The series is set in the near future, where aliens known collectively as Votans have come to Earth seeking a new home after their solar system was destroyed. However, when they reached Earth they discovered that despite a prolonged negotiation with the government on Earth they were not welcome. Rather than turn away, they began a war with the humans as they are determined to make Earth their new home. During the war, the Votans drop terraformers on the planet and transform the surface of the planet; scorching the earth, opening chasms in the ground and covering the surface of the planet in dust and debris. After decades of war, a ceasefire is declared when both side realise that they must focus on survival on this new almost alien planet. The series largely revolves around the character of Jeb Nolan. Jeb was only ten years old when the Votans arrived and he served in the military during the war. With the war now over, he returns to his hometown of St Louis to find that its is no longer the city he left; it is little more than a refugee camp. Deciding that his services are needed, Jeb takes up a position as the Chief Lawkeeper in DEFIANCE, so he can protect the town from dangerous clashes between humans and aliens, military scavengers and others dangerous visitors who occasionally enter the town.
Kiwi actor Grant Bowler (True Blood, Ugly Betty) plays Nolan, former soldier and newly appointed law keeper in the bustling frontier town of DEFIANCE. Julie Benz (Dexter, No Ordinary Family) plays Amanda Rosewater, the idealistic mayor of DEFIANCE who is committed to maintaining peace in a deadly new world. The Oscar-nominated actor Graham Greene (Dances With Wolves) plays Rafe McCawley, richest man in Defiance and owner of the largest mine in the territory. Jaime Murray (SPARTACUS) portrays Stahma Tarr, a highly influential member of the elite Castithan alien race. Tony Curran (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Blade II) plays Datak Tarr, scheming Castithan alien and ark survivor. Stephanie Leonidas plays Irisa, Nolan’s ward and Irathient alien warrior. Fionulla Flanagan will portray Nicky, popular ex-mayor of DEFIANCE and mentor to Amanda. Mia Kirshner (24, The L Word) plays Kenya, the town madam of DEFIANCE whose devotion has woven her into many of the city’s affairs.
The show will be directed by Scott Stewart who helmed sf films PRIEST and LEGION, and is produced by producers of FARSCAPE, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, V, ALIEN NATION, SEAQUEST... The authors of the show are also producing a Defiance MMO video game which will be connected to the series! X-FILES star Gillian Anderson was first considered for the role of Stahma or Amanda but the producers didn't approach her thinking she wouldn't return to TV again. The Votans actually consist of seven different alien races, and the studio even hired a linguist who developed two full languages for the alien races of the Castithans and the Irathients