- "You live and die by your choices."
- ―Luke Cage
After a sabotaged experiment leaves him with super strength and unbreakable skin, Luke Cage becomes a fugitive trying to rebuild his life in modern day Harlem, New York City. But he is soon pulled out of the shadows and must fight a battle for the heart of his city--forcing him to confront a past he had tried to bury.
Luke Cage, a former convict with superhuman strength and unbreakable skin, keeps a low profile as a sweeper at ex-gangster Henry "Pop" Hunter's barbershop, and as a dishwasher at crime boss Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes' nightclub, Harlem's Paradise. Cage spends one night as a bartender for Stokes, filling in for Dante, who calls in sick. Dante is actually attacking an arms deal between Stokes' men and gang leader Domingo Colon with his friends Shameek and Wilfredo "Chico" Diaz. Dante panics and is killed by Shameek, who escapes with Chico and the money. NYPD detectives Misty Knight and Rafael Scarfe investigate, and impound the Hammer Industries weapons that Stokes was selling. With help from "Shades" Alvarez, who works for Stokes' supplier Diamondback, Stokes tracks and kills Shameek and retrieves his share of the money. Stokes' men also support his cousin Mariah Dillard, a councilwoman, and demand contributions to her cause from Cage's landlords. Cage fights them off, but refuses payment for his actions.
Pop asks Cage to find Chico, as Cage owes Pop for keeping his convict past and superpowers a secret. Pop wants Chico brought to the barbershop, which is considered to be the "Switzerland" of Harlem. While out, Cage sees Cottonmouth deliver Shameek's money to Dillard's memorial Crispus Attucks Complex; Dillard used her campaign donations to refurbish Harlem's Paradise for Cottonmouth, and he is repaying her with the money from the arms deal. Cage finds Chico and convinces him to hide out at the barbershop. Knight and Scarfe visit the barbershop looking for Chico, but Pop keeps his location secret, and instead sends Cage to offer a parlay to Cottonmouth. The gangster agrees due to growing up on the streets with Chico's father and Pop, but his right-hand man Tone is tipped off to Chico's location by Turk Barrett. Tone shoots up the barbershop, injuring Chico and killing Pop. Cottonmouth later throws Tone to his death from the roof of the nightclub, and mourns for Pop. Dillard takes the remainder of the money to Crispus Attucks.
Stokes offers to pay for Pop's funeral, and after explaining that he had not known what Tone was going to do, tells Cage to let go of the matter. Cage finds out from a regular customer, Bobby Fish, that the barbershop is facing closure due to unpaid bills, and decides to take Stokes' money to cover the debt and re-open the shop. He visits Chico in the hospital and learns that Stokes' plans to move all of his money to Crispus Attucks during a crisis. Cage begins targeting Stokes' business, framing Colon. Stokes moves all his money to Crispus Attucks in response, and Cage attacks the complex while Dillard is out, taking out her guards and stealing a small share of the money to give to Fish. Knight and Scarfe arrive soon to impound the rest of the money. Chico approaches Scarfe, offering to testify against Stokes and revealing that it was Cage who attacked the complex. Scarfe, who is actually on Stokes' payroll, kills Chico and tells Stokes about Cage. Stokes goes to the restaurant where Cage is living and fires a missile at the building.
In the rubble of the destroyed restaurant, Cage recalls his past as policeman Carl Lucas—framed for a crime and incarcerated at Seagate Prison, a prison run by correctional officer Albert Rackham. He befriends fellow inmate Squabbles; develops an attraction to psychologist Reva Connors; is forced to engage in illegal ring fights by Rackham; and crosses paths with Shades, also an inmate then. Lucas and Connors plan to expose Rackham's activities, but he learns of this (after torturing Squabbles to death) and has Lucas brutally beaten. Connors asks Dr. Noah Burstein, a scientist conducting illegal experimental procedures on the inmates in exchange for reduced sentences, to try and save Lucas with a procedure that causes rapid healing. Rackham sabotages the experiment, and the resulting accident gives Lucas his abilities. He escapes and meets up with Connors, starting a new life with her under the name "Luke Cage". In the present, Cage pulls himself and his landlady out of the rubble, and reveals his abilities and name to the media.
