- "I'm so bored with you, you and Edgar Allan Poe. What a trumped up, piece of trumped up nothing talent he was. Loser, morphine addict, just as pathetic as you."
- ― Ryan to Joe [src]
Ryan Hardy is the Main Protagonist of The Following. He is a federal agent and criminal profiler with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, having been the lead on the investigation into the Virginia Campus Murders in 2003. It was here where he met Joe Carroll and eventually captured the serial killer, though not before being struck near his heart forcing him to need a pace-maker the rest of his life.
He is a very determined, noble man always trying to save innocents from the various killers he meets. It is not uncommon for Hardy to offer his life in place of a potential victim, making him a selfless hero. At the same time however, he is not above killing murderers and has done so on various occasions...some where it was clearly more than self-defense and he just needed to kill them. In this way, he mirrors Joe as a killer...while Joe has a psychopathic need for ending lives Ryan does so to prevent them from harming anyone else. This sparks his vigilantism and thus far, he has a kill count to equal Joe's.
Ryan thought he had killed Joe following the events of Season 1 but had this suspicion that he somehow managed to survive, faking his death while being in hiding somewhere. His concerns are confirmed when he encounters Lily Gray and her "family", whom begin a murder spree in New York in order to gain Joe's attention. He meets his arch-nemesis before Joe escapes again and is currently investigating any leads as to where he can find the serial killer.
Ryan Hardy was born in 1966. Ryan's mother died of leukemia when he was 14. His father was a street cop in Albany who worked for the NYPD until he retired. Some time later, in 1983, when Ryan was 17, he was killed when trying to stop a robbery at a grocery store. Ryan saw the robber run out of the store and when Ryan walked in he saw his father shot on the floor.Unable to do anything, he watched his father die. It was his first experience with watching someone die. After his father's death, he tracked down the robber that killed his father. Young Ryan held a gun on the junkie who killed his father, and he drugged him until he died of an overdose.
Ryan and his sister, Jenny, also had a brother, Ray, who was a fireman and died in 9/11. At some point, he was recruited into the FBI.
He visited Claire Matthews at Winslow University, the college where she taught. Claire advised him that she believed the serial killer he was pursuing was using the works of Edgar Allan Poe as inspiration in the murders. She said that he should talk to her husband who, "knows a lot about the time period." When he questions her marriage and Claire asks if he's flirting, he shrugs it off as mere misconception.While attempting to catch Joe Carroll, Ryan followed Sarah Fuller to her dorm room, waiting outside as she entered. When he heard screams, he broke in and saved her life, but not before Carroll was able to kill her roommate, Annie. As he entered, he and Carroll got into a fistfight during which Carroll stabbed him in the chest dangerously close to his heart and nearly killed him. Luckily, Hardy survived and was able to shoot and injure Carroll, who was arrested.("Pilot") The injury he sustained resulted in him being required to wear a pacemaker afterwards as a result of the fight. Ryan helped Claire move, and Claire made the first move when she told Ryan to kiss her, to which later they started a romantic relationship. However, Ryan later broke up with her, firmly believing he will always be a reminder for the worst time in her life, and wanting better for her and her son Joey. His sister tried to reason with him, stating she knows he loves her, but Ryan retorts saying it's not a good time with her in a divorce and believing he's a constant reminder of Joe from the case. Sometime after retiring from the FBI, Ryan writes a book about Joe which he titles The Poetry of a Killer, which, unlike Joe's novel, was successful.
When trying to get his book, "Poetry of a Killer", published, he talked to his old partner Tyson about it and Tyson said he shouldn't do it since it wouldn't be any better than Joe's book and it would cement his relation to the case. But once Ryan admitted he wrote it to make himself feel better about himself, Tyson admitted he should go for it. It's implied his book did do well in his life.
While living in Brooklyn, Ryan lived next to a neighbor named Molly, who is one of Joe's followers and a nurse that did check ups on him. They met at a party and they flirted with each other, but Ryan still didn't feel like being with her due to his "death curse" belief despite Tyson encouraging himself to be happy. They did make out at one point at the party and occasionally had sex, which seemed to have been taped unknowingly to him, likely Molly keeping tabs on him for Joe. However, as stated by Tyson, they broke up due to his withdrawn nature, fear of his "death curse", and being hung up on Claire.
Ryan would at some points reveal him to have a drinking problem and Jenny, his younger sister, tried to keep him off the bottle lest he injure himself and his pacemaker. She notes how Ryan is near impossible the way he is and left, done taking care of him when he doesn't seem to appreciate it at all.
