In 1960s New York, alpha male Don Draper struggles to stay on top of the heap in the high-pressure world of Madison Avenue advertising firms. Aside from being one of the top ad men in the business, Don is also a family man, the father of young children.
In 1960 New York City - the high-powered and glamorous "Golden Age" of advertising - Don Draper, the biggest ad man in the business, struggles to stay a step ahead of the rapidly changing times and the young executives nipping at his heels.
Don Draper is reluctant to talk about his past, or his childhood, whether with his wife Betty or his boss Roger Sterling. Joan Holloway teaches Peggy Olsen how to wrangle a free lunch out of some of the ad men. Roger Sterling raises the issue of working for the upcoming Nixon presidential campaign and while Don doesn't have much enthusiasm, senior partner Bert Cooper insists that they will go ahead and orders Don to put a team together. The creative team has to come up with an ad campaign for a new deodorant in an aerosol spray can. Betty Draper's doctor recommends that she see a psychiatrist.
Pete Campbell returns from his honeymoon with tall tales and a big grin on his face. He does tell Peggy Olson that their fling before his marriage was for one night only. Don Draper runs into an old army buddy who knows him under the name of Dick Whitman. He also takes a tour of Rachel Menken's store but in a private moment, their mutual attraction becomes evident. The Drapers have friends over for their daughter's birthday party, including the divorcée who lives down the street. Don however is obviously unhappy with his lot in life and seems to be carrying a burden that is not apparent.
Pete Campbell oversteps the mark when he pitches an idea for ad campaign to the head of Bethlehem Steel without telling Don Draper. Draper wants him fired but learns a lesson in corporate politics. Pete's wife wants to buy a Manhattan apartment but he has to approach his cold and distant parents for a loan. Pete's in-laws, however, are more forthcoming.
Don Draper is shaken when his past life comes back to haunt him. After his picture appears in a local newspaper, Adam Whitman, a man who claims to be his younger brother, approaches him. Don, or Dick as his brother knows him, initially denies everything but in the end admits to having taken on a new name. He refuses however to have anything to do with him and tries to buy his silence. When one of the ad men gets a short story published, Pete Campbell is frustrated that his own stories have yet to see the light of day. When his wife approaches an old beau to see if he will publish the stories, he has an interesting proposition for her.
The Agency is looking to land an advertising contract to promote tourism to Israel. Don and his team try to come with a theme but know so little about the country they're stumped so Don calls Rachel Menken to see if she has any ideas. Roger Sterling is getting tired of sneaking around with Joan Holloway and suggests she should her own apartment but she knows better. Peggy comes up with an advertising concept during a testing session for a new line of lipsticks and she's subsequently asks to write copy.
When Don invites Roger home for dinner, too much alcohol fuels repercussions between Don and Betty and between Don and Roger. Joan puts Roger off for the weekend, spending time with her roommate Carol instead. Pete exchanges a wedding gift for a rifle, and then shares a hunting fantasy with Peggy. Bertram Cooper arranges for the Nixon campaign to meet with him, Roger, Don, and Pete.
Pete Campbell and Peggy Olsen start an office romance. Peggy's copy for the lipstick account goes over well and the men in the firm congratulate her. A new telephone receptionist, Lois Saddler, takes a liking to Salvatore Romano but his own interests seem to lie elsewhere. Don Draper gets an unexpected bonus from Bert Cooper and wants to take Midge on a surprise trip to Paris. She seems too involved with her beatnik friends however. Don reflects on his unhappy childhood and in flashbacks he reveals some life lessons he learned early on when a hobo spent the day working on the family farm in exchange for a meal.
Don is courted by Jim Hobarth, head of a larger ad firm who offers him more money and more creative resources to join them. Betty Draper rekindles her interest in modeling after Hobarth suggests she should try it. She doesn't realize it's all part of the strategy to get Don on board. Peggy Olsen is fretting over her weight gain but doesn't appreciate Joan's advice about getting ahead in the office. The ad team tries to counter the advertising coming out of the Kennedy campaign. Pete Campbell comes up with an idea to keep Kennedy's image off TV in key States.
