Quantico is an American television drama that aired on ABC from September 27, 2015 to August 3, 2018.
The series was officially cancelled on May 11, 2018, after three seasons.
"Quantico" follows a group of young FBI recruits and each of them has a specific reason for joining. Flashbacks detail their previous lives while the recruits battle their way through training at the academy in Quantico, Virginia.
However, the series reveals in a flash forward twist that one of the recruits (upon graduating from the academy) will be suspected of masterminding the biggest terror attack on New York City since the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Priyanka Chopra as Alex Parrish
Jake McLaughlin as Ryan Booth
Aunjanue Ellis as Director Miranda Shaw
Johanna Braddy as Shelby Wyatt
Yasmine Al Massri as Nimah Amin / Raina Amin
Russell Tovey as Harry Doyle [season 2]
Aarón Díaz as Léon Velez [season 2]
David Lim as Sebastian Chen [season 2]
Pearl Thusi as Dayana Mampasi [season 2]
Blair Underwood as Owen Hall [season 2]
Tracy Ifeachor as Lydia Bates [season 2]
Josh Hopkins as Special Agent Liam O'Connor [season 1]
Tate Ellington as Simon Asher [season 1]
Graham Rogers as Caleb Haas [season 1]
Anabelle Acosta as Nathalie Vazquez [season 1]
Rick Cosnett as Elias Harper [season 1]
Series creator Joshua Safran initially wanted a "straightforward action show" different from his past work, which included the soapy dramas "Gossip Girl" and "Smash". He revealed that he wanted to do something with a law enforcement theme such as a political thriller about the NYPD after the September 11 attacks.
Safran based protagonist Alex Parrish, whose complex family history haunts her throughout the series, on a relative of his; Safran wove his own struggle to understand his family member into Alex's desire to learn the truth about her father.
Safran said, "I have a family member who either is a pathological liar or has been involved with a government agency my whole life. I've always struggled with knowing that I would never know the truth, because there is no real such thing as the truth with regard to somebody who may or may not be telling the truth. That struggle informed the character of Alex."
He called the series a sexy romance and a political thriller, adding: "It's like, what would Die Hard be if Die Hard was weekly and was also a soap."
Safran offered the series to ABC and on September 17, 2014, the network announced that it had bought the concept for a drama series from ABC Studios and Safran and produced by Mark Gordon, describing it as "Grey's Anatomy meets Homeland."
ABC ordered a pilot on January 23, 2015, for the 2015–16 television season.
"Quantico" was picked up from the pilot, with an initial order of 13 episodes for the 2015 network television season.
Good ratings led ABC to pick up "Quantico" for a full season in October with an additional six episodes (increasing the episode count to 19), with an option for more. In November, the season was extended to 22 episodes.
In March 2016, ABC announced that it had renewed "Quantico" for a second season, also consisting of 22 episodes.
The series was produced by ABC Studios in association with The Mark Gordon Company and Random Acts Productions.
Safran, Gordon, Robert Sertner and Nicholas Pepper were the executive producers, with Cherien Dabis as one of the producers. Safran served as the head writer of the series.
The writing staff of "Quantico" consisted of Justin Brenneman, Cami Delavigne, Cameron Litvack, Logan Slakter, Gideon Yago, Beth Schacter, Jordon Nardino, and Cherien Dabis, all of whom wrote multiple episodes for the series.
Various directors had worked on several episodes, notably Patrick Morris, Jennifer Lynch, David McWhirter, Stephen Kay and Steve Robin.
Colleen Sharp, Nicholas Erasmus, Daniel A. Valverde, Terilyn A. Shropshire and Shelby Siegel edited multiple episodes.
The Director of Photography was Anthony Wolberg, who provided cinematography for most episodes. Other cinematographers include Anastas N. Michos and Todd McMullen. Joel J. Richard and Joseph Trapanese wrote the music.
In May 2017, ABC renewed the series for a third season of 13 episodes. The renewal was based on the international popularity of star Priyanka Chopra, who made the show a strong international seller for ABC Studios.
As part of the renewal process, Safran stepped down as showrunner but remained as a consultant.
The following month, it was announced that Michael Seitzman would be showrunner and that Safran would be credited as an executive producer.
On May 11, 2018, ABC cancelled "Quantico" after three seasons.
The show had a racially diverse cast as FBI recruits who deal with their individual problems.
Safran had wanted the show to be diverse from the beginning, saying, "You're not just watching people who have struggled to achieve places of power and they're there. This show is about the struggle to achieve that. Their politics and their racial makeup and their religious backgrounds are very important to their characterizations and who they are. I really am interested in looking at how every culture handles stress — and in particular, how people from all these different backgrounds find their place in the FBI, an agency that has historically-fraught relationships with gay people and people of color."
