The pilot premiered via online and video on demand services on May 27, 2015. The first season debuted on USA Network on June 24, 2015, and the second on July 13, 2016. The third season premiered on October 11, 2017. The fourth and final season premiered on October 6, 2019, and concluded on December 22, 2019.
Rami Malek as Elliot Alderson, a senior network engineer at Allsafe Cybersecurity and a vigilante hacker. He has dissociative identity disorder and deals with other mental illnesses such as clinical depression and severe anxiety, which are partly responsible for his antisocial behavior and drug use. Elliot has been portrayed as a child by Aidan Liebman (seasons 1–2), Alex Bento (season 3), and Evan Whitten (season 4).
Elliot Villar as Fernando Vera, Shayla's drug supplier and Elliot's only supply of suboxone who has a unique dangerous philosophy and is obsessed with Shayla and later Elliot. (season 4; recurring season 1; guest season 3)
Ashlie Atkinson as Janice, a chatty taxidermist and Dark Army fixer with a peculiar sense of humor (season 4)
Jing Xu as Wang Shu, Whiterose's assistant. (season 4)
Dominik García as Olivia Cortez, employee for Cyprus National Bank. (season 4)
Young M.A as Peanuts, Vera's loyal henchman. (season 4)
Conception and development
Series stars Christian Slater (left) and Rami Malek (right) speaking as part of the Mr. Robot panel during the 2015 PaleyFest. Slater has also served as a producer since the first season, while Malek began producing in season 3.
Esmail, the show's creator and showrunner, is the credited writer on the vast majority of the episodes. According to Sam Esmail, he is fascinated by the hacker culture and wanted to make a film about it for around 15 years. In the production, Esmail consulted experts to give a realistic picture of hacking activities. Another inspiration for Esmail, who is of Egyptian descent, was the Arab Spring, where young people who were angry at society used social media to bring about a change. He's said that Elliot is a "thinly-veiled version" of himself.
Sam Esmail had originally intended Mr. Robot to be a feature film, with the end of the first act being someone finding out that he had a mental disorder while enacting a greater scheme. However, midway through writing the first act, he found that the script had expanded considerably, and that it had become a script more suited for a television show. He removed 20 of around 89 pages of the script then written, and used it as the pilot for the series, and what was to have been the end of the first act became the finale of the first season. Esmail took the script to film and television production company Anonymous Content to see if it could be developed into a television series, which was then picked up by USA Network. USA Network gave a pilot order to Mr. Robot in July 2014. After an exhaustive search to cast the lead role, it was announced in September 2014 that Rami Malek had been cast as Elliot; the remainder of the roles in the pilot were cast later in September and October.
USA Network picked it up to series with a 10-episode order in December 2014. Production began in New York on April 13, 2015. The pilot premiered on multiple online and video on demand services on May 27, 2015, and the series was renewed for a second season before the first season premiered on USA on June 24, 2015. In December 2015, it was announced that Esmail would direct all episodes in the second season. In June 2016, it was announced that the second season's episode order was increased from 10 to 12 episodes. The 12-episode second season premiered on July 13, 2016. On August 16, 2016, USA renewed Mr. Robot for a third season to air in 2017. The third season debuted in October 2017 and consisted of 10 episodes. All episodes were directed by Sam Esmail, just as in the second season. On December 13, 2017, USA renewed Mr. Robot for a fourth season. In August 2018, it was confirmed that the fourth season would be the final season.
Originally, the show planned to dress Elliot in a worn sweatshirt and colorful backpack; however, Malek suggested a black backpack and wore his own B:Scott black hoodie to set. The outfit became the signature look for the character, and the costume designer ordered 20 more of them, despite the item having been discontinued years earlier. To portray the unusual, often confused worldview of lead character Elliot Alderson, Franklin Peterson, who edited three Mr. Robot episodes in the first season and six in the second season, used creative editing styles that included jump cuts, varied lengths of takes and shuffling scenes around within an episode and sometimes even between episodes. Esmail encouraged the experimentation as Peterson and his team explored the personality of each character in the editing suite, finding creative ways to tell their stories and maintain their humanity.
The company FuseFX was hired to provide the visual effects for episode "eps3.4_runtime-error.r00" of season 3, in which they took 40 shots and stitched them together to appear as one seamless shot for the entire episode.
