The Expanse (TV series)

The Expanse is an American science fiction television series developed by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, based on the series of novels of the same name by James S. A. Corey. The series is set in a future where humanity has colonized the Solar System. It follows a disparate band of antiheroesUnited Nations Security Council member Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), police detective Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane), ship's officer James Holden (Steven Strait) and his crew – as they unwittingly unravel and place themselves at the center of a conspiracy which threatens the system's fragile state of Cold War–like peace, the class balance, and the survival of humanity.

The Expanse
Textual logo in black block-capital lettering, "The" in smaller text above the word "Expanse", the letter A stylized as a triangle.
Based onThe Expanse
by James S. A. Corey
Developed by
Composer(s)Clinton Shorter
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes46 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Lynn Raynor
  • Jason Ning
  • Robin Veith
  • Ben Cook
  • Ben Roberts
  • Manny Danelon
  • Alan Di Fiore
  • Lewin Webb
  • Robert Munroe
  • Steven Strait
Production location(s)Toronto, Ontario
  • Jeremy Benning
  • Michael Galbraith
  • Ray Dumas
Running time42–53 minutes
Production company(s)
Original network
Picture format
Audio format5.1
Original releaseDecember 14, 2015 (2015-12-14) –
present (present)
External links
Official Syfy website
Official Amazon website

The Expanse has received critical acclaim, with particular praise for its visuals, character development and political narrative. It received a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and three Saturn Award nominations for Best Science Fiction Television Series. Alcon Entertainment produces and finances the series. It sold three seasons to Syfy, which canceled the series in May 2018. Amazon Prime Video picked up the series for a fourth season, which was released on December 12, 2019.[2][3] On July 27, 2019, Amazon renewed The Expanse for a fifth season.[4]

Series overviewEdit

SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
First releasedLast releasedNetwork
110December 14, 2015 (2015-12-14)February 2, 2016 (2016-02-02)Syfy
213February 1, 2017 (2017-02-01)April 19, 2017 (2017-04-19)
313April 11, 2018 (2018-04-11)June 27, 2018 (2018-06-27)
410December 12, 2019 (2019-12-12)Prime Video


Hundreds of years in the future, the Solar System has been colonized by humanity. The three largest powers are the United Nations of Earth and Luna, the Martian Congressional Republic on Mars, and the Outer Planets Alliance (OPA), a loose configuration of the asteroid belt and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

Season 1Edit

Chrisjen Avasarala, a United Nations executive, works to prevent war between Earth and Mars. Ceres police detective Joe Miller is sent to find a missing young woman, Julie Mao. The space-freighter Canterbury and the Martian Navy flagship Donnager are destroyed by ships built by Jules-Pierre Mao, Julie's father. James Holden, Naomi Nagata, Alex Kamal and Amos Burton escape in a Martian gunship named the Tachi. They subsequently rename the ship Rocinante which becomes the main setting of the series.[5] The crew of the Rocinante, with Miller's help, investigates and eventually discovers a biohazard that kills off most of the humans on the asteroid Eros, including Julie.

Season 2Edit

Martian Marine Bobbie Draper fights an inhuman figure on Ganymede and later becomes a protégé of Avasarala. The crew try to help a father find his daughter and, in the process, encounters and kills the figure that Draper fought, now known as a "protomolecule hybrid" developed by Jules-Pierre. A research ship, sent to Venus to investigate the crash of Eros, is stopped dead in the atmosphere and completely disassembled by the protomolecule.

Season 3Edit

The UN declares war as Earth and Mars send science vessels to investigate what's happening on Venus.

Season 4Edit

A vast land rush begins now that portals to other habitable worlds have opened up. Earth begins to invest vast resources (that it had earlier stinted Mars and the belt) on the new earthlike worlds through the portal. In the outer worlds, the residents' efforts to enhance life, particularly terraforming on Mars, begin to wane, since much richer worlds are now available, and investment "here at home" is not as attractive.

