Is Apple TV+’s The Changeling a True Story? Is it Based on a Real Murder Case?

Created by Kelly Marcel, Apple TV+’s horror series ‘The Changeling’ revolves around Apollo Kagwa and Emma “Emmy” Valentine, who form a family upon encountering each other at a library in New York City. They soon welcome a son named Brian, who completes their family. Their lives, however, turn upside down when a horrifying murder unsettles their togetherness. When Emma vanishes, Apollo confronts the need to find her while dealing with an unbearable tragedy. Apollo and Emma’s moving tale intrigued us enough to find out whether the same has real-life connections. Well, here’s everything you need to know about the same!

Is The Changeling on a Real Murder Case?

No, ‘The Changeling’ is not based on a true story. The series is based on the eponymous horror fantasy novel written by Victor LaValle, who narrates the show. The author was not inspired by a real murder case to write the novel as well. However, LaValle’s experiences as a father did influence the creation of the source novel. The series revolves around Apollo’s fear of losing his child and the events that increase the same. Upon experiencing the same as a father, LaValle wanted to explore the horrors associated with parenthood through his creation.

“I definitely could not have written this book before we had the kids,” LaValle told EW. “It just wouldn’t have been possible. Maybe a better writer than me would be able to make the empathetic leap, but I couldn’t – until I deeply understood what it would be like to fear losing a child, to fear being a bad parent, to fear letting down the people you love,” he added. There are other aspects that connect Apollo and LaValle. Apollo’s mother, like the author’s mother, is an African immigrant who married a White man. Similar to Apollo’s parents Lillian Kagwa and Brian West, LaValle’s parents got separated when he was a child.

“Apollo – he’s one of these new dads. He needs to be a great guy, and that’s who I am, too, so there’s a danger that I’m going to be patting myself on the back a little bit too hard as Apollo,” LaValle told Los Angeles Times about the similarities between himself and his character. However, the similarities end here. Apollo is not a fictional counterpart of LaValle. Instead, the protagonist of the series is the vessel through which the author explores what it means to be a father. The tragedy Apollo faces in his life is entirely fictional. Still, LaValle was careful about separating his family from the family he conceived for the novel.

That was when LaValle’s wife Emily Raboteau helped him. Emily’s input did help the author to characterize Emma, Apollo’s wife. “I said to her [Emily], ‘If there are things in here that feel too close to the bone or that’s wrong or whatever, let’s talk about it, and let’s make this a book that you will feel OK with it being in the world, that you won’t feel blindsided or betrayed.’ That was really helpful for the book because she was able to give me some perspective on Emma, on how or why she might’ve done the things she did,” LaValle added to Los Angeles Times.

LaValle considers his novel as a retelling of the “happily ever after” tales, especially with a child in the picture. Apollo and Emma are a loving couple who resemble the couples in the aforementioned tales, whose lives take a turn when they welcome a son. Emma’s mental health deteriorates to the extent that she wants to hurt her own child. Although Emma’s tale and the crime she commits are fictional, post-partum depression is a reality several women like Emma deal with. In addition, there are several cases of mothers suffering from post-partum depression allegedly killing their children, which reminds us of Emma’s life.

LaValle, through his novel, and Marcel, through her series, try to shed light on the darker side of parenthood. In the source novel, LaValle uses fairy tales and terrifying myths to reflect the horrors Apollo faces in his life, which are a part of several fathers’ lives in reality.

Read More: Where is The Changeling Filmed?