Manifest
Source: NBC

'Manifest' Brilliantly Lets Viewers Know the Death Dates of Its Main Characters

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Apr. 23 2021, Updated 9:18 a.m. ET

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Manifest.

If you watch a lot of movies and television, it becomes apparent that at a basic plot level, a lot of shows and films are very similar and a bit repetitive. I'd argue that the same could be said of life in general, but the way to spice things up is specificity. 

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Can a person — or in the case of entertainment, an entire production team — take a familiar subject and zhuzh it up by finding a unique angle? The death dates in Manifest do just that for the series.

manifest death dates
Source: NBC
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Are the death dates in 'Manifest' a convenient plot device? Maybe, but fans seem to love it.

If you're a horror film buff, then you're probably more than familiar with the plot of the Final Destination films. The movies all start out the same: There's a main character who receives a vision of how they, their friends, and a bunch of other people are all going to die in some horrific, freak accident.

They decide to act on said premonition and avert the tragedy from happening. However, in doing so, they've tempted fate, and it turns out that fate doesn't really like to be trifled with that much. So the entire movie revolves around this group of plucky kids doing their best in order to best the amorphous boogeyman of fate that's looking to kill them. 

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Manifest takes that premise but also combines it with elements of Lost, parts of Passengers, and aspects of Stephen King's The Langoliers. While there are tons of different homages that NBC's Manifest makes to titles like these, it manages to differentiate itself by putting the death dates front and center.

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In Manifest, 191 passengers aboard Montego Air Flight 828 experience a brief bout of turbulence in the air and then land in Stewart International Airport in Newburgh, NY.

It turns out, however, that the bout of turbulence was some type of crazy event that accelerated time some five and a half years forward. When the characters land in Newburgh, life, as they know it, has completely changed. Every single one of the characters is presumed dead, and their lives are vastly different now than when they left for Jamaica.

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Not only are they having a heck of a time trying to re-integrate into society, but they must now deal with premonitions of the future that they can see and hear, referred to as "callings." To top it all off, every character has their own death date, and people start dying one by one.

But one of the show's main characters, Zeke Landon, seems to survive his death date.

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He does so by following the "callings" that occur to him, no matter how terrifying. In one, he dies of hypothermia in a lake and is revived. But the mysteries that pile up on the show indicate that there's a lot more to everything that's going on with Flight 828 than the passengers realize.

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'Manifest' Season 3, Episode 4: "Tailspin" looks deeper into the tail fin mystery.

Like any good mystery program, any time the characters learn something new, a bunch of other questions begin to pop up. This is exactly what happened when a Cuban fishing boat extricates the tail fin of flight 828 from the ocean. Somewhere between Jamaica and Florida, that airplane crashed.

So how in the world does that make sense since it also seemed to land safely? Well, there are a lot of interesting theories out there, but a prevailing one seems to be that there was some kind of government experiment having to do with time jumps or "portals." 

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Perhaps the passengers who were aboard the flight were able to jump forward in time, which made things very messy. If you want to know how messy, just check out Looper. That flick does a pretty good job of explaining the headiness of time travel.

The only thing to do is keep watching to see if these questions that keep piling up start getting answered.

Manifest airs on NBC Thursdays at 8 p.m. EST.

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