Is Under the Banner of Heaven a True Story & What Is Changed?


Under the Banner of Heaven is the newest crime series that is showing today as this is one of the most gripping shows that you can watch on Hulu. The best part about this series is that it was able to capture the emotional aspect of a crime series, especially when it comes to the faith of the main character. And the premise is so realistic that it seems like it’s a true story. So, is Under the Banner of Heaven based on a real story?

Under the Banner of Heaven is indeed based on a true story as it is the adaptation of the true-crime novel of the same name. The novel tells the story of the gruesome killings of a woman and her baby daughter in a small Mormon town in the 80s. However, Detective Jeb Pyre is a new addition to the series.

While we do know that Under the Banner of Heaven is a true story, the addition of a new character makes the series more interesting because we get to see the narrative from the eyes of someone close to the case. In that regard, let’s look at what we know about Under the Banner of Heaven and how close it is to the true story it is based on.

Is Under The Banner Of Heaven A True Story?

Fans of crime TV shows have been captivated by the new series called Under the Banner of Heaven, which is one of the most interesting shows that you can watch right now. The series can be streamed on Hulu and is one of the best shows you can watch on that streaming platform. It is also worth noting that Under the Banner of Heaven is a limited series.

That said, the events of Under the Banner of Heaven revolve around Detective Jeb Pyre (played by Andrew Garfield) and the investigation he is conducting regarding the killings of Brenda Wright Lafferty and her baby daughter. It is a series that tests the faith of the detective of a small Mormon town because of the fact that the church has some sort of a connection to the killings. And that means that the series seems a bit too close to home when it comes to its narrative. 


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So, does that mean that Under the Banner of Heaven is actually based on a true story?

Yes, Under the Banner of Heaven is indeed based on a true story. The series is the adaptation of the John Krakauer 2003 novel of the same title. Of course, the events of the Under the Banner of Heaven series stay true to the events of the novel. And the reason why this series is a true story is the fact that the novel is a true crime story that is based on the real-life events surrounding the killings of Brenda Wright Lafferty during the 80s.

The Under the Banner of Heaven series was created by screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, as his goal was to show how patriarchal the church is. This is something that is close to his heart because of the fact that he was brought up in a Mormon church. And that means that Black knows the nature of the Mormon church and how its structure isn’t something that is friendly towards women.

As mentioned, the story of this series is based on the events of the book, which talks about the events surrounding the death of Brenda Wright Lafferty, who was a former beauty queen that grew up in a liberal family. Because of her liberal upbringing, she was known to be a fun-loving person full of excitement and energy.

Brenda eventually married into the Lafferty family, which is a prominent Mormon family in Utah. But because of Brenda’s open-minded upbringing, she was not afraid of disagreeing with some of the beliefs of the Lafferty family, despite being quite dedicated to her husband and daughter.

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However, on July 24, 1984, the 24-year-old Brenda was found dead in their Utah home as her throat was slashed after getting choked. Meanwhile, her infant daughter was also killed in the same attack that took Brenda’s life. And the killings allegedly took place on Pioneer Day, which is one of the most important holidays for the Mormons in Utah.

In the real-life events, the killings were actually done by Allen Lafferty’s older brothers, who are in a more extreme sect of the Mormon church. They were originally excommunicated from the LDS church because of how extreme and fundamentalist their views were, but they became more fanatical after joining the School of Prophets. The fact that Brenda stopped her husband from joining the sect was the last straw for the Lafferty brothers because they felt that it was an attempt on her part to split their family.


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Meanwhile, the series allows us to see the events from the eyes of the detective investigating the case as he himself is put to the test by the killings. He is a devout Mormon, and investigating something so close to his church has him questioning his own faith.

What Are The Changes In The Under The Banner Of Heaven Show?

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One of the best parts about Under the Banner of Heaven is the fact that it is actually quite dedicated to sticking close to the real events that happened in the book and the true-to-life events that occurred in the actual case regarding Brenda Wright Lafferty.

However, there are some changes that the series introduced due to certain circumstances. For the sake of sensitivity, the Under the Banner of Heaven series changed the name of the town to Rockwell. And for the same reason, the names of the cops were omitted from the series as they didn’t want to relive the events surrounding the gruesome killings.

In that regard, Dustin Lance Black created the characters of Jeb Pyre (Andrew Garfield) and Bill Taba (Gil Birmingham) as the officers filling in as the stand-ins for the actual investigating cops in the real case. The introduction of Pyre and Taba also allows the audience to see the events of the series from the points of view of these characters instead of looking at the killings from a third-person perspective.

In that regard, Under the Banner of Heaven’s changes in the series are circumstantial only, but the show stays as true to the book and the real events as much as possible. The sensitivity of the case is the circumstance that led Black to change a few things in the series, but the narrative is quite faithful to the real events of this story.

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