It's Labor Day weekend and most of the men are sending their wives away for a few days. Don Draper's wife Betty is dreading the thought, as her father and his new girlfriend, whom she detests, will be staying with them. With the election approaching, the team at Sterling Cooper is gloomy since the Nixon campaign has not been following their advice. Roger Sterling was hoping to spend Friday night with Joan Holloway but having just seen the movie, The Apartment (1960), she is feeling a bit used. She plans a night on the town with her old college friend who has some surprising information for her. Don and Roger invite twin sisters from a casting call to join them for a drink but things go badly for Roger who suffers a serious heart attack. After the incident Don ends up spending the night with Rachel Menken where reveals a lot of his inner self.
Peggy is given a difficult assignment. Roger's work problems provide new opportunities for Don, and Pete grows more frustrated. Betty finds a new outlet for her growing dissatisfaction.
On election night, the Sterling Cooper staff pulls a rowdy all-nighter while watching the returns. Pete's ambitions cause him to directly challenge Don.
As Thanksgiving approaches, Don's work responsibilities interfere with his domestic life. Peggy is given a new opportunity, provoking the ire of some of her colleagues. Betty makes a startling discovery.
Megan's surprise party for Don backfires on her; Joan adjusts to life as a mother; Roger and Pete butt heads; Lane dreams of the woman who owns a wallet he had found; SCDP takes a jab at a rival agency caught pulling a racist prank.
Betty has a health scare; SCDP gets Mohawk Airlines' business back; Peggy interviews Michael Ginsberg, a brash young copywriter.
Don has a murderous dream about a woman from the past; Roger pays Peggy to bail him out with the Mohawk campaign; Greg's military assignment threatens his marriage to Joan.
The Campbells host a dinner party; Pete tries to make time with a teenage girl; Lane tries to snare Jaguar but ends up coming to blows with Pete.
Don abandons Megan at an upstate Howard Johnson's; Peggy fights with Abe and then Heinz; Roger and Jane try LSD but then break up.
Don is honored at a banquet; Megan saves the day with Heinz; Roger asks Mona for help and begins an affair with Megan's mother. Peggy expects a proposal from Abe but instead moves in with him.
Megan leaves SCDP to pursue her acting career; Pete has a fling with his train buddy's wife and then obsesses over her; Don tries to understand the music of the day.
Don attempts to regain his creative spark, but undermines a member of his staff while doing so. Roger pursues some new clients, and in the process, hurts Jane. Betty displays her pettiness when she reveals a distressing secret to Sally.
Harry finds himself in an uncomfortable position after reconnecting with Paul Kinsey who has joined the Hare Krishnas. Lane takes drastic and unethical measures to get out of financial trouble. Don spends an afternoon with Joan to get her mind off her marital problems.
Pete asks Joan to make a personal and moral sacrifice to ensure the company lands the Jaguar account. Don becomes furious after learning of the impact Megan's new profession will have on their life. Feeling unappreciated, Peggy attends lunch with Freddy Rumsen, who encourages her to make a move.
Lane's shameful secret comes to the surface with dire consequences. Don recaptures his hunger for success, and Sally experiences a major milestone.
Roger seeks to expand his affair with Megan's mother. Pete has a "last" encounter with Beth with lasting repercussions. Megan struggles to find acting work and asks for Don's help getting an audition. Peggy still seeks Don's approval.
Don deals with life after Betty and a trade-paper interview in which he won't say much about himself.
The agency must throw an impromptu Christmas party for the benefit of Lucky Strike's Lee Garner, Jr.
Don visits Anna Draper and learns some sad news about her health.
An edict from Roger and Lane puts Pete in a personal dilemma.
