The Leftovers
Intertitle for seasons 2–3
Genre
Created by
Based onThe Leftovers
by Tom Perrotta
ShowrunnerDamon Lindelof
Starring
Opening theme
ComposerMax Richter
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes28 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Nan Bernstein Freed
  • Patrick Markey
  • Alma Kuttruff
  • Amanda Crittenden
Production locations
Cinematography
  • Michael Slovis (pilot)
  • Todd McMullen
  • Michael Grady
  • John Grillo
  • Robert Humphreys
Editors
  • Colby Parker Jr. (pilot)
  • Henk Van Eeghen
  • David Eisenberg
  • Michael Ruscio
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time51–72 minutes
Production companies
Original release
NetworkHBO
ReleaseJune 29, 2014 (2014-06-29) –
June 4, 2017 (2017-06-04)

The Leftovers is an American supernatural drama television series created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta that aired on HBO from June 29, 2014, to June 4, 2017.[1] Based on Perrotta's 2011 novel,[2] the series begins three years after the "Sudden Departure", a global event that resulted in 2% of the world's population disappearing. The lives of police chief Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) and his family, along with grieving widow Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) and her brother, Reverend Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston), are the focal points of the series as they struggle to adjust to life after the Departure.

The pilot was written by Lindelof and Perrotta and directed by Peter Berg.[3] The series stars an ensemble cast led by Theroux and features 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, at Lindelof's request to be able to conclude the series, HBO renewed it for a third and final season,[6] which premiered on April 16, 2017, and concluded on June 4, 2017.[7] Over the course of the series, 28 episodes aired over three seasons.

The first season received mostly positive reviews, though some criticized the series for its grim tone.[8] The series underwent a critical reevaluation during its acclaimed second and third seasons,[9][10] with many critics referring to The Leftovers as one of the greatest television series of all time,[11][12][13][14][15] with particular praise for its writing, directing, acting (particularly Theroux's and Coon's) and thematic depth.[8][9][10] The musical score composed by Max Richter also attracted critical praise.[16] Despite receiving average Nielsen ratings throughout its run, the series has developed a cult following.[17][18] The series has been compared favorably to Lost, a previous series co-created by Lindelof.[19][20][21][22]

Premise

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.[23] Following that event, mainstream religions declined, and a number of cults emerged, most notably the Guilty Remnant, a group of white-clothed, chain-smoking nihilists, and a cult led by Holy Wayne, a man who views himself as the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.[24]

The first season revolves around the Garvey family and their acquaintances in a fictionalized version of the town of Mapleton, New York. Kevin Garvey Jr. is the chief of police. His wife, Laurie, has joined the Guilty Remnant. Their son, Tommy, has left home to become a follower of Holy Wayne, and their daughter, Jill, is acting out.[2] Meanwhile, grieving widow Nora Durst and her brother, Reverend Matt Jamison, struggle to deal with their respective traumas while adjusting to life post-Departure. It also follows Meg Abbott, a woman who is slowly seduced by the Mapleton faction of the Guilty Remnant, led by Patti Levin. These characters' lives intertwine and collide as they find themselves in the middle of an ongoing conflict between the Guilty Remnant and the townspeople of Mapleton.

In the second season, the location shifts from Mapleton to the fictional town of Jarden, Texas, where not a single citizen was lost in the Sudden Departure. The Murphy family becomes a key focal point of the season. The patriarch, John, is the chief firefighter of the town, also acting as a vigilante deterrent of people exploiting Jarden's "miracle". His wife, Erika, is a doctor. Their son, Michael, is an aspiring pastor and their daughter, Evie, is a high school student with epilepsy. The Garvey family, Nora, and Matt move to Jarden at a time which coincides with an incident that leads to the disappearance of three young girls, followed by mass panic and chaos that threatens the town's safety and forces the Garvey and Murphy families to confront their inner demons.

