Persons Unknown (TV series)

Persons Unknown
Genre Serial drama
Psychological thriller
Created by Christopher McQuarrie
Starring Jason Wiles
Daisy Betts
Chadwick Boseman
Lola Glaudini
Tina Holmes
Kate Lang Johnson
Gerald Kyd
Kandyse McClure
Sean O'Bryan
Alan Ruck
Composer(s) Jeff Rona
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Remi Aubuchon
Dee D'Orazio
Christopher McQuarrie
Heather McQuarrie
Remi Aubuchon
Producer(s) Mitch Engel
Lorenzo O'Brien
Andre Barren
Erendira de la Lama
Alberto Pando
Location(s) Mexico City, Mexico
Cinematography Jaime Reynoso
Editor(s) Adrian Parisi
Raúl Dávalos
Michael Stern
Andres Riva Saft
Julius Ramsay
Running time 42 minutes
Production company(s) Invisible Ink
Televisa S.A. de C.V.
Fox Television Studios
Distributor 20th Television
Original network NBC
Original release June 7 – August 28, 2010 (2010-08-28)
External links

Persons Unknown is an American mystery drama television series that aired during the summer of 2010. The show revolved around strangers who are imprisoned inside a small ghost town. The thirteen-episode summer series premiered on June 7, 2010 at 10:00 p.m. on NBC.[1] On June 30, NBC moved the show to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday from its Monday time slot.[2] It completed its run on August 28, 2010.


Diverse strangers find themselves stranded in a deserted town with no idea of how they got there. Security cameras are watching their every move, defeating their attempts to leave. Faced with physical, emotional and psychological challenges, the hostages must rely on each other to survive as their abductors sow mistrust and pit them against each other. Meanwhile, an investigative reporter begins to look into the disappearances of the missing people despite intimidation by those who apparently know their every move.

Executive producer Remi Aubuchon promised that the show would “provide all the answers to the questions that we set up”.[3] The series finale was criticized for not following through on this statement.[4]


Seven strangers, Janet Cooper (Daisy Betts), Joe Tucker (Jason Wiles), Moira Doherty (Tina Holmes), Sergeant Graham McNair (Chadwick Boseman), Tori Fairchild (Kate Lang Johnson), Bill Blackham (Sean O'Bryan), and Charlie Morse (Alan Ruck) awaken in a hotel, with little to no knowledge of how they got there or where they are. The hotel and small 1950s-era town nearby are completely filled with cameras and microphones. Over the course of the following weeks, they are subjected to significant psychological and physical stress. Joe is eventually revealed to be a member of "The Program." It is unclear who or what the Program is, or what their motives, resources, or support are. The only indication is that the Program is manipulating them, attempting to influence their behavior, thought patterns, and beliefs.

At the end of the show, despite staging a mass breakout by faking the deaths of everyone in the town except for Joe, all the participants are recaptured, and awaken in an identical hotel built into the hull of a container ship, where the original night manager welcomes them to "Level 2." Joe and Mark Renbe are seen waking in a second hotel, in which Tori Fairchild serves as the hotel manager. Kat Damatto and Ambassador Fairchild are last seen in cages at an undisclosed location.