2013EditAt this point he is no longer working for the FBI and is living in Brooklyn, New York. He has a drinking problem. When Carroll escaped, he was called back in to help the FBI work on the case because he is the one who tracked and caught him in the first place. He finds Carroll and the FBI arrests him after Carroll has managed to kill Sarah, his "unfinished work," before Hardy has a chance to save her.("Pilot")
After Joe is arrested, Hardy interrogates him. Joe states he killed Sarah over him wanting Ryan to be "redeemed" and in the "sequel" to his book. Ryan retorts at his cruelty that his book had better end with his death and snaps at Joe by angrily attacking him and breaks his fingers. Joe then says his sequel has just begun as Hardy is pulled out of the room. Hardy is then informed that Joey Matthews, Carroll's son, has been kidnapped by Claire's nanny. Hardy promises Claire that he will save her son.
In "Chapter Two", Claire decides to talk to Joe personally believing she may persuade him to telling where Joey is. However, Ryan watches Joe question Claire and Hardy's past relationship and how they had an affair after Joe's divorce. Claire openly refuses to ever love someone like Joe again and is forced to be pulled away after Carroll responds by attempting to choke her. He later puts her under surveillance for her protection. At night, they track down Jordan Raines (Jordy), the guard responsible for Joe's internet privileges and escape from prison. He has murdered three college girls in Joe's footsteps. However, Ryan looks over the blueprints from Emma's home and realizes it's for Claire's home. He rushes to her room to find Jordy there intent on killing her. Ryan manages to trick him and shoot him in his shoulder, saving Claire. He then questions Joe later about Jordy where Joe congratulates saving Claire but is disappointed Jordy is alive—but claims knows he's stupid and won't give anything to Ryan. He visits Claire at night and promises he'd watch over her after her statement that Ryan is the only person she can trust.
In "The Poet's Fire", Ryan goes to the hospital with Debra Parker to see Jordy and he asked him where Joey is but Jordy refuses to tell and mocks them by singing. Ryan angrily punches his bullet wound in response. Later when one of Joe's followers (Rick Kester) kills Rick Fellows, he along with the FBI go to Rick Kester's home and they find his wife Maggie Kester. He later goes to the prison where Joe was being held and he tells Ryan that Rick was going after the people responsible for Joe's downfall: Ryan, Stan Fellows and Phillip Barnes, When they went to check on Phillip Barnes they found him dead. Later, Weston went to the Kester house and they watched the house in case of that Rick would come and when Parker called them and Jordy told her that Maggie is a follower, They ran in and found Riley on the floor bleeding from his neck. Ryan ran out to follow them and held a gun on Maggie and when Rick came up behind him, he shot Rick but he came back up and Ryan shot him again and killed him and when he turned around Maggie was gone. When he came back inside Riley was dead. The next morning he stood outside the house with Debra and she was angry over that Maggie fooled her and Ryan revealed that the first time he met Joe he was fooled by him to. Later Claire asked to see him an at her home she showed him a video of Joey being taught how to kill by Emma and Paul.
After Ricks death, Ryan slowly begins to become uneasy with so many dying around him due to Joe's followers as Debra tries to not let it get to him. Mike even begins to try to reason with him despite his lack of respect towards him. While working, he receives a call from his sister Jenny and is horrified that Maggie is the caller and has his sister hostage. She says he must come alone or she will die. Ryan tries to reason with her over how Joe doesn't want him to be killed yet, but she "off the book" as payback for Ryan killing her husband. Ryan went to save his sister and he brought Mike Weston with him after being convinced he would need help. When he arrived she knocked him out and tied him to a table. She then put electromagnets on his chest to interrupt the pacemaker. Ryan tried to reason with her that she didn't want to kill him because then Joe Carroll wouldn't have been the one to do it. She reasons that she's only stopping the pacemaker so technically the stab wound Joe inflicted during the struggle in Sarah Fuller's house would be the thing that killed him and forced his sister to watch him die for murdering her husband. Before she could succeed and kill him as she made Ryan's sister watch Ryan die; Mike who had been waiting outside for some sort of signal shot her to death and effectively saved Ryan and his sister. With that, Ryan finally shows Mike respect by calling him by his first name and as his partner. The next day Claire expresses her relief after hearing what happened with him and offers to make him breakfast since he's obviously exhausted working on the case, but Ryan, still believing he'll drag her down with her, says he can't and goes back to the station.
After Claire received a call from Joey, Ryan and Mike work tirelessly on the signal to find her son. Before leaving to another state, Ryan talks with Claire about leaving her and apologizes over what he did and wishes to talk with her after getting her son back, to which they hug and he leaves for Virginia. They fly out to Virginia after getting an image of Paul in convenience store, prompting Ryan and a police officer to track them down. They make their way to a home where Paul murdered two people and follow a trail in the woods that leads them to the house. The officer is murdered by Henry Flynn, but Ryan shoots him and calls in Mike for more backup. Inside the house, he finds the missing Megan Leeds and promises her he'll come back. He finds Joey in the house and just as he tries to take him home, Paul appears from behind and puts a gun on his head. With Emma and Jacob returning as well, they force Joey upstairs.
