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Is Apples Never Fall Based on a True Story? Well ....

Before bringing Apples Never Fall to life in her bestselling novel, author Liane Moriarty found inspiration in a surprising place. 

By Jill Sederstrom

A devoted mom of four goes missing — and suspicion immediately turns to her husband. Is he the one behind his wife's disappearance? What about the mysterious young woman who recently started living with the couple? What really happened?

Peacock’s Apples Never Fall — based on Liane Moriarty’s best-selling book of the same name and featuring stars like Annette Bening, Sam Neill and Jake Lacey — has all the elements of a ripped-from-the-headlines true crime story, but is the limited series based on a real-life case?

The answer is, well, a bit complicated. Here's what to know about the inspiration behind Apples Never Fall.

Is Apples Never Fall Based on a True Story? 

Apples Never Fall (the television series) is based on a book with the same name. The novel version of Apples Never Fall is a work of fiction, but author Liane Moriarty did draw inspiration from several true crime cases. 

Moriarty told The Sydney Morning Herald the idea for the book came to her while listening to true crime podcasts during the COVID-19 pandemic as the world was in lockdown.

“Sadly there are multiple cases where a woman goes missing and the husband is the chief suspect in her murder,” she said. “He is invariably described as a loving father and that just got me thinking about how would I feel if my mother went missing and everyone was saying my father had possibly murdered her.”

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In Apples Never Fall, recent retiree Joy, played by Annette Bening, suddenly disappears. Police are quick to suspect her husband, Stan, a former tennis coach played by Sam Neill, and the mystery forces the couple’s four adult children to reevaluate their parents’ seemingly perfect marriage

While writing the novel, Moriarty told the newspaper she didn’t even know herself whether Stan was guilty or not until the story fully played out on the page. 

RELATED: Yes, Apples Never Fall Will Be a Little Different from the Book — But Liane Moriarty Approves

“I would often think about the children and how you would feel as an adult if your mother went missing and your father was the person everybody was talking about who was possibly responsible,” Moriarty explained to 7news.com.au.  “I then thought about if you had sibling and how would your siblings feel and then you could possibly have factions where one sibling thinks, ‘Yes, Dad may have done this’ and the other says, ‘No, absolutely not.’”

The central theme of the story wasn’t the only aspect to mirror real-life events. As the synopsis explains “everything changes” for the newly retired couple when “a wounded young woman knocks on Joy and Stan’s door, bringing the excitement they’ve been missing” shortly before the disappearance. 

It turns out, that aspect was inspired by a real event too.

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“First of all, there was one particular newspaper article I read about an elderly couple who let a young woman into their house, who said she was a domestic violence victim and she then committed some crime,” Moriarty told book publisher Penguin. “I was intrigued by the idea of the poor elderly couple thinking they were doing the right thing by letting her in.”

The story will play out in the new Peacock limited series over seven episodes. The limited series, led by showrunner, writer, and executive producer Melanie Marnich, premiered on the streaming platform March 14, 2024.

“Ultimately, Apples Never Fall is a very honest show about what it means to be a part of a very complicated family. Which is every family, right?” Marnich said of why she wanted to take on the project. “As we always said in the writers’ room ... Something really bad might’ve happened at the Delaneys ... but you still wanna swing by for a gin and tonic.”

Along with Bening and Neill, the cast includes Jake Lacy, Alison Brie, Conor Merrigan-Turner, Essie Randles and Georgia Flood.

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