In the closing scenes of Limitless, Bradley Cooper's character Eddie Morra reveals that

he's weaned himself off NZT, such that he retains the positive effects but no longer has to take the pill.

However, in the TV show of the same name, Morra suggests to Brian Finch that

he's taking the pill, but developed an immunity shot to protect him from the negative side-effects on an ongoing basis; he then offers to provide Finch with this shot in exchange for loyalty and information from inside the FBI.

Even if he was lying to Finch, it seems strange that he would have produced the shot in the first place if it were possible to "train" one's mind away from requiring the pill.

Arguably, he may want to keep Finch on his side by simply not revealing that it's possible to remain a super-genius without a continued supply of NZT, but about halfway through the season we learn that Morra ostensibly

wants Finch to become a partner, and put him through the pain of the early episodes merely as a test of loyalty,

and thus seemingly has little reason to continue misleading him in this way.

Has the "weaning off" device been retconned out of the movie for the show? Or did I miss something in the show that explained the apparent discrepancy? Have the producers ever addressed this? Or does it simply remain a mystery for now?

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    I suppose he could also have been lying in the film. Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 16:43
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    TV shows often change things from the movies they are based on. See 12 Monkeys, Aladdin, Ash vs Evil Dead, Beetlejuice, Blade, etc etc basically most of this list en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – cde
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 17:04
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    My assumption in this context is that he was lying in the film so that people didn't suspect him anymore. In the film, he setup a manufacturing system which was shut down (allegedly) but that doesn't mean he doesn't have any nor know how to produce it anymore.
    – AlasdairCM
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 11:35
  • @AlasdairCM: IMO the "message" of the film was that "anyone can reach their potential [without drugs]" and that he'd basically done that, but I think your explanation would be a very good one if used to power a retcon. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 11:58
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    @cde Limitless the TV series is actually a sequel spin off and so they are both cannon and in the same universe, which is why they had Bradley Cooper reprise his role, where 12 Monkey's is a re-imaging and expansion of Terry Gillian's film and therefor not of the universe. Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 21:23

2 Answers 2


Ok, so at the end of the Limitess Film, it's true that it appears that Morra was not off NZT and has chosen the path of politician for an undisclosed reason that ultimately sets up the depate of his motives in the sequel TV show, which are not clear and muddied by Agent Sands and the Legion of Whom...

But the idea of a "tweaked NZT" was mentioned in some of the final lines of dialogue between Eddie Morra and Carl Van Loon:

Carl Van Loon: What are you doing? Do you wanna be president of the United States or brain dead, stuck full of tubes?

Eddie Morra: I’ll take my chances.

Carl Van Loon: I told you, your chances don’t exist. We shut down your lab.

Eddie Morra: You don’t think some smart ass in NZT might have two or three or even four labs?

Carl Van Loon: So what? You’re not making anymore.

Eddie Morra: That’s right. I’m not. I thought better of it. See, once you know what’s in it, you can tweak and re-engineer it, and get the bugs out. Taper off. I’m off it, Carl.

Carl Van Loon: Well, on it or off it, there’s no scenario where you’re not working for me.

Eddie Morra: How are you gonna pay me? In cigarettes?

So bassically, just like he was lying about being off NZT, it's more that Morra didn't tell Van Loon the entire truth and becomes "an unreliable narrator", because in Limitless TV series, despite Morra's manipulation of Brian Finch, the truth is, Morra, as he confesses to Brian in the Pilot, was most likely still having side effects in between the film and the Tv series. The time between them is four years and Morra says he had a headache two years ago.

Limitless 1.01 Pilot - Transcript:

Eddie Morra: You think it's bad now, it's only gonna get worse. You actually might remember this moment as the last time you felt vaguely human. But it doesn't have to be that way, Brian. I took a pill this morning. I've taken a pill every morning for the past four years. I can't remember the last time I felt bad. That's not true. No, I had a headache two years ago.

Biran Finch: How how did you how did you do that?

Morra: That. Millions of dollars of private research. It works on a cyclical enzyme system. Oh, you don't know what that means. It doesn't matter. All you need to remember is that every so often, you take one of these shots. And you can have as much NZT as you want with no side effects.