The first actor cast in the series was Tate Ellington as FBI trainee Simon Asher.
Graham Rogers was then cast as another FBI trainee, Caleb Haas. It was announced that Aunjanue Ellis had signed to play Miranda Shaw, assistant director and training supervisor of the academy.
Dougray Scott was then cast as Liam O'Connor, Miranda's former partner and current subordinate.
Priyanka Chopra was cast as series protagonist Alex Parrish, the result of a talent holding deal with ABC Studios which required the company to develop a starring project for her or cast her in an existing project for the 2015 television season.
ABC casting executive Keli Lee had long tried to persuade Chopra to perform on television in the United States.
When the actress began considering U.S. TV, Lee learned that Chopra had been approached by another studio: "I said [to Chopra], 'No, you can't make this deal elsewhere. You're coming here. And I'm flying to India.'" Lee went to India and convinced Chopra to accept ABC's offer.
Chopra said about Lee: "I told her, the only way I would do it is if you find me a show and a path which first will put me in the same position that I am in India."
Chopra saw the deal as an opportunity to represent South Asia and challenge Indian stereotypes in Hollywood and the United States, saying:
"When I was in school [in the U.S.], you never saw anyone who looked like us that was on TV. And that was really weird for me because there's so many people of South Asian descent in America – in the world. I didn't want to be this stereotype of what Indian people are usually seen as in global pop culture. We don't just have to be Apu from The Simpsons."
After being given all 26 pilot scripts which ABC was filming for the 2015–2016 television season, Chopra chose "Quantico".
Despite having appeared in over 50 films, Chopra was required to audition for the first time, which she found nerve-wracking.
Safran was impressed by Chopra's audition, which helped him re-envision the character, adding, "She walked into the room, and it was like the molecules shifted in that way that superstars have. I was very confused because I didn't know who she was, but we all sat up straighter. We're like, this is clearly a movie star; it's like every hair on the back of your neck stands up watching her act. When I went back home I couldn't think about anyone else."
Chopra became the first South Asian to headline an American network drama series.
Jake McLaughlin was chosen to play Ryan Booth, Alex's love interest, and Johanna Braddy and Yasmine Al Massri were cast in the final co-starring roles of trainees Shelby Wyatt and Nimah and Raina Amin.
ABC announced after it picked up the pilot that the Liam O'Connor character would be re-cast with Josh Hopkins replacing Dougray Scott in July of 2015.
That month, it was announced that Anabelle Acosta was cast in a recurring role for a multi-episode story arc as Quantico recruit and former police officer Natalie Vasquez.
Rick Cosnett was also signed for a recurring role as Elias Harper, a former defense attorney-analyst recruit. Prior to the premiere, Acosta was promoted to a series regular.
In September of 2015, Jacob Artist was cast in a recurring role as Brandon Fletcher, an FBI agent-in-training.
Marcia Cross was cast as Senator Claire Haas, vice presidential candidate, Caleb's mother, and the wife of FBI Deputy Director Clayton Haas.
In November, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Lenny Platt and Li Jun Li were cast as recurring characters who would be added after the mid-season break.
Following the season one finale, Safran confirmed that all series regulars would return for the second season, except for Acosta, Ellington and Hopkins, whose characters were killed off. Safran also expressed interest in bringing back Cross' Claire Haas after it was revealed that she was involved in the bombing plot.
Safran discussed the return of Henry Czerny, who played CIA director Matthew Keyes in the season one finale, since the character was important to the storyline.
In July of 2016, Czerny joined the cast in the recurring role. The series added three regulars to the cast: Russell Tovey as Harry Doyle, Blair Underwood as CIA officer Owen Hall and Pearl Thusi as type-A attorney Dayana Mampasi.
In July of 2016, Aarón Díaz joined the series in a recurring role as photojournalist León Velez and it was reported that Tracy Ifeachor and David Lim were cast in recurring roles as Lydia Hall and Sebastian Chen.
In early 2017, Hunter Parrish and Krysta Rodriguez were cast in the recurring roles of Clay Haas and Maxine Griffin.
After the third season renewal announcement, it was reported that Al Massri and Thusi would leave the series.
In June 2017, it was reported that Ellis and Tovey would not return as part of a creative overhaul; however, in August 2017, it was confirmed that Tovey would in fact be returning as a series regular.
In late July 2017, Marlee Matlin joined the show as a series regular in the role of ex-FBI agent Jocelyn Turner in the third season.
Alan Powell joined the cast in November 2017 as series regular Mike McQuigg, an undercover agent.
The next month, Amber Skye Noyes joined the third season in the recurring role of Celine Fox.
In January of 2018, Vandit Bhatt joined in the recurring role of Jagdeep Patel.
