Altered Carbon is an American cyberpunk television series created by Laeta Kalogridis and based on the 2002 novel of the same title by English author Richard K. Morgan. In a world where consciousness can be transferred to different bodies, Takeshi Kovacs, a former soldier turned investigator, is released from prison in order to solve a murder.
The first season consists of ten episodes and premiered on Netflix on February 2, 2018. On July 27, 2018, the series was renewed for a second season of eight episodes, which was released on February 27, 2020, with an anime film set before the first season released on March 19, 2020. Though the series received generally positive reviews, it was canceled after two seasons.
The series starts over 360 years in the future, with most episodes of the first season set in the year 2384 in a futuristic metropolis known as Bay City. In the future, a person’s memories and consciousness (termed digital human freight, or DHF) are recorded onto a disk-shaped device called a cortical stack, which is implanted in the vertebrae at the back of the neck.
These storage devices are of alien design and have been reverse-engineered and mass-produced but can only be made from the material on Harlan’s World. Physical human or synthetic bodies are called “sleeves” and stacks can be transferred to new bodies after death, but a person can still be killed if their stack is destroyed and there is no backup.
Only the wealthiest, known as “Meths” in reference to Methuselah, have the means to change bodies through clones and remote storage of their consciousness in satellites, so they never have to die of old age before being resleeved.
Takeshi Kovacs, a political operative with mercenary skills, is the sole surviving soldier of the Envoys, a rebel group defeated in an uprising against the new world order. In the first season, set 250 years after the Envoys are destroyed, his stack is pulled out of prison by 300-year-old Meth Laurens Bancroft, one of the wealthiest men in the settled worlds.
Bancroft offers him the chance to solve a murder—Bancroft’s own—to get a new shot at life. The second season takes place in the early 2410s, set 30 years after the first season: Kovacs, now in a new sleeve, continues to search for his lost love and Envoy leader Quellcrist Falconer.