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Is Manifest Based On A True Story?

NBC's supernatural drama "Manifest" follows the passengers on a plane that mysteriously disappears for five years before even more mysteriously reappearing with everyone on board. The people aboard are bewildered to find that the world and the loved ones they left behind have spent the past five years assuming they were dead. Along with trying to adjust to their radical new present, the passengers experience psychic events called "callings" which compel them to perform generous and heroic acts. But why did they disappear in the first place? Where are these callings coming from? And more importantly: to what end? The show has not yet answered any of these questions — and might never get the chance, since "Manifest" was canceled by NBC. But the people behind the show are determined to give "Manifest" fans closure in some way, shape, or form.

One question which does have a more definitive answer, though, is whether or not the show's narrative is based on a true story. Well, there is a real-life event to which the show does have a strong connection.

There's a close connection between Manifest and the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370

Back in March of 2014, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 disappeared over the waters between Malaysia and China. None of the 239 people on board were ever found, deceased or otherwise. Some debris was found which authorities suspect was from the plane, but it's still unclear. Multiple different governments put a lot of time, effort, and money into trying to find out what happened to the plane and its passengers — but we still don't have any definitive answers.

According to a SyFy Wire interview with "Manifest" creator Jeff Rake, he admitted that he came up with the idea for "Manifest" about a decade before MH370 disappeared. It turns out, the story was inspired by "family, togetherness, [and] separation," and not the doomed Malaysian flight. Before Flight 370 disappeared, though, nobody wanted to produce the show. But because the real-life incident made Rake's story pitch more plausible, it gave him the foothold he needed to get his show the green light. Without the tragic disappearance of that flight, Manifesters would never have gotten to experience one of their favorite shows, bittersweet as that idea must sound.