Apple TV+’s breakout sci-fi series For All Mankind has now returned for a fourth season on the streamer, but the creative minds behind the show aren’t planning to end the story any time soon, which will come as a relief to the dedicated fandom who have been following along with its fascinating alt-history space race story.
Den of Geek sat down with For All Mankind co-creators Ronald D. Moore, Matt Wolpert, and Ben Nedivi at New York Comic Con before the show’s season four launch, and they discussed some of the behind the scenes decisions they have to make about the ongoing story, along with their plans for For All Mankind’s future.
“When we were first breaking the series, even before season one, we talked about this overarching story that takes about seven seasons,” Wolpert confirms. “That’s our goal.”
Unlike other shows, that goal means forging a story that spans at least 70 years, because For All Mankind begins every season with a ten-year time jump. The audience has to quickly catch up with everything that’s happened in between seasons, so the creators always include a thrilling montage to bring fans up to speed immediately. Nedivi describes this as both a fun and “hellish” project to undertake.
“We always look at it as a mini documentary,” he explains. “We not only focus on how history has changed between seasons, but also the technical advances that impact the new season. We’ve noticed that 80-90% of the montage is now alt-history, whereas in the beginning there was a lot of real history. The butterfly effect of the show keeps expanding.”
Season four sees their alternate version of humanity setting its sights on asteroid mining possibilities after expanding its base on Mars, but now that For All Mankind has caught up to the 2000s, it will soon overtake our present and head into the future, and Moore says the team already have ideas for how that will go down. “At the beginning of every season we step back and say ‘this was the plan, are there other options?’ But by and large, we’ve hewn to the overall structure we had at the outset.”
Having grand plans for a narrative that spans so many decades has meant accepting that the show’s cast would have to be in a constant state of flux, and Nedivi says that no one is safe on For All Mankind. “One of the things we recognized early on was that for the concept to work, the main cast of characters wouldn’t be able to be there until the end, or we’d have a show with 100-year-old ancient astronauts on Mars, so we’ve always attempted to bring in a little new blood as our old cast members have had to leave.”
Nedivi adds that this process has given them the creative flexibility to reinvent themselves every year, but that it’s also been one of the biggest challenges. “Sometimes it’s the characters you love the most who end up dying. In season four, that tradition continues.”
A fifth season of For All Mankind has not been confirmed at Apple TV+ at the time of writing, but the trio tease that in future seasons they’re keen to explore how quickly humanity can move around in space, having already abbreviated travel time in season four. More importantly, they say the show should continue to portray a realistic level of scientific advance. “Everything in the show [should be] plausible,” says Moore. “And a path that humanity could still take.”
For All Mankind is streaming on Apple TV+ now.