On February 16, 2018, it was confirmed that Aunjanue Ellis had left the show.
Although Safran initially intended the series to be an ensemble, with Alex the lead protagonist, this changed after Chopra was cast.
As the show's "face" and featured in its publicity campaign, Alex dominated the storyline and became the main character.
Although she was initially written as Caucasian, Safran completely rewrote her character with Chopra in mind, tweaking her background as she became half-Indian and spent 10 years in Mumbai. Her casting also helped change Alex's personality; in one change, the "jaded and brooding" Alex became "fun and warm".
Safran initially focused on the character's dark side, saying that he had never imagined a positive side: "Priyanka came in and played all of that but as a character who was always in control. And still warm and vibrant because she knew no one was going to get through her walls. From that point on, Alex was the kind of character who can have humor, who can have heart."
Quantico was designed with over a half-dozen core characters, in addition to Alex Parrish, for pacing reasons.
It was intended to have a flashback narrative, shifting between "the present day with Parrish navigating her way through a class of FBI New Agent Trainees to the near future as the truth and repercussions of the attack emerge."
Safran also used flashforwards to spread out the series' plot points.
He said in a 2015 interview that although the series is "intricately plotted", it does not intend to overwhelm the viewer: "It is tightly structured and moves quickly between two, sometimes three, time periods, but we made sure that it's not so complicated that it just feels like too much. I like to say that we have a lot of tributaries, but they all lead to one ocean."
The series' diverse cast helped its writers create a variety of storylines and plot points.
According to a Variety article on Safran and "Quantico", "The show delves below the surface into those disparate backgrounds to explore how each character's personal stories influence their motivations for joining the FBI and in their perspective on the search for truth in the terrorism investigation. That offers a wealth of engaging material for writers to mine."
Safran modeled Quantico on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in structure, with self-contained story arcs from season to season. Its producers said that each season would have a specific storyline, with Alex the series' focal point surrounded by a new cast.
Safran called the second season more cohesive, mirroring the first season and "... keep[ing] the two-storyline structure."
In an interview, he confirmed that the structure would be "a little bit of flash-forward, but the majority will be what I like to call the present."
According to Safran, the producers aimed at a more mature, darker second season which would be "less confusing" to viewers.
Safran had plotted an upcoming plot point as the first season ended, which saw Alex clearing her name, getting fired by the FBI and receiving a job offer by the CIA director. He revealed that the season two storyline would focus on the contrasting work ethics of the FBI and the CIA.
Safran elaborated about the differences between the FBI and CIA, saying, "We're very interested in the fact that the FBI's so much about being honest, truthful and living up to your badge. And the CIA is the opposite. You succeed if you can deceive. So it's going to be interesting to see. It's like a funhouse mirror of what we've seen."
He announced that the series would switch to a single timeline after the fourteenth episode. Safran said that the second season was always designed to adopt a single timeline after the resolved storyline and the aftermath of the hostage crisis, adding, "When we broke Season 2, we knew we were going to go to one timeline, because it's about the [terrorist] event, and then it's about what happens after the event. And you can't flashback to the Farm after the crisis is over."
He said that the change was also due to viewer complaints that the first season's dual timeline was confusing.
The pilot episode for "Quantico" was filmed in Atlanta from March 11 to March 26, 2015, with two days of filming in New York.
It was announced that the series would be filmed in downtown Montreal and Sherbrooke, which stood in for New York and Quantico, respectively.
The first schedule began in late July and ended in late December 2015. Quantico Academy exteriors were filmed on the Université de Sherbrooke campus.
The series was shot in Mel's Cité du Cinéma studio and on location. The show's second shooting schedule began in January 2016 and continued in Montreal until mid-April.
In April of 2016, it was reported that production would move to New York City for its second season; according to Safran, "Season 2 is going to be very much more a New York story."
The filming for the show's second season (which began in New York on July 13, 2016) was shot at Silvercup Studios and on location and ended in mid-March 2017.
Filming for the third season started on October 10, 2017. Certain scenes of the third-season premiere featuring Chopra were shot on location in Italy.
The last few episodes of the third season of "Quantico" were shot on location in Ireland. Filming for the third season ended on April 21, 2018.
The first season of "Quantico" received positive reviews with most critics praising Priyanka Chopra's performance.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an 82% "Certified Fresh" approval with an average rating of 6.9/10 (based on 56 reviews).
According to the website consensus: "Obvious copycatting aside, Quantico provides ludicrously entertaining thrills from a well-balanced cast."
The series has a score of 70/100 (based on 25 reviews) on Metacritic, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The Newark Star-Ledger's Vicki Hyman called "Quantico" the best new show of the season and graded it an "A". Hyman wrote that the show was "taut and terrifically calibrated ... with at least one deadly effective twist you won't see coming."
