The show starts with Quinn being approached by Harrison with an impossible-to-refuse job offer. When she hears that Olivia Pope & Associates wants to hire her, he immediately accepts and is introduced to the whole team. She finds out that they’re not attorneys, as she originally thought, but handlers: a client comes in with a problem, they fix it, using whatever means necessary.
Cyrus asks Olivia for her help in a matter involving the President. He wants her to handle a White House staffer named Amanda Tanner, who claims she had an affair with the leader of the free world. Olivia, accompanied by Quinn, brutally confronts Amanda about her lie and talks about the dire consequences of making it public, leaving her devastated. Amanda tries to kill herself, so Quinn tells Olivia that she feels like Amanda is telling the truth. After a meeting with the President, Olivia has a change of heart and decides to take Amanda on as her client. She starts to believe her story.
Quinn runs into a reporter named Gideon Wallace, who is working on a story about Amanda. Olivia is able to make a deal with Gideon, by trading him a different story to run with. Later, Amanda confesses she has proof of her affair with the President, so she demands a meeting with him before giving it to Olivia. Cyrus receives an anonymous recording of the President seemingly having sex with a White House aide, so he assumes that Amanda and Olivia are blackmailing him; thus refusing to agree to the meeting. However, Amanda reveals to Olivia that her proof is infallible: she’s pregnant.
Amanda decides to go public with the affair and the pregnancy. When Cyrus finds out about her intentions, he tells the President and they declare war on Olivia. Shortly after, Amanda is mysteriously attacked and killed.
Huck tracks down an old colleague, a hitman named Charlie, who was involved in Amanda’s death, and tortures him in order to find out the location of the body. Meanwhile, Fitz denies to Olivia any involvement in Amanda’s death. After finding her body, Olivia discovers that Amanda was indeed pregnant, but the father wasn’t actually Fitz.
During his investigation, the reporter Gideon unravels the fact that Amanda had a boyfriend, and he suspects she was seeing the Vice President’s right-hand, Billy Chambers. Billy shows up at Gideon’s apartment to confront him. It turns out that Billy convinced Amanda to claim she was having an affair with the President, mainly due to his devotion to Sally Langston, the VP. He wanted to see her in the Oval. In fact, he even recorded Fitz and Olivia having sex two years prior, but Sally refused to make the recording public. The confrontation heats up when Billy finds out that Amanda was pregnant. He stabs Gideon in the neck and flees the scene.
Quinn, who was in a relationship with Gideon, returns to his apartment only to find him fighting for his life. She’s unable to save him, so she reaches out to her coworkers for help her instead of calling the police. Turns out, she’s afraid to reveal her true identity. However, David, the attorney, starts investigating the murder and realizes that Quinn is somehow involved. He tricks her into giving him her fingerprints and finds out who she really is.
Meanwhile, Billy Chambers admits to the public that he was having an affair with Amanda and he claims that the President took advantage of her and that he has a recording that proves it. Much to his surprise though, he first lady, Mellie, who has been on top of the situation from the very beginning, decides to save the day. She holds a press conference claiming that she is the woman having sex with the President in the recording and announcing to the world that she’s pregnant.
Later, Charlie admits that Billy isn’t the only one who ordered him to kill Amanda; Cyrus hired him as well. The season ends with Quinn being arrested, to everyone’s shock. As a side note, Stephen leaves the firm to move to Boston and marry his girlfriend.
The second season picks up six months later, with Olivia working hard to get Quinn out of prison. It turns out that Quinn’s real name is Lindsay Dwyer. She has been framed for a bombing that killed her boyfriend and six of his coworkers. Quinn claims that someone drugged her shorty after and she woke up with a new identity. We later discover that Huck is the one who gave her this new identity, under Olivia’s instructions. Olivia contacts Supreme Court Justice Verna Thornton and calls in a favor. Verna is able to make the judge exonerate Quinn, leaving U.S attorney David Rosen furious.
David starts to investigate the murders on his own. He believes that there’s a conspiracy behind the attack; otherwise Olivia Pope wouldn’t have interfered. He also starts dating Abby, who helps him with the investigation. He starts suspecting that a lobbyist for an energy company named Hollis Doyle is somehow involved with the murders. However, Hollis refuses to give him any information. Later, Hollis, Cyrus, Mellie, Verna, and Olivia have a meeting to discuss the David Rosen situation. It turns out that they all conspired to rig the election, so that Fitz would win. In fact, Hollis hired Quinn’s boyfriend to tamper with the voting equipment. On the night of his birthday gala, President Fitz is shot by an unknown sniper. Vice President Sally Langston takes over as President, due to Fitz’s critical condition.
David teams up with Cyrus’ husband James, who is a reporter, to help him find out the truth about Defiance – the town where the election was rigged. James is able to discover enough evidence to use in court. When he is subpoenaed though, he decides to protect his husband and lies under oath.
Huck is framed for killing the President by his girlfriend Becky who, we later find out, was hired by Verna to shoot Fitz. Olivia asks David to let Huck go free and she and the team work on capturing Becky. They trick her into showing up at the hospital and they have her arrested.
Fitz eventually wakes up from his coma and decides that he wants to divorce Mellie and be with Olivia. The First Lady desperately tries to keep him from leaving her; she even orders her OB-GYN to induce labor early. This doesn’t change Fitz’s mind. However, he finds out about Verna being behind his assassination attempt and kills her. Before she dies, she tells him the truth about Defiance. Fitz ends up staying with Mellie, because he can’t handle Olivia’s betrayal. Ten months later, Olivia is trying to move on with her life and she runs into a charming stranger named Jake Ballard, who starts flirting with her. Meanwhile, David wakes up next to a dead woman named Wendy and goes to Olivia for help. The team finds out that Wendy’s job is to sleep with men to discover their secrets and sell them.