Claire Temple arrives in Harlem to visit her mother, Soledad Temple, in whom she confides about past experiences giving medical aid to enhanced people including Cage. Stokes begins extorting the citizens of Harlem to cover his debts, blaming Cage in an effort to turn the neighborhood against him. Cage fights back, helping defend the citizens and return their property. Cage confronts Stokes to demand that he stop this, and Shades recognizes him as Carl Lucas. Shades reveals to Stokes a new type of weapon, the Judas bullet, built from alien metal and based on a prototype stolen from Hammer Industries, that could kill Cage. With Stokes unable to afford it, Diamondback will use it to kill Cage himself in exchange for control of Harlem. Stokes instead decides to steal the weapons from the failed deal with Colon and sell them to get the money to buy the Judas bullets. Scarfe takes the weapons from police evidence, but does not deliver them to Stokes. By then, Knight is informed by NYPD Captain Betty Audrey that Scarfe is under investigation.
Scarfe attempts to blackmail Stokes, but is critically shot by him and forced to escape to Pop's barbershop. Cage and Fish are out for breakfast at Soledad's restaurant, discussing the future of the barbershop, where Claire meets up with Cage. The pair discuss his abilities as they walk to the barbershop, where they find Scarfe. Claire treats his injuries. Knight is teamed with Lieutenant Perez, who is also on Stokes' payroll and ordered to kill Scarfe. Knight deduces this, and tricks Perez into implicating himself before arresting him. Cage retrieves an incriminating ledger from Scarfe's apartment, but Knight sees him and he, Claire, and Scarfe go on the run. They are on their way to 1 Police Plaza to turn over Scarfe and the evidence when they are ambushed by mercenaries working for Stokes. Cage fends them off, but Scarfe dies from his injuries. Stokes is arrested based on Scarfe's evidence, with Dillard informed of this by a reporter who has just exposed her possible involvement in Stokes' criminal activities during a live television broadcast.
Scarfe's ledger is found inadmissible and Stokes is exonerated. He threatens to expose Cage's real identity and have him sent back to prison, and Cage decides to leave Harlem. Claire convinces him to stay and fight. Stokes reminisces about growing up with Dillard and their grandmother, mobster Mama Mabel. Stokes' musical talents were encouraged by his uncle Pete, whom Mabel later forced Stokes to kill after learning Pete had made side dealings with her rivals and had molested Dillard. Audrey stands down following the corruption at her precinct, and is replaced with Inspector Priscilla Ridley. After talking with Ridley, Knight begins to question Cage when he returns the stolen weapons (after taking them from Colon). Dillard is forced to resign from the council, leading to an argument with Stokes in which he insinuates that she liked being abused by Pete. Dillard kills Stokes, and Shades helps her frame Cage for the murder. Cage tells Claire about his past, just as he is shot by Diamondback—who knows him as "Carl"—with a Judas bullet.
Claire gets Cage into an ambulance, but they are attacked by Diamondback en route to the hospital. They take refuge in a women's clinic, where Claire examines Cage and realizes that they cannot get the Judas bullet shrapnel out of him due to his generally impenetrable skin. Candace, a waitress and hostess at Stokes' club, tells the police that it was Cage who killed Stokes, making Knight suspicious of Dillard. Knight calls Cage and informs him of the accusation, while another officer triangulates his location. She arrives at the clinic, attempting to arrest him, but they are attacked by Diamondback again. Cage recognizes him as his childhood friend Willis Stryker, who now blames Cage for leaving him to "rot", before escaping. Dillard secretly pays Candace for testifying against Cage. In custody, Claire insists that Cage is innocent, angering Knight to the point that she brutally assaults Claire. Ridley intervenes and has Claire released. Stryker confronts Cage on a sidestreet, revealing that they are brothers and shooting Cage with another Judas bullet.
Ridley takes away Knight's badge, and only allows her to return to duty after a session with a psychologist. Knight admits that she is struggling with her lack of control. An injured Cage limps through a predominantly white neighborhood, and is confronted by police officers. When they recognize him, he defends himself and runs, with dashcam footage of him using his abilities against one of the officers leaking onto the internet. Dillard organizes a meeting with the other local crime bosses, hoping to sell Stokes' criminal resources and legitimize her family name. They are interrupted by Stryker, who kills all the bosses but Dillard and Colon. In an attempt to save herself, Dillard shows the dashcam footage to Stryker and convinces him to sell Judas bullets to the police as a means of defending themselves from Cage. Claire convinces Cage to get Burstein's help, and they find the doctor living in hiding. He places Cage in acid that should soften his skin and allow them to remove the shrapnel, but the pain of the procedure causes Cage to go into cardiac arrest.