David Wiegand from San Francisco Chronicle also praised the series: "The plot is intricate and compelling, the characters magnetic and mysterious at the same time."
Robert Bianco of USA Today rated Quantico three out of four, calling its cast "an appropriately diverse group, brought to life by generally fine performances, led by Chopra's and Ellis. [. ... ] There are times when Quantico feels a shade mechanical, in moments when you can practically hear the plot gears moving. But it accomplishes what the opener of a whodunit needs to do: establish a wide range of plausible suspects and spark our interest in the mystery and the hero."
James Poniewozik of The New York Times called Priyanka Chopra the series' "strongest human asset", calling her "immediately charismatic and commanding."
Melissa Maerz of Entertainment Weekly called "Quantico" the best Shonda Rhimes drama that Rhimes never touched and wrote that "Chopra's bound to be a breakout star."
Rob Lowman of the Los Angeles Daily News enjoyed the show and Chopra's performance, saying: "Although a bit over-frenetic at times, the series seems to take inspiration from a man-on-the-run Hitchcock thriller. Only in Quantico's case, it's a woman, and they have a charismatic star in Chopra. I was immediately struck by her dynamic screen presence. So far it's one of the most promising new shows, and Chopra is someone worth keeping an eye on."
Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter, in a lukewarm review, found its pilot "just good enough to make you watch another."
Although TheWrap's Tim Grierson wrote that the show "provides sexy fun", he went on to write: "For a show about highly trained, incredibly intelligent agents, Quantico often succumbs to lame-brained plotting and a less-than-convincing portrayal of its specialized milieu. This new show's fluffy, which doesn't fit so well with the darker, somber tones meant to be struck by the introduction of a cataclysmic terrorist attack."
The show's second season also received positive reviews.
Jasef Wisener of TVOvermind gave the premiere episode a rating of three and a half stars, writing that it set up its sophomore season "effectively".
However, Allison Nichols of TV Fanatic was critical of the opening episode owing to the "confusing time jumps" and the "head-spinning plotlines".
The episodes following the winter finale when the show's narrative switched to a single timeline garnered further praise by such critics as Madison Vain of Entertainment Weekly, especially for its focus on character development.
Kelsey McKinney of New York magazine noted that the show had finally found its groove, writing: "For the first time since its first season, Quantico actually seems to know where it is headed. It's quite a welcome development, and the newfound confidence ... makes Quantico a much more enjoyable show to watch."
In a five-star review of the sixteenth episode, Kelsey McKinney of New York wrote that "the show is grappling more and more with the emotions that make us all human, not just the ones that drive the story forward."
The series' plot lines, involving current political situations, were also praised.
The season one premiere of "Quantico" garnered 7.14 million viewers and a 1.9 rating among adults 18–49, the highest-rated scripted telecast on Sunday night opposite "Sunday Night Football". It improved 36 percent on its lead-in, "Blood & Oil" (which had a 1.4 rating).
The pilot episode of "Quantico" was also popular for DVR playback with over five million viewers, a 79 percent increase, for a total 3.4 rating among adults 18–49 and total viewership of 12.15 million.
"Quantico" ( which continued to do well in live viewing) more than doubled its viewership several times in DVR playback during the season.
The show's finale had 3.78 million viewers with a 1.0 rating among adults 18–49 and a 120 percent DVR increase for a 2.2 adult 18–49 rating and a total of 6.7 million viewers.
The first season averaged 8.05 million viewers with a 2.6 rating among adults 18–49.
The second-season premiere had 3.64 million viewers and a 1.0 rating among adults 18–49; The finale attracted 2.72 million viewers with a 0.6 rating among adults 18–49.
The season averaged 4.53 million viewers with a 1.3 rating among adults 18–49.
"Quantico" continues to be popular in Australia, Canada, France and India. The premiere episode had 2.6 million viewers in Canada, the largest audience for a new television series that year. It was the most-watched episode behind "The Big Bang Theory" (which had 2.8 million).
Averaging 2.17 million viewers, "Quantico" was Canada's most-watched drama series, most-watched new series and second most-watched series (after "The Big Bang Theory") in 2015. It was the most-watched drama series of 2015 in Australia and the second most-watched series overall (after The Big Bang Theory).
In France, the series premiered to 4.9 million viewers (a 21 percent audience share) and averaged 3.1 million viewers during its first season.
According to a Business Insider report, "Quantico" was the 12th-most popular TV show of 2016 based on ratings, peer-to-peer sharing, social-media chatter and viewer demand.
By winning the People's Choice Award for "Favorite Actress in a New TV Series" at the 42nd People's Choice Awards, Priyanka Chopra became the first South Asian to win a People's Choice Award.