Manifest wrapped its third season with a finale that delivered so many twists and ended on such cliffhangers that it was poised to enter a whole new era. Unfortunately for fans, however, NBC decided to cancel the series after the Season 3 finale, and efforts to find a new home for the series on another platform ultimately came to nothing. Still, the NBC cancellation doesn't have to mean the end of the Manifest story, which was originally imagined to be told over six seasons. There are ways for the story to potentially continue.
Sure, the announcement that Netflix had decided not to pick up Manifest for Season 4 despite the first two seasons rocketing to the top of the streamer's Top 10 list was disappointing, but it's still worth considering other ways that Manifest could continue telling the story if the stars could only align. Read on for four of them!
Manifest Could Continue With Books
Manifest was a complex series going back as far as the pilot, and more layers of mystery just piled up as the seasons passed. What better way to shed some light on all those unsolved mysteries and reveal more of characters' perspectives than by continuing the story of the Flight 828 survivors and the Stone family than with novels? If anything, some Manifest books could be easier to understand than the show, and could be produced without the same kind of production complications that reportedly contributed to Netflix not picking up a Season 4, such as expired cast options.
Television and film stories continuing in book form isn't unprecedented either, especially in the sci-fi and mystery genres. Just look at Star Wars, with its expansive library of novels, including one centered none other than prominent TV character Ahsoka Tano to bridge a gap between series. And then there are even shows like The X-Files and Veronica Mars that told unseen stories on the page. Plus, with three seasons' worth of untold stories, there's the potential for a series of Manifest novels rather than just a one-off, if the sky was the limit.
Manifest Could Continue Via Comics
A similar option for Manifest to return despite the NBC cancellation would be for a series of Manifest comics. Going the comics route could deliver storytelling on the page like a book series could, while also incorporating imagery of the characters that fans came to know and love and/or loathe over the three seasons of the show. Keeping the visuals of the series could be a big draw for comics, even if the visuals would of course be different than in live-action TV.
And TV shows continuing telling their stories after their finales via comics isn't unprecedented, with one notable example being Avatar: The Last Airbender. Although Manifest and Avatar: The Last Airbender were very different series, Avatar's comics successfully expanded the mythology of the series even after its finale, and helped keep the franchise alive for the current resurgence that includes new projects on the way, and even a new podcast. Comics could be a fun way to keep Manifest alive, engaging, and relevant.
Manifest Could Switch To Animation
There are potential avenues for Manifest to continue that don't involve anything on the page at all. Manifest could stay on the screen, but switch to animation, which would presumably be cheaper and less complicated to produce, and perhaps find a home on Netflix or even Peacock where the live-action show could not. Another NBC series has actually already flipped from live-action to animation, although temporarily. The Blacklist went animated to finish its Season 7 finale after production shutdowns left it incomplete, and it worked. Manifest going to animation from live-action could work as well.
And in fact, another TV show made the official switch from live-action to animation this year. The comedy No Activity started out in live-action on CBS All Access, but changed formats and went animated when it was renewed for a fourth season on Paramount+. Manifest is certainly no comedy, and Paramount+ is a very unlikely home for anything Manifest, but the idea of a live show going animated isn't as outlandish at this point in 2021 than it would have been just months ago.
Manifest Could Continue With Audio Dramas
A fourth potential way that Manifest could return would be via audio dramas, which would require a little more imagination on the part of fans but still tell the story that was intended to unfold on screen. While listening to the action and picturing the interactions of course wouldn't be the same as watching episodes, audio dramas could be a pretty great way for the show to continue. They would undoubtedly be far cheaper to produce than the actual show was, and require less of a commitment from any cast members who might be on board.
It's also worth noting that audio plays have been extremely successful for another genre series: Doctor Who. Manifest and Doctor Who aren't exactly interchangeable, and Manifest doesn't have a fanbase going back to the '60s, but Doctor Who audio plays have continued telling the stories of many characters. Even though the Doctor Who audio plays are sometimes more or less standalone stories that won't conflict with the canon of a series that is still ongoing on screen, the sky could be the limit with Manifest due to the show's cancellation. Audio dramas could be a great option.
Of course, there is no guarantee at this point that there will be any future at all for the Manifest story, and there are undoubtedly plenty of variables in play that fans aren't aware of. Still, it's fun to speculate, and the Manifest team ranging from showrunner Jeff Rake to the cast came out on social media to try and save the show during the time between the NBC cancellation and Netflix passing. For now, you can always check out the first two seasons of Manifest streaming on Netflix, and the third season streaming on Peacock. If you're looking for some additional viewing options, check out our 2021 summer TV premiere schedule.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).