Cast and charactersEdit


  • Thomas Jane as Joe Miller, a Belter detective on Ceres assigned to find Julie Mao (seasons 1–2; special appearances seasons 3–4)[6]
  • Steven Strait as James Holden, the Earther executive officer on the Canterbury, later the captain of the Rocinante[6]
  • Cas Anvar as Alex Kamal, the Martian pilot of the Canterbury, later the pilot of the Rocinante[7]
  • Dominique Tipper as Naomi Nagata, a Belter engineer of the Canterbury, later the engineer of the Rocinante[7]
  • Wes Chatham as Amos Burton, an Earther mechanic of the Canterbury, later the mechanic of the Rocinante[7]
  • Paulo Costanzo as Shed Garvey, the Canterbury's medical technician[7] (season 1)
  • Florence Faivre as Julie Mao (alias Lionel Polanski), the missing daughter of business tycoon Jules-Pierre Mao (seasons 1–2; special appearance season 3)
  • Shawn Doyle as Sadavir Errinwright, UN Undersecretary of Executive Administration[8] (seasons 1–3)
  • Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala, UN Deputy Undersecretary of Executive Administration[6]
  • Frankie Adams as Bobbie Draper, an MMC (Martian Marine Corps) gunnery sergeant[9] (seasons 2–present)
  • Cara Gee as Camina Drummer, Tycho Station's Belter head of security, later captain of the OPAS Behemoth / Medina Station (season 4–present; recurring seasons 2–3)
  • Nadine Nicole as Clarissa Melpomene Mao (alias Melba Alzbeta Koh), Jules-Pierre Mao's elder daughter who initially seeks revenge against Holden, posing as a Savage Industries electrician aboard the UNN Thomas Prince (season 5; recurring seasons 3–4)[10]
  • Keon Alexander as Marco Inaros, a Belter faction leader (season 5; recurring season 4)[10]
  • Jasai Chase Owens as Filip Inaros, Marco and Naomi's son. (season 5; guest season 4)[10]


Introduced in season 1Edit

  • Chad L. Coleman as Fred Lucius Johnson, "the Butcher of Anderson Station", a UNN colonel-turned-leader of the OPA on Tycho Station[8] (seasons 1–present)
  • Andrew Rotilio as Diogo Harari, a young Belter from Ceres in the OPA (seasons 1–3)
  • Martin Roach as Michael Souther, former UNN fleet admiral, demoted to admiral and placed in command of the UNN Agatha King and the UN's Jupiter fleet (seasons 1–3)
  • François Chau as Jules-Pierre Mao, the owner of Mao-Kwikowski Mercantile and Julie's father (seasons 1–3)
  • Athena Karkanis as Tavi Muss, Miller's former partner at Star Helix Security (season 1)
  • Jared Harris as Anderson Dawes, the OPA's Ceres liaison[8] (seasons 1–2)
  • Jay Hernandez as Dmitri Havelock, Miller's Earther partner at Star Helix Security (season 1)[7]
  • Lola Glaudini as Shaddid, captain of Star Helix Security's Ceres detachment (season 1)
  • Kevin Hanchard as Semi, a Cererian detective on Eros, and an old friend of Miller's (season 1)
  • Daniel Kash as Antony Dresden, Protogen's head of biological research (seasons 1–2)
  • Brian George (seasons 1–2) and Michael Benyaer (season 4) as Arjun Avasarala, Avasarala's husband
  • Greg Bryk as K. Lopez, an MMC lieutenant assigned to the MCRN Donnager (season 1)
  • Elias Toufexis as Kenzo Gabriel, a Davila Aerospatiale spy on Tycho Station who infiltrates the Rocinante (season 1)
  • Jean Yoon as Theresa Yao, captain of the MCRN Donnager (season 1)

Introduced in season 2Edit

  • Nick E. Tarabay as Cotyar Ghazi, a security professional working for Avasarala (seasons 2–3)
  • Terry Chen as Praxideke "Prax" Meng, a botanist from Ganymede (seasons 2–3)
  • Leah Jung as Mei Meng, Prax's daughter (seasons 2–3)
  • Ted Atherton as Lawrence Strickland, a pediatrician secretly working for Protogen (seasons 2–3)
  • Jonathan Whittaker as Esteban Sorrento-Gillis, former UN Secretary General (seasons 2–3)
  • Byron Mann as Augusto Nguyễn, a UNN admiral, later fleet admiral (seasons 2–3)
  • Mpho Koaho as Richard Travis, an Earth-born MMC private assigned to the MCRN Scirocco (season 2)
  • Carlos Gonzalez-Vio as Paolo Cortázar, a Protogen scientist (season 2)
  • Peter Outerbridge as Martens, a MCRN captain and chaplain assigned to the MCRN Scirocco (season 2)
  • Sarah Allen as T. Hillman, a MMC private assigned to the MCRN Scirocco (season 2)
  • Dewshane Williams as L. Sa'id, a MMC corporal assigned to the MCRN Scirocco (season 2)
  • Conrad Pla as Janus, a UNMC colonel assigned to the UNS Arboghast (season 2)
  • Ted Whittall as Michael Iturbi, a UN scientist assigned to the UNS Arboghast (season 2)
  • Hugh Dillon as Sutton, a MCRN lieutenant assigned to the MCRN Scirocco (season 2)
  • Jeff Seymour as Pyotr Korshunov, the former MCR Minister of Defense (season 2)
  • Rachael Crawford as J. Peñano, a MCRN admiral (season 2)

