J.J. Abrams' Inspiration

Completely cut off from society by the strong, cold, hazardous currents of San Francisco Bay, where even the guards didn’t leave, it’s hardly surprising that J.J. Abrams was inspired by Alcatraz.


Alcatraz was a federal prison from 1934 until 1963 and was home to some of the most infamous criminals in American history such as Al Capone and Robert Franklin Stroud, otherwise known as the Birdman of Alcatraz.

Due to the prison’s isolation and dark history, it has featured in a wealth of pop culture, from films such as The Rock, starring Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage, and the 1979 thriller Escape from Alcatraz to illusions by David Copperfield.

Abrams’ storyline for Alcatraz runs back to the day it closed, March 21st 1963, and weaves a fictional world where all 302 inmates, who were meant to be transferred on that day, just disappear. What’s intriguing about the history of Alcatraz is that during the 29 years it was open, it was claimed that no one ever escaped. As Abrams’ plot unfolds, he explores the idea that not only did these prisoners escape, but they are coming back in the present day and committing horrific crimes under our very noses.