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Is Manifest Based On A True Story? Real-Life Inspirations Explained

Though Manifest includes fantasy elements, many have wondered if the show was inspired by a real event. Here are the true story connections.

Despite the inclusion of several fantasy elements, many have wondered while watching if Manifest is any way based on a true story. The premise of the show centers on the strange vanishing (and sudden reappearance) of a commercial airline. For five years, the passengers onboard went missing from the world and returned without realizing that more than a few hours had passed.

Lasting for three seasons before being abruptly cancelled, Manifest involves a lot of personal drama as it shows how these people have to reintegrate with both society and their families. As many would expect if something like this had happened in real-life, the Flight 828 passengers were understandably devastated to see how some of their loved ones had moved on without them. Not only that, but they also had to deal with the unwanted attention that came with their inexplicable plight. In a lot of ways, Manifest’s character arcs feel like a realistic approach to such a scenario, but there’s also a number of fantasy and science fiction tropes that complicate matters for them, such as the mysterious messages and prophetic visions known as the Callings that come from an unknown source.

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Related: Manifest: How Captain Daly’s Return Can Set Up An Early Ending

Manifest isn’t based on a true story per se, but it is connected in some way to the unexplained disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which perplexed millions of people when the story broke in March 2014. On the way to China from a Malaysian airport, the plane disappeared and was surprisingly never found. There were over 200 people on the plane, and none of them were ever found. Multiple governments worked together on search-and-rescue efforts, but nothing ever came of them. Some pieces of possible debris have since been found, but the real fate of Flight 370 remains an ongoing mystery, though investigators have their theories on what may have happened.

It would seem that the Malaysian Airlines incident and all the questions it presented from the public and the media does indeed have a link to Manifest’s story. Series creator and showrunner Jeff Rake has acknowledged in an interview that Flight 370 plays a “pivotal role” in the show, even if he came up with the initial idea for Manifest before it actually happened. Rake says that he thought of the idea during a family trip to the Grand Canyon while thinking about “togetherness” and “separation”. He tried pitching the concept to different networks, but to no avail. However, when the Malaysian Airlines flight disappeared, his idea felt “a little more real”. Rake claims that the “in the context of Malaysian Air”, people began to develop an interest in bringing Manifest to life.

While the idea itself wasn’t born from the missing Malaysian airplane, it seems that the series getting into the development phase is owed in part to the real-life tragedy, which made its story feel more relevant than it did before. The many mysteries featured in Manifest are all pure fiction of course, but how the plane disappearance captivated the public in the show may very well have had real-life inspirations.

More: Manifest Season 3 Quietly Solved A Big Season 1 Mystery

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