Introduced in season 3Edit

  • David Strathairn as Klaes Ashford, a Belter pirate-turned-executive officer of the OPAS Behemoth (seasons 3–4)[11]
  • Elizabeth Mitchell as Anna Volovodov, a Methodist pastor (season 3)[12]
  • Brock Johnson as Grigori, a former acquaintance of Ashford's aboard the OPAS Behemoth (season 3)
  • Chris Owens as Kolvoord, a science officer aboard the UNN Thomas Prince (season 3)
  • Genelle Williams as Tilly Fagan, a socialite aboard the UNN Thomas Prince who befriends Anna (season 3)
  • Anna Hopkins as Monica Stuart, an Earther journalist filming a documentary on the Rocinante (season 3)
  • Jaeden Noel as Katoa Merton, Mei's friend (season 3)
  • Raven Dauda as Nono Volovodov, Anna's wife (season 3)
  • Brandon McGibbon as Elio "Cohen" Casti, Monica's technical crewman and camera operator (season 3)
  • Ari Millen as Stanni Kulp, a Savage Industries electrician assigned to the UNN Thomas Prince (season 3)
  • Paulino Nunes as Hank Cortez, a priest aboard the UNN Thomas Prince (season 3)
  • Sabryn Rock as Riko Oshi, a MMC private assigned to the MCRN Xuesen (season 3)
  • Hamed Dar as Jed Trepp, a MMC private assigned to the MCRN Xuesen (season 3)
  • Atticus Mitchell as Sinopoli, a MCRN ensign who served aboard the MCRN Kittur Chennamma (season 3)
  • Natalie Lisinska as Shaffer, a lieutenant aboard the UNN Agatha King who is loyal to Souther (season 3)
  • Morgan Kelly as Mancuso, a lieutenant aboard the UNN Agatha King who is loyal to Souther (season 3)
  • John Kapelos as Ren Hazuki, a Savage Industries electrician assigned to the UNN Thomas Prince (season 3)
  • Yanna McIntosh as Chandra Lucas, captain of the MCRN Askia, later captain of the MCRN Xuesen (season 3)

Introduced in season 4Edit

  • Burn Gorman as Adolphus Murtry, chief of security for Royal Charter Energy (RCE) aboard the Edward Israel (season 4)[13]
  • Lyndie Greenwood as Elvi Okoye, a biologist working for the RCE (season 4)[14]
  • Rosa Gilmore as Lucia Mazur, a Belter refugee (season 4)[15]
  • Jess Salgueiro as Chandra Wei, corporate security officer (season 4)[15]
  • Lily Gao as Nancy Gao, the Secretary-General of the United Nations proceeding her election victory against Chrisjen Avasarala. (season 4–present)[10]
  • Paul Schulze as Esai Martin, a corrupt police officer on Mars (season 4)



The Expanse is based on the novel series of the same name by James S. A. Corey, a pen name of the authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, who also serve as writers and producers for the show. The first novel, Leviathan Wakes (2011), was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel and Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. On April 11, 2014, Syfy announced a straight-to-series commitment to a television adaptation of the book series, and ordered the production of 10 one-hour-long episodes for the first season. On that date Syfy President Dave Howe commented: "The Expanse is epic in scale and scope and promises to be Syfy's most ambitious series to date".[16]

Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby wrote the pilot, directed by Terry McDonough, and serve as writers and showrunners alongside Naren Shankar.[17] Produced by Alcon Television and The Sean Daniel Company, principal photography started on October 29, 2014, in Toronto.[17] The pilot episode was screened at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2015.