Claire and Burstein manage to revive Cage and take out the shrapnel. He and Claire look through the files on him and learn that Connors had known about Rackham's fights, and was assessing Cage with the intention of putting him through Burstein's procedure as a test subject. Cage threatens Burstein to never replicate the accident, and takes all the data with him. Burstein secretly has a copy of the files. Claire and Cage go to his home in Savannah, Georgia, where his memories of his father confirm that Stryker is telling the truth. Stryker meanwhile kills a policeman, and frames Cage. Angered, other police officers become more aggressive in their search for Cage, with one beating a teenage boy. Dillard holds a rally to support the boy, where she blames Cage for the behavior and promotes arming the police against him. Her political rival Damon Boone tells her that he knows the truth. Cage and Claire arrive at Harlem's Paradise at the same time as Knight, who attempts to arrest Stryker. He shoots Knight, and they are surrounded by mercenaries.
Cage escapes to the kitchen with Knight while Stryker takes Claire, Candace, and the remaining civilians hostage. The police surround the club, joined by district attorney Blake Tower. Cage and Knight escape to the basement using a secret entrance in the kitchen just before Stryker's men storm in. He tells her everything that he has been hiding from her. Claire tends to Candace's wound, with the latter revealing the truth about Dillard paying her off and telling her about the secret entrance. Claire escapes and joins Cage and Knight, tending to the latter's wound. Stryker, talking about being the spurned, bastard son of a preacher, threatens to kill the hostages unless Cage meets with him. Alvarez finds the secret entrance and confronts Knight and Claire, who manage to overpower him. Stryker kills Boone and uses Candace as cover to escape as Cage arrives and frees the other hostages. A SWAT team storms in and forces Cage to surrender using the Judas bullets provided by Dillard. Cage, Alvarez, and the mercenaries are placed in custody.
Cage escapes from police custody, while Knight works to locate Stryker and clear Luke's name. Stryker has Alvarez released on bail, then orders Zip and his thugs to kill him, but Alvarez prevails and kills them. On the run, Cage continues to do what he can to help the people of Harlem as he searches for Stryker, and the public begins to support him again, though the police are still determined to bring him down. Candace meets Knight and says that she will testify against Dillard if Knight protects her. Knight takes her to Soledad's. Alvarez approaches Dillard and suggests they get Cage on their side by giving him the evidence he needs to clear his name, and then use him to defeat Stryker (with the hope that they kill each other). Cage finds Barrett, who gives up Stryker's location, but Cage goes there to find the bodies of Colon and his men. As the parties converge on Pop's to parley, Stryker appears wearing a powered suit which allows him to match Cage's strength and invulnerability. Cage tasks Knight to go after Dillard and Alvarez while he engages Stryker.
In flashbacks, Stryker helps Lucas become a boxer, eventually leading to the latter winning an important match. In the present, Cage and Stryker continue their fight inside and outside the barber shop. In the confusion, Knight drops her phone and Dillard loses the files which prove Cage's innocence. Cage tries to reason with Stryker, but eventually knocks him out when the suit's power system fails. Dillard is arrested, after publicly outing Cage as Lucas. Alvarez uses Knight's phone to lure Candace out of hiding and kills her, without whose testimony Dillard walks free. Ridley blames Knight for keeping Candace at a private place instead of protective custody. Federal marshals arrest Cage for his escape from Seagate. Claire kisses him before he leaves, and promises to call a good lawyer that she knows. Fish finds the files to clear Cage's name in the barbershop. Dillard re-opens Harlem's Paradise with Alvarez by her side, and Knight watching them. Claire considers taking up self-defense lessons. A hospitalized Stryker is visited by Burstein.
