The Following

The Following

The main actors from The Following, standing side-by-side.

The Following is an American television drama series, which premiered on Fox on January 21, 2013.

The Following centres on former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) and his attempts to recapture serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) following the latter’s escape from prison. Hardy soon discovers that the charismatic Carroll has surrounded himself with a group of like-minded individuals and turned them into a cult of fanatical killers. When Carroll’s son Joey (Kyle Catlett) is abducted by his father’s followers, the FBI discover that it is the first step in a wider plan for Carroll to escape custody, humiliate Hardy, and murder his ex-wife Claire (Natalie Zea).

Main cast

  • Kevin Bacon as Ryan Hardy, a former FBI agent who, in 2003, led the FBI team that captured serial killer Joe Carroll. Placed on disability and removed from active duty after being stabbed in the heart by Carroll, requiring him to use a pacemaker, Hardy is recalled to service to act as a consultant after Carroll escapes from prison. He is presented as being withdrawn from the world around him, bordering on alcoholism, and tormented by his own guilt; he failed to idenfity Carroll as a suspect after their first meeting, and Carroll claimed five more victims before he was caught. Hardy has also written a true crime book on the Joe Carroll case entitled The Poetry of a Killer.
  • James Purefoy as Dr. Joe Carroll, a former professor of English literature at Winslow University. Carroll’s teaching emphasizes the romantic period, and he is an unsuccessful novelist. Believing, like his hero Edgar Allan Poe, in the “insanity of art”, he initially began to make “art” by eviscerating his female students. He ultimately killed fourteen of them before he was caught by Ryan Hardy. While serving out his sentence at the Virginia Central Penitentiary in Waverly, Virginia, Carroll gathers a cult-like collection of followers, who are willing to murder, kidnap, and even sacrifice themselves in order to execute his plan of revenge against Hardy.
  • Natalie Zea as Dr. Claire Matthews, Joe Carroll’s ex-wife, who also had a relationship with Ryan Hardy after Carroll’s arrest. Like her ex-husband, she is a college professor.
  • Annie Parisse as Debra Parker, an FBI specialist on cult behavior, and head of the Bureau’s Alternative Religion Unit. Her expertise leads to her called in to head the investigation of Carroll and his followers. Parker grew up in a cult, fleeing when she was sexually abused by the cult’s leader with the approval of her parents.
  • Shawn Ashmore as Mike Weston, a young FBI agent. Weston wrote his thesis on Joe Carroll while in training and sees Ryan Hardy as a hero. He is considered the team’s expert on Joe Carroll, and displays a proficiency with computers that he uses to assist in tracking Carroll and his followers.
  • Valorie Curry as Emma Hill (also known as “Denise Harris”), a follower of Joe Carroll. Emma met Carroll at a book reading in 2003, and ends up becoming one of his first and most devoted followers. At his direction, she assumes the name Denise Harris and takes the position of nanny in Carroll’s ex-wife’s household, caring for Carroll’s son Joey. Emma assumes leadership of a small cell of followers tasked with abducting Joey, and shows no hesitation to use violence.
  • Nico Tortorella as Jacob Wells (also known as “Will Wilson”). Jacob is Emma’s lover and another of Carroll’s followers. As Will Wilson he and Billy Thomas lived next door to Sarah Fuller, the only woman who escaped Carroll. Will and Billy pose as a gay couple as part of their cult activities, using the ruse as they believe Sarah will not feel threatened by two gay men.
  • Adan Canto as Paul Torres (also known as “Billy Thomas”). Torres, as Billy Thomas, lived next door to Sarah Fuller with Jacob. Their homosexual relationship was initially presented as being a cover, but Paul developed genuine feelings for Jacob. As Paul Torres he has to share Jacob with Emma, and is unhappy with the relationship, often referred to as a “third wheel.”
  • Kyle Catlett as Joey Matthews, Joe Carroll and Claire Matthews’ son.