Mindhunter (TV series)

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Mindhunter Logo.svg
Created byJoe Penhall
Based on
Music byJason Hill
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes19 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Production location(s)Pennsylvania
  • Christopher Probst
  • Erik Messerschmidt
Running time34–73 minutes
Production company(s)Denver and Delilah Productions
Original networkNetflix
Picture format4K (Ultra HD)[1]
Audio formatDolby Digital 5.1
Original releaseOctober 13, 2017 (2017-10-13) –
External links
Official website

Mindhunter is an American psychological crime thriller web television series created by Joe Penhall, based on the true-crime book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit written by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker.[2] The series is executive produced by Penhall, David Fincher, and Charlize Theron among others, and debuted worldwide on Netflix on October 13, 2017.[3][4] Netflix released the second season on August 16, 2019.[5] In January 2020, Netflix announced that the series was on indefinite hold.[6]


Mindhunter revolves around FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), along with psychologist Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), who operate the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit within the Training Division at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. They interview imprisoned serial killers to understand how they think, with the hope of applying this knowledge to solve ongoing cases.[7]

Season one is set in 1977 to 1980, in the early days of criminal psychology and criminal profiling at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Notorious serial killer Edmund Kemper (Cameron Britton) has a recurring role in this season as he assists Ford and Tench in understanding how a serial killer's mind works.

Season two is set in 1980 through 1981 and covers the Atlanta murders of 1979–81.[8] This is based on the real case of Wayne Williams who was charged for the murder of two adult men but was never found guilty of killing at least 28 children and adolescents.

Cast and characters[edit]


  • Jonathan Groff as Holden Ford, a special agent in the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit.
  • Holt McCallany as Bill Tench, a special agent in the FBI's Behavioral Science Unit.
  • Anna Torv as Wendy Carr, a psychology professor working towards tenure at Boston University who joins the BSU. She is a closeted lesbian.
  • Hannah Gross as Debbie Mitford, Ford's girlfriend and a graduate student in sociology at the University of Virginia (season 1).
  • Cotter Smith as Robert Shepard, the assistant director at the FBI Academy overseeing the Behavioral Science Unit (season 1; guest season 2).
  • Stacey Roca as Nancy Tench, Bill's wife (season 2; recurring season 1).
  • Joe Tuttle as Gregg Smith, a special agent newly assigned to the Behavioral Science Unit (season 2; recurring season 1).
  • Michael Cerveris as Ted Gunn, Shepard's successor as overseer of the Behavioral Science Unit (season 2).
  • Lauren Glazier as Kay Manz, a bartender and Carr's love interest (season 2).
  • Albert Jones as Jim Barney, an Atlanta FBI agent (season 2; guest season 1)
  • Sierra McClain as Tanya Clifton, a hotel worker who brings Holden's attention to the Atlanta child murders (season 2)
  • June Carryl as Camille Bell, a grieving mother of Yusef Bell, one of the Atlanta murder victims and the organizer of the Committee to Stop Children's Murders (season 2)



Development and production[edit]

The development of Mindhunter began in 2009 when Charlize Theron gave a non-fiction crime book titled Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit to David Fincher.[12][13] In January 2010 the Mindhunter project was set up at Fox 21, which had optioned the book, along with premium cable channel HBO. Scott Buck was tapped to write the pilot.[14][15] Fincher, who was mostly known as a director and producer in films, felt at that time that television was "completely foreign" until he worked on the political drama House of Cards, for which he co-produced and directed the first two episodes.[12] When Fincher finally felt comfortable with television as a medium after doing House of Cards,[12] Theron suggested playwright and screenwriter Joe Penhall as the project's writer,[12][13] replacing Buck.[15] In December 2015, Mindhunter was moved to streaming service Netflix,[13][15] with Fox 21 dropping out of the project.[15]

In February 2016 Netflix announced that the production of Mindhunter would be based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[16] Filming began in May 2016,[17] and open casting calls were held on April 16 and June 25, 2016.[18][19] Episode 9 of season 1 was filmed in Moundsville, West Virginia at the West Virginia State Penitentiary.[20] The series was renewed for a second season before its premiere on Netflix.[21]

The character of Holden Ford is loosely based on FBI agent John E. Douglas, on whose book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit the show is based.[22][23] The character of Bill Tench is based on pioneering FBI agent Robert K. Ressler.[24] Wendy Carr is a fictional character based on psychiatric forensic nurse researcher Ann Wolbert Burgess,[25][26] a prominent Boston College nursing professor who collaborated with the FBI agents in the Behavioral Science Unit and procured grants to conduct research on serial murderers, serial rapists, and child molesters.[27][28] Her work is based on treating survivors of sexual trauma and abuse, and studying the thought process of violent offenders.[28] The serial killer characters were modeled on the actual convicted criminals and their prison scene dialogues were taken from real interviews.[29] Although not explicitly stated, it is implied that the ADT serviceman seen in several short vignettes throughout the first season is Dennis Rader, the BTK Killer.[30][31] This is clarified in the second season.[32]

