Was NBC's 'Manifest' Based on This Mysterious Plane Crash?

Is 'Manifest' based on a true story? Read to learn more about the 2014 Malaysia Airlines mystery that may have inspired NBC series creator Jeff Rake.

Pretty Honore - Author

Jun. 10 2021, Published 7:22 p.m. ET

Melissa Roxburgh as Michaela Stone, Matt Long as Zeke Landon
Source: NBC

Unfortunately, most of us are only able to visit our gone-too-soon loved ones in our dreams. But the same isn’t true for the 192 passengers who were aboard Flight 828, who we later learned were in a fatal plane crash and somehow lived to tell the tale — or so we believe.

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NBC’s Manifest made its debut on television in 2019 and, three seasons later, the mystery of what really happened on April 7, 2013, remains unsolved. But is Manifest based on a true story?

J.R. Ramirez as Jared Vazquez, Melissa Roxburgh as Michaela Stone, Matt Long as Zeke Landon, Ellen Tamaki as Drea Mikami
Source: NBC
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Is ‘Manifest’ based on a true story?

In an interview with SyFy, series creator Jeff Rake revealed that although the show is not based on a true story, Manifest only came to be after the disappearance of the passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March of 2014. 

On the flight, which was traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, there were a total of 227 passengers and 12 crew members who were never seen again. Despite efforts to recover survivors and determine what caused the plane to go off course and subsequently crash, authorities were only able to recover debris.

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Jeff said that, although he had initially pitched the concept for Manifest years ago, the story only caught fire after tragedy struck. He explained, "I pitched [Manifest] around [a decade ago], nobody wanted it.”

Josh Dallas as Ben Stone, Ed Herbstmann as Troy Davis
Source: NBC
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He added, “[And] then, seven years later, Malaysian Airlines happened and suddenly my crazy idea felt a little more real, a little more relatable, in the context of Malaysian Air, suddenly people were interested."

Although the show mirrors real-life events, the supernatural elements of the series make it abundantly clear that the series isn’t based on a true story. But is Manifest a religious show?

Is ‘Manifest’ a religious show?

Although Manifest hasn’t revealed who or what is behind the mystery of Flight 828, there have been several Easter eggs throughout the last three seasons that highlight the show’s religious undertones. For example, viewers learned that the flight number of the lost passengers happens to be 828, which is a reference to the bible verse that was sewn into Michaela's pillow before her mom died.

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Melissa Roxburgh as Michaela Stone
Source: NBC

Romans 8:28 reads, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Along with the show’s title, here are several other religious parallels in Manifest that haven’t gone unnoticed by viewers.

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On Reddit, one fan wrote, “I'm fairly anti-religious, and I love this show. Believe it or not, it's not as religious as you'd think. Yes, some characters lean towards explaining the unknown with religion, but that's only to be expected in a world full of religious people. But the show also does a great job of guiding us away from the religious explanations, too.”

“We live in a world full of religion, so we expect there to be some of it and won't turn away just for that,” they added. “And so far, it's doing a wonderful job.”

You can watch the Season 3 finale of Manifest on June 10 at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.

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