In an interview with Shonda Rhimes, she revealed that the fourth season would highlight Darby Stanchfield's character, Abby Whelan. She said "Season 4 is Abby's season. That was by design. A lot of what we know about Abby happens this season." Rhimes also confirmed the speculation about the fate of the character Harrison Wright, which she confirmed was that he was killed.She said that all the people at OPA will cope in different ways to Harrison's death, Olivia the hardest. Rhimes said "It will be very devastating for Abby in a surprising way. You'll see how she's coping with it in a very different way than you would expect." Olivia will deal with her betrayal to everyone she left behind, when she hears about the fate of Harrison. The betrayals changed everyone permanently, and Olivia will have to deal with it.
Shonda Rhimes stated that the fourth season will focus more on the core characters, as opposed to the third season where more characters were introduced. Rhimes explained why: "Kerry Washington couldn't work 14 hours a day, so we had to tell our story in a different way, and that necessitated other people both picking up the slack in beautiful ways
Nearly two months after Olivia and Jake boarded a private jet to stand in the sun together, everything has changed. With another four years in the White House, Fitz and Cyrus are doing everything they can to make a positive impact on the nation. Meanwhile, Mellie struggles to cope with the loss of her son and the gladiators feel the impact of Olivia’s absence.
In order for Fitz to make the biggest impact with his State of the Union address on gun control, Cyrus sets out to recruit a power couple who are influential on the issue. Meanwhile, Mellie’s personal struggle gets national attention.
An old friend returns for help after her daughter goes missing, Cyrus has an awkward run in during a business breakfast, and Jake uses his connections to get some answers. Meanwhile, Mellie becomes obsessed with a national news story and David goes to great lengths to prove himself.
Fitz asks Olivia to shut down a situation that could destroy the Grant family’s reputation. Meanwhile, Rowan calls on an old friend to do his dirty work.
Olivia and the team continue to investigate Catherine's case, but Olivia is distracted when Jake stops returning her calls. Meanwhile, Cyrus falls deeper into the rabbit hole with Michael, David realizes what it's like to finally be a winner in DC and Fitz seeks answers to Jerry's death.
Olivia is summoned by a convicted assassin who claims he was wrongly accused, and Mellie becomes intrigued by a former first lady whose stories seem to be strikingly similar to her own. Meanwhile, Elizabeth inches closer to corrupting the White House and Fitz makes a shocking move.
Olivia, still unable to believe that Jake is guilty, sets her eyes on Tom for additional information, and when Leo Bergen’s newest client causes a gut wrenching reaction, her associates spring into action. Meanwhile, Huck continues to play with fire, Mellie makes a power move and Elizabeth’s shocking alliance is revealed.
Fitz and Jake continue to fight over Olivia, but Olivia needs them to focus on the real prize, taking down Command. Meanwhile, Huck longs to connect with his family and Quinn continues tracking Kubiak. Back at the White House, Cyrus’ exploits finally catch up to him, but Elizabeth North's plan is much bigger than anyone ever expected.
Command is always two steps ahead and everyone in Olivia's life is in danger. Meanwhile, Cyrus is forced to face the consequences of his behavior, and Huck and Quinn finally figure out just what Elizabeth North has been planning, but they might be too late to stop it.
The winter premiere picks up right where the finale left off, this time from Olivia’s point of view. Exactly what happened when Jake went to the bedroom? Who took Olivia and where did she go?
With Olivia still missing, the team comes together to do whatever it takes to find her and get her home safely.
As the gladiators watch from a far, countries around the world begin to bid on Olivia Pope. Meanwhile, Andrew and Fitz go toe to toe.
As the bidding for Olivia Pope continues, the gladiators fight to save her but The White House fears that they may lose her for good.
A tragedy in D.C. gains national attention and the White House must deal with their problematic VP.
David Rosen is caught off guard when a surprise visitor reveals insider information about B613 that could take down the White House and destroy Pope & Associates.
Olivia springs into action when she hears of a woman intending to expose sex secrets of some of DC’s most elite. Meanwhile, Elizabeth fears that Mellie’s sister could be detrimental to their political aspirations.
When Michael gets himself in a bad situation, the Gladiators launch into damage control and put pressure on Cyrus to move up the wedding. Meanwhile, David takes the first step in executing his plan to take down B613.
David tries to recruit former B613 agents to strengthen his case. Meanwhile, a congressman asks Olivia to help his father escape his looming death penalty.
With Rowan back in town, the stakes are at an all-time high for the team trying to take down B613. Meanwhile, Olivia gets a call that the mayor’s wife has been murdered and is asked to take on the case. Back in the White House, Fitz needs help getting a very important bill to pass, but when he looks to the VP for support, she proves that she’s not an easy pushover like everyone once thought.
The team taking down B613 is in serious danger and forced to take drastic measures to ensure their safety. In the White House, Mellie is mortified when the nation turns against her and Cyrus is forced to come to her defense.
Vice President Ross continues to defy the Grant administration when she hires Olivia Pope to defend a woman in the Navy. Meanwhile, Quinn and Huck must do what they do best to get answers about B613 and Mellie’s campaign for Senate continues to be a struggle.