BUT the tv series reveales that Morra has worked on a more perminant solution. In 1.12 viewers come to meet Piper Baird, whose someone whom helped create the enzyme that negates NZT's side effects, But Piper believes Morra is trying to keep NZT for himself and so she's trying to kill him for allegedly killing her boyfriend and find a way to replicate the enzyme. So again, we might assume that sometime in between the film and the TV series, Piper had helped Morra get past the booster shot, but it relied on several people & Morra kept the other NZT users, including Piper, from being able to find a better solution (than the immunity shot) for themselves...

Piper, Brian

1.12 The Assasination of Eddie Morra - Transcript:

Piper: He came to me when I was writing my dissertation. I guess he'd read some of my work. He told me about NZT, how he was trying to alleviate the side effects and how, if I could help him do it, the pill might help my mom.

Finch: You invented the enzyme?

Piper: Well, me and some other people. I don't know who they are. Morra kept us all separate.

In the season finale, Piper does find a way to replicate the enzyme and makes a formula that gives Brian a perminent solution against NZT-48 Side Effects.

This is also what the Limitless EP Craig Sweeney had to say about these things, in relation to where they would of gone in the second season

Looking to Brian’s newfound permanent immunity, will there be any side effects? And what can you say about the decision to take that step now? I think we felt like we had told the story of Brian under the thumb of Eddie Morra and Sands, and needing to get those clandestine booster shots. We wanted to move forward from that, basically, and we felt like the beats would get repetitive if we were telling more stories where, “Oh, Brian needs to get his booster shot” or “Oh, he needs to get this file or he won’t get this booster shot.” We did a lot of things like that, which worked really well.

But we really wanted to have Rebecca and Brian move forward on an honest footing with each other. The need for the immunity shot for Brian, and the layers of deception that go with it, we cleared the deck to explore a relationship between Brian and Rebecca in a more meaningful and honest way.

To get more specific about the way the immunity works, is this a situation where if someone wanted to replicate it, they could test Brian and try to duplicate what they find? Or is it in his system in a way that’s untraceable?

They could certainly try, and it would be interesting. It’s not as if the FBI knows how to do it yet. They’re definitely going to be studying him. Piper is not out there, giving it away freely; he is a kind of Rosetta stone, which makes him a lot of interest to them in Season 2.

What Brian and Morra’s relationship might be like going forward now that Brian doesn’t really need him?

A new adversary will emerge in Season 2—who has a history with Morra—who Morra will take very seriously. Eddie and Brian, instead of being uneasy adversaries, they’ll be uneasy allies in Season 2.


UDATE: Added Pilot Transcript to better support that Morra was still taking NZT and had some side effects until sometime between the movie and tv series.

Note: A charactacter just saying something is not concrete evidence of truth. However, it does not contradict the film, since we never know for sure, if what Morra tells Van Loon is 100% accurate.

  • You recognised the "tweak and re-engineer it, and get the bugs out" part but skipped over the next sentence: "Taper off. I’m off it, Carl." IRTA the bug which stopped you from getting off NZT (remember all those painful episodes in the movie when you tried) has been fixed, so now it's possible to get off NZT altogether, which is what he did. I don't see any way around that other than (a) he was lying, or (b) it was retconned, but there isn't any evidence here to say which it is IMO Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 11:35
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    @JMac: Hmm interesting interpretation - you may be on to something here Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 15:06
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    I'm with @JMac -- We get the drift from the concept of the film being about a smart drug, that this was about addiction and power--and keeping it at any cost. So it makes greater sense that Morra somewhat lied, but also teased the truth (to the audience)- It seems like he is off of it, because he has no apparent side effect, but the audience realizes this doesn't make sense because he's suddenly a politician and he is still acting "smart" with an angenda. So if he lied, then it not recon, because Limitless relies on what one doesn't know. There's a heavy dose of espionage in both the film & TV Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 16:03
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    Except that I think the end of film was about realizing we can't trust Morra--therefor one can't retcon what one doesn't know to be true! A character saying something alone, is not really proof that what that character is saying is true, especially because the character generalized words and/or if a character is on a drug that potentially alters you in some way! The film ends in a mystery. The TV show begins to explain that mystery, while also creatively expanding on the nature of the drug through others expiriences. I don't think it took anything away from the film--just enhanced it. Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 18:22
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    @JMac: It's a surprisingly good show.. just don't expect it to be anything like the movie :) Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 19:00

Several endings were considered for the film.

