Fact Check: Is Netflix's Eric based on a true story? Explained

Gaby Hoffmann and Benedict Cumberbatch (Image via Netflix)
Gaby Hoffmann and Benedict Cumberbatch (Image via Netflix)

Netflix's latest miniseries starring Benedict Cumberbatch titled Eric was released on May 30, 2024. It tells the story of a New York puppeteer whose life turns upside down after the disappearance of his son.

As per Netflix, the synopsis of the story reads as follows:

"A desperate father, alongside a tenacious cop, battles his own demons on the streets of 1980s New York as he searches for his missing nine-year-old son."

The topic and genre of the new series evoke a sense of familiarity with other Netflix projects such as The Asunta Case and Dahmer. Those series were based on real events and were adapted from real-life cases that took place in society. This might lead viewers to presume that the missing person case in the new series is also inspired by true events.

However, the new series is not based on a true story. While the historical setting and depiction of poverty, corruption, and racism are realistic, Netflix's Eric is completely fictional. This was confirmed by Abi Morgan, the show's creator, in an interview with RadioTimes published on May 30, 2024.

"I don’t think it was ever based on one specific case," she specified.

Netflix's Eric is a work of fiction, influenced by real-life experiences

A still from 'Eric' (Image via Netflix)
A still from 'Eric' (Image via Netflix)

Netflix's new miniseries Eric uses the backdrop of 1980s New York to tell a gripping story about a missing child. Despite its characters and their stories being fictional, it strongly resonates with the real-life atmosphere of that time, which was marked by the AIDS epidemic and increased homelessness.

The series effectively captures the essence of this turbulent period, providing a believable and immersive setting for Detective Ledroit's investigations. Abi Morgan, in the RadioTimes interview, explained that she was inspired by her own time growing up in the UK and New York.

During the '80s, many such stories about missing children were prevalent. She went on to say that the images of missing kids on milk cartons were "haunting" and left a deep impact on her. She also explained her intention to explore the historical context rather than retell a single true story. She said:

"I think in choosing to go back to that time, I wanted to go back to that very vivid period in history where, obviously, there were those cases. But in many ways, it was more a kind of shout-out to those cities where kids can go missing..."
A still from 'Eric' (Image via Netflix)
A still from 'Eric' (Image via Netflix)

While Edgar, Vincent, and other characters are not real individuals, their stories mirror the heartbreaking experiences of many families during that era. Morgan's portrayal of these fictional disappearances taps into the collective memory of the '80s, making the tragedies in Eric feel authentic and familiar.

The series does not shy away from depicting the emotional and social impact of these disappearances, drawing parallels to the actual cases that haunted the decade.

Netflix's new miniseries succeeds in creating a fictional yet realistic story that captures the essence of a period rife with fear and uncertainty. By weaving together elements of true history with her creative vision, the show offers viewers a poignant and thought-provoking portrayal of 1980s New York.

Read More: Fact Check: Is Bodkin based on a true story? Explained

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All episodes of Eric are currently available to stream on Netflix.

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