The musical score is written by Jason Hill.[33]

The second season was originally reported to consist of eight episodes;[34] however, the season ultimately contained nine episodes. Shooting took place between April and December 2018.[35] Directors for the second season were Fincher, Andrew Dominik, and Carl Franklin.[36]

In November 2019, it was reported that a potential third season had been put on indefinite hold until Fincher finished working on his next film, Mank.[37] Fincher plans to make five seasons.[38] In January 2020, Netflix announced that the cast had been released from their contracts and that the series was on indefinite hold, as Fincher was busy with other projects. A Netflix spokesperson stated, "He may revisit Mindhunter again in the future, but in the meantime felt it wasn't fair to the actors to hold them from seeking other work while he was exploring new work of his own."[6]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
110October 13, 2017 (2017-10-13)
29August 16, 2019 (2019-08-16)

Season 1 (2017)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
11"Episode 1"David FincherJoe PenhallOctober 13, 2017 (2017-10-13)
FBI Special Agent Holden Ford fails to prevent the suicide of Cody Miller in a 1977 hostage situation in Braddock, Pennsylvania. Upon Ford's return to FBI base, he is told that his "negotiation" was successful since he saved the hostage's life, and he is promoted to teaching. Ford takes an interest in another class delving into the minds of killers, taught by Peter Rathman. Ford, who is single and living alone at the time, meets Debbie, a graduate student studying sociology. With Debbie's encouragement, Ford seeks additional education in criminal psychology. Ford is referred to Bill Tench, Head of Behavioral Science. Tench takes Ford on his teaching classes around the country, sharing FBI techniques with local law enforcement. In Iowa, local police take offense when Ford suggests that Charles Manson is a victim. As Tench counsels Ford to simplify his method, the two are approached by a local detective, Frank McGraw, seeking help in a brutal case of murder and rape.
22"Episode 2"David FincherJoe PenhallOctober 13, 2017 (2017-10-13)
In Wichita, Kansas, an ADT serviceman demands the cardboard core for empty electrical tape. Tench and Ford arrive at San Francisco, California, where Ford requests a conversation with Charles Manson, just 30 miles away. Tench states it is impossible to gain access to Manson. Local police, however, suggest that Ford meet Edmund Kemper, the coed killer. Tench has no interest in interviewing Kemper, so Ford goes alone. To his surprise, he finds Kemper to be highly intelligent and talkative. Meanwhile, an elderly woman in Sacramento is attacked and her dog's throat is slashed. Ford convinces Tench to accompany him during his next visit to see Kemper. Kemper describes his hatred of his mother and how he began torturing animals. At home, Debbie wants Ford to meet her mother and states her mother judges her boyfriends by their relationship with their own mothers. Shepard is infuriated to learn about Ford and Tench's interviews with Kemper but allows them to continue their project in the basement.
33"Episode 3"Asif KapadiaStory by : Joe Penhall
Teleplay by : Joe Penhall and Ruby Rae Spiegel
October 13, 2017 (2017-10-13)
The ADT serviceman stares at a house before getting in a van and driving away. Ford and Tench approach Dr. Wendy Carr, a social sciences professor in Boston, Massachusetts, for academic interest in the study. Their attempt to meet Benjamin Franklin Miller is declined. Another elderly woman in Sacramento has been attacked and her dog's throat slashed from ear to ear, but this time she was murdered. After an interview with Kemper, Tench believes the suspect is white, in his 30s, and has a similar relationship with his mother as Kemper did. The police set their sights on Dwight Taylor, a man in his 30s with an abusive mother. After interrogation, Taylor confesses to the murder. Ford recommends the removal of certain words from the FBI's list of deviant words. Carr arrives in Fredericksburg as a consultant for the FBI.
44"Episode 4"Asif KapadiaStory by : Joe Penhall
Teleplay by : Joe Penhall and Dominic Orlando
October 13, 2017 (2017-10-13)
Ford and Tench interview Montie Rissell, a serial killer who murdered five women in Virginia. Rissell shows no remorse for his actions and considers himself a victim. His methods of murder were blunt force trauma, drowning and stabbing. He is less sophisticated than Kemper in his technique and killed his first victim because she was a sex worker who did not resist rape. He later kills other victims for "talking too much". After being bribed with Big Red, Rissell reveals the same hate for his mother as Kemper. Tench gets into a car accident. In Altoona, Pennsylvania, Tench and Ford join local police officer Mark Ocasek in investigating the murder of Beverly Jean Shaw, an "engaged" 22-year-old babysitter. They initially focus on a former drifter and local welder Alvin Moran. However, Moran's alibi checks out. Tench reveals that he has an adopted six-year-old son named Brian who refuses to speak. Back in Fredericksburg, Ford invites Carr to meet his girlfriend at a bar. Carr secures $385,000 in grant money to fund their research.
55"Episode 5"Tobias LindholmJennifer HaleyOctober 13, 2017 (2017-10-13)
