Manifest Creator Explains When He Knew Things Were Going South For Show At NBC

J.R. Ramirez, Melissa Roxburgh, Matt Long and Ellen Tamaki staring off somewhere in Manifest.

Manifest has officially become the latest show to be saved by Netflix, and fans are excited for what’s to come with the series’ fourth and final season. Its sudden popularity on the streamer is enough to make one look back and wonder just what happened leading up to it cancellation at NBC. Well, recently, series creator showrunner Jeff Rake opened up about when he began to see the writing on the wall.

Manifest broke viewership records when it first premiered on NBC in 2018, essentially becoming an instant hit. The network was quick to give it a second season renewal but waited a little longer before giving it a third season. While fans were hopeful NBC would renew the missing plane drama for a Season 4, the network ultimately decided to axe the series shortly after the Season 3 finale. In a recent interview, Jeff Rake told THR explained how things were going down ahead of the show's cancellation at NBC:

It’s about what’s not being said. The normal notes process as you transition from one season to another wasn’t happening. I wasn’t hearing much of anything from the network. I would ask my colleagues at the studio if there was anything that we could do to help, from a creative standpoint, to get to a favorable decision for future seasons of Manifest. We consistently heard back the issues on the table weren’t creative, they were financial. I think there was a lot of internal hand-wringing going on at NBC because I think they really did like the show and they were just trying to see if they could make an economic case for it. That was a tough period. There’s that old joke about the cat being on the roof and it was very clear to me the cat was on the roof.

Admittedly, an ambitious show like Manifest can be expensive to produce. Quality visual effects are needed for certain elements like the Callings as well as everything revolving around 828. Interestingly, though, Jeff Rake does seem to indicate that NBC wanted to accommodate the series and ideally, keep it on the air.

Hopes for Season 4 truly picked up this past July when NBC, along with Netflix, reopened talks with Warner Bros. Television. For a while, fans like myself were actually under the impression that the show had a chance at making its way back to its home network. But ultimately, Netflix ended up winning the battle, and that may be for the best. The streamer can not only deliver the show to a wide audience but, with the resources the company has, it can also provide it with a bigger budget.

It will be interesting to see if anything changes on Manifest from a production standpoint following its move from network TV to streaming. Netflix invests quite a bit into its shows so it's not crazy to think that we could see some technical upgrades. But honestly, I'll take Manifest in any way, shape or form, as long as it means I’ll be getting those 20 additional episodes.

Megan Behnke
Freelance TV News Writer

Passionate writer. Obsessed with anything and everything entertainment, specifically movies and television. Can get easily attached to fictional characters.