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'Manifest' stars Josh Dallas and Melissa Roxburgh reveal how Netflix saved Flight 828

Manifest's move from NBC to Netflix surprised everybody, including the creator and cast of the show. Here's how it happened.

By Tara Bennett
Manifest Season 4 Episode 5

Way back in June 2021, at the close of Manifest's third season, NBC announced they would not be picking up the sci-fi drama for a fourth season. At the same time, early seasons of the series landed on Netflix. It was the start of a streaming miracle worthy of a series about an airplane and all its passengers that disappeared for five and a half years. Netflix viewers binged Manifest to such a degree that it quickly became one of its most-watched streams for weeks. A legion of passionate fans called for Netflix to save Manifest — and Netflix heeded the calling. Seeing the huge fanbase and knowing the mystery of Montego Air Flight 828 had yet to be solved, Netflix picked it up for a fourth and final season consisting of 20 episodes. 

On Nov. 4, the first 10 episodes of Manifest Season 4 premiere on the streamer. Executive producer/creator Jeff Rake and stars Melissa Roxburgh and Josh Dallas (who play siblings Michaela and Ben Stone) tell SYFY WIRE they still can't believe their show was saved.

When the cancellation decision was made back in 2021, everyone slipped into a depression, Dallas tells SYFY WIRE. "We were so sad," the actor admits. "It was such a horrible place to leave the story and the idea that that was it was kind of unthinkable to us. But when the Manifesters started this swell of support and love for the show to bring it back, it was so amazing and validating and humbling. When we appeared on Netflix, we were all just so shocked and surprised that it just kept going and kept going and kept going. And, Melissa was the first person to know it was even on Netflix."

"I asked Jeff, 'Is anyone going to help us finish the story?'" Roxburgh says. "And he said that no one really wants to buy a half-finished story. Then one day, I turned on Netflix. I wasn't sure if I was awake or not, but I saw Manifest. And I was like, 'I'm so confused, because we're not on Netflix.' I called [Jeff] and I said, 'Hey, I'm so confused. When did we get the deal to go on Netflix?' And he was like, "We're not on Netflix. Like, I said, they're not gonna pick us up." And I was like, 'No, we're on Netflix!' And that was how Jeff and our producers found out."

Roxburgh says after that awareness, there were still ongoing talks with NBC about other options for survival. "There was talk about an hour-long movie and talks about a couple of episodes just to finish the story," she details. "There was just a lot of standby, standby, standby. And then we finally got the word."

The pickup of Season 4 by Netflix for 20 final episodes made it possible for Rake and his writers to close the story in a satisfying way. "We were so blown away and filled with gratitude that we were able to finish the story." Rake says. "When you think about how we finished on broadcast with three seasons, the last frame: Grace (Athena Karkanis) dead, Cal (Ty Doran) on the floor — It's such a terrible way to finish! The writers and I had the rest [of the story] mapped and ready to go, so it was really just a reorganization once we discovered we had 20 episodes."

With the best-case scenario handed to them, Roxburgh and Dallas say they arrived at their new home with open arms grateful they got to have a finale to their ongoing stories. "The show being on Netflix hasn't really changed in terms of how we tell our story," Dallas explains. "We've had to tell our story slightly different because we've had to jump ahead in time so we could get closer to that death date. But Manifest Season 4 still has the same emotion, the same complexity, the same twists and turns, the same compelling storylines and characters. It's not a different show. It's just super-sized and better."

The first 10 episodes of Manifest Season 4 all debut Nov. 4 on Netflix.

Looking for another sci-fi mystery? Stream La Brea on Peacock.

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