Other characters


No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date Production
U.S. viewers
(in millions)
1"Pilot"Michael RymerChristopher McQuarrieJune 7, 2010 (2010-06-07)4002-08-1014.29[5]
A diverse group of seven strangers find themselves stranded in a deserted town with no idea how they got there. They are being watched by security cameras and find their first attempt to escape is effectively blocked. When the group has dinner at the Chinese restaurant, one of the residents finds an ominous message in a fortune cookie. Meanwhile in San Francisco, Renbe, a reporter, searches for clues on one of the missing women.
2"The Edge"Bill EaglesRemi AubuchonJune 14, 2010 (2010-06-14)4002-08-1023.45[6]
Moira removes the implants they believe prevent them from escaping. However they encounter another barrier keeping them in the town. The abductees split up to investigate the town, looking for anything to help them escape. Blackham and Morse join together to execute their own plan to escape the town. Meanwhile, Renbe's investigation into Janet's disappearance hits a dead end.
3"The Way Through"Bill EaglesSandy IsaacJune 21, 2010 (2010-06-21)4002-08-1033.43[7]
After spending a week attempting to dig a tunnel to escape the town, the abductees are blocked by a metal barrier which releases a poison gas. A helicopter hovers overhead and drops a box, in which they find three gas masks for the seven of them to use -- putting them all in fear of a gas attack. Various abductees are submitted to psychological warfare, which includes Blackham receiving information about Morse's relationship with his wife. Back in San Francisco, Renbe resumes his investigation into Janet's disappearance, bringing him into direct conflict with the private investigator, Edicks.
4"Exit One"Leon IchasoMichael R. PerryJune 28, 2010 (2010-06-28)4002-08-1042.90[8]
The group of abductees are rattled when the hotel's night manager informs them that someone will be "checking out". A taxi arrives later that day with instructions to pick up Janet and the guest of her choice; Janet selects Joe. Tori, convinced her father is responsible for her presence in the town, is devastated that the taxi was not sent for her and tries to find a way out -- which includes seducing the Night Manager. Meanwhile, Bill Blackham badgers Charlie Morse with his knowledge of Morse's secret, attempting to extort favors or money from Morse. The taxi gets a flat tire, then is destroyed by a truck. Janet and Joe, begin walking across the deserted countryside, taking shelter in a cabin when night falls -- which has some unpleasant occupants. Managing to safely leave the cabin, they continue wandering, only to end up back at the town. After their return, another taxi arrives for Tori.
5"Incoming"Jonathan FrakesLinda McGibneyJuly 5, 2010 (2010-07-05)4002-08-1052.96[9]
The abductees are wondering where Tori has gone. Just as they are about to look around the town, they encounter an unconscious woman, named Erika, wearing Tori's clothes. She wakes up and attacks the others. While shopping for clothes, Moira sees a news report on television that says that Tori is safe with her father in Italy. Tori is actually dead and her father is trying to find out who is responsible. Later, while locked in a bank vault, Janet and Erika bond, talking about their lives and how they both happen to be mothers. McNair is haunted by his past and Moira becomes suspicious of Joe's behavior.
6"The Truth"Steve ShillSandy IsaacJuly 17, 2010 (2010-07-17)4002-08-1061.69[10]
The abductees become suspicious of Joe due to the elevator's floor number not changing when he boards it by himself. He later doubles over in pain, and has apparently been poisoned. Erika suggests antifreeze as a poison matching the symptoms, and offers him vodka which would neutralize the antifreeze, but not until he admits to working with the kidnappers, which he does. Tom, another member of "The Program" is then seen watching the cameras, wondering aloud what they are now going to do with Joe, and then seeing Erika pouring antifreeze down the drain. Meanwhile, Mark and Kat are taken to Italy and attend Tori's funeral, surviving four near-death experiences in the process, and find that a Chinese restaurant is somehow related in the kidnappings.
7"Smoke and Steel"Rod HardyMichael R. PerryJuly 24, 2010 (2010-07-24)4002-08-1072.09[11]
Joe confesses what he knows about the kidnappers and their organization to the others. But the information that he gives them are half-truths with other abductees frequently questioning his words, with Janet really being the only one that trusts him. Charlie tries to make a deal with Joe to get out of the town, but fails. Janet and Erika find personal files about them in Joe's room, but soon after, they learn that Tom was the one that planted the files there. After a small confrontation between Tom and Joe, Tom loses his edge and points a gun at Joe. Janet comes to save him, throwing oil on Tom, who is then engulfed in flames, dying as a result. Meanwhile, Kat, Renbe, and Stefano believe that Joe is the key to finding both Tori and Janet.
8"Saved"Bill EaglesLinda McGibneyJuly 31, 2010 (2010-07-31)4002-08-1081.60[12]
