Manifest, the intriguing TV series filled with enigmatic disappearances, supernatural elements, and personal drama, has kept viewers captivated since its premiere in 2018. As the series unfolds with its fourth season, many fans have pondered whether this thrilling show is rooted in reality.
While Manifest incorporates elements of fantasy and science fiction, it finds inspiration in the unexplained vanishing and the ultimate fate of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.
The Mysterious Premise of Manifest
Manifest introduces its audience to the peculiar tale of Flight 828. The passengers on this commercial airline believed they were on a routine journey back to JFK Airport on April 7, 2013.
However, it wasn’t until November 4, 2018, that the plane resurfaced, a bewildering five and a half years later.
Despite the passage of half a decade, for the passengers, it felt like a routine flight that had lasted just a few hours. The show delves into the repercussions of their sudden reappearance, portraying the challenges of reintegration into a world that moved on without them.
The Plane Disappearance That Inspired Manifest
Manifest is not a retelling of a true story, but it is inspired by the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. The show also draws on religion, mythology, and real-life objects to create a narrative solution for the Death Date. The show’s central element, the Omega Sapphire, is a tangible, real-world stone. In the series, this stone resides within Cal and Angelina, granting them the power to receive Callings, which are prophetic visions guiding the passengers of Flight 828.
But the real-life Malaysian Airlines passengers didn’t resurface, obviously, nor did they have the help of a magical sapphire. While some pieces of possible debris have been found, the ultimate fate of Flight 370 remains an enduring enigma, even though investigators have developed their theories about what might have transpired.
What was the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370?
The vanishing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, also known as MH370, on March 8, 2014, remains one of aviation history’s most enigmatic and enduring mysteries. The Boeing 777, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members, disappeared during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
On March 24, 2014, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the plane’s crash in a remote part of the Indian Ocean, some 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) southwest of Australia, based on Inmarsat and the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) analysis. This grim conclusion suggested that no one on board had survived.
The remote location of the crash site made the search for wreckage a challenging task. On April 6, 2014, an Australian ship detected acoustic pings, possibly from the Boeing 777’s flight recorder, about 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) northwest of Perth, Western Australia.
The governments of Malaysia, Australia, and China called off the search for Flight 370 in January 2017. Ocean Infinity, an American company, was granted permission by the Malaysian government to continue searching until May 2017, but it yielded no further results.
A revelation in 2016 that the pilot had simulated a flight path over the southern Indian Ocean in his home flight simulator added weight to the theory of premeditated pilot-induced mass murder-suicide. The discovery of debris also led to speculations of the aircraft being shot down, though no evidence of shrapnel from a missile or other projectiles was found.
Manifest Creator Jeff Rake didn’t originally write the story based on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370
Jeff Rake, the creator and showrunner of Manifest, disclosed that Flight 370 played a “pivotal role” in the series’ development, even though he conceived the initial idea long before the real-life incident. Rake’s inspiration came during a family trip to the Grand Canyon, where he contemplated concepts of “togetherness” and “separation.”
Initially, he struggled to pitch his vision to various networks. However, when the Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared, Rake’s idea gained a newfound sense of reality and relevance.
Because of the events that inspired it, Manifest has been criticized for being exploitative. It’s a common criticism that shows, and movies get when connected to a real-life tragedy; it’s important to note that many films and TV series are based on unfortunate true stories. For example, the hit Showtime series Yellowjackets is inspired by the 1972 Andes Flight disaster.
Manifest frames its narrative around a tragic yet compelling event, prompting viewers to reflect on what they would do if they found themselves in the passengers’ shoes. This approach enhances the series’ stakes and makes it more relatable and engaging to audiences.
The show also delves into religious and mythological elements, referencing figures like Archangel Gabriel and using tarot cards, which have been employed for decades to provide insights into unsolved questions.
Manifest may not be a true story, but it’s still a resonant one
While Manifest is not based on a true story, it is intricately linked to the enigma of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. The show’s ability to intertwine real-life mysteries with fictional narratives has made it a compelling and thought-provoking series, demonstrating that the boundaries between reality and fantasy are often blurrier than we might think.
Unlike the real victims of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, though, the passengers in Manifest do get a happy ending.
Whether you anticipated the conclusion or not, the ending of Manifest transported us back to 2013 when Flight 828 was originally scheduled to land (only to embark on a five-year odyssey into an alternate universe). Amidst the tumultuous journey back on Flight 828, featuring a dramatic encounter with a character reminiscent of a Death Eater, the incineration of several individuals, and a direct flight into The Glow, the group finds themselves in Jamaica, Queens, but not in the present – rather, they’ve landed 11 years earlier, aligning with Flight 828’s original arrival.
The twist leaves Grace and Zeke alive, Ben and Mick’s parents in good health, resurrects those who perished in the alternate universe (except for the ones reduced to ash), maintains Cal and Olive as children, and bestows a happily-ever-after upon everyone.
Show creator Jeff Rake discussed the ending, stating, “I’ve always had a broad idea about what the ending was going to be, but it wasn’t until I was brainstorming extensively with my exceptional team of writers that it all came together.” He also mentioned the avid fans who had deciphered critical elements of the conclusion and his cautious distance from such tweets, expressing anxiety about people reaching the correct interpretation.
Rake emphasized, “We bend over backward to make it clear that everything you’ve watched is real. We’re not trying to boggle anyone’s mind. It’s all genuine. This all occurred.”