best Supporting Actor for a Series, Miniseries, or TV Film Christopher Eccleston Nominated
Best Supporting Actress for a Series, Miniseries, or TV Film Ann Dowd Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Long Form Adapted Damon Lindelof & Tom Perrotta for "Pilot" Nominated [59]
2016 Critics' Choice Television Awards Best Actor in a Drama Series Justin Theroux Nominated [60]
Best Actress in a Drama Series Carrie Coon Won
Best Drama Series The Leftovers Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Christopher Eccleston Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Ann Dowd Nominated
Regina King Nominated
Gold Derby TV Awards Best Drama Episode "International Assassin" Won [61]
Best Drama Leading Actor Justin Theroux Nominated
Best Drama Leading Actress Carrie Coon Nominated
Best Drama Series The Leftovers Nominated
Best Drama Supporting Actor Christopher Eccleston Nominated
Best Drama Supporting Actress Regina King Nominated
Ensemble of the Year The cast of The Leftovers Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Genre Series The Leftovers Nominated [62]
Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding Achievement in Drama The Leftovers Nominated [63]
USC Scripter Award Outstanding Writing – Television Damon Lindelof and Jacqueline Hoyt for "Axis Mundi" Nominated [64]
Writers Guild of America Awards Episodic Drama Damon Lindelof & Nick Cuse for "International Assassin" Nominated [65]
2017 Gold Derby TV Awards Best Drama Episode "The Book of Nora" Won [66]
Best Drama Guest Actress Ann Dowd Nominated
Best Drama Leading Actor Justin Theroux Nominated
Best Drama Leading Actress Carrie Coon Nominated
Best Drama Series The Leftovers Nominated
Best Drama Supporting Actor Christopher Eccleston Nominated
Ensemble of the Year The cast of The Leftovers Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Ann Dowd Nominated [67]
Satellite Awards Best Actress in a Drama / Genre Series Carrie Coon Pending [68]
Best Genre Series The Leftovers Pending
Best Supporting Actor for a Series, Miniseries, or TV Film Christopher Eccleston Pending
Television Critics Association Awards Individual Achievement in Drama Carrie Coon (for The Leftovers and Fargo) Won [69]
Program of the Year The Leftovers Nominated
Writers Guild of America Episodic Drama Tom Perrotta, Damon Lindelof, and Tom Spezialy for "The Book of Nora" Pending [70]

Home media[edit]

The first season was released on Blu-ray and DVD in region 1 on October 6, 2015. The set contains two audio commentaries and four behind-the-scenes featurettes.[71] The second season was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 9, 2016.[72] The third season was released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 10, 2017.[73]


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External links[edit]