Is ‘Tulsa King’ Inspired by Real Events?

An illustrated scene of a gritty, vintage Tulsa cityscape at dusk, with a shadowy figure resembling Sylvester Stallone standing in the foreground, evoking a blend of fiction and reality, inspired by 'Tulsa King' themes.

Is ‘Tulsa King’ Inspired by Real Events?

The ever-blurring lines between reality and fiction often lead audiences to wonder about the true inspiration behind some of their favorite television shows. One such show that has captured the intrigue of many is ‘Tulsa King,’ starring the iconic Sylvester Stallone as a New York mafia capo starting anew in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after serving 25 years in prison. Given the rich portrayal of mob culture and the intricate details of the protagonist’s journey, viewers are naturally curious about the real-life inspirations behind the series. Is ‘Tulsa King’ inspired by actual events, or is it a product of pure imagination?

The Truth Behind ‘Tulsa King’

‘Tulsa King’ is a creation of the imaginative minds of its creators and is not directly based on real events or individuals. The series, while portraying elements that might feel familiar from true crime stories and the history of organized crime in America, is a fictional narrative. Its foundation lies in the creativity of its writers, led by Taylor Sheridan, known for his work on ‘Yellowstone’ and its spin-offs, as well as the acclaimed film ‘Hell or High Water.’

The portrayal of Stallone’s character, Dwight The General Manfredi, and his interactions with the criminal underworld and legitimate businesses in Tulsa, Oklahoma, are entirely fictional. However, the series does a commendable job of weaving in elements that could very well exist within the realms of organized crime. From the struggles for power and respect to the dynamics of loyalty and betrayal, ‘Tulsa King’ touches on themes that are universal within the genre of crime drama.

While Tulsa, Oklahoma, may not be widely recognized as a historical hotbed for mafia activity, choosing such a location adds a fresh perspective to the mafia genre. It allows the writers to explore how someone steeped in the traditions and expectations of the New York mob would navigate and attempt to establish control within a new and unfamiliar territory. This creative decision not only offers a unique setting but also probes into the adaptability and resilience of organized crime structures when displaced from their traditional strongholds.

Understanding the Appeal of ‘Tulsa King’

The appeal of ‘Tulsa King’ lies not just in its intriguing premise but also in the depth of its characters and the complexity of their relationships. Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of Dwight Manfredi brings a nuanced depiction of a mafia figure trying to grapple with his past and carve a new path for himself. This clash of the old world with the new, the mafia’s tried and tested methods against the backdrop of a society that has evolved in its absence, creates compelling television. The show’s allure also comes from its ability to involve viewers in the dilemmas faced by its characters, making them invested in the outcomes of these fictional lives.

Moreover, ‘Tulsa King’ successfully captures the essence of the American crime drama, adhering to the genre’s expectations while pushing its boundaries. By focusing on character development and intertwining plot threads, it stands out in its storytelling approach. The series navigates through themes of redemption, legacy, and the pursuit of power, engaging its audience on multiple levels.


In conclusion, though ‘Tulsa King’ is not directly inspired by real events, it intricately captures the spirit of organized crime narratives through its complex characters, engaging storylines, and novel setting. It’s a testament to the power of storytelling, where the essence of truth can be felt in the fabric of fiction. The series represents not just a journey for its characters but also an exploration into the changing dynamics of power, loyalty, and survival within the criminal underworld.

Frequently Asked Questions about ‘Tulsa King’

Is Sylvester Stallone’s character based on a real person?

While Sylvester Stallone delivers a compelling performance as Dwight The General Manfredi in ‘Tulsa King,’ his character is not based on a specific individual from real life. The character is a fictional creation, designed to explore the challenges and complexities of a New York mafia member relocating to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Stallone’s portrayal brings depth to a character navigating life after imprisonment, balancing his notorious past with his aspirations for the future within a new community.

Why was Tulsa, Oklahoma, chosen as the location for ‘Tulsa King’?

The choice of Tulsa, Oklahoma, as the setting for ‘Tulsa King’ was likely driven by the desire to place a traditional mafia narrative in an unexpected locale. This decision allows the series to explore the cultural clash and adjustments required by Dwight Manfredi, a character deeply rooted in the New York mafia scene, as he attempts to establish his influence in an area not typically associated with organized crime. By setting the drama in Tulsa, the show can delve into unique storylines and character interactions, differentiating itself from other crime dramas centered around more conventional locations like New York or Chicago.

How does ‘Tulsa King’ compare to other mob-related television shows and movies?

‘Tulsa King’ brings a fresh perspective to the mob genre, primarily through its setting and the arc of its main character, Dwight Manfredi. Unlike many classic mob narratives that focus on the inner workings of the East Coast mafia families, ‘Tulsa King’ places its protagonist in the unfamiliar territory of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This shift not only highlights the adaptability and resilience of organized crime figures but also allows for an exploration of themes such as redemption and legacy from a new angle. The series also distinguishes itself through its blend of drama and humor, showcasing the characters’ struggles and triumphs in a manner that’s engaging and relatable to viewers.

Are there any real-life events or figures that inspired ‘Tulsa King’?

While ‘Tulsa King’ is a fictional series, the creation of its world and characters might draw loosely from the broader history of organized crime in America. The themes of power, loyalty, betrayal, and redemption explored in the show mirror the realities that have existed within mafia families and criminal organizations. However, the series does not directly reference or base its plot on specific real-life events or figures. Instead, it creates a narrative that feels authentic and believable within the context of the mob genre.

What makes ‘Tulsa King’ unique in the landscape of television today?

‘Tulsa King’ stands out in today’s television landscape for its innovative take on the mob drama, propelled by the star power of Sylvester Stallone and the creative vision of Taylor Sheridan. The series not only explores the intersection of traditional mafia culture with the modern world but also shifts the geographical focus of such narratives to the American Midwest. This relocation, combined with a focus on character development and the exploration of complex moral dilemmas, makes ‘Tulsa King’ a unique contribution to the genre. Furthermore, its blend of drama, comedy, and action ensures a diverse storytelling approach that has wide appeal among audiences.

Has ‘Tulsa King’ received critical acclaim?

Since its premiere, ‘Tulsa King’ has received positive reviews from both viewers and critics alike. Sylvester Stallone’s performance, in particular, has been praised for bringing depth and nuance to the role of Dwight Manfredi. The show’s writing, character development, and innovative setting have also been highlighted as strengths. While it might be too early to compare ‘Tulsa King’ to classic entries in the mob genre, its positive reception suggests that it has made a significant impact and may continue to grow in popularity and critical acclaim with subsequent seasons.

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