Mr. Robot has been widely praised for its technical accuracy by numerous cyber security firms and services such as Avast,Panda Security,Avira,Kaspersky,ProtonMail, and bloggers who analyzed and dissected the technical aspects of the show after episodes containing hacking scenes. Aside from the pilot episode, Esmail hired Kor Adana (former network security analyst and forensics manager for Toyota Motor Sales), Michael Bazzell (Security consultant and former FBI Cyber Crimes Task Force agent and investigator) and James Plouffe (lead solutions architect at MobileIron) as his advisors to oversee the technical accuracy of the show. By the second season, Adana assembled a team of hackers and cyber security experts including Jeff Moss (founder and director of Black Hat and DEF CON computer security conferences), Marc Rogers (Principal security researcher for Cloudflare and head of security for DEF CON), Ryan Kazanciyan (Chief security architect for Tanium) and Andre McGregor (Director of security for Tanium and former FBI Cyber Special agent) to assist him with the authenticity of the hacks and the technology being used.
Hacking scenes are then performed by members of the technical team in real life, recorded and rebuilt using Flash animation. Animation process is carried out by animator Adam Brustein under the direct supervision of Kor Adana himself.
The show has also attempted to accurately represent Elliot's mental health issues. In an interview with Terry Gross for the radio show Fresh Air, Malek recounted reaching out to a psychologist to learn about schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, and social anxiety. When in meetings with Esmail, Malek's knowledge on the topics led Esmail to bring the psychologist on as a consultant for the show.
Sam Esmail has acknowledged several major influences on the show, such as American Psycho, Taxi Driver, A Clockwork Orange, and The Matrix. In particular, Esmail credited Fight Club as the inspiration for a main character who has dissociative identity disorder creating a new manifestation of his deceased father in the form of a hacker, as well as for the anti-consumerist, anti-establishment, and anti-capitalist spirit of its characters. Commentators have also noted the parallel in its plot on the erasing of consumer debt records to the film. Even so, Lauren Lawson for GQ remarked, "Mr. Robot elevates the Fight Club formula: the show's mindfuckery lubes us up to think about society (Elliot's and ours) in a discerning way, but it's not the main event. You can see Fight Club once and pretty much get the picture, but it will take years of scholarly binge-watching to answer the questions Mr. Robot raises." In an interview, Esmail explains how playing the song that David Fincher used to underscore the climax of Fight Club ("Where Is My Mind?") when Elliot initiates the hack in episode nine is intended as a message to the audience that he is aware of the inspiration they took from the film. The narration by the protagonist was influenced by Taxi Driver, and other influences mentioned included Risky Business for its music score, Blade Runner for the character development, and the television series Breaking Bad for the story arc.
The series was filmed in New York. Filming locations include Silvercup Studios and Coney Island, which serves as the exterior of the base of operations for the hacking group fsociety. As the production crew was unable to shut down Times Square for filming, the scenes at Times Square in the first-season finale were shot late at night just before the 4th of July holiday weekend to catch the area at its emptiest while other shots were done on sets. Production on the second season began on March 7, 2016, resuming filming in New York City.
In June 2016, USA Network announced Hacking Robot, a live aftershow hosted by Andy Greenwald to air during the second season.Hacking Robot debuted after the second-season premiere and aired again following the tenth episode. In addition, a weekly web-only aftershow titled Mr. Robot Digital After Show premiered on The Verge and USA Network's websites after the third episode, and continued through the third season.
The first season of Mr. Robot received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a rating of 98%, based on 60 reviews, with an average rating of 8.36/10. The site's consensus reads, "Mr. Robot is a suspenseful cyber-thriller with timely stories and an intriguing, provocative premise." It set a record on Rotten Tomatoes as the only show to earn perfect episode scores for an entire season since the site began tracking television episodes. On Metacritic, the first season scored 79 out of 100, based on 24 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Merrill Barr of Forbes gave it a very positive review, writing, "Mr. Robot has one of the best kick-offs to any series in a while" and that it "could be the series that finally, after years of ignorance, puts a deserving network among the likes of HBO, AMC and FX in terms of acclaim."
In The New York Times, Alessandra Stanley noted that "Occupy Wall Street, the protest movement that erupted in 2011, didn’t do much to curb the financial industry. It didn’t die out, though. It went Hollywood", before finding Mr. Robot to be, "an intriguing new series ... a cyber-age thriller infused with a dark, almost nihilistic pessimism about the Internet, capitalism and income inequality. And that makes it kind of fun". The UK The Daily Telegraph reviewer Michael Hogan gave the show five stars, finding it to be "The Matrix meets Fight Club meets Robin Hood", noting that, "bafflingly, it took months for a UK broadcaster to snap up the rights". Although Hogan found too much attention was devoted to Elliot's social anxiety, he eventually decided that "this alienated anti-hero was a brilliant, boldly complex character." Overall, Hogan concluded that the show deserved to find an audience in the UK.