After being taken from his room, Joe awakens to find himself in a room with wires attached to him, slipping in and out of consciousness. He flashes back to his past when he was once a priest before being captured by "The Program". Tori, who was believed to be dead, seems to be alive, nursing Joe and trying to convince him not to jeopardize "The Program" for his love of Janet. Meanwhile, Blackham feels left out by the others and talks directly to the cameras about wanting to leave. Moira has a hard time accepting McNair's dark past and begins to trust him less. Meanwhile, Kat and Renbe meet a delusional woman, the only person who escaped the program, who also was its director once.
9"Static"Michael OfferHenry RoblesAugust 7, 2010 (2010-08-07)4002-08-1091.26[13]
After reprogramming, Joe reappears in town, but claims not to recognize anyone. It is soon discovered that he becomes extremely aggressive by anyone's touch, resulting in everyone but Janet wanting him eliminated and the Night Manager's death. Meanwhile, Kat and Renbe find themselves down and out in South America, eventually stumbling upon a familiar town.
10"Identity"[†]Jonathan FrakesSandy IsaacAugust 21, 2010 (2010-08-21)4002-08-1101.30[14]
Irishman Liam Ulrich replaces the fallen Night Manager and tells the abductees that they must stay in second floor due to security purposes. To keep them at ease, Ulrich leaves a little memento in their hotel rooms. Because of the mementos, Moira and McNair look back at their troubled childhoods, Charlie reads about his business life from a newspaper and Joe is given the old bible he had when he was a priest. Is also revealed that Erika's real name is Theresa Randolph. Meanwhile, Kat and Renbe are in what is believed to be a duplicate town created by "The Program" and see the men in the blue suits moving dead bodies to the bank vault. All the bodies have severed thumbs, they are then startled by Stefano, who severed the thumbs himself to identify the bodies. As the episode ends, The madame director warns Ulrich not to be romantically involved with Janet, when he has already started giving her better treatment than the other abductees.
11"Seven Sacrifices"[‡]Tim MathesonMichael R. PerryAugust 21, 2010 (2010-08-21) ( aired
Ulrich begins to have the trust of Charlie, Blackham and most importantly Janet. Ulrich's love for Janet, makes him give her a backstory on his life before being in "The Program", as well as giving her information on how "The Program" works. Janet begins to indulge in Ulrich's advances even though Joe and Erika give her warnings to stay away. Meanwhile, Renbe is sent to jail for the murder of Janet. Kat is fired from her job, evicted from her apartment and her bank accounts and credit cards are frozen due to misunderstanding about her dealing drugs overseas. It is revealed that the old night manager survived his injuries from Joe and is now working with the madame director. She has made the decision to terminate everyone in the town, including Ulrich.
12"And Then There Was One"[†]Jonathan FrakesLinda McGibneyAugust 28, 2010 (2010-08-28)4002-08-1122.97[15]
The abductees find six body bags in the bank vault. They also do the math; and realize that six of them are going to die. Joe explains that they will kill each other off. Ulrich is later killed off after trying to assist them to escape. Meanwhile, Renbe and Kat trace "The Program" to the Mansfield Institute, officially a scientific, educational, and charitable nonprofit group. When they travel to the Manfield Institute's headquarters and make a commotion, the madame director notes that no one has gotten so close to them before. Back in the town, the abductees start killing each other. When "The Program" believes that everyone but Joe is dead, they place them in body bags and ship them out of the town. Once safely out of the town, the killings are revealed to have been an elaborate hoax. Everyone comes out of the body bags and suffocate the driver. The van then flips over a hill. The episode ends with Joe being tased by "The Program".
13"Shadows in the Cave"[†]Michael RymerRemi AubuchonAugust 28, 2010 (2010-08-28)4002-08-1132.85[15]
After the vehicle accident, the group has split up. Moira and Erika have made their way to Morocco. Charlie and Blackham are somewhere in America driving aimlessly in a stolen car. Janet is hospitalized in the psychiatric wing of a hospital in San Francisco. McNair has been taken captive by the program; Joe remains in their custody after having sacrificed himself so the others could escape. When Renbe and Kat find out Janet is in the hospital, they go to find her only to be abducted by the men in blue. The madame director proves to have influence at the hospital, posing as a doctor and dismissing Janet's stories of the town as delusions. Janet escapes and makes her way to her mother's house to be reunited with her daughter. Sam takes Janet and her daughter toward the border, stopping overnight in a hotel. When Janet awakens, she is back in the hotel at the town. She exits her room to discover Moira, Charlie, Erika, Bill and Graham have all been returned as well. Meanwhile Kat is taken to a horrifying prison camp and caged; Ambassador Fairchild is there as well. Joe also awakens in the town hotel and discovers a whole new group of abductees including Renbe; their hotel manager is Tori. Janet's group boards the hotel elevator and it opens up to reveal that they are actually on a massive boat in the middle of the ocean, not back in the town. They are met by the old night manager, who says to them: "Welcome to level two". Lastly, the name of the ship is revealed to be "Almas Perdidas", a Spanish or Portuguese phrase which translates to "Lost Souls".