Informing the fugitives the FBI is on the way and there's no way out, he tries to reason with them to let Joey go, but they refuse and Emma brings out Megan and threatens to torture her with a taser gun and Ryan grudgingly stands down. She then drugs Joey with "special milk" so he doesn't listen to what they do and forces Jacob to tie him up after shocking him. As the FBI is outside, Ryan uses the confusion of the group to grab a knife and cause panic amongst the group. This proves to be affective following Emma having left Jacob and Paul behind after taking Joey with her, to which Ryan, freed of his rope, stabs Paul twice in the stomach and disarms Jacob and frees Megan to get her to safety. He follows after Emma and finds a wounded Mike being shot by Ava, who was a follower in disguise. He finds Emma about to leave and shoots Ava, but Emma successfully gets away. Later, a frustrated Ryan realizes to Debra they underestimated Joe's followers that he's had some in law enforcement and even higher up. Later, he returns to Claire after hearing what she went through and tries to console her despite her pushing her away and eventually gives in and tearfully hugs Ryan over losing her son again, leaving a very upset Ryan worried.
With Joey having gotten away, Ryan is informed by the warden of Joe's prison that he's requested a transfer via his attorney Olivia Warren due to Ryan having snapped Joe's fingers as a result. He demands to be in the transit, but is denied. However, after looking over the video of the truck, he realizes Joe's not in it and finds that the truck is empty and Joe escaped again. He realizes the warden was in on it due to his daughter was kidnapped and assisted Joe in his freedom. Ryan and Mike go to find Joe and listen on the phone as Olivia calls them as Joe demands she tell them he's killing her and strangles Olivia on the phone as Ryan rushes to the scene. In a hotel, they find Joe and rush to stop him, but more followers get in his way and corner him in a parking garage. Joe then comes face to face with him and shows his utmost hatred to Ryan and reveals his sole reason for all this was for revenge: Joe blames Ryan for the wasted nine years of his life in prison, losing his wife and never seeing his son and not being allowed to continue his work. He demonstrates a shaking desire to kill him despite Ryan goading him, but he refuses stating killing him in a parking garage is too dull and wants Ryan to suffer more till he's satisfied. As Joe prepares to leave via helicopter, Ryan overpowers the follower and shoots him in the leg and tries to stop Joe, but he already escaped. Afterwards, he convinces Debra to use a new approach to interrogate the follower due to their current methods being a joke to them. Ryan then tortures the follower by pressing on his bullet wound till he gives the warden's daughter's location. He then visits Claire and has her go into witness protection for her safety, knowing Joe will go after her now.
After being informed of Joe's second escape, the FBI sends Nick Donovan to do this his way. He greets Ryan and refuses to let him in on anything else believing he's messed this all up. However, as they both question the follower David, he commits suicide after taking a sedative in his hand. When Mike is forced to go to his hotel due to helping Ryan try to hack Nick's email, Ryan finds that Mike has been kidnapped. He and Debra eventually find his location and save him before they deal the killing blow and takes out 5 followers (as stated by Roderick). At the hospital, Mike is stated he will survive and is informed by Debra Mike knew Claire's location, being the only one with clearance. Ryan is shocked seeing Mike's determination and continues to be frustrated over the situation with people suffering due to Joe's ambition.
In "Love Hurts", Ryan discovers of a follower killing women named Claire Matthews in an effort to lure Claire out, to which he was told first hand by a call from Joe, but the call was untraceable and told Ryan that "love hurts", wanting Ryan to suffer. After killing two Claire Matthews, they find the third one at a rally which Amanda goes after her, but Ryan follows after killing Louise. Once he confronts her, he begs her not to kill Claire but Amanda says she has to die because Ryan has to be punished from sleeping with Joe's wife and that Joe deserves the happy ending and not Ryan. She then demands why he slept with Claire and Ryan told Amanda Porter it was cause he's in love with Claire and tells her to kill him with her staple gun because he is still love in with Claire and can't unlove her. Just as she frantically tries to kill him, he disarms her and has her arrested.
Following Amanda's capture, Ryan discovers Joe traced the call to Claire's location and demands she be moved immediately. She visits Claire and informs her of Joe's followers killing women with her name and about how his followers are so well trained. just then, they are attacked by Joe's followers, but Ryan and Claire manage to escape and discard their cell phones. Ryan takes them to Tyson's home, a former partner of Ryan and greets the two. Just then, Ryan notices she was tagged back at the hotel and Joe's men know there at Tyson's home. At night, Claire and Ryan have a private talk about why Ryan left never called her, to which Ryan states is cause he's her past and is no good for her, but she retorts that he could be his future and how messed up the two of them are. As she mentions she loves him, he too says he loves her too, and they reaffirm their love for each other through a kiss and hug warmly. After Brock is killed, Tyson is fatally wounded and Claire goes out and finds Joe's men. Realizing the blood shed won't stop till Joe gets what he wants, Claire willingly give herself up to see her son and Ryan desperately tries to stop her and sees her mouth "I love you" before she goes away. Ryan calls for backup and rushes Tyson to the hospital. At the hospital, Ryan is called by Joe about the events and gloats how Claire willingly gave herself up having won now. He mentions that Ryan himself must feel terrible with so many dying around him, but an angry Ryan tells him to go to hell and warns him to not hurt Claire, to which Joe says he loves her and would never do such a thing. As Ryan says he's done with him, Joe says he can't quit yet and hasn't become the man he's meant to be since he's been given a second chance and says he must endure more till he becomes the "hero" of Joe's book.
