Detective Maxine "Max" Hardy is one of the two main Supporting Protagonists in The Following. She is Ryan Hardy's niece on his brother's side and a detective for the NYPD. She appears to replace the loss of Debra Parker, providing Ryan with assistance in his research on Joe Carroll as well as his Followers. After a new set of followers appear in New York committing a murder spree, she aides Ryan in stopping the killers involved and becomes one of two close allies to Ryan (along with Mike Weston).
Currently, she and her uncle are in search of Joe Carroll after discovering proof that he may be alive following his "Death" in Season 1. In addition, she and Mike appeared to be developing a relationship throughout the second season. Their first kiss is shared in their last scene of the finale episode of Season 2. Season 3 focuses on their reconnection.
Max was born in the mid 1980s to Ryan's older brother, Ray. Nothing is known of Max's mother, but she is presumed deceased. Her father, a firefighter called to the scene, was killed in the terrorist attacks upon New York City on September 11th 2001.
Following the Hardy family tradition, Max soon pursued a career in law enforcement. She joined the NYPD and eventually the Intelligence Division as a detective. She seems to have a knack for computers and hacking, rivaling that of Mike.
She seems to value family over everything else.
Max is very beautiful with medium length, brown hair and striking blue eyes - an assumed Hardy trait. She is 5ft 8 inches tall and quite athletic given her paramilitary training. Formerly, she is seen wearing pantsuits without the jacket. Instead, she wears a beige or black trenchcoat over her shirt. Casually, she either wears dark jeans, or trousers with a plain t-shirt and a black cardigan. Her hair is always worn loose.
Sometime during her uncle's recovery in the aftermath of Joe Carroll's presumed death, Max reconnected with Ryan for the first time since her father died. She seems to idolize Ryan despite his flaws regarding alcohol and his obsession with Joe.
On the first anniversary of Joe's death, Max plans for Ryan to meet her boyfriend, Chris when in fact her true intention was to provide Ryan with company on such a momentous day. This proved how much she values Ryan as not only her uncle, but two of the only family members she has remaining, the other being her aunt Jenny. In the same episode it is revealed that Max has been enabling Ryan with his search for Joe with her authorized access to case files and information on Followers.
In the episodes to follow, Mike discovers Max has been assisting Ryan and despite Ryan's objection, Mike goes to Max's office to confront her. She asks if he has any evidence regarding her involvement but Mike knows beforehand there would be none, knowing she is too smart to leave any sort of trace. This seems to impress Mike as he too has shown his ability with computers. He then mentions the Hardy Death Curse and upsets Max, promptly asking him to leave.
Despite Mike's warning, Max comes upon Gisele whom Ryan is searching for. Against her initial judgement and Ryan's protests, Max follows her where they engage in a fist fight, whereupon Giselle gains the upperhand and makes her way toward Grand Central Station. In the subway tunnels, Ryan and Max search for Giselle. After hitting Ryan on the platform, Giselle boards a train to Connecticut. The episode ends with Max on the train with her, knowing she would lead them to Joe or Lily Gray.
In Reflection, Ryan drives to Connecticut to meet Max and detain Giselle. They hold her in the motel room and attempt to gain knowledge of Joe's whereabouts. Eventually, Giselle talks and Ryan leaves Max with her to follow the lead. When a maid comes to the door and Max answers, Giselle takes the opportunity to free her hand. She then hits Max and leaves her unconscious on the bed. Later in the episode, Ryan meets with Giselle again. He demands to know where Max is and Giselle lies, telling him she killed her. This results in her death. Ryan returns to the motel, believing his niece to be dead only relieved to find her alive.
The episode to follow begins with Max tending to Ryan's wounds while he calls Mike. He asks him to join them in Connecticut, believing Joe is there. Mike arrives alone and afterwards, they set a plan in motion to lure Luke, into their grasp, Mike apologizes to Max for his careless words the few days prior. She tells him to "save it", meaning she still doesn't like him.
After detaining Luke in Mike's car, Luke voices his desire to kill and do things to Max's body and Mike punches Luke twice, showing his apparent automatic mechanism to protect Max. While she is grateful for Mike's actions, she doesn't quite understand them - his anger peaking her interest. Later, we see Mike and Max making a trade-off with Lily: Luke for Joe Carroll. However, knowing Lily wouldn't so easily give Joe up, while Mike and Max return Luke, Ryan is at Lily's property in search of Joe. While chasing him down to the airstrip, Max follows Mike who ran after Luke, Mark and Lily. Luke is beaten almost to death by Mike in a fit of rage, only ceased by Max holding a gun to his back in an attempt to keep Mike from killing Luke.
