The “Manifest” Phenomenon: Exploring the True Story Behind the Hit TV Show

Has Netflix’s Manifest left you tongue-wagging? Well, you are not alone; the popular series aired in 2018 has captivated millions of viewers with its complex storylines and mind-boggling plots.

The release of the documentary MH370: The Plane That Disappeared on Netflix has got viewers wondering whether Manifest, the series, has any connection to the new 2023 documentary and the true events that happened in 2014.

So, is Manifest based on a true story? What is the story behind the show? Did flight 828 really disappear? Read on for all the fascinating deets!

Manifest: A Recap Of The Hit Netflix Series

Manifest is a four-season series based on the disappearance of the plane Montenegro Air Flight 828 on April 7, 2013. The plane was traveling to New York from Jamaica with a total of 191 passengers and crew. We witness the plane undergoing incredible turbulence but eventually landing at its final destination, the New York Stewart International Airport.

Fast forward to five years, the passengers are momentarily excited to land finally, but what comes after is a shocking revelation: government agents at the airport tell the passengers that their flight 828 has been missing for five and a half years since they boarded to the current landing time.

Following the flight’s disappearance, government and private companies conducted an extensive search but never found evidence of the plane’s whereabouts. After months of unsuccessfully searching for the missing plane, they closed the inconclusive investigations and presumed all crew and passengers dead.

Shocked and confused, the passengers are left figuring out how their flight disappeared, only to resurface after five years. They also have to deal with the fact that the people in their lives, including lovers, friends, and family, have since moved on.

The Perplexing Story of How Flight 828 Disappeared

The complex plotline of the disappearance of flight 828 is what makes Manifest so gripping. If you wondered whether flight 828 really disappeared, the answer is yes; the fictional plane, as seen in the series, did disappear without a trace for five years, leading to the biggest search mission in aviation history.

However, the passengers and crew have no idea that their flight has taken longer than normal to arrive at their final destination– they are in some alternative time frame outside of the normal reality.

So, how did flight 828 disappear only to fully resurface five years later from when it was scheduled to arrive at the airport in New York? The exact explanation for the plane’s disappearance will probably be revealed in the much-awaited part two of Manifest’s fourth season.

The visions and so-called callings the passengers receive might give us a clue into what might have transpired between boarding and the landing time five years later. In the first part of the final season, the mysterious plane burst into flames after the passengers embarked– what’s the deal with that? We’ll probably find out in the second part of the last season too.

Manisfesters have peddled several possible theories of what might have caused the prolonged disappearance of flight 828. One such plotline proposes that the ill-fated plane time-traveled and crashed in the future. But the people living in the future saw how bad the crash and aftermath would be and decided to send the passengers back to reality to alleviate the impact of the huge loss. Others have argued that the plane deviated from its course and found itself in an alternate universe before detouring back.

The series’ characters also had their own explanation for the mysterious disappearance. For example, Bahl Saanvi opined that a holy gemstone to which all the passengers are linked helped them return to earthly reality. Another character, Ben, asserted that the plane crashed and all the crew and passengers died but were resurrected and returned to earth for a higher purpose.

In the first part of season 4 (2022), the series hints at what happened to Flight 828. The storyline points to the possibility of the plane being caught in a bright, mysterious light. For five and a half years, the passengers remain trapped in this light but also come into contact with divine consciousness and supernatural elements.

The encounter with divine connection causes the passengers to experience the Callings after returning to earth. A young boy named Cal was on the ill-fated flight with his aunt and dad when the plane disappeared. Upon landing, he discovers that he has a twin sister five years older than him, meaning time stood still in the dimension into which the plane disappeared.

As part two of season four of the supernatural drama unfolds, this theory will be unpacked, drawing the show closer and closer to the end.

The Real Story About Manifest: It Is Not Based on A True Story

There’s been a lot of renewed interest around Manifest since the new Netflix documentary, MH370: The Plane That Disappeared, debuted in March 2023.

The documentary retells the story of one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history: Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared in 2014, and whose whereabouts and those of the 239 crew and passengers on board remain unknown.

On March 8, 2014, flight MH370 traveled from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian airport, to Beijing, China. The commercial airline communicated with air traffic control (ATC) for only the first 38 minutes, after which it disappeared from all ATC radars.

Military radar tracked the plane for another hour, after which it disappeared, never to be found. Aviation records show that the plane significantly deviated from its path at this hour. An international search effort, which became the most expensive in aviation history, yielded nothing, and to date, no one really knows what happened to MH370. It is widely speculated that the plane crashed into the Indian Ocean, but there is still no basis for the unexplained disappearance.

The Netflix documentary has left people wondering if Manifest is based on the story of MH370. The series features numerous obviously fictional plotlines, but a few complex storylines are connected to real events, people, and artifacts.

That said, Manifest is not based on a true story and was not inspired by the events around Malaysian Air MH370. Manifest aired in 2018, and the real-life flight MH370 had disappeared four years earlier in 2014. But, according to the show’s creator Jeff Rake, the idea for Manifest came to him in 2009, five years before the events of MH370 happened.

Speaking to SYFY at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2018, Rake said the real-life disappearance of flight MH370 played an important role, but his personal experience mostly inspired the series’ story.

“The truth is, the idea came to me almost 10 years ago. I was driving with my family down to the Grand Canyon, and I started thinking about togetherness and separation in the family. The idea hit me, and I pitched it to several networks, but nobody wanted it,” Rake explained.

The series creator added, “Then the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines happened seven years later, and it became relatable.” The networks that had once rejected Rake’s idea now wanted it.

So, the idea for Manifest was not inspired by the Malaysian plane crash. But that real-life event played a pivotal role in helping to convert the script into a series. All the complex mysteries and timelines in Manifest are fictitious, but if the mystery of MH370 had not happened, we probably would not have been so lucky to enjoy a show as great as Manifest.