With Claire having been captured, a depressed Ryan returns to his home in Brooklyn and hits the bottle hard that night. He receives a call from Joe who asks how Ryan's doing, to which Ryan asks what he wants and just wants to keep Ryan off the bottle and needs more coffee instead. Ryan hangs up, but Joe calls right back stating he is going to enjoy having his family back and knows it will take time, but is positive Claire will fall in love with him again, to which Ryan tells him she only came for Joey, not him, and that he won't just let him have his way and hangs up. Debra visits him and tells him to not give up or get depressed over Claire's capture less what everyone went through now would be for nothing. He gets dressed and visit a club were they find information on a member of Joe's cult and bargain with her to get to a cult member. Ryan and Debra follow Vincent to a former militia bunker and find the place full of weapons, armory and numerous records and bombs, to which Ryan believes it to be a camp to train followers. After Vince escapes, a soldier finds people locked in a cage and is killed by followers in training. Ryan and Debra find them and Ryan saves her from two cult members as the others in the bunker were killed. Debra later thanks Ryan for saving her to which Ryan thanks her for bringing him out of despair.
At home, Ryan is visited by Molly (one of Joe's followers) who dropped by to check up on him. She does so and notices he's having breathing troubles. At the bunker, Ryan reunites with Mike who shows some measures of troubles from his near death experience. He receives a call from Joe who asks about what motivated Ryan to do this, but Ryan notices the change in his voice and asks why he's not so cheery like always, and notes he's getting closer to Joe. As Joe angrily hangs up, Ryan tells Debra Joe's unraveling, know realizing the bunker was a huge win. Nick then shows up with information about a Daniel Monroe, a former militia who the FBI have been tracking for a while. They go to his house and find him and his brother Brian Fowler there. Before they can question them, Vince shows up and after Ryan kills him, Joe appears and, having killed Daniel, holds Mike hostage intending on torturing him unless Ryan talks with him. He asks what motivated Ryan and Ryan says his father was murdered by a drug dealer and Joe notes they are both motivated by death despite Ryan's claims and they are more alike than they know. As Jacob shows up with Debra as a hostage, Joe walks out and forces Ryan to back off less Debra dies. After they escape, Ryan consoles Mike about everything knowing he's frustrated over everything but is alright. After Mike is taken to the hospital, the Sheriff, who really is Roderick, says he's offering his help.
In the morning, after Mike returns and tries to stop Roderick after revealing his true identity, Ryan and the team desperately try to find him know knowing he's a follower. Ryan uses the news to lure a follower of Joe's to come clean and they get their life back. Later, Roderick is found on the road and taken into custody. In interrogation, Ryan discovers Roderick kidnapped Joey as "insurance" over Joe and after a talk with Joe on the phone, realizes Roderick is telling the truth. Roderick however, will only give Joey's location if he gets his freedom. Nick refuses stating he killed two state troopers, but Ryan, determined to keep his promise to Claire, takes Roderick with him on the condition he leave his gun and phone behind. They arrive at the location and as Ryan frees Joey, Roderick pulls a gun out intent on double-crossing them both till Mike, who followed them, save them before Joe's men kill Roderick from behind. After Mike hides Joey, Ryan engages a follower and manages to kill him, but Jacob found and took Joey away. He finds them and tries to persuade Jacob to let Joey go, stating he knows he cares for Joey, but Joe doesn't care whether he lives or dies. He goes closer and tries to talk Jacob to ending this now, but Jacob left, but agreed with Ryan and allowed Joey to go free. Joey recognizes Ryan and how Claire told him Ryan is one of the good guys. Ryan then carries Joey away back to the station in safety. Later that night, Joe calls him about how his book will need a rewrite and their story has taken a "turn" about how bad it is and that it's not been a good day. When Ryan asks about Claire, Joe says she's no longer the lead lady nor will she ride off in the sunset with her as planned and that it's time for her to die, horrifying Ryan. Just then, a follower named Melissa shows up intent on doing what Ryan asked, but reveals her true nature when she stabs Nick in his eye as Ryan and Mike kill her.