The third and final season unfolds three years later, in 2018, starting 14 days before the seventh anniversary of the Sudden Departure. The setting of the third season moves between Jarden and Victoria, Australia, as most of the lead characters—particularly the Garvey and Murphy families—undergo emotional journeys that make them reflect upon their lives, their beliefs, and the events they have encountered in the previous two seasons. Kevin's father, the mentally ill former chief of police of Mapleton, is also a main focus in the final season as he embarks on a spiritual journey to fulfill a cryptic purpose, and eventually crosses paths with the other members of the Murphy and Garvey families.

Cast and characters

Main

Recurring

Guests

Development and production

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.[26]

Damon Lindelof had reportedly been a fan of Perrotta'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.[27][28] 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.[29][30] The Leftovers is the first series HBO acquired from an outside studio that it did not produce in-house.[31]

The first season covers the entirety of the book; the second and third seasons are completely original material.[32][33] 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.[34] The series shifted filming locations from New York to Austin, Texas, with nearby Lockhart serving as the main street of fictional Jarden, Texas, when principal photography commenced in late April.[35][36] For the second season, which features several changes, including cast, location, and storylines; Lindelof cited The Wire and Friday Night Lights as influences.[37][38]

The final season began principal photography in early May 2016, in Austin.[33] 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."[39][40] It was also confirmed that the season would have a shortened 8-episode run.[41]

Casting

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.[42][43][44]

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.[45] In April 2015, casting began for a family comprising ex-convict John Murphy; his hearing-impaired doctor wife, Erika; and their teenage children Evie, an outgoing athlete, and Michael, a pious Christian.[34] The roles of John, Erika, and Michael are portrayed by Kevin Carroll, Regina King and Jovan Adepo, respectively, all as series regulars.[46][47] Darius McCrary was cast in a recurring role as Isaac Rayney, John's friend and a palm reader.[47] Steven Williams was cast in a recurring role, playing Virgil, a confidant of Kevin's.[48] 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.[41] Glenn is credited as part of the main cast for the five season 3 episodes in which he appears; Brown ultimately remained as a recurring guest star, appearing in three episodes of the season. Lindsay Duncan joined the cast on December 6, 2016, also as a recurring guest star.[49] Duncan appears in five episodes of the season.

Several cast members did not continue in a regular capacity during season 3, but retain main cast credit for the episodes in which they feature. Liv Tyler appears in one scene in the first episode, and returns for one subsequent appearance in episode 7. Ann Dowd also returns to the main cast in episode 7 only. Margaret Qualley appears in the season's first episode only, with one subsequent voice cameo. Regina King appears in episode 2 only, and Janel Moloney features in two episodes. Chris Zylka appears for the final time in episode 2, making only one subsequent voice cameo, but retains his credit as a main cast member for the entire season. Additionally, season 1 main cast members Michael Gaston and Annie Q. return as guest stars.

Opening credits and theme music

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 with a different theme song for each episode, including reprises of the Season 1 main title theme and "Let the Mystery Be" in episodes seven and eight respectively. This is because Damon Lindelof wants to "thematically introduce the episode to come" with different title music for each episode.

Season 3

  1. None
  2. "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now" (theme from Perfect Strangers) by David Pomeranz
  3. "Personal Jesus" by Richard Cheese
  4. "This Love Is Over" by Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs
  5. "Ashrei" by Benzion Miller
  6. "1-800 Suicide" by Gravediggaz
  7. "The Leftovers (Main Title Theme)" by Max Richter
  8. "Let the Mystery Be" by Iris DeMent

Episodes

Main article: List of The Leftovers episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
110June 29, 2014 (2014-06-29)September 7, 2014 (2014-09-07)
210October 4, 2015 (2015-10-04)December 6, 2015 (2015-12-06)
38April 16, 2017 (2017-04-16)June 4, 2017 (2017-06-04)