In Altoona, Pennsylvania, the investigation into the murder of Beverly Jean continues. Ford, Tench, and Ocasek interview her "fiance", Benjamin "Benji" Barnwright. Benji begins profusely crying, sending red flags to Ford who believes men crying to strangers could be an act. The police speak with Benji's mother. Benji's mother mentions Frank Janderman, Benji's brother-in-law. Ford begins to question Debbie's sexual past. Tench and Ford discover Frank's violent past. Frank, however, doesn't have a pathology of a serial killer. After interviewing Frank, the police discover that Benji's relationship with Beverly Jean was not as serious as Benji claimed. With renewed interest, Tench and Ford interrogate Benji. The trio then interrogate Rose, Benji's sister, at her house. She is seen with bruises. Ocasek warns Rose that if the FBI finds out any involvement between her and the murder, she will lose her child. Later, Rose comes to the police station and admits Frank was not home during the night of Beverly Jean's disappearance. The truth unravels as Rose claims that Frank called her to Benji's house the night of the murder and she found Beverly Jean dead. She admitted that she cleaned up the house while Benji and Frank disposed of the body.
66"Episode 6"Tobias LindholmStory by : Joe Penhall
Teleplay by : Joe Penhall and Tobias Lindholm
October 13, 2017 (2017-10-13)
The ADT serviceman is seen with a rope making a knot while his wife tends to their infant daughter. Shepard offers Carr a full-time consulting position at the FBI. Back in Altoona, Tench confronts Benji. Carr concludes that Beverly Jean was alive when Rose arrived. The police conclude that Benji, Rose, and Frank are all accomplices. Back in Fredericksburg, Debbie and Ford have dinner at Tench's home. The prosecution only intends to seek full punishment for Benji while offering pleas for Rose and Frank. Carr returns to Boston and asks her partner, Annaliese Stilman, for her opinion on accepting the FBI's offer. Annaliese warns her about her career and having to stay closeted, but Carr decides to leave for Virginia anyway.
77"Episode 7"Andrew DouglasStory by : Joe Penhall
Teleplay by : Joe Penhall and Jennifer Haley
October 13, 2017 (2017-10-13)
Tench and Ford travel to Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem, Oregon to interview Jerry Brudos. Brudos admits to having a shoe fetish. Ford buys an extra large pair of women's shoes for Brudos, which he uses to get Brudos talking. Carr begins feeding a cat at her new house in Fredericksburg. Tench and Nancy talk about Brian's behavior at school. At their home, Brian's babysitter discovers a crime scene photo showing Ada Jeffries dead with a wooden pole inserted in her anus. The babysitter is too afraid to continue working there.
88"Episode 8"Andrew DouglasStory by : Erin Levy
Teleplay by : Erin Levy and Jennifer Haley
October 13, 2017 (2017-10-13)
Ford is invited to speak at an elementary school and is approached by a teacher, Janet Ebner, who is concerned with Principal Roger Wade's behavior of tickling children and giving them nickels. Ford becomes suspicious that Debbie is cheating on him. The Behavioral Science Unit hires Gregg Smith. Ford asks Gregg to come with him to speak with Wade, whom he suspects of being a pedophile. Principal Wade insists that tickling is a positive experience for the children. Gregg tells Shepard about Ford's latest investigation, and Ford is advised to drop the issue. Ford returns to Oregon to meet with Brudos, who is more talkative. Debbie invites Ford to a room blackout event where he catches her in a compromised position with Patrick. He angrily leaves. Ford receives a call from the school superintendent informing him that Wade will be let go.
99"Episode 9"David FincherStory by : Carly Wray
Teleplay by : Carly Wray and Jennifer Haley
October 13, 2017 (2017-10-13)
The ADT serviceman is sitting in the house of an intended victim. When the clock strikes midnight and the victim shows no sign of arriving, he becomes fed up with waiting, tidies up after himself and leaves in frustration. At the Joliet Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois, Ford and Tench interview Richard Speck. Speck shows no interest in cooperating until Ford asks what gave him the right to take "eight ripe cunts out of the world". Tench recommends that Ford redact his unconventional comment from the interview. Ford and Debbie reconcile. Ford is confronted by Wade's wife at his apartment. Carr notices that food she has been leaving for a stray cat where she lives is no longer being eaten. The unit releases information regarding the murder of Lisa Dawn Porter, a 12-year-old-girl in Adairsville, Georgia. The police notice that the trees have been trimmed and set their focus on Darrell Gene Devier. Carr is summoned by Shepard, who informs her that Richard Speck has filed a complaint accusing Ford of "fucking with his head". The unit gives the redacted interview transcript to the OPR. Back in the basement, the team agrees to destroy the original tape, but Gregg decides instead to mail it to the OPR.
1010"Episode 10"David FincherStory by : Joe Penhall
Teleplay by : Joe Penhall and Jennifer Haley
October 13, 2017 (2017-10-13)
Kemper writes Ford saying he would like to meet with him again. Devier agrees to meet the FBI voluntarily. Ford uses techniques he learned from his interviews to achieve a confession. The police celebrate and after having too many drinks, Ford brags about the unit's involvement with serial killers. His boasts reach the press. Carr flies to Rome, Georgia in hopes of preventing the D.A. from seeking the death penalty for Devier. Ford and Debbie break up. Ford receives an urgent call from Kemper's doctor. The unit learns that the OPR have received the recording of the Speck interview, and interview Ford and Tench about it. Ford visits Kemper in prison, and Kemper says he could kill Ford if he wanted to. Ford flees in terror before collapsing in the hall in a panic attack. In Kansas, the ADT serviceman is seen burning sadistic drawings.