The next day, with the information Joey gave on the house he was held in, Ryan and the FBI rush Joe's home, only to find a dead body of a follower and an empty house. Though Debra believes Joe wouldn't kill Claire, Ryan admits Joe wants Ryan to witness her death. After the incident with the reck-center, as many followers are killed and civilians as well, Ryan receives word that Debra has been captured. They receive a phone call from Parker, who has been buried alive. Ryan and Mike go to the park via what info Parker could give, to which they are ambushed by Alex Lipton, the man who buried Debra. They capture and, with Deputy Marshall Scott Turner's permission to "do what you have to do", allows Mike and Ryan torcher Alex for Debra's location. However, they are too late as Debra died. In grief, and hearing Alex mocking over her death, Ryan murders Alex in cold blood. Afterwards, Mike discovers Carroll's unfinished manuscript in her coffin, which leads Ryan to a location where Emma drugs and captures him. He wakes up in the lighthouse, with Joe and Claire and his confrontation with Carroll comes to blows. Ryan escapes his capture and saves Claire and gives chase to Joe. Their fight takes them to a boathouse where a rogue gunshot ignites tanks of gasoline; Hardy manages to escape as the building explodes with Carroll trapped inside. The FBI believes Carroll is dead due to the body dental records, and Hardy takes Claire back to his apartment where they intend to celebrate. Ryan has food delivered, to which at the moment he hears a noise, his neighbor Molly appears and stabs him in the stomach. Revealing herself as a follower, Molly states Ryan was always her chapter. Just then, Claire enters the room and screams seeing Ryan and is stabbed from behind to which Ryan screams out her name.
After Claire falls to the ground Molly stabs her again in the chest. Ryan removes the blade just in time and strangles Molly and snaps her neck. Ryan manages to get a phone and call an ambulance for him and Claire to which Ryan passes out when they arrive. After the surgery, Mike enters to a now conscious Ryan. When Ryan questions what happened to Claire, Mike, with tears in his eyes informs him of what happened to her, to which a distraught Ryan sheds a lone tear over her death.
During the gap from season 1 and 2, Ryan nearly self-destructed over Claire's death, drinking a lot of alcohol, and even having random encounters with women, non of which he cares for or unconcerned with himself in the process. Mike would regularly visit, but was unable to help him. During this time Ryan met an old book publisher friend named Carrie Cooke to which they had an encounter when they slept together, but like the typical Ryan Hardy, he was too drunk to remember. Seeing how he treats himself, Carrie got to him mentioning that Joe is the one getting to him and that if he doesn't want to keep letting Joe get to him he needs to enter rehab and get sober. Realizing she's right and that Claire wouldn't want this, Ryan got sober and has stayed sober since the opening of Season 2. However, his obsession with Joe has never left, as Ryan has been secretly tracking his followers and the belief that Joe is alive. He later became a professor at the New York University with a successful career (though Ryan stated he did this cause he knew Joe would be angered by him). He later allowed his niece Max Hardy to stay with him after she became a detective.
It's been a year since Joe's death, as Ryan is back living in New York and has been sober, to which he's now only drinks water and exercises regularly and teaching at the New York University. On the first anniversary of Joe Carroll's death, a group of remaining cult members attack several passengers on a subway car. The FBI brings Ryan and Mike Weston back on board to assist in gaining information on the identity and motives of the attackers. Ryan dismisses the FBI's request for his help and appears to want nothing to do with the situation. However, back in his home, he continues his secret interest in Joe and the case along with his niece, Max Hardy, a New York City detective. Ryan reveals he found the location of an old follower named Carlos Perez, to which Ryan finds he is one of the three of the subway massacre. He captures Perez and questions Joe's whereabouts. Despite playing dumb, Perez reluctantly admits Joe is in fact alive, having faked his death as he was responsible for getting him out of their. Perez escapes and Ryan gives chase, but he escapes. Ryan then takes Perez's belongings and heads home unaware that Emma Hill also followed him to Perez's apartment. He looks through the bag and finds a Joe Carroll mask and puts it in his office, full of information on Joe and his cult, to which Ryan spends regularly in and starring at a picture of Claire, still in love with her and blaming himself over her death.
The following day he meets Lily Gray, the only survivor of the subway massacre. They converse with her knowing nothing of what happened. Eventually, Ryan's activities have been called into question by Agent Gina Mendez, who warns Ryan not to get involved unless he has something they need. Mike discovers of Ryan's possessions of Perez's bag and takes it, but not before hearing of the possibility of Joe being alive when Ryan reveals that Joe had a half-brother with identical DNA. Later, after finding that Lily Gray is being targeted again, Ryan rushes to save her. The twins continue to draw Ryan's attention by having him show up at a benefit event where the only survivor of the subway murders and new interest of Ryan, Lily Gray, is speaking. After an attempted attack, Ryan helps Lily go unharmed and shoots Luke in the arm, with the only other injury being to Lily's assistant, David. The twins escape as Luke tends to his injury.
Afterwards, Ryan talks with Lily again, to which the two seem to be connecting after the recent events. However, when Ryan watches the footage of the train massacre and, remembering Lily said she was in a hurry that day, sees her not getting on the first train. He soon discovers her in a lie and with the help of Weston's subway video footage realizes that Lily is involved with the cult. Lily escapes and taunts Ryan over the phone. The FBI finds out that Lily was adopted by a billionaire and inherited his money. There are no records of her giving birth but a former housekeeper gave birth to twin boys before her death, named Luke and Mark Gray, her step-children.