Reception

Critical response

Critical response of The Leftovers
SeasonRotten TomatoesMetacritic
182% (182 reviews)65 (42 reviews)
294% (164 reviews)80 (22 reviews)
399% (189 reviews)98 (17 reviews)

Season 1

The first season 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".[50] Rotten Tomatoes scored the season 82%, based on 182 reviews, with an average rating of 7.65/10. 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."[8] 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."[51] 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.[52]

Season 2

The second season received critical acclaim. On Metacritic, it has a score of 80 out of 100 based on 22 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[53] Rotten Tomatoes gave the second season a rating of 94% with an average score of 8.8/10 based on 164 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."[9] 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".[54] In her five out of five star review, Emily St. James 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."[55]

Season 3

The third and final season received unanimous acclaim from critics. On Metacritic, it has a score of 98 out of 100 based on 17 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[56] On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 99% rating with an average score of 9.35/10 based on 189 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "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."[10] Maureen Ryan of Variety wrote the final season "is spectacular, in every sense of that word."[57] The Leftovers was ranked as the best TV series of 2017 according to Metacritic.[58] Alan Sepinwall placed season three first on his list of the best TV shows of 2017, an accolade he had awarded to both previous seasons in their respective years. He said "this has been my show of the year — of the decade, maybe, depending on how we count things like Mad Men and Breaking Bad that debuted in the '00s"; he went on to say "the eight-episode final season was a miracle".[59]

According to Metacritic's aggregate of critics' decade-end lists, The Leftovers was the fifth-highest ranked show of the 2010s.[60]

Critics' top ten lists

2014[61]
2015[62]
2017[58]
2010s[67]

Accolades

Award Year Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Critics' Choice Television Awards 2014 Most Exciting New Series The Leftovers Won [68]
2015 Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Christopher Eccleston Nominated [69]
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Carrie Coon Nominated
2016 Best Actor in a Drama Series Justin Theroux Nominated [70]
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
Dorian Awards 2018 Unsung TV Show of the Year The Leftovers Nominated [71]
Hollywood Music in Media Awards 2014 Best Main Title – TV Show/Digital Streaming Series Max Richter Won [72]
Outstanding Music Supervision – Television Liza Richardson Nominated
International Film Music Critics Awards 2015 Best Original Score for a Drama Series Max Richter Nominated [73]
Primetime Emmy Awards 2017 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Ann Dowd (for "The Most Powerful Man in the World (and His Identical Twin Brother)") Nominated [74]
Satellite Awards 2015 Best Genre Series The Leftovers Nominated [75]
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
2016 Best Genre Series The Leftovers Nominated [76]
2018 Best Actress in a Drama / Genre Series Carrie Coon Nominated [77]
Best Genre Series The Leftovers Nominated
Best Supporting Actor for a Series, Miniseries, or TV Film Christopher Eccleston Nominated
Television Critics Association Awards 2016 Outstanding Achievement in Drama The Leftovers Nominated [78]
2017 Individual Achievement in Drama Carrie Coon (for The Leftovers and Fargo) Won [79]
Program of the Year The Leftovers Nominated
USC Scripter Awards 2016 Outstanding Writing – Television Damon Lindelof and Jacqueline Hoyt (for "Axis Mundi") Nominated [80]
Writers Guild of America Awards 2015 Long Form Adapted Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta (for "Pilot") Nominated [81]
2016 Episodic Drama Damon Lindelof and Nick Cuse (for "International Assassin") Nominated [82]
2018 Episodic Drama Tom Perrotta, Damon Lindelof, and Tom Spezialy (for "The Book of Nora") Nominated [83]

Home media

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.[84] The second season was released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 9, 2016.[85] The third season's DVD format was released on October 10, 2017, while the Blu-ray format was released by the Warner Archive Collection.[86]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d In season 3, they are only credited with the main cast in the episodes in which they appear.
  2. ^ Dowd only appears in one episode of season three, although credited as a main cast member.
  3. ^ King only appears in one episode of season three, although credited as a main cast member.

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