Is The Terminal List based on a true story? An authentic fictional tale

The Terminal List

Chris Pratt stars as Lt. Commander James Reece in the new Amazon series The Terminal List. Pratt returns home after a mission in Aleppo, Syria, goes terribly wrong, leading to the deaths of most of his team. The other surviving member dies under unusual circumstances soon after landing in the United States. 

Reece has PTSD from the incident as he begins questioning his role in the disaster. After an assassin kills his wife and children, Reece investigates the crime, finding that the government organized the deaths of his friends and family. Reeling from losing his loved ones, Reece embarks on a bloody revenge mission. 

The Terminal List is based on a fictional book by former Navy SEAL Jack Carr

In an interview with Simon & Schuster, Jack Carr said he always wanted to serve his country in uniform and test himself in the ‘toughest military training.’ Therefore, he became a Navy SEAL. 

Carr was enlisted as a SEAL Sniper before earning promotions to Platoon Commander. A specialist in communications and intelligence, Jack served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Philippines before leaving military service in 2016. 

Jack became an author, incorporating some of his experiences in The Terminal List. “I took my emotions and feelings associated with much of that experience and applied them to the pages of The Terminal List,” he said. 

Jack Carr
Jack Carr served the U.S. as a Navy SEAL — and his grandfather served in World War II as a military aviator

Chris Pratt’s friend, Jared Shaw, introduced the actor to The Terminal List. Pratt met Shaw while training with SEALs for his role in Zero Dark Thirty. Shaw suggested to Pratt that he make it into a movie.

After moving to option the rights, Chris discovered that Antoine Fuqua was also looking to get the book’s rights. Pratt said on the Smartless podcast:

“I optioned the book and at the same time the director Antoine Fuqua – I heard that Antoine was also circling this book trying to get the rights to it. I just called him on the side, I was like, ‘Dude, instead of us bidding against each other on this book, let me get the rights and I’ll just have you direct it.’”

The pair decided that the fictional story would fit better in a limited series than in a film. Creator and executive producer David DiGilio said:

“Early in their [Pratt and Fuqua’s] conversations, they realized that there was such a great character here, such great conspiracies, and such a great story that it actually begged to be more than a two-hour movie, so they decided to make it a TV series.”

The showrunners incorporated people with military experience to create an authentic series

Despite The Terminal List being a fictional story, the showrunners wanted to create a show true to the military experience. They started by recruiting writers with military experience. 

A May 2020 article by The Hollywood Reporter stated that half the show’s writers would be veterans or have veteran friends or family. Chris Pratt continued:

“It’s totally different than anything I’ve ever done. My friend Jared who got me the book was a producer on it and plays a role in it. We hired a whole bunch of people both in front of the camera and behind the camera who are former SEALS and Spec Ops. We’re really nailing down the authenticity.”

In an interview with Washington Post Live, Jack Carr said it was important to Chris and Antoine that veterans would appreciate the effort they put into making the show realistic. He continued:

“Maybe there’s a little Hollywood thing here there, but these guys went to every length … to do everything possible to keep this grounded in the foundation of the realities of modern combat.”

Carr has written four more books in the James Reece series: True Believer, Savage Son, The Devil’s Hand, and In the Blood. It’s uncertain whether the other books will get Hollywood treatment.