'Manhunt Deadly Games': The True Story Details the Netflix Show Changed

Manhunt: Deadly Games is currently sitting at the top of the Netflix top 10 charts in the U.S., after previously airing on Spectrum and on CBS. The drama tells the story of the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta and two of its suspects: Richard Jewell (played by Cameron Britton) and Eric Rudolph (Jack Huston).

Like every drama based on true events, Manhunt: Deadly Games does take some liberties with the real-life story. It avoids, however, the changes made by the previous adaptation of this story, the movie Richard Jewell, which created controversy around the world when it (falsely) claimed that journalist Kathy Scruggs (Olivia Wilde) exchanged sexual favors for a story.

In fact, the biggest changes Manhunt made was not with the Jewell story but with that of Rudolph, who eventually went to prison for the crime after spending five years hiding out in the mountains.

manhunt deadly games true story
'Manhunt: Deadly Games' tells the story of 1996 Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph, who is played in the CBS/Spectrum series by Jack. Huston (right). CBS

We still do not know very much at all about what Rudolph actually did on the run, so the show's creators have had to fill in the gap with some creative license (spoilers ahead). There is no strong evidence, for example, that he ever killed anyone while hiding out. The dramatic chase through the woods between authorities and Rudolph is also a fiction.

The hunt for Rudolph in real life, however, was pretty dramatic, involving over 200 agents, dogs, and very TV-friendly tech like heat-vision goggles over six months of looking for the fugitive.

However, the real discovery of Rudolph was much more anti-climatic than it was in the show. In reality, he was found by a local cop while foraging through a dumpster for food.

Local residents have criticized the show its depiction of Murphy, North Carolina, which the show depicts as mostly part of a gun-toting militia who are keeping Rudolph's identity a secret. One Reddit user, for example, wrote, "I live in Murphy. I've lived here my whole life. I did not like the way my town was portrayed...I enjoyed the show, but I didn't like the liberties they took with Murphy NC."

Another wrote: "They really exaggerated the militia influence. I've lived here my whole life and so has my husband. My family never even owned a truck while I was growing up and we didn't even own a gun...We know no one personally who is in a militia."

Manhunt: Deadly Games may be a typical bit of TV exaggeration, but there is a kernel of truth behind it. Speaking to the Chicago Tribune in 1998, for example, local sheriff Homer Holbrooks said: "I've had people come up and tell me, 'Homer, I've known you since you were this high and I like you, but if I saw Rudolph today, I wouldn't tell you.' "

In that same article, the Southern Poverty Law Center said that the area of the Smokey Mountains where Rudolph hid out was notable for being the location for a number of militia-related exercises.

Manhunt: Deadly Games is streaming now on Netflix.