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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman June 7, 2023

‘Utopia’ TV thriller didn’t predict the COVID-19 pandemic or prove it was planned

If Your Time is short

  • The 2020 conspiracy-thriller TV series "Utopia" did not predict the COVID-19 pandemic, or prove that the outbreak was planned or that the vaccines cause infertility. 

  • The show’s creator said it is a work of fiction written in 2013.

  • Research has found that COVID-19 vaccines do not affect fertility.

This fact-check includes spoilers for the show "Utopia."

Even the creator of the Amazon Prime show "Utopia" acknowledged that its similarity with the QAnon-esque conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic are unnerving.

"Utopia," released on the streaming service in 2020, but written in 2013, tells the story of a group of young adults that discover a deadly viral outbreak was a faux creation to depopulate the world via — you guessed it — vaccines. 

But one May 8 TikTok video claims that the series predicted the COVID-19 pandemic, and shows the pandemic was planned.

"They always tell us what they are doing way before they do it," a woman says in the video before cutting to a clip from the show. 

In the clip, actor John Cusack, who plays an evil, biotech executive, describes the plot, which includes the manufacturing of an "omnivirus" that is "embedded" in a flu vaccine. At the end, Cusack’s character reveals that the media and government have been manipulated by shadowy forces to promote a vaccine designed to make people infertile and radically reduce the world’s population. 

TikTok identified this video as part of its efforts to counter inauthentic, misleading or false content. (Read more about PolitiFact's partnership with TikTok.)

"Utopia" has everything one might want in a conspiracy-doomsday thriller — but its existence doesn’t mean it predicted the COVID-19 pandemic or that the pandemic was planned. There is also no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility. 

We and other fact-checkers have repeatedly debunked conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic having been planned

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Scientists who have studied the coronavirus behind the COVID-19 outbreak have determined that it resembles naturally occurring viruses. Studies continue to evaluate the possibility that the virus leaked from a lab; there’s still no conclusive evidence of its exact source.

No research so far has found that the pandemic was planned — scientists so far have concluded it spread naturally. And unlike the premise of "Utopia," the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. do not contain live viruses. They do not spread illness, they help stem the virus’ spread.

There have been nearly 7 million reported COVID-19 deaths worldwide since the pandemic began. This number is likely an underestimate, as many deaths have gone unreported and uncounted.

Studies also have shown that the COVID-19 vaccines do not affect fertility, and health officials and reproductive health experts say there’s no link between the vaccines and the likelihood of pregnancy. Some evidence suggests that recent COVID-19 infection can have a short-term effect on male fertility.

Gillian Flynn, who created "Utopia," said the Amazon series is a work of fiction when she discussed the show’s debated ideology in an October 2020 New York Times interview.

"I started writing this in 2013. I was intrigued by the rise of conspiracies at that time — and it’s only become more so — but I wrote it before I knew about QAnon," Flynn told the newspaper. "Certainly there is that idea that if you look hard enough, and if you want it bad enough, you have the ability to convince yourself of anything." 

Our ruling

A TikTok video claimed that the TV series "Utopia" predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and an intentional effort to sterilize humans, showing the pandemic was planned.

The series is a work of fiction that was written in 2013 — it neither predicted the COVID-19 pandemic nor proved it was planned. Research has found the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads naturally and vaccines created to stem the spread do not cause infertility.

The statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim. We rate it Pants on Fire!

RELATED: Lie of the Year: Coronavirus downplay and denial 

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‘Utopia’ TV thriller didn’t predict the COVID-19 pandemic or prove it was planned

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