In Sacrifice, Max tells Ryan she has been suspended for 6 months and would not be able to return to the Intel Division. He asks what she is going to do but she waves him off, more concerned with him and his intentions regarding Joe now knowing for certain that he is alive. When Max returns to her apartment she finds a man being rough with his son. Max intervenes and when asking if the boy is alright, he pulls out a video camera and films his father smothering Max with a cloth soaked of cloroform, causing her to go unconscious as he kidnaps her. Soon after, Ryan receives the video as a message from Lily and he returns to the Bureau as they help to find Max. Mike returns to help as well.
Ryan speaks to Luke, who is recovering from Mike's beating in the hospital.He tells him that the man who abducted Max is a serial killer named "The Huntsman" hired by his mother to kill Max in retaliation for hurting her son. When we see Max again, her wrists are tied to a hook hanging from the ceiling in a cottage in the woods. She tries to convince Kurt, The Huntsman to let her go to serve as a hunt for his deep desires. He refuses and when he turns his back, Max manages to free herself and run from him, into the woods. She hides under a low-lying bridge when Mike finds her and a shot is fired. Ryan has killed The Huntsman and is reunited with Max.
The next episode begins with Max and Ryan attending Mike's father's funeral. He was killed by Luke's twin brother Mark while Mike and Ryan were off searching for Max. When alone, she offers her experience as comfort to Mike. He is grateful she is there with him. Later in the episode, Max has returned to helping Ryan with his relentless hunt for Joe. While Ryan goes to Joe's mentor's house, Max remains back at his apartment where Mike comes to visit. Having not heard anything from Ryan, Mike and Max set out to save him from Dr Strauss who intended on killing him and Carrie Cook. Cole, Strauss' current student, is shot dead by Max when he makes an attempt on Mike's life. The night to folllow, we see Max preparing a make-shift bed for Mike on her Uncle's sofa. She asks him if wants to talk and he refuses, so instead keeps him company and the bond between them grows further.
In the following episode of Unmasked, Max walks in on Mike naked. She seems embarrassed while Mike isn't phased at all, rather slightly amused by her shyness. She tells him she narrowed the list of potential moles in the FBI to 6 women, one being Gina Mendez. Ryan suggests they follow her to prove her innocense or otherwise. Max installs a tracker onto Gina's jacket, enabling Mike and Ryan the ability to follow her.
After Mike sends all the information from Jana's computer to Max, she and Mike decode all the information in search of a lead. They discover Joe was planning something in regards to Carrie Cook's book-signing for The Havenport Tragedy. After the massacre, Max, Ryan and Mike go to the bookstore in search of any clues that might lead them to Joe and his new cult of followers. Later, Max tells Ryan to turn on the tv to find Joe's message to world. Later, Max assures Ryan that eventually everything would be over - having the hope both Ryan and Mike would certainly need. Mike then walks her out.
In the episode to follow, we see Max once again assisting her Uncle in finding Joe. When Mike arrives, she informs them of the information she has collected on Malory, one of Joe's new followers. When Ryan leaves the room, she tells Mike she knows he was lying to Ryan about his whereabouts, and that she called his mother to check in on him but he wasn't there. Mike seems surprised that she was worried about him enough to contact his mother, and she smiles and leaves - avoiding the subject. Later in the episode, Max discovers where Malory might make her kill in the name of Joe's incentive, "no redemption without blood".
Although Max doesn't appear in the next episode, Mike tells Ryan that he and Max were up all night searching for any more leads. At the end of the episode, Ryan tells Mike that Max has been calling them all day, worried for them both.
In the next episode, Max returns to the screen where she and Mike meet Ryan outside of his apartment complex. Before Ryan and Mike go off to chase a lead, he asks Max to keep an eye on Claire. She spends the majority of the episode in Ryan's den where he kept his shine to all things Joe Carroll, chasing further leads. Claire interupts Max just as she is about to call Ryan to tell him where to find Joe's next possible victim. It is clear in Max's body language and word choice that she doesn't particularly care for Claire and her decisions regarding her staged death and her eventual return, as it toyed with her uncle's emotions. Later on, when Mike returns to the apartment after Ryan ditches him to find Joe, Max once again conveys her worry when she finds Mike has injured his arm. She tells him Carrie broadcasted Joe's latest video message on the news. Carrie then arrives to see Ryan and Mike asks Claire to go into the bedroom to leave himself and Max alone to deal with Carrie.
