Is Jack Ryan Season 4 Based on a True Story?

Image Credit: Attila Szvacsek/Prime Video

Created by Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland, Prime Video’s ‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan’ is a globetrotting spy thriller series focusing on a different mission every season. We follow the titular character who starts as an analyst for the CIA but rises the ranks to become the agency’s deputy director. As Ryan faces foreign and domestic enemies, he realizes that the problem often starts from home, and the solution is more complicated than a simple question of morality.

In the fourth and final season, Ryan looks into the corruption inside the CIA while trying to check the growth of a Burmese criminal organization whose ties with the Mexican cartel will prove devastating to the US. Considering how ‘Jack Ryan’ is set in contemporary times and is known to draw upon relevant issues to inform its storyline, you might wonder if the fourth season is based on true events. Here’s what you need to know.

Is Jack Ryan Season 4 a True Story?

Image Credit: Attila Szvacsek/Prime Video

‘Jack Ryan’ is based on the characters created by Tom Clancy but resorts to a more contemporary approach as opposed to Clancy’s stories set in the 80s and 90s. The show’s writers draw upon current international events to create a fictional storyline that serves as a challenging mission for Ryan while also giving the audience a glimpse into what goes on in the criminal and political world.

The primary antagonists of the season are the leaders of a Burmese criminal organization called Silver Lotus Triad and the Mexican cartel. They have joined hands to foster their drug business, but there is much more to the story than that. Ryan discovers that the Triad has connections inside the CIA, which run higher than he had imagined. This corruption has infested the agency for a long time and has led to illegal operations which have tainted its image.

Ryan connects the drug trade to the increasing threat of terrorist activities in the US. This is not a made-up problem and has been a cause of concern for the authorities for quite a while now. According to the Office of Justice Programs, “The terrorist/insurgent link to drug trafficking and the increasing use of terrorist tactics by drug trafficking organizations is a matter of serious concern to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Drug traffickers, with their vast financial resources and power, consequently pose a significant threat to drug law enforcement efforts.”

The merging of criminal organizations in different countries allows them to adopt different routes and tactics to dodge the authorities and carry out their illegal activities without inhibitions. The coming together of an East Asian Triad with a South American cartel is also a reflection of the real-life collaboration between triads and cartels. According to the FBI, “Terrorist acts, crime, and foreign intelligence activities are no longer distinct activities, but rather profound fluid enterprises that through their very existence have a reverberating impact on our national security.”

Image Credit: Attila Szvacsek/Prime Video

While the CIA focuses on combating the threats that arise from foreign lands, Jack Ryan and the agency are also forced to confront the reality that the people in power have been using the secretive nature of the CIA to launch illegal ops that they use to aid the very organizations they are trying to stop. In between this, the assassination of the Nigerian president is also attributed to the CIA. Turning the heat toward the agency creates a sense of urgency, forcing Ryan and his colleagues to take immediate action.

The scandals in ‘Jack Ryan’ that the agency gets caught up in are a reflection of the actual scandals that have tainted the image of the CIA and other intelligence agencies over the years. From spying on citizens to carrying out assassinations on foreign soil to illegal detainment and torture of prisoners, the agency has had quite a share of questionable choices and decisions made in the name of protecting the people.

In the Prime Video series, the characters appear in front of a committee to explain their actions and face the consequences of their choices. Considering all this, we can say that the plot of ‘Jack Ryan’ Season 4 is entirely fictional. However, the writers have turned towards real-life events and tied them with a thread to create a compelling narrative for the audience.

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