‘Outer Banks’: Was the Netflix Series Based on This Book?

The teen adventure story Outer Banks took fans by storm early in 2020. Now, it seems like showrunners have hit a bit of a legal snag. Was the Netflix series based on a book written in 2016? One author seems to think so. 

'Outer Banks'
Madison Bailey, Rudy Pankow, Chase Stokes, and Jonathan Daviss | Netflix

‘Outer Banks’ is about a treasure hunt 

The coming of age Netflix series follows a close group of friends, better known as the “Pogues.” After a massive hurricane hits the Outer Banks, an illicit chain of events begins. Suddenly, John B. (Chase Stokes) and his “Pogue” pals find themselves in the middle of a decades-old treasure hunt. 

During the search for his missing father, John B. uncovers a secret the wealthy Ward Cameron (Charles Esten) has been hiding, all while falling in love with his daughter, Sarah (Madelyn Cline).

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The show has become increasingly popular amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Many fans quickly fell in love with the young, attractive cast members and the binge-worthy quality of season 1. Fans are looking forward to the release of season 2 some time in 2021. 

Author Kevin Wooten is suing the creators of Netflix’s ‘Outer Banks’ 

Allegedly, Outer Banks tells a story that is almost identical to novelist Kevin Wooten’s tale, Pennywise: The Hunt for Blackbeard’s Treasure. The high school English teacher published his book in 2016.

The novel tells the story of four young adults who stumble upon a local legend that leads them on a hunt for the buried treasure on a fabled shipwreck rumored to be along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Outer Banks debuted on Netflix in April 2020. 

Wooten’s is seeking statutory damages, punitive actions, and royalties (via Deadline). He also wants the Outer Banks title card to read: “Story by Kevin Wooten: Based upon the novel Pennywise: The Hunt for Blackbeard’s Treasure.”

Is ‘Outer Banks’ based on Kevin Wooten’s book ‘Pennywise: The Hunt for Blackbeard’s Treasure?’ 

Wooten’s lawsuit documents how the archetypes of his book’s protagonists are almost identical to the roles in Outer Banks. The same goes for the villains, including the rich benefactor and a corrupt cop.

Wooten also claims that there are other similarities between the novel and the show, including many of the clues that point the teens toward the treasure. The author sold many copies of his book in Wilmington, North Carolina — where Outer Banks creators Jonas and Joshua Pate spent a significant amount of time. 

The Pates grew up between Wilmington and Charleston, North Carolina. During an April 2020 interview, Jonas mentioned his upbringing and how it inspired him, his brother, and their co-creator Shannon Burke to come up with the series. He never mentions a novel, though. 

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Regardless of Wooten’s legal action, ,any fans on Reddit aren’t concerned about the lawsuit. 

“Reading the synopsis, I can see how it sounds similar,” one fan mentioned. “But it’s not like a treasure hunt is all that innovative of a story. I would have to actually read the book to see there [are] any further comparisons that prove it was intentional theft.” 

While Pate has been outspoken about their inspiration for the show, it’s unclear if Wooten’s book truly served as source material for the Netflix series.