The Reaping follows the events of the previous episode directly and we meet Max with Mike, Carrie and Claire in Ryan's apartment. Claire voices her idea to broadcast her return on the news, as to lure Joe out and thus, find Ryan. Max believes "it's all kinds of crazy" but doesn't speak against it otherwise. Mike and Max go to meet Kingston Tanner whose son, Preston was kidnapped by Joe's followers in the episode before. We see Max again with Mike at what is assumed the FBI headquarters. They discuss how they are both dealing with the situation at hand and Max voices her concern for Mike and her hope that he isn't on some vengeful mission to kill Lily Gray in an attempt to avenge his father's death. Max's computer alerts her to a lead of Lily Gray, telling them where one of her residences is. Mike and Max join the FBI team to New Jersey and they find the house empty. Later, when Mike and Max arrive at Joe's camp, and while Max hugs Ryan as they reunite, Mike uses the chance to sneak away to pursue Lily who was close. Max and Ryan catch up with Mike and they attempt to talk him out of killing Lily. Alas, they are unsuccessful and Mike shoots her several times in the chest.
At the beginning of Silence, the episode to follow, we see Max and Ryan falsifying what happened between Mike and Lily - as to keep Mike from going to prison for murder. After Ryan explains the details, Max is asked specifically her version of events. Ryan is quick to protect her from any involvement but Max answers anyway - telling the man that she was merely in earshot of the gunfire, rather than being there to see the events, thusly lying for Mike. Back at Ryan's apartment, while Ryan and Claire discuss their next plans for Joe in another room, Max makes Mike some food. Although they say nothing, she sits beside him and shows him once again that she is worried and that she is there for him, should he need her comfort and support - this again shows the development of their relationship. We see Max again with Ryan and Mike at Kingston Tanner's house before he leaves to go meet Joe, who still has his son Preston. The Pastor's private security detail left a tracer on their employer, giving Max the opprotunity to track his whereabouts while Mike and Ryan pursue him. Max leads them to a cathedral in New York City wherein Ryan and Mike quietly raid. Max is left outside with the FBI.
The finale episode of season 2 begins with Max still outside of the cathedral while Joe holds Mike hostage. Ryan compromies with Joe, telling him the twins have Claire and they must go together to retrive her alive. Ryan calls Max whom he instructs to turn the cathedral lights off once Mike is free of Joe's gun. The SWAT team and FBI enter the cathedral while Mike, Joe and Ryan meet Max at the back. Max gives Ryan a phone so enable Mike and Max to follow them for backup. They follow until daylight where the park the car by the forest surrounding the Twins' location. Mike and Max hike towards the house in an effort to avoid security footage. While Joe, Ryan and Claire are tied down in the dining room by the twins, Mike and Max shoot multiple times through the window to drive them away. Mike goes after Mark, while Max helps Ryan free. Mike fights Mark but Luke helps his brother gain the upper hand, hitting Mike to the ground. Before Luke can beat Mike with a plank of wood, Max shoots him dead. Mark retaliates with his own gun but misses. He drags Luke's body away and Max tends to Mike. He wakes up and they soon join Claire, Ryan and Joe on the balcony while Ryan has Joe at gunpoint. Ryan decides not to kill Joe and Mike and Claire are seemingly disappointed. Ryan instructs Mike and Max to call Clark and have him send a squad of agents to retrive Joe and look for Mark.
Max's last scene of season 2 is shared with MIke when he approaches her and tells her he would've killed Joe. Max tells him he wouldn't have. Mike then adds that he's not the good man she thinks he is but Max waves him off and tells him she never thought he was perfect. They share a smile and their first kiss - a gesture to begin their romantic relationship.
Sometime following Joe Carroll's incarceration in the finale of season 2, Max ended her relationship with Mike, likely due to him going out of the country to hunt for Mark. During that time, Max left the NYPD and joined the Bureau, becoming a Special Agent. While Mike was gone, she began dating a SWAT agent named Tom.