Don and Pete disregard Roger's plans in order to land a new client.
Peggy clashes with her new creative partner; Don pitches under unusual circumstances.
Don turns to alcohol and Peggy's shoulder to deal with the news of Anna Draper's death that he knows is waiting for him.
Joan and Peggy deal with the boys in the office, Don and Faye draw closer and Henry chafes at Don's lingering shadow.
Peggy is forced to face some unpleasant facts about a client's discriminatory business practices. Don and Faye's burgeoning relationship is tested when Sally runs away from home and turns up at the office. Roger tries to rekindle his affair with Joan.
An unannounced visitor at the Francis home rattles Betty.
Sterling Cooper Draper Price employees resort to scuttlebutt after an agency wide meeting is called.
In the midst of a crisis, Don runs into an old friend.
Don and Peggy are faced with life-altering decisions
Don makes a new friend. Joan meets a client for drinks. Peggy hears impressive new work. Roger has a puzzling phone call.
Peggy receives a bouquet of flowers at the office. Pete navigates the politics of new business. Joan is put in an impossibly awkward situation.
Don takes an impromptu trip. Betty has lunch with a friend. Harry lobbies for a cause. The partners consider a questionable asset.
Sterling Cooper & Partners prepares for a guest; Don contacts an old friend; Roger deals with problems at home; Peggy is underestimated.
Don has a visitor from his past. Stan embarrasses a superior. Peggy helps Ginsberg with a problem. Harry finds that he has a new ally at the agency.
Peggy determinedly collects research for a pitch. Pete is invited to join an exclusive club. Joan looks forward to spending time with her friend.
Don receives a troubling letter. A risky venture entails a new future for Peggy. Roger gets an unexpected phone call. Pete butts heads with Cutler.
Don attempts to track down a friend, Joan tries to solve a problem with an account and an unlikely person sets up Peggy.
Roger gives Don some unwanted advice. Peggy and Stan disagree over an account's personnel. Harry asks for Don's blessing.
Don comes up with a big idea, Roger asks Joan to help him fix a clerical error and Peggy has difficulties casting for a commercial.
Don receives a reward for his work. Joan butts heads with her co-worker on an account. Faced with a big decision, Roger dodges.
Don has trouble sleeping. Pete is blindsided by a difficult friend. Facing a new challenge, Henry arranges a family reunion.
The stories of Don Draper, his family and his co-workers at Sterling Cooper & Partners conclude.
In the third-season opener, Salvatore and Don take a business trip out of town. Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove worry about the changes at Sterling-Cooper and how the changes will impact them.
The writers make an attempt to stave off late-night boredom during a mandatory overtime session. Roger throws a party as Joan and Greg host their own party. Sally has a run-in with Grandpa.
Don and his father-in-law cross paths. Meanwhile, Peggy is in search of a new roommate; and a rich new client is excited to be doing business with the firm.
Sally's behavior causes concern for Don and Betty. Betty has an eye-opening dream that has a strange effect on her. Pete tries to work a new business angle in his dealings.
Sterling Cooper receives a surprise visitor; Sally has been spooked by something (or someone); and Joan receives some shocking news.
Betty tries her hand at local politics. Don is forced into thinking about the future. Peggy receives a luxurious gift.
Don decides to include Betty on a company business trip. Pete lends a hand to a neighbor in his apartment building.
There is trouble for Don and Sal in giving their clients what they ask for. Meanwhile, Betty hosts a fundraiser.
The firm celebrates as they hit a milestone. Peggy and Paul compete to secure the same account.
A former client makes a return; Betty and her kids go on a trip; and Joan and Greg make plans for their future.
Peggy's taste in men proves questionable. Pete has to make a big decision about his career and a candidate makes a big impression on Don.
Don has a big meeting with Connie about their future relationship. Betty is the beneficiary of some interesting advice and Pete has a serious sit-down with some clients.