Season 2 (2019)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
111"Episode 1"David FincherStory by : Doug Jung and Joshua Donen & Courtenay Miles
Teleplay by : Courtenay Miles
August 16, 2019 (2019-08-16)
The ADT serviceman's wife walks in on him performing autoerotic asphyxiation. Holden wakes up in the hospital and learns he suffers from panic attacks. Tench has been looking for him. Shepard retires and the new boss, Ted Gunn, gives his full support to the BSU and even does away with the OPR inquiry. Holden tells Wendy about his panic attacks and points out that he feels much better despite being told that he has a panic disorder and she advises him to be careful of the signs that may lead to another attack. At Shepard's retirement party, Shepard angrily reveals to Holden that he is being forced to retire as someone had to take the fall for Holden's mistakes. Holden suffers another panic attack on hearing the truth, unbeknownst to everyone else.
122"Episode 2"David FincherStory by : Doug Jung and Joshua Donen & Courtenay Miles
Teleplay by : Courtenay Miles
August 16, 2019 (2019-08-16)
The ADT serviceman's wife gives him a pamphlet about overcoming "deviance". Bill begins to look into the BTK killer and with Holden's help, notices that he bases his actions on various other killers, including David Berkowitz. They interview Berkowitz and get him to admit to lying about hearing voices and demons, furthering their data on classifications of killers. Bill and Wendy discuss Holden's panic attacks and agree to share information and look out for him. A body is discovered in a house that Nancy, Bill's wife, is the realtor of.
133"Episode 3"David FincherStory by : Joshua Donen & Courtenay Miles
Teleplay by : Joshua Donen and Phillip Howze
August 16, 2019 (2019-08-16)
While in Atlanta with Jim Barney to interview two killers (William "Junior" Pierce and William Henry Hance), Holden is approached by three mothers who ask him to investigate the apparently related murders of their children. A young child is revealed to be the body that was found murdered in the house that Nancy Tench is the realtor for, and the body was tied to a cross. Bill offers his assistance to the detective, as the nature of the crime scares the locals.
144"Episode 4"Andrew DominikStory by : Joshua Donen & Courtenay Miles
Teleplay by : Jason Johnson & Colin J. Louro and Joshua Donen
August 16, 2019 (2019-08-16)
Holden develops a politically controversial profile of the child murderer in Atlanta, which the detail sent back. Wendy and Gregg interview Elmer Wayne Henley, Jr. In the interview, Wendy reveals that she is a lesbian, though the agents believe this to have been a ruse to get Henley Jr. to speak. It is revealed that Bill's son Brian was involved in the child murder in Bill's neighborhood.
155"Episode 5"Andrew DominikStory by : Pamela Cederquist
Teleplay by : Pamela Cederquist and Liz Hannah
August 16, 2019 (2019-08-16)
Wendy's relationship with Kay heats up. Holden and Bill consult Kemper briefly to get some of his insight into the BTK case before interviewing Charles Manson. Manson denies any responsibility for the murders. Bill becomes upset during the interview and ends it early. Holden goes alone to interview Tex Watson, one of Manson's followers, while Bill flies home on a red eye flight. Watson details how Manson influenced his behavior. He then details his role in the Tate murders. Wendy, Holden and Bill attend a dinner party at Gunn's house. Bill reveals to Wendy what is going on at home. Another body is found in Atlanta.
166"Episode 6"Carl FranklinStory by : Joshua Donen & Courtenay Miles
Teleplay by : Courtenay Miles
August 16, 2019 (2019-08-16)
As the situation in Atlanta gets worse, FBI is officially sent to investigate and catch the murderer. As Holden and Bill need to be in Atlanta, Wendy and Gregg go to New York to interview Paul Bateson in prison. Bill and Nancy are concerned that their son Brian is continuing to regress in response to his role in the murder of the toddler.
177"Episode 7"Carl FranklinStory by : Joshua Donen & Courtenay Miles
Teleplay by : Liz Hannah
August 16, 2019 (2019-08-16)
Holden and Bill hit a dead end with their investigation to catch the Atlanta killer. Holden suggests a new plan to lure the killer. Wendy is disappointed when she is told by Gunn not to interview more criminals, and to focus instead on her analysis.
188"Episode 8"Carl FranklinStory by : Joshua Donen & Courtenay Miles
Teleplay by : Alex Metcalf
August 16, 2019 (2019-08-16)
Holden is persistent with his profiling to catch the Atlanta murderer, and recommends that they watch the bridges in the area. An upset Bill attempts to reconnect with Brian while Nancy shows strong signs of wanting to move. Wendy overhears Kay having a conversation with her ex-husband, and decides to end their relationship. In Atlanta, the FBI and the local police catch a potential suspect on a murder site.
199"Episode 9"Carl FranklinStory by : Joshua Donen & Courtenay Miles
Teleplay by : Shaun Grant
August 16, 2019 (2019-08-16)
The police and FBI focus their investigation on Wayne Williams as the primary suspect of the Atlanta murders but find it difficult to obtain physical evidence. While Williams is later charged for two of the murders, Holden has some self-doubt after APD decides to close all the child murder cases. Bill is stunned when he returns home to see that Nancy has taken Brian and moved out of their house without him. Holden watches a press conference concluding the Atlanta case but continues to be troubled knowing that he still could not solve the rest of the missing children's murders and bring closure for the families involved. The BTK strangler is shown to continue his ways at the end of the episode despite burying them.


