Is Tulsa King Based on a True Story? Explained

Tulsa King is just about to premiere on Paramount+, and we absolutely can’t wait. The show will follow Sylvester Stallone’s character, Dwight Manfredi, a mobster who got out of prison after 25 years and is now tasked to create a new empire far from his NYC home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The premise feels kind of familiar, so fans wonder; is Tulsa King based on a true story?

Although the premise feels familiar and authentic, Tulsa King is a completely fictional tale. However, the crew behind the show is incredibly experienced with crime drama and knows how to deliver this kind of story, which is why Tulsa King feels authentic.

There are also other fictional works that mention a ‘King’ in Tulsa, so perhaps fans drew the connections themselves. There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s dig in and see whether there’s any truth in the story behind Tulsa King and other crucial pieces of information to get you pumped for the show’s premiere.

What is Tulsa King about? A brief plot recap

Tulsa King is a classic crime drama revolving around the mafia and the secret underworld in which they build their criminal empire. The main character is called Dwight ‘The General’ Manfredi (Sylvester Stallone), who was incarcerated for 25 years and is now finally getting released from prison.

During his entire incarceration, Dwight kept his mouth shut and served as a scapegoat for his bosses, remaining loyal to his mafia family at all times. However, upon his release, Manfredi is almost immediately sent to Tulsa, Oklahoma, to try and build a new criminal empire there.

For The General, it’s as if he was sent to a different planet, as Tulsa and New York have absolutely nothing in common. He struggles to get a hold of how things work in Tulsa and how the criminal underworld functions in such a small community. 

Meanwhile, he realizes that his crime family might not have his best interest in mind, so he starts gathering his own criminal team of misfits to break away from his ill-advised New York City bosses and create his own powerful empire in the new city.

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Is Tulsa King based on a true story?

The crime drama genre revolving around the mafia is a topic that has been explored numerous times throughout the history of cinematography – and successfully, if I may add. Many of those movies and shows were based on true events and infamous mobsters, not just from the US but the world. So, is Tulsa King also based on a true story?

Well, although it feels incredibly authentic – even from the trailer only – the main creator of the show, Taylor Sheridan, confirmed that Tulsa King is a completely fictional story and has no real grounds in true events. However, there are some possible connections one can draw with other fictional works that make the show feel all the more real and authentic.

First of all, Sheridan is collaborating with Terence Winter, the highly-experienced, legendary writer, and producer of crime classics such as The Sopranos or The Wolf of Wall Street. The experience that Winter has in the genre will definitely contribute to the authenticity of the show, the characters, and the situations they find themselves in.

Secondly, Dwight Manfredi is an Italian American character – much like the actor who’s portraying him, Sylvester Stallone. Sly really has that vibe needed to make the character feel more authentic, but it’s important to note that this will be the first time in Stallone’s long career that he’ll work on a series instead of a movie.

On top of all that, there are several other pieces of fiction or pseudohistory that may or may not have served as an inspiration – at least to a degree- for the authors of the show. 

For instance, Douglas Preston wrote a book called the Secret History of Tulsa, where he mentions numerous figures in history that, according to him, have been involved in the founding of the city of Tulsa. One of the people Preston mentions as the main guy behind the town is William Withers, a person whose nickname was ‘King.’

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Even some historians accept the theory that a guy named King came to Oklahoma with a dream to build his own city. He started as a real estate developer and created his own empire that eventually became Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Now, I have to highlight yet again that there’s no word of confirmation from the showrunners that the inspiration for Tulsa King came from any of those stories. However, if we see Manfredi dab into the real estate business, it would be incredibly interesting for fans to draw parallels between Tulsa King, the TV show, and King of Tulsa, the fictional tale of the real estate developer ‘King.’

When and where is Tulsa King going to premiere?

Tulsa King will premiere on November 13, 2022, on Paramount+, a streaming platform owned by Paramount. The hope is that the show will spike subscriptions to the platform. Based on the big names behind Tulsa King, both behind and in front of the camera, I wouldn’t be surprised if subscriptions spike.

Another thing that the platform did to boost subscription numbers is the fact that the first two episodes will be available on the Paramount Network, but then, if you want to continue watching the series, you’ll need to subscribe to Paramount+.

  • Luka loves psychological thrillers, horrors, and mysteries. However, high fantasy and fiction are his primary interest, especially Tolkien's Middle-earth universe, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Marvel universe. Amateur filmmaker, screenwriter, cinematography, and trivia enthusiast.