Persons Unknown was produced by Fox Television Studios through its international model, where series are produced for the US market with the help of international financing. Filming occurs in foreign locations where production costs are lower, and the series is "pre-sold" to international broadcasters.[16][17] The completed series is then pitched for sale to US networks for pick up.[18][19]

Persons Unknown was created by Christopher McQuarrie.[20] In September 2008, Fox announced that it was beginning production of the series, which was co-financed by Televisa in Mexico and Italy's RAI.[21][22][23] Filming began in late October 2008 in Mexico City, soon after announcement that Michael Rymer was hired to direct the first episode.[24] Thirteen episodes were produced.[25][26]

In March 2009, Variety reported that Fox was looking for a network to purchase the series.[27] NBC announced it had acquired the broadcast rights to the series in July 2009.[16]

On April 3, 2012, in an interview with CliqueClack TV, producer and writer Remi Aubuchon revealed many of the unanswered plot points of the series, including some of what was planned for a second season.[28]


Randee Dawn from the Hollywood Reporter wrote that its "clever setup and moody atmosphere make this place worth checking into."[29] Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune said the "...pilot efficiently lays out its premise and ratchets up the pressure on the characters, who are only types so far, but it doesn't matter because the plot's the thing here."[30] Overall the show received mixed or average reviews according to Metacritic where it received a score of 49 points out of 100.[31]

US Ratings

Season Episodes Original airing Viewers
(in millions)
Season premiere Season finale TV Season
1 13 June 7, 2010 August 28, 2010 2009–2010 2.7 NBC

International distribution

Country Channel Premiere date
Canada Ztélé (In French) March 15, 2011
France TPS Star April 4, 2011
Serbia Fox Crime
Japan Fox Crime
Philippines CHASE on BEAM 31
Denmark TV2 Zulu 14 July 2012
Greece FX
Italy Rai 2
Poland Fox Polska 2 April 2012
Spain FOX Crime
Lithuania TV3 Lithuania 4 October 2011
Middle East and North Africa OSN
Netherlands RTL5
Russia REN-TV
New Zealand TV3 New Zealand 18 February 2012
Norway TV2
United Kingdom Syfy 31 October 2011
Czech republic Prima Cool 1 July 2012
Belgium 2BE 21 July 2013
Finland MTV3 8 December 2013

DVD release

The complete series DVD, titled "Persons Unknown: The Complete First Season" was intended to be released on September 7, 2010 after being pushed back from an initial August 14, 2010 release. It has yet to be released.[32]

