'Manifest' Showrunner Jeff Rake Recalls Superfans' Campaign to Save the Canceled Show

Manifest is the latest show that Netflix has saved after a network cancellation, and showrunner Jeff Rake opened up to The Hollywood Reporter about what made up the streaming service's mind after NBC pulled the plug. Manifest has a small but passionate fanbase, and the social media hashtag #SaveManifest was everywhere after the initial cancellation. Rake explained that seeing the fans rally so intensely around the show was an incredibly moving experience for him.

"I've had shows canceled before and this is the first time that I experienced such a wave of support among the fandom," Rake explained. "A small group of super fans formed a Twitter group and said, 'We got you Jeff. #SaveManifest. The campaign is beginning.' So before we even had a chance to lift a finger to figure out if we need a PR campaign to help save us, the fans rose up and created this campaign and spread the word — which was incredibly rewarding and heartening."

However, while the fan support was great, It wasn't enough to save the show alone. However, the first three seasons of Manifest were doing massive numbers on Netflix. "Fan enthusiasm is always great to see, but it really isn't the emails or tweets — it was all about the viewing," Netflix head of global TV Bela Bajaria explained. "To save a show in this way, it has to have that fan viewing. I appreciate their passion and being connected to the characters, but the viewing is the thing that saved the show."

When Rake was given the good news that Netflix would finish Manifest's story, he gave the streaming execs three options: a two-hour movie, a six-episode limited series, or a full season. "I gave them the small, the medium, and the large," Rake said. Netflix chose a 20-episode final season with a much larger budget than they had on NBC. While the final details aren't quite settled, it will likely be split into two parts, with the first round of episodes airing in 2022. 

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"We established early on there is a death date in our mythology of June 2, 2024, when the story has a happy or a sad or a mixed ending," Rake explained. "I walked [Netflix] through a bunch of twists and turns, I've always had a bunch of big flags in the sand — things that would happen along the way. But the excellent news is that they're now going to be able to see them all play out in real time, because the 20 episodes that I have been gifted allows me to take the entire roadmap that I already had planned out in front of me and overlay that over these 20 episodes. Fundamentally, I'm going to be able to continue telling the story that I was always going to tell."