They first meet in the fourth episode of the second season when Mike goes to Max's office at the NYPD precinct to confront her about helping Ryan in his search for Joe. She agrees with all that he has to say but says nothing in reply until he carelessly mentions the Hardy family death curse, whereupon Max asks him to leave. Already in this scene, Mike is seemingly attracted to Max whereas she, given his rudeness, does not like him. Later in the episode, back at the FBI building in NYC, Mike finds a security video feed of Max boarding a train in pursuit of Giselle. He is both angry and troubled by this as he already warned her not to continue helping her uncle and in so doing, endangering her career.
In Fly Away, Max and Mike meet again after Ryan calls Mike to join them in Statford where they believe Lily is lodging Joe. Mike apologies to Max for his behaviour two days prior in her office, but she tells him to "save it", seemingly not ready to fogive him just yet and that he may just have to prove himself to her. Once they detain Luke, he makes a comment and then a threat to Max about killing her and "doing things" to her corpse - this upsets Mike and he punches Luke twice. This proves that he is already somewhat protective of Max and her honour before any sort of relationship is established.
Throughout the next few episodes, after Max is kidnapped by The Huntsman and Mark kills Mike's father to avenge Luke's supposed "death", we see Max has begun to favour Mike and worry for his well-being. Given her experience with her own father's death, it is clear she is able to empathize easily with what Mike is going through and she offers her company and words as comfort, should he so need it. This is when we realise Max too had gradually growing feelings for Mike.
Towards the end of the second season, despite the terror surrounding them, we see their relationship evolve further into a mutual depth of empathy and endearment. Max frequently asks how Mike is coping with everything and she reminds him occasionally that she is always there for him. Given Mike's seeking revenge on Lily, Max seems to be the only one to keep him sane; the only one to keep him from falling down an even deeper and darker path than the one he so dangerously treads. However, after Mike shoots Lily dead, Max does not hesitate to lie to the authorities to protect Mike.
In Forgive, Max and Mike are seen to have a now mutual care for one another - asking how the other is fairing. Near the end of this episode, Luke hits Mike to the ground and before he can beat him to death, Max shoots Luke dead and runs to Mike. She fears him dead and cries slightly until he moves. When he looks up at Max to reassure her, she is greatly relieved that he's alive - proving just how deep their feelings have grown. In their last scene of the season, Max proves that she once again believes in Mike despite his ruthless nature when it came to the enemy. The way Mike looks at her proves that he is falling in love with her, if he hadn't already and he kisses her and Max says "Finally", as though she had been waiting for him to make the first move.
- In the episode Sacrifice it's revealed that Max has a tattoo on her lower stomach, above her right hip. However, Jessica Stroup, the actress doesn't have a tattoo there in real-life, but rather ones on her wrist , right ribcage and on the back of her neck.
- In the first episode of season 2, Max voices her wish that her boyfriend Chris be "angrier", meaning she is easily bored with simple, less troubled people. This was perceived by the fans as an intentional ploy by the writers to create a sort of connection between Mike and Max before they even met, given Mike is an extremely troubled and hot-headed individual.
- She was described by the writers of the show, as a younger, female version of her uncle, Ryan. However, it appears she has inherited only his positive attributes whereas Mike has developed the negatives.
- She appears in every episode of season 2 except the 3rd and 11th.
- Other than Claire, Max is the only female main character to have survived the second season.
- The romantic pairing of Max and Mike is so named "Maxton".
- After Mike kisses Max for the first time, she says "finally", telling the audience that she had been waiting for Mike to make the first move.
- Actress Jessica was originally contracted to appear in only 7 episodes of the second season but ended up being in 13 of 15 and later, every episode of the third and final season.
- In Resurrection, Ryan's sponser Barry and Ryan discuss Max - "This dinner's for your niece?", "Yeah, she wants me to meet her new boyfriend, i have no idea.", "Because she's happy to have you in her life."
- In Trust Me, Mike mentions Max to Ryan - "We know your niece is involved."
- In Reflection, Gisele mentions Max to Luke in French about who was chasing her before she boarded the train to Connecticut - "Ryan Hardy and some girl. His niece, i think."
- In Reflection, Mike speaks of Max to Gina when he sees her in CCTV footage at Grand Central Station in pursut for Gisele - "It's Ryan's niece: Max."
- In Freedom, Ryan and Mike speak of Max in her absense -
- In Forgive, Joe speaks of Max in regards to Ryan's corruption - "He's even ruined that lovely niece of his: Max - ruined her career that's for sure."