Critical response[edit]

The first season received positive reviews from critics. On Metacritic, the season has a score of 79 out of 100 based on 25 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[39] On Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 97% with an average score of 8 out of 10, based on 100 reviews. The site's critics consensus reads: "Mindhunter distinguishes itself in a crowded genre with ambitiously cinematic visuals and a meticulous attention to character development."[40] The first season of Mindhunter was named among the best TV shows of 2017; it was ranked No. 10 on Metacritic's year-end list of the best TV shows of 2017 compiled from rankings by various critics and publications.[41]

The second season was also acclaimed. On Metacritic, the season has an average score of 85 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[42] On Rotten Tomatoes, the second season holds an approval rating of 98% based on 66 reviews, with an average rating of 8.43 out of 10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Mindhunter expands its narrative horizons without losing sight of the details that made its first season so rich, crafting a chilling second season that is as unsettling as it is utterly absorbing."[43]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2018 Dorian Awards TV Performance of the Year – Actor Jonathan Groff Nominated [44]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Cameron Britton Nominated [45]
Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Drama / Genre Series Jonathan Groff Won [46]
Best Drama Series Mindhunter Nominated
Saturn Awards Best New Media Television Series Mindhunter Nominated [47]
TCA Awards Outstanding New Program Mindhunter Nominated [48]
USC Scripter Awards Best Adapted TV Screenplay Joe Penhall, Jennifer Haley, John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker (for "Episode 10") Nominated [49]
2020 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) Erik Messerschmidt (for "Episode 6") Nominated [50]
Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Drama / Genre Series Jonathan Groff Nominated [51]
Best Drama Series Mindhunter Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Drama Series Pamela Cederquist, Joshua Donen, Marcus Gardley, Shaun Grant, Liz Hannah, Phillip Howze, Jason Johnson, Doug Jung, Colin Louro, Alex Metcalf, Courtenay Miles, Dominic Orlando, Joe Penhall and Ruby Rae Spiegel Nominated [52]


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