See also


  1. "NBC Fills In More of Summer Lineup". The Futon Critic. March 8, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  2. "NBC Shuffles Four Nights, Sends Persons Unknown to Saturdays". The Futon Critic. June 30, 2010. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  3. Executive Producer Remi Aubuchon Exclusive Interview PERSONS UNKNOWN
  4. Is the 'Persons Unknown' Finale the Worst Series Finale Ever? - AOL Television by Oliver Miller, posted Aug 30th 2010 1:15AM
  5. "Nielsen TV Ratings Monday: Lie To Me ratings, The Bachelorette ratings, How I Met Your Mother ratings, Last Comic Standing ratings, One Tree Hill ratings, Rules Of Engagement ratings, Two and A Half Men ratings, Big Bang Theory ratings, Gossip Girl ratings, True Beauty ratings, CSI: Miami ratings, Good Guys ratings - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. 2010-06-08. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  6. "Nielsen TV Ratings Monday: Lie To Me ratings, The Bachelorette ratings, How I Met Your Mother ratings, Last Comic Standing ratings, 90210 ratings, Rules Of Engagement ratings, Two and A Half Men ratings, Big Bang Theory ratings, Gossip Girl ratings, True Beauty ratings, CSI: Miami ratings, Good Guys ratings - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. 2010-06-15. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  7. "Nielsen TV Ratings Monday: Lie To Me ratings, The Bachelorette ratings, How I Met Your Mother ratings, Last Comic Standing ratings, 90210 ratings, Rules Of Engagement ratings, Two and A Half Men ratings, Big Bang Theory ratings, Gossip Girl ratings, True Beauty ratings, CSI: Miami ratings, Good Guys ratings - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. 2010-06-22. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  8. "Nielsen TV Ratings Monday: Lie To Me ratings, The Bachelorette ratings, How I Met Your Mother ratings, Last Comic Standing ratings, 90210 ratings, Rules Of Engagement ratings, Two and A Half Men ratings, Big Bang Theory ratings, Gossip Girl ratings, True Beauty ratings, CSI: Miami ratings, Good Guys ratings - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. 2010-06-29. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  9. "Nielsen TV Ratings Monday: Lie To Me ratings, The Bachelorette ratings, How I Met Your Mother ratings, Last Comic Standing ratings, 90210 ratings, Rules Of Engagement ratings, Two and A Half Men ratings, Big Bang Theory ratings, Gossip Girl ratings, True Beauty ratings, CSI: Miami ratings, Good Guys ratings - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. 2010-07-06. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  10. "TV Ratings: The Bridge, Persons Unknown Battle For Saturday Ratings Inferiority - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  11. "TV Ratings: FOX Wins Slow Saturday; Good News / Bad News for Persons Unknown Fans - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  12. "TV Ratings: FOX Wins Another Saturday, NBC's 'Persons Unknown' Falls Again - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  13. "TV Ratings: FOX Wins Saturday Again; NBC's 'Persons Unknown' Keeps Falling - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  14. "TV Ratings: ABC Races to Lead on a Strange Saturday; 'Persons Unknown' Grew by 2 Million…Maybe - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  15. 1 2 "TV Ratings: CBS Scores With NFL Again on Saturday; 'Persons Unknown' Says Goodbye - Ratings". TVbytheNumbers. Retrieved 2013-12-10.
  16. 1 2 Andreeva, Nellie (July 16, 2009). "'Persons Unknown' in line at NBC". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on July 20, 2009. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  17. Hopewell, John (April 17, 2009). "Shifting tastes imperil TV sales". Variety. Archived from the original on May 18, 2010.
  18. Hibberd, James; Andreeva, Nellie (October 14, 2009). "ABC gives series order to 'The Gates'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 11, 2010. Retrieved April 27, 2010.
  19. Andreeva, Nellie (November 24, 2008). "Ron Livingston is 'Defying Gravity'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  20. "Sci Fi Channel Unveils Powerhouse Development Slate". The Futon Critic. April 26, 2006. Retrieved June 4, 2010.
  21. Andreeva, Nellie (September 11, 2008). "FtvS, McQuarrie team for 'Persons'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on June 19, 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  22. Schneider, Michael (April 21, 1009). "Fox TV looks toward Asia for partners". Variety. Archived from the original on May 17, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  23. Schneider, Michael (September 22, 2009). "NBC flies to 'Mountain'". Variety. Archived from the original on May 17, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  24. Schneider, Michael (October 23, 2008). "'Unknown' fills in the blanks". Variety. Archived from the original on May 17, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  25. "NBC Extends Scripted Series, Confirms Orders". The Futon Critic. January 20, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  26. Andreeva, Nellie (September 2, 2009). "'Burn Notice' creator sets Fox drama". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 12, 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  27. Schneider, Michael (March 10, 2009). "Fox ready to go 'Mental'". Variety. Archived from the original on May 17, 2010. Retrieved May 17, 2010.
  28. McDuffee, Keith (April 3, 2012). "How Persons Unknown would have progressed – Interview with Rémi Aubuchon". CliqueClack TV. Retrieved April 30, 2012.
  29. Persons Unknown -- TV Review
  30. Persons Unknown' knows how to build suspense (so far)
  31. "Persons Unknown: Season 1". CBS Interactive. Retrieved 8 June 2011.
  32. Persons Unknown: Season 1 (4pc)
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