Mr. Robot made several critics' list for the best TV shows of 2015. Three critics, Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone, and the staff of TV Guide, named it the best show of the year. The series was also placed second on the list from three other critics, and was named among the best of the year from four other critics.
The second season also received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a score of 90%, based on 39 reviews, with an average rating of 7.92/10. The site's consensus reads: "Unique storytelling, a darker tone, and challenging opportunities for its tight cast push Mr. Robot even further into uncharted television territory." On Metacritic, it has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Sonia Saraiya of Variety praised Rami Malek's performance and wrote, "it's Malek's soulful eyes and silent pathos that give Mr. Robot its unexpected warmth, as the viewer is lured into Elliot's chaos and confusion. Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter lauded Sam Esmail's direction, writing "Esmail's camerawork—characters tucked into corners of the frame, among other nontraditional compositions—continues to give the sense of disorientation and never feels tired" and "there are some flourishes in the first two hours that are brilliantly conceived and [...] contribute to what is one of the most visually remarkable hours on television."
The third season also received critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a score of 92%, based on 20 reviews, with an average rating of 8.26/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Mr. Robot's striking visuals and bold narrative fuel its seductive blend of reality and fantasy." On Metacritic, it has a score of 82 out of 100, based on 9 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Based on six episodes for review, Darren Franich of Entertainment Weekly gave it an "A" grade, calling it a "noir masterpiece", and overall, wrote that "Season 3 of Mr. Robot is a masterpiece, ballasting the global ambitions of season 2 while sharpening back to the meticulous build of season 1."
As with previous seasons, season 4 has been met with critical acclaim. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a score of 97% with an average rating of 8.87/10, based on 19 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "Mr. Robot returns with a thrilling final season that is sure to surprise and satisfy its audience." On Metacritic, it has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 5 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
The episode "407 Proxy Authentication Required" specifically gained exceptional acclaim by Decider, who called it the "among the best individual TV episodes of 2019, and possibly one of the best of all time."Variety listed it as the 22nd best show of the 2010s, and Emily Todd VanDerWerff of Vox named it among "shows that help explain the decade". Emma Garland of Vice described the show as defining the 2010s and post-Occupy world as one of vast inequality: "Even if you don’t buy into its earnestness, you can’t argue with its bittersweet irony."
Mr. Robot has spawned a variety of video games. Its mobile game, titled: Mr. Robot:1.51exfiltrati0n.apk is set during the first season of the series and was published by Telltale Games. Users play as a fictional character who has stumbled upon the phone of an important member of fsociety and it's up to the player to assist them in bringing down E Corp. The Mr. Robot Virtual Reality Experience, written and directed by Sam Esmail, is a 13-minute video viewable using virtual reality headsets that explores Elliot's past.Mr. Robot also features several Easter eggs, including websites related to the show or IP addresses used within the series that redirect to real websites.
A book tie-in, Mr. Robot: Red Wheelbarrow (eps1.91_redwheelbarr0w.txt) written by Sam Esmail and Courtney Looney, was released on November 1, 2016.
Mr. Robot premiered in the United States on USA Network on June 24, 2015, and in Canada on Showcase on September 4, 2015.Amazon.com secured broadcasting rights in the United Kingdom, with the first season added on Amazon Prime on October 16, 2015, and second-season episodes to be released immediately after initial broadcast in the United States. In Australia, the series premiered on Presto on August 14, 2015. After Presto closed down, the series moved to Fox Showcase for its third season and to Foxtel On Demand for the fourth season.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment released the first three seasons on DVD and Blu-ray. The first season was released on January 12, 2016. It contains all 10 episodes, plus deleted scenes, gag reel, making-of featurette, and UltraViolet digital copies of the episodes. The second season was released on January 10, 2017. The third season was released on March 27, 2018 in the United States. The fourth season as well as a complete series collection will be released on March 31, 2020.
In September 2015, Amazon.com acquired exclusive streaming VOD rights to Mr. Robot in several countries. The first season became available to stream in June 2016 for U.S. Amazon Prime subscribers.
^"About". NBCUniversal Media Village. Retrieved August 20, 2015.