Is Inside Man Based on a True Story? Steven Moffat Explains

Inside Man is one of the newest crime drama series to hit Netflix, as it features a great ensemble of amazing actors that have their own personalities and unique roles in this storyline. Of course, the thing about Inside Man is that we are looking at two different main characters that are featured in two different parts of the world while there is a series of crime-solving events going on from within death row. There is also a need to point out that the series focuses on realism. So, is Inside Man based on a true story?

Unfortunately for true crime fans out there, Inside Man is not based on a true story. It is purely fiction, and that means that the characters and the events in this series are all made up. However, writer Steven Moffat was inspired by Sherlock Holmes and decided to create a new and different character.

The thing about Inside Man is that, while it might not be a true story, it is still an exceptionally well-told detective-type series that focuses on the inquisitive and extremely logical mind of the main character, who has to solve crimes from a remote area while he was in prison. So, with that said, let’s look at what we know about Inside Man and what it is based on.

What Is Inside Man About?

One of the genres that never seem to run out of fans out there is the crime-solving and detective genre that we often see in TV shows. Netflix joined the party by adding Inside Man to its library, as this is the newest detective and problem-solving series to hit the streaming giant. And while the series is quite familiar in terms of its overall premise and storyline, there are a lot of things that are unique about it.

Inside Man follows the story of two different events happening in different parts of the world. In a quiet English town, there is a vicar named Harry Watling who seems to be someone who will never get into trouble but ends up getting his entire family into a huge fiasco when he accepts a flash drive from one of the locals that often go to church. This man wanted him to keep the flash drive so that his mother wouldn’t be able to find it as it contained pornography. The vicar, of course, thought that this was the usual pornography that tends to be quite normal among men.

Meanwhile, in the US, an inmate named Jefferson Grieff is on death row and was actually meeting different people while he was in prison because these people wanted him to solve crimes and puzzles that they weren’t able to solve. And because Grieff used to be a criminology expert, he knows a thing or two about solving different problems using any information he has at his disposal.

Back in England, the vicar found himself in trouble when his son’s math tutor opened the flash drive and found child pornography. She told the vicar of this as his son claimed that this flash drive was his so that he could get to the good side of his father. Of course, the vicar told the tutor that this was his flash drive (even though it wasn’t) to protect his son. And when the tutor seemingly wanted to report this to the police, things got messy because Watling uncontrollably became violent and ended up locking the tutor in his basement while he and his wife were looking for a way to get out of this mess.

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Then, in the US, an acquaintance of the tutor happened to be scheduled for an interview with Grieff but ended up asking for his help when she noticed that her friend had sent a weird text and had gone missing. And this is where it got interesting as Grieff has to use his analytical mind to get to the bottom of what is happening.

Is Inside Man Based On A True Story?

Of course, the thing about Inside Man is that it is grounded in realism because everything that’s happening in the series can actually happen in real life. This is what makes the series so interesting because it could happen at any given moment in any part of the world. So, does that mean that Inside Man is based on a true story?

Unfortunately, if you’re a fan of true crime stories, Inside Man isn’t up your alley because this isn’t a detective story that’s based on real life. Instead, everything about it, including the storyline, the events, and the characters, was made up by the series creator Steven Moffat. As such, despite the fact that this series is grounded in realism, everything about it is fictional in nature.

But while Inside Man may be fictional, there are actually cases wherein the things that are happening in the series actually happen in real life, to some extent. And we are talking about the fact that real prisoners are often used as a way to solve crimes because they are capable of “entering” the minds of those who are out there committing crimes.

In 2007, there was a trial that involved police using decks of playing cards to give to inmates. These cards included details about several real-world cold cases that the police deemed too difficult for them to solve. And the point of this trial was to actually obtain new information from the inmates, especially because they were in a position to understand more about the motives and modus operandi of criminals.

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It was in 2021 that the state of Florida fully implemented this idea, and there are claims that they have solved around 2 or 3 cases per deck. In that regard, this idea is somewhat novel but isn’t really exactly the same as the event happening in Inside Man.

What Is Inside Man Based On?

Inside Man is similar to a lot of crime-solving drama stories in the sense that it was inspired by Sherlock Holmes, as Moffat himself admitted. But the thing is that, in an interview, Steven Moffat said that he didn’t want to create another clone of Sherlock, and that was when the idea of Jefferson Grieff hit him.

In a sense, he wanted someone to be similar to Holmes in terms of his deductive capabilities but not entirely the same as the famous fictional detective. That was when he came up with the idea of creating a character that was Hannibal-like in terms of the fact that he was solving cases from prison but was using deductive reasoning instead of trying to get into the mind of the criminal

In the interview, Moffat said:

“I was thinking of what kind of detectives we hadn’t had. Pretty much ever since Doyle invented Sherlock Holmes, there has been no other kind of detective–they’re all rip-offs. But Grieff’s particular area of insight is he knows that anyone can do it. He’s not supporting his worldview with the fairy tale that supports your worldview and mine, that there’s goodness and kindness, and some of us just wouldn’t commit murder. He knows he’s solving crimes from hell. He does believe that every human being is absolutely capable of the abominable–the advantage of the loss of everything he valued from his life is that he has the insight that strips away all the lies that sustain our illusion of security.”

So, in a sense, he wanted an entirely original character that had similarities with other crime detective storylines but was still unique in the sense that he had his own worldview. That was what Jefferson Grieff was, as he may still be another Sherlock-inspired character but is entirely his own person.

  • Ysmael is a self-professed geek that loves anything related to fantasy, sci-fi, video gaming, and anime. Spends his free time watching movies, TV shows and gaming, a lot.