Meanwhile, Ryan continues to track Agent Mendez and the FBI's work on the case, despite their unsuccessful surveillance of him. Max helps Ryan find David's (Lily's lawyer) residence where, upon arrival, he finds him dead on the floor. His murderer, Gisele, gets away before Ryan realizes who she is. Ryan is arrested by Agent Mendez but is released soon-after. After a chase through city streets and two physical fights between Gisele and Max, and then Ryan, Gisele gets on a train just before it pulls out of the station. Ryan calls Max and she reveals she is on the train, looking at Gisele. Max and Ryan catch up with Gisele and bring her to a local motel where they handcuff and question her. After Ryan loses himself and almost kills Gisele, Gisele gives up the supposed location of Joe, which is really the warehouse she was supposed to meet Luke and Jamel. Ryan heads there and is confronted by Luke and Jamel. Ryan shoots Jamel dead and is shot in the side of the stomach in return. Gisele breaks her thumb to escape the handcuffs while Max is distracted and runs away to meet up with Luke. The two follow Ryan's trail to a local house where Ryan attempts to clean up his wound despite the homeowner showing up and panicking. Ryan stabs Gisele with her own knife upon her entering the house and falsely telling him that she killed Max. Luke runs into the house and holds Gisele as she dies, and Ryan runs off. Ryan returns to the motel and embraces Max upon seeing her alive.
Realizing they need help, Ryan invites Weston to bring the FBI to Connecticut, where he and Max have been tracking Lily's group. Weston comes alone and along with Ryan and Max, capture Luke at a field near Lily's house. Ryan proposes a trade with Lily, offering Luke in exchange for Joe. While Max and Mike deal with Lily and Mark, Ryan wen to Lily's house, Ryan encounters one of her other sons, proceeding to stab and kill him. Ryan finds on of Lily's children on the ground bleeding and looks out the window, seeing Joe Carroll, alive and well. Before driving away, Joe stares down Ryan, who has made it into the house and sees the trio leaving from a window. Just as Joe is about to flee the country, the FBI blocks an airplane from departing, believed to have Joe inside. The pilot reveals the trio left the plane after the man got a phone call. Ryan tells Mendez he saw Joe alive and he was the man in the plane, which Mendez claims she will handle on her own, also revealing that Max and Weston have now lost their jobs for their involvement. Ryan, Max, and Weston conclude that somebody from the FBI must be compromised and feeding Joe information.
Ryan meets with Agent Mendez about who in the FBI may be giving Joe information; Ryan leaves, unsure if he can trust her. Weston leaves the FBI building to go home because he feels mentally unstable after assaulting Luke. Max asks Ryan to give up with Joe, but Ryan admits he's formed an obsession and must kill him or else everyone who died up to this point will have been for nothing. Max is captured by a man hired by Lily, as the man's son records the capture on video. Ryan is then greeted by Weston who returns to help find Max. After Ryan receives the video of Max on his phone, he questions Luke, who remains in custody at a hospital. Luke reveals the man's name: Kurt (Bowlen), known as "The Huntsman" - a known serial killer. The FBI find Kurt's home; Ryan and Weston handcuff his son until he reveals where his father is. Max escapes into the woods, with Kurt chasing her. FBI police dogs track them down and Weston finds Max right before Kurt is shot dead by Ryan. Much later, Ryan receives another video text message from Lily and puts it on screen in the FBI's office. Weston recognizes Lily is at his father's house, as the video turns to his father strapped in a chair. Mark slits his throat and kills him. As Weston runs out of the room crying hysterically, Lily teases Ryan that she has more surprises in store for him. Ryan catches Weston weeping outside and holds him.
The funeral for Weston's father takes place, with Ryan and Max attending. Afterwards, a journalist, Carrie Cooke, with an apparent history with Ryan shows up and unsuccessfully tries to get him to comment on Joe. Inside, Director Franklin of the FBI tells Ryan that he wants him working on the case and will supply him with whatever he needs to work off the books. Max and Ryan turn their focus to Joe's college professor, Dr. Arthur Strauss, who lives an hour away from the lighthouse where the events took place. Ryan goes to Strauss' home and questions him about Joe while planting a microphone in his living room. He leaves after Strauss insists he has no involvement. Carrie comes to Strauss' home for interview questions but is captured upon entering the house, which Ryan hears over the audio receiver and rushes back to the house. One of Strauss' students, Cole, sprays a chemical into Ryan's face, causing him to temporarily faint. He wakes up tied to a wheelchair, across from Carrie who is strapped to an operating table. Ryan discovers Strauss taught Joe how to gauge the eyes out of his victims and that Joe was the killer, Strauss just helped him express himself. Weston finds Cole as Cole was looking for tools and shoots him. Ryan frees himself and then Carrie. Ryan and Weston tie Strauss to the table and whip his hand until he reveals that Joe had a connection to a female in the FBI.
