The NBC drama Manifest has its hooks in fans, using the tried-and-true formula of throwing mystery on top of mystery until our brains are twisted in knots. The question of what happened to the passengers and crew of Flight 828 and why they returned over five years after they were believed to be dead is still something Manifest is dangling over us, all while thickening the drama between characters. But with Season 3 teasing more answers and delivering excruciating waits between episodes, fans of the show might want to get their fix elsewhere until Thursday rolls around again.
We've gathered up several other shows that share a lot of DNA with Manifest. You'll find doomed flights, disappearing and reappearing people, and sci-fi mysteries involving death and destiny below.
Well, duh. Anyone who's seen ABC's masterclass in mindf---ery can tell you that Manifest wouldn't exist without Lost, making it the most unsurprising entry on the list. If you somehow haven't watched Lost, you need to drop everything you're doing and fix that immediately. The 2004 show literally changed television forever, telling the story of passengers on board a doomed flight who get stranded on a mysterious island after their plane crashes. Unfolding through character-centric episodes and flashbacks, it's an ideal mix of science-fiction mystery with incredible character development, much like Manifest. And trust me when I say this: You have no idea where it's going. Telling you anything more about this show would violate the No Lost Spoilers Agreement of 2004, so I'll shut up now. [Watch on Hulu, IMDbTV (free with ads)]
There are still a bajillion mysteries to unpack in Manifest, but we do know that the show is doing something funny with death and possibly time travel, making the Canadian sci-fi series Travelers an easy recommendation for anyone looking for more Manifest vibes. Eric McCormack stars as a special operative from a post-apocalyptic future who leads a team traveling back in time to the 21st Century to prevent their doomed future. To do this, they take over the bodies of present-day individuals who were minutes away from death and carry out various missions, all while needing to maintain their cover of the bodies they've occupied. Things get messy. [Watch on Netflix]
Manifest comes from a long line of broadcast science-fiction shows dragging out their mysteries for as long as possible, but Manifest has gotten it right where others have gotten it wrong. TV's newest mystery box show, Debris, premiered in 2021 and we're hoping it learns lessons from its ancestors to become a compelling sci-fi series. The show stars Jonathan Tucker as a CIA agent and Riann Steele as an MI6 agent investigating wreckage from an alien spacecraft that's been scattered across the world and gives people who encounter it unusual powers. It's still early on in the series' life to say whether it will be good or not, but part of the fun of these shows is being the first to find out as each new episode premieres. [Watch on Peacock, Hulu, NBC (airs Mondays at 10/9c)]
If Manifest dipping its toes into the metaphysical -- what is death, man? -- is what has you addicted, then strap on the tinfoil hat and dive brain-first into Netflix's extremely odd and compelling series The OA. The 2016 series stars Brit Marling (who also co-created it) as Prairie Johnson, a blind woman who is kidnapped and returned to her adoptive parents with her eyesight intact. But that's just the set up, as a bunch of other weird stuff is going on with her, which we learn about in flashbacks to her capture. Then this beautiful series gets REALLY weird. The OA is impossible to explain, making it the ultimate "you just have to watch it" show, but like Manifest, it touches on the afterlife, possible multiple dimensions, and emotional bonds between characters. Of all the shows on this list, this is the one for philosophy majors, and it must be said, half of the people who watch it will hate it while the other half won't stop talking about it. [Watch on Netflix]
This show is crazy dumb, but it does involve plane-specific science-fiction, so it gets a spot on this list. Into the Night is Belgium's first original Netflix series, set in a world where the sun acts up and starts frying people on the planet. That's bad news for everyone, but not so bad for people on a commercial airliner taking a redeye from Belgium that gets highjacked by someone who knows what's up and comes up with the master plan to continually fly east -- away from the sun and burny death -- for as long as possible. Brilliant! Naturally, mysteries and conspiracies abound, and the diverse passengers have convenient skills -- there happens to be a pilot, a nurse, a mechanic, and a climate scientist on board -- to keep them alive and in the air. If you squint really hard and take a few leaps of faith, it's kind of like Manifest from the plane's point of view. It was renewed for a second season in 2020. [Watch on Netflix]
Manifest is more than just about a disappearing plane and people, it's about a reappearing plane and people. The mystery about why the passengers of Flight 828 are back (and how they avoided death) is central to the show, as it is to the 2012 French series The Returned. One of my favorite seasons of TV of all time, the first season of The Returned is set in a small French town that sees the dead return -- fully fleshed, none of that decaying zombie stuff -- with no idea how they got there or what happened. Their returns coincide with unusual happenings around town, but the dynamics between the dead and the people who thought they lost them is what makes this show really sparkle. That and the constant creepy tone and score. Fair warning, the second season loses its way and the American remake is atrocious. [Watch on Sundance Now, AMC+]
If there's a template for shows like Manifest with its mass of missing people returning with no explanation, it's The 4400. The USA sci-fi show ran for four seasons from 2004 to 2007, with 4400 people from all different eras mysteriously appearing in a flash of bright white light near Mount Rainier, Washington. The returnees were studied and protected by the National Threat Assessment Command, who discovered that many of them began to exhibit supernatural powers upon their return. A cult classic, the series answered questions about what was happening while adding new questions on top of new answers, but grew beyond its initial mystery and was canceled before it could resolve its Season 4 cliffhanger. Still, it's worth a watch for fans of Manifest, who may be able to stir up new theories for Manifest while watching The 4400. [Watch on Netflix]