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Is Amazon Prime Video's The Terminal List Based On True Events?

Amazon Prime Video's "The Terminal List" has been one of the most divisive television shows in recent memory with many people wondering whether the military action series is based on actual events. "I could see this being a true story," wrote Twitter user @GFunkyTheAnimal. Meanwhile, @MichaelVShaw1 said, "I can't figure out if the terminal list is about ptsd or an actual cover up." 

Directed by Antoine Fuqua and based on the novel by former Navy SEAL Jack Carr, "The Terminal List" follows Lieutenant Commander James Reece (Chris Pratt) as he attempts to uncover a massive military conspiracy and exact revenge on the people who murdered his family and entire Navy platoon during a covert mission. Reece embarks on a brutal killing spree, making sure to take out anyone standing in his way. The series wound up bombing with critics, with the Daily Beast calling it "an unhinged Right-wing revenge fantasy" and Variety dubbing the show a "Military Vanity Project for a Charisma-Free Chris Pratt." 

But viewers couldn't have disagreed more, giving it an incredible 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to its 40% critics rating. Not only are fans drawn to the familiar cast of "The Terminal List," but fans also love just how gritty and high-octane it can be at times, and that could be attributed to Carr's military experience. But just how much of the Amazon show is actually based on real-life events? And what was made up in Carr's head?

The Terminal List isn't a true story, but veterans did help make it

According to Jack Carr, the actual story of James Reece and "The Terminal List" is a work of fiction. But it does have realistic elements and themes that have only been experienced by Carr and other military veterans, with many actually being invited on set to help make the show seem as real as possible, per Entertainment Weekly.  

Carr explained in an interview with Washington Post Live, "From the very beginning, what was important to Chris [Pratt] and Antoine [Fuqua] was that, hey, if a veteran sat down and turned this on and watched it, at the very least they'd say, 'You know what, these guys did their homework ...'" 

Since its debut, many viewers have come forward and showered "The Terminal List" with praise for its authenticity. Detractors have used these very same things to tear down the TV series, with one critic from RogerEbert.com calling it "jingoism at its finest, and absolute worst." Carr has strongly defended the series and ultimately believes that any hatred or negativity toward it is the result of today's divisive political climate. "We didn't make it for the critics," Carr told Fox News' Tucker Carlson (via The Hollywood Reporter). "We made it for the soldier, sailor, airman and Marine that went downrange to Iraq and Afghanistan, so they could sit on the couch and say, 'Hey, these guys put in the work. They put in the effort to make something special and make a show that speaks to them.'"