Mindhunter (2017) is a new Netflix series based on the book Mindhunter which is an autobiographical book detailing the experiences of John E. Douglas and the early days of the Behavioral Science Unit within the FBI. The show seems to follow the actual events well enough, including having real serial killers show up as characters.

So my question is: why does the show create the fictional characters of Holden Ford and Bill Tench to represent the real agents Robert Ressler and John E. Douglas instead of having actors portray the actual agents?

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    Because it's only based on the book by Douglas...it's not a recreation of actual events. In this way Fincher can do whatever he likes with the characters and no run any risk of defamation. – Paulie_D Oct 25 '17 at 6:29
  • So, a work of fiction then? Here I thought it would be nonfiction....bummer. – user25738 Oct 25 '17 at 16:40
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    Fiction allows for creative freedom in part so it can go beyond the book--more than a season. – Darth Locke Oct 25 '17 at 17:24
  • Yes but given the trend of true crime shows out which are fictional dramatizations of actual events, it seems strange here not to follow a similar model. Shows like American Crime Story and Law and Order True Crime are all fictional dramatizations of real events using the real people as characters. – sanpaco Oct 25 '17 at 18:19
  • So this is not following a "trend"....as I said, it's not a recreation...it's just based on real events replacing real people with characters..which is what interests Fincher...he's said so in many interviews. – Paulie_D Oct 25 '17 at 19:19

From an interview that Time magazine had with David Fincher (executive producer), when asked how closely the TV show adheres to the true story:

Joe Penhall (writer and producer) was the first person to say, “I think I can do a better job of dramatizing this if I’m given the leeway to take some of the attributes of this person and some of the attributes of this person and create a new character.” So that’s what we did.

So, just as several comments have suggested, the TV series is only based on the book Mindhunter, specifically so that the writers and producers would have an easier time in creating the series, and not have to conduct extraneous research or risk inaccurately portraying certain events.

In an attempt to restore any disappointment that may be experienced by this fact, Fincher then went on to say,

A lot of [the interviews with serial killers] were taken verbatim. The Kemper interviews, the Manson interviews — that stuff is pretty well documented. We stayed as close to that as we could while still having a dramatic arc.

That being said, not all of the show is interpretation, but instead, is a kind of recapitulation, so to speak.

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