Fargo Season 5 Says It Is Based On True Events. But Is It Really?

Fargo Season 5 Says It Is Based On True Events. But Is It Really?
Image credit: FX

In fact, has the show ever been based on a real-life case?


  • Season 5 of Fargo, which premiered last week, follows a confrontation between a Minnesota housewife with surprising skills and a North Dakota sheriff with major crime boss vibes.
  • The opening card of each episode says the story is based on a real-life case.
  • In fact, it is just a reference to the Coen Brothers' 1996 movie Fargo, which used the card to give the movie a true-crime documentary feel.

Like its predecessors, Fargo Season 5, which premiered with two episodes on FX on November 21, 2023, states that its story is based on real life.

'This is a true story,' each episode's hilarious opening reads. 'At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.'

But was the story of Season 5, and any of the previous seasons, really based on a true crime?

Fargo Season 5 returns to Minnesota

The new season of Noah Hawley's black comedy crime anthology is once again set in Minnesota, with a major subplot happening in North Dakota. The story takes place in the fall of 2019, making it the most recent in the entire series.

Juno Temple stars as Dot Lyon, a seemingly ordinary and quiet housewife married to the spineless son (David Rysdahl) of the biggest debt collector in America (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is a cutthroat businesswoman not afraid to get her hands dirty.

In North Dakota, we have a local Mafia-like sheriff, played by the brilliant Jon Hamm, who is connected to Dot in a most unexpected way and is determined to hunt her down, which turns out to be a difficult task as the Minnesota housewife suddenly discovers the skills of a professional killer.

The confrontation between the two, which has only been set up in the first two episodes, promises to be epic and to hit all third parties involved in the best Fargo style.

Is it a real case?

Despite the opening card claiming so, the events described in Season 5 are completely fictional and created by the mind of Noah Hawley. In fact, none of the Fargo seasons are based on true events.

The hilarious opening is a nod to Joel and Ethan Coen's 1996 film Fargo and the true crime genre in general.

It is no secret that Hawley wrote the first season of Fargo to be part of the Coen Brothers' fictional universe and continues to interweave their creative work into the show, referencing various films created by the iconic filmmakers.

The true-story opening card is part of the 1996 film, and even then was used by the Coens as a clever trick that helped them emphasize the stylistic choices of the project and make it look more like a true-crime documentary.

Of course, the brothers were inspired by real life as they worked on the film. In fact, the legendary woodchipper scene was inspired by an old Connecticut murder of a woman whose husband got rid of the body in such an unconventional manner.

The main story, however, was created out of the Coens' own imagination. And that's what Noah Hawley continues to do.

Fargo Season 5 Episode 3 is set to air on FX on November 28th at 10pm ET/PT and will be available to stream on Hulu the following day.

What do you think of the new season of Fargo?