Manifest was known for spinning complex mysteries about what happened to the survivors of Flight 828, and there was layer upon layer of story by the time of the third season finale in early June. Unfortunately for all of those who were convinced that the show definitely needed to be renewed after the cliffhanger-packed Season 3 finale, NBC officially cancelled Manifest just days after Season 3 ended. Even though efforts to find a new home to continue what had been planned as a six-season story have failed, the mysteries can really be resolved in a feature-length movie if given the chance.
Creator Jeff Rake recently floated the possibility of Manifest continuing via a feature or movie finale, like what happened with shows like Firefly, Timeless, and Deadwood. He revealed that he was working on how to fit his original plans for three more seasons of Manifest into a streamlined two-hour finale to wrap everything up and explain what happened to the 828 survivors and the airplane itself.
Considering Manifest's fandom has only grown in the weeks since its cancellation thanks to Netflix, there are plenty of people who would be happy to hear that the show could get a proper ending, but also likely some people with doubts that mysteries that were spun over 42 episodes could be satisfyingly solved in two hours of a movie. After all, the Season 3 finale actually introduced even more unanswered questions instead of resolving much of anything. So why could a TV movie work?
Somewhat ironically, the reason that I can see Manifest pulling it off and condensing three seasons into two hours is precisely because the show introduced even more unanswered questions. Yes, the show made itself more complicated than ever in the Season 3 finale, but it set up so many cliffhangers that it perfectly set up whatever comes next.
A TV movie wouldn't have to waste any time setting up the major mysteries and then resolving them, since the end of Season 3 already did the heavy lifting of setting up. Any mystery minor enough that it wasn't included in the Season 3 finale could probably be cut out of the story, folded into the larger plots, or just mentioned in passing to tie off the loose end. Honestly, any smaller mysteries could be resolved with Jeff Rake tweeting them out, if that would mean a solid movie! The fact that Rake has been planning for six seasons all along means that the show has been building toward an actual ending.
With three seasons already in the books, Manifest built up the characters and world enough that a TV movie wouldn't have to waste time in exposition. The finale ended with enough pressing questions that a movie could jump right into answers. And in the grand scheme of things, a Manifest finale movie wouldn't necessarily need to be produced to appeal to a massive audience who would need a lot of setup to whatever happens. This would be for fans who already are familiar enough to go along for the ride.
And those fans would presumably be willing to suspend their belief if the budget for a TV movie would be too modest to deliver the kind of effects or scale that the show delivered during its NBC run. I've officially come around from my initial reaction to the news that Jeff Rake was hoping to tie off all the loose ends in a two-hour movie, which was that I couldn't imagine that Manifest could pull it off when so many questions remain unanswered. Now, I can not only see it happening, but am hoping that Jeff Rake finds an outlet for a movie sooner rather than later.
For now, you can always rewatch the three seasons that aired before Manifest was cancelled. The first two are available on Netflix, where the show has held onto a spot on the Top 10 list for quite a while. The third season is streaming on Peacock.