- Mike Colter as Luke Cage
- Mahershala Ali as Cornell Stokes/Cottonmouth
- Simone Missick as Misty Knight
- Theo Rossi as Hernan Alvarez/Shades
- Erik LaRay Harvey as Willis Stryker/Diamondback
- Rosario Dawson as Claire Temple
- Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard/Black Mariah
Special Guest Stars
- Parisa Fitz-Henley as Doctor Reva Connors
- Rob Morgan as Turk Barrett
- Rachael Taylor as Trish Walker
- Danny Johnson as Benjamin Donovan
- Stephen Rider as District Attorney Blake Tower
- Frankie Faison as Henry Hunter/Pop
- Sônia Braga as Soledad Temple
- Frank Whaley as Detective Rafael Scarfe
- Dawn-Lyen Gardner as Megan McLaren
- Ron Cephas Jones as Bobby Fish
- Jacob Vargas as Domingo Colon
- Jeremiah Richard Craft as Dave Griffith
- Deborah Ayorinde as Candace Miller
- Darius Kaleb as Lonnie Wilson
- Jade Wu as Connie Lin
- Justin Swain as Mark Bailey
- Jaiden Kaine as Zip
- Sean Ringgold as Sugar
- Michael Kostroff as Doctor Noah Burstein
- Sonja Sohn as Captain Betty Audrey
- John Clarence Stewart as Alex Wesley
- Tijuana Ricks as Thembi Wallace
- Karen Pittman as Inspector Priscilla Ridley
|Moment of Truth||1.01||September 30, 2016||Cheo Hodari Coker||Paul McGuigan|
|With tension building in the streets of Harlem thanks to ruthless club owner Cottonmouth, Luke finds it increasingly difficult to live a quiet life.|
|Code of the Streets||1.02||September 30, 2016||Cheo Hodari Coker||Paul McGuigan|
|Luke is pulled deeper into the fight for his neighborhood when, as a favor to an old friend, he tries to help a kid who's in trouble with Cottonmouth.|
|Who's Gonna Take the Weight?||1.03||September 30, 2016||Matt Owens||Guillermo Navarro|
|Luke Cage is pulled deeper into the fight for his neighborhood when, as a favor to an old friend, he tries to help a kid who's in trouble with Cottonmouth.|
|Step in the Arena||1.04||September 30, 2016||Charles Murray||Vincenzo Natali|
|As he rescues a victim of Cottonmouth's vengeance, Luke remembers his earlier life and the conspiracy that led to his superhuman strength.|
|Just to Get a Rep||1.05||September 30, 2016||Jason Horwitch||Marc Jobst|
|Cottonmouth strikes back at Luke by taking his vengeance out on the people of Harlem, while detective Knight and Rafe face an unexpected threat..|
|Suckas Need Bodyguards||1.06||September 30, 2016||Nathan Louis Jackson||Sam Miller|
|After Cottonmouth and Rafael Scarfe's bloody clash, Cage realizes that saving the community may turn former allies into enemies, and enemies into allies.|
|Manifest||1.07||September 30, 2016||Akela Cooper||Andy Goddard|
|Mariah's political career comes under fire, and Cottonmouth picks up information that could put Luke on the run.|
|Blowin' Up the Spot||1.08||September 30, 2016||Aida Mashaka Croal||Magnus Martens|
|Mariah campaigns to turn the city and the police against Luke, and not even Misty or Claire may be able to save him.|
|DWYCK||1.09||September 30, 2016||Christian Taylor||Tom Shankland|
|With Luke wounded and on the run, Misty faces a soul-searching interrogation. Mariah's rise to power takes a dark turn.|
|Take It Personal||1.10||September 30, 2016||Jason Horwitch||Stephen Surjik|
|Luke gets closer to the truth about Reva and her part in his fate, while Mariah wrestles with morality of her new role. Misty hunts for Luke.|
|Now You're Mine||1.11||September 30, 2016||Christian Taylor||George Tillman, Jr.|
|In one bold move, a friend from his past puts Luke on the defensive, Misty in dire straits, and Harlem's safety in jeopardy.|
|Soliloquy of Chaos||1.12||September 30, 2016||Akela Cooper & Charles Murray||Phil Abraham|
|Misty digs deeper for the truth as the neighbourhood's power players throw the city into confusion.|
|You Know My Steez||1.13||September 30, 2016||Aida Mashaka Croal & Cheo Hodari Coker||Clark Johnson|
|With all of Harlem bearing witness, Luke takes on the fight of his life in hopes of emerging as the defender his city needs.|
|Made You Look||Nas||
Teaser Trailer and Final Trailer
|Shimmy Shimmy Ya||Ol' Dirty Bastard||
|Heart is Full||Miike Snow ft. Run The Jewels||
|Walk On By||Isaac Hayes||
- Every episode of season one is named after a song of the rap duo Gang Starr.