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The Biggest Challenge Manifest's Creator Faced With Season 4 On Netflix

For every canceled TV show, there's likely a group of fans mourning what they feel was a premature end. Not every show can inspire fans to have such an outcry that a cancelation gets reversed, but it happens. "Jericho" fans earned the CBS drama a Season 2 renewal after mailing peanuts to network executives, a reference to the show, via ABC News. "Family Guy" came back to the airwaves years after its cancelation thanks to robust home video sales, per San Diego Union-Tribune

"Manifest" added itself to that list of shows with a rabidly-loyal fanbase when it was revived. Debuting in 2018, the series follows the passengers and crew of Flight 828, all of whom suddenly reappear after the world thought them dead for five years. The drama got the axe from NBC after three seasons, but the show being streamed on Netflix convinced them to give it a fourth and final season, consisting of 20 episodes.

"Manifest" Season 1 and Season 2 were added to the streamer in June 2021, and by August, it had topped the Nielsen streaming chart multiple times and amassed more than one billion minutes viewed in six consecutive weeks, via Deadline. While the "Manifest" Season 4 renewal was great news for fans and those working on the show, creator Jeff Rake revealed there was one massive challenge that came with the Netflix pickup. 

Manifest was originally supposed to have six seasons

According to Jeff Rake, he originally envisioned and planned for a total of six seasons for "Manifest." Finales for each season were thought out, and the writer had to readjust those plans when he learned he would need to condense his story into 20 episodes. "The only real major challenge was figuring out how to take what we thought the fourth and fifth finales would be and combine that into one," Rake told Netflix Tudum

In the same interview, Rake argued the shorter-than-planned episode count actually helped cut away some of the fat from the story's final stretch. "Sometimes when you have fewer episodes than you thought you would've had, the result can be a somewhat less indulgent, less meandering story, and the writers' room is forced to be a little bit more efficient," Rake said. 

"Manifest" Season 3 ended with multiple characters in pretty dark places. Ben Stone (Josh Dallas), for instance, was left reeling from the kidnapping of his daughter Eden and the death of his wife Grace (Athena Karkanis) at the hands of another passenger, Angelina (Holly Taylor). Throw in a two-year time jump and the mystery of the passengers' disappearance at the center of the whole show, and there's plenty to fit into 20 episodes.