The Essential Guide to Sons of Anarchy

Sons of Anarchy, which aired on the cable network FX, was a crime drama television series which lasted for a total of seven seasons. The first season of the show premiered on September 3rd, 2008; the last episode aired on December 9th, 2014. The show was considered a great success for FX, often breaking records–in fact, the show’s third season averaged about 4.9 million viewers per episode, making it the highest rated show to ever air on FX.

The show’s extreme success and positive critical response has even led to a prequel series being greenlit; the prequel series, still untitled, is expected to air starting in 2017.

Whether you’re a longtime fan of the show or just getting started, take a look at the essential guide to everything you must know about Sons of Anarchy.

Happy Lowman

Happy Lowman

The Premise

The premise of Sons of Anarchy is as follows: each season follows two different parallel plots, which frequently focus on Jackson Teller (known as Jax) and his family, along with the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original; or SAMCRO. SAMCRO is involved in various activities across the United States, including possible gun smuggling along with fights with rival motorcycle gangs. Teller is the son of the man who founded SAMCRO, and often finds himself struggling to live up to the legacy of his father and the club he left behind.

The Cast

Over the course of seven seasons, the show featured a large, talented cast. The cast for the main characters of the show includes:

Charlie Hunnam as Jackson Teller; Katey Sagal as Gemma Teller Morrow; Mark Boone Junior as Robert Munson; Kim Coates as Alexander Trager; Tonny Flanagan as Filip Telford; Johnny LEwis as Kip Epps; Maggie Siff as Tara Knowles-Teller; and Ron Perlman as Clarence Morrow.

Maggie Siff as Tara Knowles

Maggie Siff as Tara Knowles

The show also featured numerous special guest actors, including: Niko Nicotera as George Skogstrom; Ally Walker as Agent June Stahl; Tom Everett Scott as Rosen; Adam Arkin as Ethan Zobelle; Benito Martinez as Luis Torres; Emilio Rivera as Marcus Alvarez; Tory Kittles as Laroy Wayne; and Walton Goggins as Venus Van Dam.

The Creative Team

The show was created by Kurt Sutter; Sutter is an experienced screenwriter, producer, director and actor with plenty of experience in the film and television business. Sutter is also well known for his work on The Shield, where he served as producer, writer and director as well. In addition to creating, producing and directing Sons of Anarchy, Sutter also made an appearance in the show’s extensive cast roster. He appeared as Otto Delany, an incarcerated member of SAMCRO. Sutter’s latest project is The Bastard Executioner, where Sutter works as a writer, co-creator, and producer.

Other creative team members include Paris Barclay, who joined as an executive producer for the fourth, five and sixth seasons of the series. Barclay also directed several episodes of the show, including the two highest rated episodes in the history of the show and the FX network: the season 4 and 5 premieres.

Other directors who worked on the show include Stephen Kay, Billy Gierhart, Guy Ferland, and  Gwyneth Horder-Patyon; all of them had previously directed for The Shield, Sutter’s other well-known TV series.

Reception and Ratings

Sons of Anarchy was very well received during its initial airtime and even today by critics who have done retrospectives on the entire season. The first season of the show received the most mixed reviews, with many critics noting that the show had great potential but seemed to be lacking a specific direction. As the show went on, however, the critical response grew more and more positive.

The third season is one of the most highly praised, often called ‘breathtaking’ and ‘beautiful.’ Despite the general positive reviews for season 3, it is considered to be one of the most divisive seasons of the show due to the disappearance of certain characters and the direction of the overall plot.

The show’s fourth season received even stronger reviews than season 3, although even the most positive critiques did not care for the show’s season finale, calling it repetitive and too predictable.

Tara Knowles

Tara Knowles

The final season of the show was received fairly well, and although not every fan agreed with the direction taken in the show’s final episode, most critics appreciated that the major storylines in the series were wrapped up and not left dangling for fans who had grown with the characters over the last seven seasons.

Sons of Anarchy received high ratings throughout every season of the show. It broken records for FX, and still retains high marks as the most-watched show in the history of the network. The show received, on average, a range of 2.2 million to 4.60 million viewers per episode. The lowest ratings for the show occurred in the first season, with the highest ratings occurring during the third, fifth and seventh seasons.

The following are the statistics for the premieres and finales for every season, with the exception of season 1, which unfortunately does not have reliable numbers for the premiere episode.

  • Season 2: (Premiere: 4.29 million) (Finale: 4.33 million)
  • Season 3: (Premiere: 4.13 million) (Finale: 3.6 million)
  • Season 4: (Premiere: 4.94 million) (Finale: 4.24 million)
  • Season 5: (Premiere: 5.37 million) (Finale: 4.66 million)
  • Season 6: (Premiere: 5.87 million) (Finale: 5.17 million)
  • Season 7: (Premiere: 6.20 million) (Finale: 6.40 million)

Trivia Facts

Charlie Hunnam Jax Teller

Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller

There are many interesting trivia and factoids about the many seasons of Sons of Anarchy, including the following trivia:

  • One of the show’s most notable character quirks, Tig being afraid of dolls, comes from the real-life fear of dolls experienced by show creator Kurt Sutter.
  • Stephen King made a cameo in the show’s third season, as a random cleaner named Bachman. Bachman was actually a fake name King used early on in his career for his science-fiction works.
  • Ron Perlmen was reluctant to ride his motorcycle, even though most of the cast did their own riding and stunt scenes for the show. Perlmen took multiple riding lessons to help him get over his fear.

To watch Sons of Anarchy on FX, you’ll need a reliable cable television subscription from Comcast.

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