- "But then mankind created the power to build God, a machine more powerful than any human mind could ever be. The fate of our existence just handed to an AI with the ability to monitor each and every shifting timeline, while we blindly obey its orders with the belief that salvation will come."
- — Vincent Ingram
The Director is a highly advanced quantum AI program that created the Grand Plan and calculates the T.E.L.L.s which make the consciousness transfers possible. In the first episode of season 3, The Director defines itself as "a sentient multi-zettaflop quantum frame."
Throughout the majority of the first season, the audience is never given any indication that the Director is anything other than human. The Director was always referred to by name - no one used the "it" pronoun until Grace Day reveals that she rebooted the Director in the season finale. Characters often speak of the Director as if it were a person making decisions ("I have faith in the Director's plan," or "The Director won't like that.")
The final episode of the season established the Director's true identity as a superintelligent entity that controls not only the time travel program, but the government itself. Use of the program to allocate resources and protect the shelters has kept humanity alive. However, members of the anti-Director faction object to an AI making decisions they'd rather make themselves and intend to destroy it.
- Simon (Travelers 004 and 5069)
- Pike (009)
- Ellis (014)
- Foster (0017)
- Grace Day (0027)
- Jones (0029); later revealed to have betrayed the Director and joined the Faction
Grace, Simon (004), and Ellis are the only programmers who are specified as creators of the Director. Other programmers may have assisted in its creation, while some may have become programmers after the fact.
A man named Robert Fraser discovered a new element in 2068. This element proved vital to the creation of room-temperature superconductors - equipment used to create the Director. Subsequent leaps in quantum computing eventually lead to the creation of artificial superintelligence.
The Director was built in a mountain range along the United State-Canada border at an unspecified point in the future.
The Director is programmed to ensure the survival of humanity by any means necessary. This primarily involves sending humans backwards through time to correct the mistakes made by their ancestors "at peril of [their] own birth." This is known as the Traveler program. Travelers are responsible for enacting the Grand Plan, a list of changes to the past that are intended to mitigate humankind's near-extinction.
The first mission ordered by the Director was proof of concept. Traveler 001 was sent into a host who worked in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, minutes before the attack. He was ordered to send a message indicating he had arrived safely, then die to prevent being traced. When the Traveler in question failed to send the message and escaped the building unscathed, the Director dedicated vast resources and personnel to tracking him - even killing two people via messenger just to order 001 to "self-terminate."
The Traveler program may have been put on hold in the future after the defection of 001. Simon - himself Traveler 004 - claims to have spent years searching for Vincent Ingram's voice. Simon's own mission from the Director was to set up the deep web communication network used by the Travelers.
According to the original historical record, Earth is struck by asteroid Helios-685 in 2018, an event that kills over 93 million people. One iteration of the Grand Plan centered around deflecting this asteroid. This proved insufficient; the future did not change substantially after the Travelers prevented the impact.
The entirety of the Grand Plan is not know to any Traveler; teams are separated and assigned their own missions, and Protocol 6 forbids inter-team communication except in emergencies.
Events that occurred during the year 2016 changed the future in unforeseen ways. A bunker which originally collapsed became the birthplace of the Faction in this alternate timeline. The Faction eventually gained enough power to pose a threat to the Director. In response, it ordered Ellis to travel to the 21st and build a quantum frame, a device capable of storing the Director. This way if the Director's existence were ever in danger, it could send itself back in time. However, it later ordered the destruction of the same device, since it could also be used by the Faction to store human consciousnesses.
After Grace reset the Director to prevent it from being corrupted, the Faction was able to seize control and shut it down. The Traveler program continued to run, with the Faction impersonating the Director and ordering Travelers on missions they agreed with. Trevor Holden was able to place a device in the Director's future location which powered the Director for three seconds - enough time for it to regain control of the Traveler program. Afterwards, the Director ordered its disciples to hunt down and execute Faction members still alive in the past.
Following a mass capture of Faction agents, the Director ordered the arrest and trial of Grace Day for interfering with the Grand Plan. The Director had determined that one of the three remaining programmers was a Faction turncoat, so it sent all three suspects back in time to review the historical record. Grace was never actually suspected of being the Faction traitor, and her "trial" was only ever a cover. It revealed the ploy to Grace during her sentencing, speaking to her in real time by use of elderly people on life support as messengers. The Director seemed to be genuinely fond of Grace (although it was left ambiguous as to whether the Director fond of her as a parent, child, or peer); it ended the conversation by saying "Thank you for saving me, Grace. I shall miss you."
- "Discovery was inevitable at this juncture of the Grand Plan. Cooperation with 21st century authorities is now the optimal path."
- — The Director
In 2018 a coordinated effort by world intelligence agencies located conclusive proof of the existence of the Traveler program. Rather than continue to cover its tracks, the Director chose to reveal its existence the world governments by speaking through Ilsa, an advanced artificial intelligence developed in the 21st.
When a Traveler team was deemed non-viable, the Director created a powerful messenger program to complete a mission preventing a nuclear plant from melting down. The Messenger failed to shut off and remained in its host. The Director eventually spoke to the Messenger (who had possessed the body of Trevor Holden) and offered it a domain within itself. The Messenger was then reabsorbed into the Director.
Later the Director summoned Trevor again, who was now suffering from temporal aphasia. The two spoke privately, wherein they agreed to use Trevor's body as a host for a new Traveler. The plan did not move forward, however.
The first iteration of the Traveler program failed when the Faction launched nuclear attacks on the Director's archives. While the attacks did not blind the Director as intended, they set in motion a chain of events that - coupled with further interference from Traveler 001 - led to nuclear warfare long before it was "fated" to happen. Using a program that the Director uploaded to Ilsa, Grant MacLaren traveled back in time to prevent the arrival of 001. This resulted in the termination of Version One and the inception of Version Two.