In May 2015, before the first season aired, writing commenced for a second season,[18] which was ordered in December 2015.[19] The second season of The Expanse premiered on February 1, 2017.[20]

On March 16, 2017, The Expanse was renewed by Syfy for a 13-episode third season to air in 2018.[21] Filming for season 3 began on July 12, 2017.[22][23]

Four digital comics based on the books and tying into the television series have been published by ComiXology. The first focuses on the origin of James Holden and was released February 1, 2017.[24] The next three, highlighting the origins of other characters are: Naomi Nagata, released April 19, 2017; Alex Kamal, released May 24, 2017; and Amos Burton, released July 12, 2017.

The show's title sequence was animated and directed by Australian studio Breeder and its VFX team.[25]

Cancellation and renewalEdit

On May 11, 2018, Syfy did not purchase the rights for future seasons because of restrictive distribution arrangements, and announced it was cancelled. Alcon looked for other channels to distribute future seasons.[26][27]

Fans protested the cancellation, gathering over 100,000 signatures for an online petition. They lobbied Amazon Studios and Netflix to greenlight the fourth season and a crowdfunding campaign paid for an airplane to fly a "#SaveTheExpanse" banner around Amazon Studios.[28] Celebrities including Wil Wheaton, George R. R. Martin, Patton Oswalt and Andreas Mogensen supported the campaign.[29]

On May 26, at the International Space Development Conference, Jeff Bezos announced that Amazon picked the series up for additional seasons.[30] Production on the fourth season began in October 2018[31] and debuted on Amazon Prime Video on December 12, 2019.[2] On July 27, Amazon renewed The Expanse for a fifth season.[4]


The show's soundtrack was composed by Clinton Shorter.[32][33] The first season's soundtrack dubbed The Expanse Season 1 – The Original Television Soundtrack, consisting of nineteen tracks, was released by Lakeshore Records, on May 20, 2016, via iTunes,[32] and on May 26, 2016, via Amazon.[33]

Genre and themesEdit

The series has been described as a space opera by critics.[34][35][36] Emily VanDerWerff of Vox describes the first season of the series to be a "blend of science fiction and noir-infused detective drama, with a backdrop of political intrigue".[37] Vice has referred to the series as a "sci fi noir mystery-thriller"[36] and as hard science fiction.[38] Prior to the series premiere, Mark Fergus spoke of the series' western themes: "Everywhere is kind of back to the frontier rules so it gives us all that stuff back that we lost. Cellular technology. You can get a little more western about it."[39] The fourth season, according to the writers, also has "space western vibes".[40]


In the United States, seasons 1 to 3 of The Expanse were broadcast by Syfy and streamed on Prime Video.[41] In Canada, these seasons aired on Space[42] and streamed on Crave.[43] In New Zealand, these seasons aired on Sky.[44] In all other countries where Netflix is available, seasons 1 and 2 were streamed[45] until September 30, 2018. On February 8, 2019, Prime Video took over exclusive distribution of the first three seasons worldwide in preparation for its premiere of the fourth season later in the year.[46]


Critical responseEdit

Season 1Edit

Hawk Ostby accepting the Hugo Award at Worldcon in Helsinki 2017

On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has a score of 77% with an average rating of 7.12 out of 10 based on 43 reviews. The site's consensus states: "The Expanse blends sci-fi elements and detective noir into a visually compelling whole, though it takes a few episodes for the story to capture viewers' intrigue."[47] The first season received a rating of 65 out of 100 on Metacritic based on reviews from 23 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[48]

Reporting on the pilot screening, io9's Lauren Davis declared herself "blown away" by The Expanse, appreciating its "incredible sense of scale" and its "deeply thought out future world that reflects on our present one, with high production values and characters who speak and act like real people".[49] Max Nicholson of IGN characterized the pilot as "grim and dramatic", and a "very dense hour of television", with the terminology and large cast sometimes difficult to follow for viewers unfamiliar with the novels, but highlighted the pilot's "gorgeous" visuals and effects reminiscent of Battlestar Galactica, Dune and Firefly.[50]

Writing for Variety, Maureen Ryan was unimpressed by the first four episodes "awkwardly linking a series of somewhat muddled stories" and the series' stereotypical characters but credited it with tackling "issues of class, representation and exploitation" and a convincing design.[51] At, Justin Landon highlighted The Expanse's "bold and unique cinematography" and its claustrophobic, discomforting set designs, as well as the "extremely faithful" characterization, but remarked that the patois spoken by the Belters, the natives of the asteroid belt, made the series difficult to follow.[52]

