‘Manifest’: The Wildest Flight 828 Theories, From Aliens to a Simulation
Manifest tells the story of Montego Air Flight 828, a plane that mysteriously disappeared en route from Jamaica to New York in 2013. Its passengers thought they experienced only a few minutes of turbulence. However, when the plane landed, they learned that they had all been missing and presumed dead for five years. The passengers did not age, and they began to experience strange abilities after their return.
After three seasons, there’s still no explanation for what really happened to the plane. While fans wait to learn more in the upcoming fourth and final season of Manifest, they’ve kept themselves busy creating some wild theories about Flight 828. Here are some of the most chaotic ideas.
Aliens abducted the Flight 828 passengers on ‘Manifest’
If Flight 828’s disappearance wasn’t a result of man-made science, what about the science of another lifeform? One Reddit user suggested that Manifest could have taken a similar approach to 4400, a show where aliens abducted people for experimentation. Aliens could have taken the Flight 828 passengers for five years and returned them to the present day with special powers, a.k.a. the Callings.
Flight 828 traveled through time
Time travel has been a common Flight 828 theory among Manifest fans. A viewer on TV Fanatic theorized that the plane entered a time vortex/time loop where the events in their lives have already happened. Therefore, the Callings are more like warnings to guide the passengers to different decisions. That could align with the ideas of resurrection and second chances, which Ben Stone (Josh Dallas) explored on the show.
Adding on to that theory, it’s possible the “death date” the passengers will encounter on June 2, 2024, is when time will essentially catch up to them. They might have until that date to make the right choices in their “second chance.”
There’s a multiverse with multiple timelines
Some Manifest fans think the show has taken a page from Marvel’s book with a little multiverse madness. One Reddit user came up with three possible timelines (A, B, and C) set in a multiverse. In the first timeline, the plane lands normally, and the characters go on with their lives as they were meant to, such as Cal Stone (Jack Messina) going to the hospital for cancer treatment and Michaela Stone (Melissa Roxburgh) accepting her marriage proposal. In timeline B, the plane crashes with no survivors.
When Flight 828 entered the lightning storm, it created Timeline C, the one seen on Manifest. Events from the other timelines could be leaking into this one.
Another multiple-reality theory suggested two realities, one in which the plane crashed and one in which it landed. The passengers must follow their Callings to get closer to one of the two realities.
‘Manifest’ is all Cal’s coma dream
What if none of it is real? Some Manifest fan theories have suggested that Flight 828’s disappearance and everything thereafter is all just a dream of someone in the Stone family. One Reddit user thinks that person could be Cal, who might have entered a coma as a result of his cancer either before the family left Jamaica or after they returned.
According to the theory, all of the passengers are people Cal encountered at the hospital — patients, doctors, or researchers. Cal could be hearing everyone around him, and these discussions are influencing his dream. Everything that happens in his dream could be a symbol of his journey. That includes the moment where he enters the “Afterlife,” a.k.a. his disappearance from the lab in season 3.
The Redditor also tied in the lifeboat theory, which connects all the passengers’ actions.
“This lifeboat theory is a metaphor for Cal’s lifeforce being diminished by everyone’s actions around him that are directly tied to his wellness and their own wellness. He keeps saying everything is connected,” they wrote.
‘Manifest’ is a simulation game and the Flight 828 passengers are pawns
Going along with the idea that none of this is real, one Manifest fan wrote on Reddit that it could all be a simulation. Someone outside the simulation could be controlling the passengers as some sort of experiment. They could even be giving the passengers the Callings.
The Redditor referenced Life on Mars, a TV series in which a police officer time travels from 2008 to 1973 after a car accident. He learned in the end that it was all a computer simulation from a spaceship heading to Mars. This would need a lot of explaining to make sense in Manifest, but it would make for a seriously surprising twist.
Manifest Season 4 premieres on Netflix this fall. Stay tuned to Showbiz Cheat Sheet for more updates.