How many times will NBC create a TV show featuring an airplane that mysteriously disappears in an attempt to copy the success of Lost? If the trailer for the upcoming Peacock original series Departure is anything to go by, the answer is “at least three times in less than a decade.”
Departure, a six-episode miniseries set to be released on September 17th, tells the story of passenger plane Flight 716, which “shockingly” vanishes midflight, causing a team of investigators to try to unravel the conspiracy before another plane disappears. It may also sound a little familiar if you’ve been watching network television for the last decade and a half.
In 2004, Lost debuted on ABC, telling the story of Oceanic Airline Flight 815, which vanishes into thin air during a routine flight and crashes on a mysterious tropical island, kicking off a massively successful flashback-reliant, conspiracy-laden TV series that would rule pop culture for years.
Lost ended in May 2010, and the following season, NBC was already looking to pick up the audience with The Event, a similarly flashback-reliant, conspiracy-laden TV series that — presumably by total coincidence — ends its first episode with Avias Airways Flight 514 vanishing into thin air. Despite its similarities to Lost’s “neither show nor tell” approach when it came to actually explaining its mysteries, The Event only lasted a single season before getting canceled.
But NBC wasn’t done delving into the oddly specific sub-genre of “plane suddenly vanishes, kicking off a vast conspiracy.” In 2018, the network debuted Manifest, which tells the story of Montego Air Flight 828, which (you guessed it) vanishes midflight, only to reappear years later, kicking off more questions and supernatural mysteries. Manifest was recently renewed for a third season back in June, meaning NBC will be the proud owner of two completely unrelated airplane disappearance conspiracy shows, airing concurrently.
In defense of NBC, Departure appears to be taking a departure from the network’s previous vanishing plane shows and taking a more grounded approach to the concept. The series appears to be pinning the missing flight on a more conventional terrorist attack, not a supernatural event caused by powerful aliens or unexplained forces.
That said, if it turns out that Flight 828’s disappearance was caused by an energy portal that took the passengers to a tropical island that also doubles as a convoluted metaphor for purgatory, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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