The President learns that there’s a mole leaking classified information from the White House, so everyone tries to find out his identity. Olivia and her team believe that there’s a connection between Wendy’s death and the mole, who is revealed to be Billy Chambers. He was working with David Rosen to acquire the Cytron card and prove that the election was rigged. David reveals Billy as the mole and tricks him with a false card. Simultaneously, he uses the real card to blackmail Cyrus into getting him reinstated as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.
Meanwhile, Olivia finds out that Jake works for a covert government agency called B613, run by a powerful man named Rowan. Rowan has ordered Jake to keep an eye on Olivia. Later, Mellie threatens to tell the world about Fitz affair with Olivia if he doesn’t stay loyal to her. Fitz chooses Olivia over Mellie, even though he’s planning to announce his re-election and a scandal could ruin his campaign.
The season ends with the world finding out about Fitz and Olivia’s affair and the reveal that Rowan is Olivia’s father.
Rowan tries to convince Olivia to vanish for a while, because everyone is now talking about the affair between the former White House Communications Director and the President. Olivia declines and starts working to find a way to contain the scandal. Mellie, Cyrus and Olivia team up together to make the public believe that Fitz’s mistress is a White House employee named Jeannine Locke. Later on, Mellie discovers that Fitz was the one who leaked Olivia’s name to the press.
Meanwhile, Huck and Jake start investigating B613 alongside Rowan, and discover a secret operation called “Remington,” that somehow involves the President. They later find out that Fitz shot down a civilian aircraft killing its 300 passengers, including Olivia’s mother, Maya Lewis. They inform Olivia about their discovery and she confronts Fitz, who refuses to give her a straight answer. Huck and Jake’s investigation leads them to believe that a passenger was removed from the flight by the Federal Marshall right before the plane left the ground.
Quinn is hanging out with Charlie, but he proves unworthy of her attention. He sets her up for the murder of a guy who witnessed the Federal Marshall removing the passenger from the flight. Huck becomes really angry at Quinn and tortures her, so she decides to leave the firm and start working with Charlie for B613.
Olivia and the team find out that Maya is the one who didn’t make it to the plane and that she has been imprisoned by Rowan for 20 years. However, Maya manages to escape and she contacts Olivia, who arranges a plane for her to flee the country. Later, Olivia is shocked to learn that her mother is actually a terrorist.
In the meantime, Fitz’s re-election campaign becomes complicated when Vice President Sally Langston announces she’s running for President as well. Cyrus decides to find a way to blackmail her out of the race. He pushes his husband, James, to flirt with her husband, Daniel. James figures out Cyrus’ plan and sleeps with Daniel to punish him. However, Sally finds out and becomes so furious that she murders her husband in cold blood. Feeling guilty, Cyrus helps her cover up the murder.
Later, David Rosen comes across a recording of the call Sally made to Cyrus and shares his suspicions with James. Cyrus asks Jake, who became head of B613 in the meantime, for help. In response, Jake kills James, but spares David’s life.
Fitz hires the Governor of California, Andrew Nichols, as his new Vice Presidential running-mate. It turns out that Andrew shares a romantic history with Mellie, whose feelings towards him are awakened again. They start seeing each other behind the President’s back.
Maya teams up with Adnan Salif, a woman from Harrison’s past, and plans to acquire a bomb. In fact, she uses the bomb to blow up a church where Sally Langston is headed. Sally appears on television as a hero helping the victims of a tragedy, which makes her rise in the polls. On Election Day, Fitz’s son, Jerry, dies from poisoning, driving everyone to believe that Maya is responsible. However, it’s his death that makes Fitz win the election.
Later, Harrison discovers that Rowan is the one who poisoned the President’s son to help him win. In fact, he also framed Maya and imprisoned her again. To keep him quiet, Rowan shoots Harrison in cold blood. The season ends with Olivia heading off to the sunset with Jake to start a new life, leaving everyone behind.
Two months after Olivia left with Jake, Quinn finally tracks her down and convinces her to come back for Harrison’s funeral. Olivia returns to find that almost everyone has moved on from Olivia Pope & Associates. Abby is now working in the White House as the Press Secretary, while Huck is working at an electronic store. Olivia and Quinn are able to convince him to come back to the firm, but aren’t able to get through to Abby.
Meanwhile, Mellie is grieving her son and refusing to attend any events with her husband. She eventually pulls herself together after learning that her son didn’t die from natural causes, but was actually murdered.
Rowan frames Jake for Jerry’s murder, by forcing his accomplice, Tom, to accuse him. Olivia works hard to defend him and prove his innocence. She compels Tom to admit that Rowan is responsible for the child’s death. Fitz, Olivia and Jake collaborate and come up a plan to arrest Rowan. However, the plan fails, so Olivia tries to kill her father herself. He escapes.
In the meantime, Olivia’s friend, Catherine, comes to her for help. Her daughter is killed and is framed for the murder. Quinn and Huck find out who the killer is and they discover something shocking: the killer is conspiring with the Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Elizabeth North, and the Vice President, Andrew Nichols.
The first half of the season ends with Elizabeth North and Andrew Nichols kidnapping Olivia Pope, counting on the fact that Fitz would do anything to save her.