It’s Valentine’s Day, and the Sterling Cooper advertising agency is hustling to stay on top of its game and buzzing over the newest office equipment. Don and Duck find themselves at odds over an account. Betty reconnects with an old friend and once again finds herself struggling with car trouble.
Paul hosts a party at his apartment and introduces someone special to his Sterling Cooper colleagues. Peggy visits her family for dinner. Despite a conflict of interest, the Sterling Cooper agency aggressively pursues an airline account and Duck attempts to appeal to the client using an unorthodox approach.
Trouble arises on the set of a commercial; Harry tries to gather support for a controversial sponsorship; Betty and Don try to appease a client with a friendly dinner.
Peggy's family hosts a lunch for their church's new priest; Don and Betty enjoy a weekend together; Freddy and Ken take a client out to lunch; the staff works to prepare for a last minute pitch meeting.
Don has to deal with issues between a TV comedian and his wife; Joan finds Don the perfect secretary.
Don and Duck try to make peace; Peggy tries to get into the executive's after-hours meetings; Duck deals with a family visit.
Don buys a new car; Pete, Harry and Ken strategize to attract new business; Don's secretary makes a grave error; Cooper has a new piece of art in his office.
Peggy contributes on a church project; Duck and Don try to create market appeal for a foreign beer brand; Harry recruits assistance to help with the workload in his department.
Freddy Rumsen disappoints his team during a pitch. Pete finds an opportunity at the office to exploit while Don proves his loyalty to an old friend. Betty finds a welcome distraction in Sara Beth.
Betty visits her father; Paul's girlfriend tries to convince him to prioritize his duties; Pete's mother disapproves of his and Trudy's idea.
Don makes some new friends on his trip to Los Angeles; Peggy looks for romance; Duck ponders the future of Sterling Cooper.
Don meets up with an old friend; Pete's personal life presents problems; Joan brings her boyfriend to the office.
The office scrambles without Don; Betty learns some disconcerting news.
Don and Megan take a trip to Hawaii for the holidays, Sally's friend visits the Francis family, a comedian torpedoes Peggy's Super Bowl ad campaign, and Roger gets some bad news about his mother.
While Don continues his affair with Sylvia, Pete's latest infidelity threatens his marriage. Meanwhile, Peggy's icy relationship with her new staff continues, but she also gets an unlikely tip on a potential new client.
Don works in secret on a Heinz ketchup campaign while Megan gets a love scene on the set of her soap opera. Meanwhile, Harry makes his power play while Joan has more trouble with the secretaries.
Set among the events surrounding Martin Luther King's assassination, Peggy tries to get a new apartment, Ginsberg is set up on a date, and Don has a revelation during his weekend with the kids.
As the firm prepares to go public, Don and Pete's actions cause them to lose two huge clients. However, Roger uses a new connection to put them in position to gain their biggest client ever.
Things quickly become awkward after the two firms merge, Don asserts his dominance over Sylvia, Pete has to deal with his ailing mother, and Bob Benson helps out a sick Joan.
The creative department has a wild, drug-influenced weekend as they work on the Chevy account, Don has trouble letting go of Sylvia, and Sally walks in on an unwelcome intruder.
Peggy becomes unsatisfied with her apartment and with Abe, Don has an eventful weekend with Betty while Megan has problems on the set, Roger has time with his grandson, and Pete begins exploring his options outside the firm.
Cutler and Chaough prepare to make radical changes to the firm while Sterling and Draper are visiting a client in Los Angeles. Joan's decision to go after a new account on her own leaves Pete furious and frustrated.
Don is preoccupied with keeping Sylvia's son from being drafted, Peggy has a rat in her apartment, Don and Ted bury the hatchet, Pete has a problem with his mother's new nurse, and Sally makes an accidental discovery about her father.
Don renews his battle with Ted after seeing his relationship with Peggy, Sally interviews at a boarding school, and Pete discovers Bob Benson's background.