Every Season of ‘Jack Ryan,’ Ranked


Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan has been a runaway hit for Amazon Studios and stands as one of the best depictions of Tom Clancy‘s source material. The Hunt for Red October and Clear and Present Danger both did the character of Jack Ryan justice; however, the John Krasinski series relaunched the character in a modern context and explored his interpersonal relationship with characters like James Greer (Wendell Pierce) and Cathy Mueller (Abbie Cornish).

While the fourth season gave a promising conclusion to Jack’s story, it’s clear that Amazon is intent on exploring spin-off projects. One of those is the already greenlit series featuring Michael Peña as Clancy’s other major literary hero, Ding Chave. It will be interesting to see how the “Ryanverse” expands into the future, but it’s undeniable that it will rise on the strong foundations already laid by Krasinki’s show. Indeed, Jack Ryan’s four seasons are among the strongest in any original Amazon programming, even if some are stronger than others.

4 Season 2 (2019)

A bit of a case of the sophomore slump

Although it’s the weakest of the group, season 2 of Jack Ryan is still a pretty excellent piece of television. It speaks to the series’ overall quality that this season ranks at the bottom of what is a pretty consistent legacy. Thanks to the addition of new characters like Mike November (Michael Kelly) and Elizabeth Wright (Betty Gabriel), Jack was given an expanded list of allies and more characters to play off of other than just Greer and Cathy. The chemistry between the leads was a major highlight; even in the middle of an intense action sequence, Jack, Greer, and Mike could still trade one-liners.

The only issue with Season 2 is that Jack’s unique qualities often seem to fade away. He feels secondary to the action sequences, and his intelligence takes a backseat to his physical abilities. This doesn’t mean that the series was less compelling as a straight-up thriller, but this new approach does feel like a striking change compared to its predecessor. In many ways, Jack Ryan season 2 was the launching point of the formula Amazon has perfected in shows like Reacher and The Terminal List. And while this is great for Amazon’s brand, it was a surprising pivot for Jack Ryan that took some viewers by surprise.

3 Season 1 (2018)

An inspired beginning for a future hit

Image via Amazon Studios

The underrated Chris Pine vehicle Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit did a great job of exploring what a post-9/11 version of Clancy’s world would look like but felt short of taking the idea all the way. Meanwhile, the first season of Jack Ryan successfully showed all the intricacies of global politics that would make sense for the character. Considering Ryan was first created during the Cold War, there were a lot of changes needed to adjust the story to a modern context. Season 1 explains Jack’s backstory and love for his country, but it’s not just exposition; the threat of a deadly virus and international terrorism feel like appropriate and high-stakes issues to tackle.

Even better, Jack Ryan thankfully kept up with the times and expanded the depiction of the Islamic characters to address concerns that it was guilty of stereotyping. In retrospect, casting Jim from The Office in the title role was a gamble few thought would pay off; yet, Krasinski rose to the challenge and made Ryan his own while still respecting the essence fans have always loved. If there was anything left to be desired, it was Jack’s romance with Cathy; although Cathy plays an important role in stopping the virus from spreading at the end of the season, the chemistry between Cornish and Krasinski never felt completely sincere.

2 Season 4 (2023)

A worthy conclusion to a story few thought would be so successful

John Krasinski as Jack Ryan and Wendell Pierce as James Greer walking together in 'Jack Ryan.'
Image via Prime Video

Season 4 of Jack Ryan was a great ending to the series that brought a satisfying conclusion to Krasinski’s tenure as a CIA agent, even if it hinted at the possibility of political aspirations in his future. However, sending off each of the characters on their new journeys following their adventures together didn’t mean that Season 4 skimped on any action or intrigue. The finale, “Proof of Concept,” may have provided Jack with his deadliest threat to date, as he must work alongside Greer, Chavez, and November to defuse a series of bombs that have been laid across the United States.

Krasinski is also given his single most defining moment as the character during Jack’s testimony before Congress, in which he calls out the corruption in the country and concludes that the system can’t function if the American people cannot trust those in power. It’s great to see Jack Ryan taking a stand, especially after spending four years focusing more on the latter part of its political thriller angle. The only major issue with the season is that, given that the typical season length of eight episodes was shortened to just six, it felt like some plot beats were rushed and could have used more elaboration.

1 Season 3 (2022)

Jack Ryan operating at peak powers

James Greer and Mike November shaking hands in Jack Ryan Season 3
Image via Prime Video

The Jack Ryan saga has always been timely, but the threat of a war with Russia and a political coup felt lifted straight from the headlines. Given how closely the events of the series mirror recent news events, the tension was simply palpable. Season 3 also helped Jack Ryan address some of the larger points that it was attempting to tackle, as Jack has to question if the nation he serves can fully be trusted. Jack learns that the CIA has not fulfilled all of its promises to American citizens, which causes him to become a vigilante not dissimilar from Matt Damon in the Jason Bourne franchise. Having Jack on the run for the majority of the story made the pacing even more intense.

Season 3 also provided the best depiction of Jack’s relationship with Greer. The two shared many touching moments throughout their adventures together, and while there have always been fun comedic riffs between them, it was interesting to see the two have to trust each other when they couldn’t rely on anyone else. The humor doesn’t disappear, but the more heartfelt bond that they share made Season 3 the most emotional of the series.

All four seasons of Jack Ryan are now available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

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