Fargo Season 5, like always, claims to be based on a true story — but is it?

By Louie Fecou
Published: November 23, 2023 (Last updated: November 25, 2023)
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Is Fargo Season 5 based on a true story?
Jon Hamm in Fargo Season 5 | Image via FX/Hulu

The fifth season of the darkly comic drama Fargo is available to stream on Hulu, with many saying that the series has managed to return to its earlier form. The fifth season consists of ten episodes and had a delayed release date due to the Hollywood strikes, but patient fans have waited eagerly to see the new series. As usual, the show takes place in the shared Fargo universe, based on the 1996 film by the Coen Brothers, and also as usual, the story opens by declaring it is based on a true story. But is it really?

Is Fargo Season 5 based on a true story?

No, Fargo Season 5 is not based on a true story. The series was written as usual by Noah Hawley and is a work of fiction.

The series has always started by stating that the events in the show are true, and although there may be some instances where an event may have been the inspiration for an idea, it is clear that the show is a work of fiction.

The idea probably comes from the 1996 film, which stated, “This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 1987.” However, it seems that the statement is more satirical, and is more of a comment on the nature of crime films and TV series.

The Fargo TV series also starts with a similar title card that says, “This is a true story. The events depicted took place in [location] in [year]. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.”

Why does the TV series say it is based on a true story?

Fargo basically lies to you. It has been confirmed that the show is a work of fiction.

Possibly the best way to explain why the show does this is to refer to an interview conducted with showrunner Noah Hawley by Men’s Health. Hawley would say, “I can’t speak to the movie. But the show… It’s all just made up. The whole cloth. I didn’t go looking for true crime. It started from a character standpoint and everything grew organically out of that.”

As far as the movie goes, the Coen Brothers would say that they chose to promote the film as a true story to add depth to the narrative, and they also explain that there are two elements of the movie that were based on real-life incidents. A 2016 interview with Ethan Coen in The Huffington Post explained the real-life events in the film:

“One of them is the fact that there was a guy, I believe in the ’60s or ’70s, who was gumming up serial numbers for cars and defrauding the General Motors Finance Corporation. There was no kidnapping. There was no murder. It was a guy defrauding the GM Finance Corporation at some point.”

He goes on to mention that the film also featured a murder that was inspired by a real-life case. “There was a murder in Connecticut, where a man killed his wife and disposed of the body — put her into a wood chipper. But beyond that, the story is made up.” That particular case is notoriously referred to as the “Woodchipper Murder” of Helle Crafts and is the horrific story of a Danish flight attendant who was killed by her husband in 1986.

RELATED: Where was Fargo Season 5 filmed?

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