From: http://makeyourbookamovie.com/screenwriter-producer-interview-leslie-dixon-limitless-part-1/560/ :

Q: How happy are you with the final film—what we see on the screen?

Leslie Dixon: Well, I was in control of the script. I had it in my contract that they couldn’t hire another writer because I controlled the underlying rights at the time the deal was set up.

Q: Nice—and extremely uncommon.

Leslie Dixon: There were some pressures to do a couple of things that I didn’t agree with and which I had to succumb to, and I won’t say at the moment what those were, but at least I was the one who made the changes.

Overall I would say that 100% of the movie is verbatim from my final script, and 98% of it is what I wanted. The voiceover was changing all through post-production, but what’s on the screen is the last draft.

Q: Quite an accomplishment for a writer—or in this case, writer-producer, which seems to have made the difference.

Leslie Dixon: That’s really it. I know that’s not often true. In the end, other writers come in and polish things and shit. And even here, there’s a really bad ending that I was forced to write, and which got discarded. And they said oh, we’re going to reshoot this, and we did, so the ending that’s in the movie now is closer to what I prefer.

Q: What’s your 100% preferred ending?

Leslie Dixon: I’m not answering that! There have been so many.

Q: And of course there’s an alternate ending on the DVD.

Leslie Dixon: I don’t know why the director included it. I think it sucks. That was a bad day. And that alternate ending is a perfect example of what happens when the studio has some ideas, I know what I want but a lot of other people are chiming in, the actors have ideas—and it ends up being the way no one wants.

It’s like a bunch of lions fighting for scraps of meat and in the end you just get kind of a bloody pulp. But that was really the only area of the movie where anything like that happened, and fortunately we had the chance to fix it.

Q: I like the way you tied it together with him being the guy who bought the company.

Leslie Dixon: That was something that was not in the original ending, or the book. Again, I had to bring him back to make it all one piece, and that’s why the ending was so difficult to nail: it was a contortion, like turning a script that has had a very logical but cynical ending into a Cirque du Soleil contortionist to try to get De Niro back into it.

It was very difficult, and there’s still a loose end that people on message boards complain about, which is the woman who died. And all I’ll say is that in the ending that I sold the script with, that was all fully explained, but it ended up having to be a dropped plot thread as to whether he’d killed that woman or not.

Here is (possible, unverified) one: http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Limitless.html.

I haven't seen the TV show but it doesn't take a very large leap of imagination to see how they could have felt free to pursue their own creative avenues, taking into account the movie ending wasn't "set in stone", so to speak.


This has the POV of the director, Neil Burger, where he talks about the issues they had with the ending, from http://collider.com/neil-burger-interview-limitless/:

Q: I know it’s a little unusual to talk after the film has come out a week later, but I really enjoyed your movie. Something that I heard through the grapevine was that you reshot the ending and that the original ending was a little bit more ambiguous. The ending that you have released is a little bit more definitive. Could you talk about whether or not that is true and the reason why you did that?

Burger: Well, we were working very fast. I think the original production was about 43 days, which for the number of locations, effects, fights, and all of that stuff we were doing was a pretty tight schedule. So we were moving quickly. We had never quite loved the ending. [Screenwriter] Leslie [Dixon] and I had gone back and forth on trying to figure out how to nail it down. We were changing it and fine tuning it till the end. Literally, on the day as we went into it we were like, “I don’t think this is quite it.” So we shot it and it’s actually conceptually the same as the ending that is there…kind of. What we reshot is almost like an expansion of what had been in the original ending. So we got to the end it and what was interesting was that once we put the film together my editor, Naomi Geraghty, and I with another editor, Tracy Adams, who was another editor who came on a little bit later, got to the ending of our first assembly and we were like, “Well, it’s really good and we like it, but the ending is not quite there.” So I started working on it right away. I started coming up with ideas and I was pitching them to Leslie [Dixon] to write, but we could never get De Niro and Bradley [Cooper] in the same place at the same time until about two months ago actually in January. So, we then went out and did it. It’s different, but it’s based on the same. It just has more beats. It’s just bigger, stronger, and a more powerful ending. I mean, it’s slightly ambiguous as well, but it’s a more definitive ambiguity.

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    This is a huge wall of text. Could you maybe cut the quotes down only to the most relevant parts? Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 1:34
  • It would be better with less boldface, too.
    – T.J.L.
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 14:38

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