Season 2Edit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has a score of 95% with an average rating of 8.95 out of 10 based on 21 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "The Expanse's second season offers more of the show's excellent signature production values while increasing character development and politically thrilling narratives."[53] On Metacritic, it has a score of 77 out of 100 based on 5 reviews.[54]

Writing for io9, Katherine Trendacosta noted how the show had become "shockingly prescient", insofar as many of the issues and ideas explored by The Expanse mirrored contemporary trends in global politics.[55] Brian Tallerico, in "Why The Expanse Is the Best Sci-FI TV Show You're Not Watching" for Rolling Stone, praised the show for its contemporary political relevance and called its willingness to mix tones, and its protagonists, laudable. He summarized that at its core, The Expanse was all about people responding to fear – fear of the other, fear of the new, fear of inequality, fear of death.[56] Writing for 13.7: Cosmos & Culture, a blog hosted by NPR, astrophysicist Adam Frank praised the show and its writers for the scientific realism. He wrote that "more than any other TV space-themed show, it gets the science right".[57]

Season 3Edit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has a score of 100% with an average rating of 8.57 out of 10 based on 25 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "Building on earlier potential and extending character arcs throughout a solidly crafted third season, The Expanse continues to impress – and shows no signs of abating."[58]

Season 4Edit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has a score of 100% with an average rating of 8.97 out of 10 based on 28 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "Smart and thrilling as ever, The Expanse's fourth season doesn't miss a beat, successfully navigating network changes without losing any of its rich character work or narrative complexities."[59] Writing for Den of Geek, Michael Ahr gave it a 5/5 review and wrote, "With its brilliantly crafted, multilayered plot, The Expanse season 4 proves itself worthy of Amazon's rescue in a nearly perfect season."[60] Sadie Gennis of TV Guide also praised the fourth season, giving it a score of 4.5/5.[61]


Viewership and ratings per season of The Expanse
Season Timeslot (ET) Episodes First aired Last aired Avg. viewers
Avg. 18–49
Date Viewers
Date Viewers
1 Monday 10:00 pm (premiere)
Tuesday 10:00 pm
10 December 14, 2015 (2015-12-14) 1.19[62] February 2, 2016 (2016-02-02) 0.555[63] 0.703[64] 0.22[64]
2 Wednesday 10:00 pm 13 February 1, 2017 (2017-02-01) 0.700[65] April 19, 2017 (2017-04-19) 0.581[66] 0.562[67] 0.18[67]
3 Wednesday 9:00 pm 13 April 11, 2018 (2018-04-11) 0.653[68] June 27, 2018 (2018-06-27) 0.606[69] 0.606[70] 0.18[70]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2016 Directors Guild of Canada Awards Best Sound Editing – Television Series Nelson Ferriera, Nathan Robitaille, Dustin Harris, Tyler Whitham, Dashen Naidoo
(for "The Big Empty")
Won [71]
Saturn Awards Best Science Fiction Television Series The Expanse Nominated [72]
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode Robert Munroe, Clint Green, Kyle Menzies, Tom Turnbull
(for "Salvage")
Nominated [73]
2017 Directors Guild of Canada Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series Robert Lieberman (for "Rock Bottom") Nominated [74]
Dragon Awards Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series The Expanse Nominated [75]
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby and Terry McDonough
(for "Leviathan Wakes")
Won [76]
Saturn Awards Best Science Fiction Television Series The Expanse Nominated [77]
2018 Directors Guild of Canada Awards Best Sound Editing – Television Series Nelson Ferriera, Kevin Banks, Nathan Robitaille, Dustin Harris, Tyler Whitham, Dashen Naidoo
(for "Home")
Won [78]
People's Choice Awards The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show of 2018 The Expanse Nominated [79]
Saturn Awards Best Science Fiction Television Series The Expanse Nominated [80]
2019 Directors Guild of Canada Awards Best Picture Editing – Dramatic Series Stephen Roque
(for "Abaddon's Gate")
Nominated [81]
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck, Naren Shankar, & Simon Cellan Jones
(for "Abaddon's Gate")
Nominated [82]
Saturn Awards Best Streaming Science Fiction, Action & Fantasy Series The Expanse Nominated [83]
2020 Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form "Cibola Burn" Nominated [84]
Best Series The Expanse Nominated


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