With this, Ryan, Max and Mike work on finding the mole in the FBI, to which they believe that Mendez is the mole. Ryan doesn't believe she's guilty, but questions her outside of her apartment, revealing she hacked Debra's email various times, to which she angrily denies this. However, Mendez thinks of the person who may be responsible and Mike and Ryan follow her. Ryan and Weston track Mendez as she travels to Jana's house. Jana brings Mendez into the garage to talk, where Jana stabs her. Jana's friend lets Mike and Ryan in. They find Mendez and have an ambulance called before cornering Jana and questioning her about where Joe is. Jana proceeds to shoot herself in the head. Mendez is taken away, alive, in an ambulance to which she apologizes to Ryan over what happened. While the FBI gains a lot of data from Jana's computers, Mike grabbed her phone for Ryan before anyone else could. After the incident at the bookstore, Ryan watches Joe's video to the world, confirming that he is in fact alive. Back at Ryan's apartment, Weston walks Max out and ends up getting into a car with unknown men. Carrie shows up and has dinner with Ryan, who eventually kisses her as she's on her way out as they spend the night together.
With the help of Carrie, Ryan gets the message out to Joe that the FBI has captured Dr. Strauss and he is cooperating. This leads Joe to call Jana, but Ryan answers her phone as the FBI unsuccessfully tries to track down Joe's location. After finding one of Joe's followers, FBI shows up after Max tips Ryan off about Mallory. Ryan tries to get information about where Joe is out of Mallory, but Patrick slits her throat before being shot dead. Back at his apartment, Carrie and Ryan fool around again after Carrie tries to convince Ryan that he's making progress, professionally and personally.
Ryan and Mike continue researching information on Lily Gray and cults that believe in blood sacrifice. Two men cause chaos after stabbing a group of people at a bakery, sending them all to the hospital. Ryan and Mike realize this is the work of Lily, as the nearest hospital is where Luke is staying. Luke escapes the hospital after being chased down by Ryan, though Serena and Decklan are killed by Mike and Ryan, respectively. As Mike is depressed over the ordeal, Ryan comforts him stating they will get them and have their lives back. The two return to Ryan's apartment and there is a knock at the door. Mike sees Claire and runs over to Ryan, saying he can explain everything. The door opens and Ryan stares at Claire in complete shock.
Ryan, brought to tears at seeing Claire again, the two embrace each other and discuss what happened on the day Ryan was told Claire died. Ryan expresses his disbelief that Claire is actually there and Claire expresses her desire to have Joe dead by having herself on TV and let Joe know she's alive to draw him out, but Ryan is against it. After Carrie is attacked by Joe's followers again, Carrie received a clip from Joe and Ryan asks Carrie to not broadcast the clip until he watches it, incase it's a message for Joe's followers. Claire and Ryan watch Joe's video, which turns out to be a threat to Kingston through bible quotes. They conclude that Joe is going to go after Kingston's son, Preston, who goes to college in Connecticut. Claire insists she go with Ryan and Ryan hesitantly agrees, but once at his car, sends Claire a text message saying "Sorry" and leaves with Mike, asking Max to introduce herself to Claire and keep her safe. Along the drive to the college, Mike tries to explain what happened with Claire, but Ryan repeatedly tells him that it's okay.
Ryan and Mike enter the frat house and find the room with the masked hostages. Lucas comes charging out of the room and Mike shoots him dead. Tilda, Robert, and Angela drive off with Preston as a hostage. Ryan gets into his car and follows them. Mike calls Ryan, who says he needs to end this by killing Joe and asks Mike to take care of Claire and Max, hanging up the phone before Mike can get another word in and eventually throwing his phone out of the window once he arrives at Korban. He kills a guard and disguises himself as a Korban member. During Joe's speech to everyone, Ryan takes a shot, but misses and narrowly escapes.
Ryan gives himself up and meets Joe so he can figure out his plan. Joe then converses with Ryan about everything that has been going on lately as he refers to Ryan as his best friend, but Ryan says he's not his friend. When Joe asks if he misses Claire, Ryan responds unresponsive. Joe then has Ryan watch as Preston is forced to either kill someone or be killed, Ryan tries to talk Preston out of it but he sadly kills a member of Korban who didn't believe in Joe. After they leave, Ryan angrily tells Joe he will kill him, but Joe says he can't, as if either of them die, both die. Joe then leaves, but shocks everyone by letting Ryan live. Ryan manages to escape during Lily's raid on Korban and kills 4 of her armed mercenaries. He regroups with Max, but discovers that Mike went off on his own to find Lily. He and Max find him and, despite their best efforts, watch and Mike murders Lily in could blood.
Max and Ryan lie to Clarke over Lily's death to ensure Mike doesn't face charges. Ryan later confronts Claire over her message to Joe and the two share a kiss. After Kingston gives himself up to find his son, Ryan and Mike follow them to a church where Joe and the others hold everyone inside hostage. Ryan and Mike enter the church, but Mike reveals himself to Joe after Joe threatens to shoot Preston. Joe tells Ryan to show himself or he'll kill Mike, proceeded by a gunshot.
