Is The Crowded Room based on a true story?

Kayla Harrington
A close up of Tom Holland with a busted eye in The Crowded Room

With the release of the new Apple TV+ mini series The Crowded Room, fans have wondered if the show is based on a true story or not.

The Crowded Room, a new Apple TV+ mini-series, is one of the most eagerly anticipated shows of the summer due the mystery the plot centers around.

The series – starring Tom Holland and Amanda Seyfried – follows an investigation surrounding a young man who commits a shocking crime that he doesn’t remember doing. Using flashbacks, present time, and flash forwards, it’s a race to figure out what really happened and stop the perpetuator before they strike again.

Since the show is all about mystery and showcases a host of characters, fans have wondered if the show is based on a true story or not, so here’s everything we know.

Is The Crowded Room based on a true story?

The Crowded Room is inspired by a real person, but the story itself is fictional.

The show was created by Akiva Goldsman and was loosely adapted from the 1981 non-fictional novel The Minds of Billy Milligan by Daniel Keyes, an accomplished author whose work centered around people with different mental illnesses.

A close up of Tom Holland as Danny Sullivan in The Crowded Room
Tom Holland in The Crowded Room.

Keyes’ novel tells the story of Billy Milligan, the first person in history to be found not guilty by reason of insanity because of dissociative identity disorder, per Esquire.

The real events behind Tom Holland’s new series

Milligan was arrested kidnapping, raping, and robbing three women on the Ohio State campus. After he was caught, he received a psychiatric evaluation where he insisted that he wasn’t responsible for the money stolen; his other personality, Ragen, had done it while the rapes were committed by his third personality, Adalana. By the time Milligan went to trial for the crimes, his psychologists found that he had 10 separate personalities.

Milligan was eventually found not guilty by reason of insanity on the basis of multiple personality disorder, which today is called dissociative identity disorder. According to Milligan’s doctors, his 10 personalities (later upped to 24) came to be due to the severe abuse he suffered at the hands of his father, Chalmer Milligan.

While Milligan’s mother, sister, and brother took the stand at his trial to confirm his abuse allegations, his father denied such events happened until he died at the age of 61. While Milligan didn’t go to prison for his crimes, he was sent to a series of state-run psychiatric hospitals where he lived for over a decade.

After his release, Milligan moved to California for an unknown amount of time before resurfacing to live with his sister after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2012. Then, just two years later, he succumbed to the cancer in 2014 at the age of 59.

It’s unclear how much The Crowded Room borrowed from Milligan’s life as only the first three episodes are available to stream, but it’s safe to say that the show’s mystery definitely goes deeper than we think.

The Crowded Room Episode 1-3 are now available to stream on Apple TV+. You can check out more of our TV and movie coverage in the hubs below:

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