The 4400 (pronounced "the forty-four hundred") is a science fiction TV series produced by CBS Paramount Network Television in association with Sky Television, Renegade 83, and American Zoetrope for USA Network. The show was created and written by Scott Peters and René Echevarria, and it stars Joel Gretsch and Jacqueline McKenzie. The series ran for four seasons from 2004 until its cancellation in 2007.
In the pilot episode, a comet deposits a group of exactly 4400 people at Highland Beach, in the Cascade Range foothills near Mount Rainier, Washington. Each of the 4400 had disappeared at various times starting from 1938 in a beam of white light. None of the 4400 have aged from the time of their disappearance. Confused and disoriented, they remember nothing between the time of their disappearance and their return.
Creator Scott Peters has stated that the series was originally titled "A Light in the Sky", but looking for something unique he decided to "play around with numbers" instead and arrived at "4400" because it "just sounded cool" and "was a very round number with two 4s and two 0s".
The National Threat Assessment Command (NTAC), a division of the Department of Homeland Security, is in charge of dealing with the return of the 4400. The primary agents assigned to the cases of investigating the 4400 are Tom Baldwin and Diana Skouris, as well as their immediate superior for season one, Dennis Ryland. In seasons 2–3, Ryland is replaced by Nina Jarvis and theory room consultant Marco Pacella, with Ryland becoming a recurring character. Season 4 sees Jarvis replaced by Meghan Doyle.
Many of the returned people have trouble trying to get their lives back on track after being separated from their world for years. More significantly, a small number of the returnees begins to manifest paranormal abilities, such as telekinesis, telepathy and precognition, as well as other "gifts". For example, in the pilot, Shawn Farrellmanifests an ability to bring a dead bird back to life. In addition, one of the 4400, Lily Moore, has become pregnant between her disappearance and return....
Early in the first season, theorists at NTAC suspect that the 4400s have been placed in the timeline with their enhanced abilities for a purpose, to cause some change that could propagate and redirect the course of history. An example of this was when a 4400 named Carl Morrissey attempted to use his enhanced strength and reflexes to fight crime in his neighborhood park. Although Morrissey was killed by a group of thugs, his death inspired others to become involved in various neighborhood clean up projects.
Another example of this effect at work came during the season two episode "Wake up Call". In that episode a mentally ill returnee uses mind control powers to force the other residents of her mental hospital to build an unusual machine. When the machine is activated it cures fellow patient Kevin Burkhoff of his crippling schizophrenia. When NTAC looks into Burkhoff's background they discover that prior to falling ill he was a brilliant neuroscientist who was working on gene therapies which could end up being the basis of the technology which created the 4400.
The 4400 ran for four seasons. The first season is presented as a miniseries of five episodes, which aired weekly from July 11, 2004 to August 8, 2004. Seasons two, three and four are each 13-episode seasons.
A special episode, "The 4400: Unlocking the Secrets", aired between seasons two and three, on June 3, 2006, originally on NBC.
Production of the third season was shot in Vancouver until July 26, 2006. The third season premiered June 11, 2006, with 4.2 million viewers tuning in. Executive Producer Ira Steven Behr described season three as "bigger and more mythic. It feels like 26 episodes instead of 13 because we're cramming so much stuff in".
Production of the fourth and final season began in early 2007 for a mid-year premiere, returning with the episode "The Wrath of Graham". Billy Campbell, the actor who plays Collier, took most of season three off to sail around the world. The show was rewritten to explain the character's absence, making him the victim of an assassination attempt. In the fourth season, Campbell returned to the series as a regular, rather than a guest star as in the previous three seasons, with the revelation that the character had been alive after all, but had wandered as an amnesiac for two years until he reappeared to assume his role as the leader of the 4400.
Writer and co-creator Scott Peters announced on December 18, 2007, that due to the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, budgetary problems, and lower-than-anticipated ratings, The 4400 had been cancelled and would not be returning for a fifth season, despite the fourth season's cliff-hanger. Fans of the show mounted an unsuccessful campaign to resurrect the series, sending petitions and sunflower seeds to SciFi and USA Network president Bonnie Hammer. In April 2008, the campaign shifted to target Jeff Zucker, president and chief executive officer of the NBC/Universal TV group, again without success.