The shot fired was aimed at Preston, which kills him. Ryan calls Claire, but Luke answers her phone and instructs Ryan to bring Joe, alive, to him or Claire will die. Ryan informs Joe of Luke's threat and helps Joe escape the church. With Joe in the back seat and Mike and Max following behind, Ryan drives to the address given by Luke while the FBI shut the lights inside the church and proceed to shoot and kill all of Joe's followers inside. Along the way, one of Joe's followers, Tim, crashes into Ryan's car, flipping it with Ryan and Joe inside, injuring both men. Joe thanks and then shoots Tim and puts Ryan into Tim's car and continues the drive. Outside the house, Ryan and Joe find letters inviting them inside for dinner. Once inside, they find Claire right before one of the twins drops a smoke bomb, putting Ryan, Joe, and Claire to sleep.
They wake up at a table where Mark and Luke interrogate Ryan and Joe, threatening to kill Claire if they don't cooperate. Luke forces a drink of Vodka down Ryan's throat and pouring it all over his head. They then ask if he killed their mother and Ryan lies saying he did, to which Joe interrupts and reveals he knows of Ryan having murdered the man responsible for killing his father, a previous conversation from Season 1. As everyone reacts surprised, Mark demands to know why he feels like he needs redemption, which Ryan states it's cause he feels like he needs forgiveness and tried to be the good guy and shouts that he failed. The twins reacted shocked by Ryan's speech and choose to let him live, promising that Mike and Max will die as penance and try to kill Claire. However, Mike and Max show up and Mike shoots at Luke through a window while Joe cuts himself free. After Luke is killed and Mark escapes, a confrontation between Joe and Claire leads to Ryan putting Joe at gunpoint as Joe begs Ryan to kill him. Ryan, however, chooses not to shoot Joe and has Mike call Agent Clarke to have Joe arrested. After Joe is arrested, Ryan suggests to Claire that he pack a bag and move to Claire's home with her and Joey but Claire tells him that they need to move on separately so she can give her son a normal life. When Ryan asks why, she says its cause she's her past, that she's the one who drags them down in their relationship and wants him to have a better life. Ryan watches as she leaves and has one last talk with Joe, stating everyday that passes Joe will further pass from his memory as Joe will die in prison, to which Joe seems displeased that Ryan spared him stating he should have killed him. He then returns home, enjoying his food he ordered and, unlike at the end of Season 1, is able to eat it safely, finally at peace with himself.
- Unspecified date: Unnamed robber (threatened at gunpoint; forced to overdose on drugs; revenge for killing his father; indirect kill)
- Rick Kester (shot twice; killed by the second shot)
- Henry Flynn (shot once)
- Ava Marsden (shot once like the previous victim)
- Five unnamed followers (all shot)
- Louise Sinclair (shot once)
- Two followers (both shot)
- Vincent McKinley
- Melissa (shot repeatedly with Mike Weston)
- Alex Lipton (non-fatally beaten; shot point blank in the head; revenge for killing Debra Parker)
- Molly (neck broken for stabbing Claire)
- Jamel (shot twice)
- Gisele (stabbed once in the abdomen)
- Sami (stabbed once in the abdomen like the previous victim)
- Kurt Bolin (shot twice)
- Decklan (shot in the abdomen)
- Jimmy (neck snapped)
- Unnamed Korban member (shot three times)
- 3 unnamed henchmen (members of Lily Gray's group; all shot)
- Alexander (shot once in the chest)
- Unnamed Korban member (strangled and necked snapped)
- Andrew Sharp (wounded and arrested by Ryan Hardy)
- Ryan's character shares similar characteristics of 24's Jack Bauer: on several occasions he has shown to be smart, tough, motivated, and vigilant throughout the series. Coincidentally, both characters are involved in Fox productions.
- Ryan and Joe share their last names with famous authors, Thomas Hardy and Lewis Carroll respectively (though in Joe's case, Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Dodgson).
- Ryan has used several different firearms as his main sidearm throught the series. Originally, he used an FBI issued Glock 19, though he relinquished it once he was done as a consultant. He later used a Smith & Wesson SW1911 SC E-Series when investigating Carlos Perez and the Gray twins, before switching to a Smith & Wesson M&P compact throughout the rest of the investigation. During the investigation to find Mark and his 'followers', he had switched to an M&P shield, though he later switched to a SIG Sauer P239 for the rest of the series and Investigation
- Ryan has a tendency to offer up his own life in a situation where someone is about to be killed by a follower (or Joe himself). His frantic attempts go unheard by the killers in these situations but this is used to demonstrate his "selfless nature" and how he would rather die than for an innocent to be killed because of him.
- Ryan is an atheist, stating in the final episode of the second season that "there is no God".