Is 'Hand of God' Based On A True Story? It's Not The Only Show To Tackle A Religious Premise

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 09: Actor Ron Perlman speaks onstage during Amazon Original Series 'Hand of God' Panel And Signing on July 9, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Amazon Studios)
Source: Jerod Harris/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

A lot of the drama in Amazon's new series Hand of God revolves around people questioning the sanity of Ron Perlman's character, a judge who believes a higher power is speaking to him after his son attempts suicide. However, this is literally (depending on how you look at it) a tale as old as time. Is Hand of God based on a true story?

According to an interview that creator Ben Watkins did with TVLine, Perlman's character was inspired by a variety of real people that include historical figures like John Brown and Nat Turner, scientists like Albert Einstein and Linus Pauling, as well as musicians like John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. "They’re operating on another level, and it’s tough for people around them," Watkins says.

Religion, specifically Christianity, is no stranger to television. There are religious themes in The Walking Dead and Supernatural, as well as shows that tell actual Biblical stories. The most comparable show to Hand of God, though with a different tone, is Joan of Arcadia — in which God speaks to a teenage girl. Watkins claims in the same interview that this show is "not ... about religion as much as it is about man’s interpretation of it, or twisting it to his own ends." That said, here are some other shows on television right now that have taken a religious concept and run with it. 

Orange Is The New Black

Particularly in the third season, when religion took to the forefront and a group of inmates at Litchfield started worshipping Norma, while another group swarms Suzanne with a similar passion. I would also say that the chicken in the yard is a major religious symbol. 

The Leftovers

This captivating HBO series, based on a novel by Tom Perotta, examines the real life ramifications of an event seemingly only explained by religious intervention. New cult faiths spring up, and the desire to understand what has happened after this not-quite "rapture" happens. 

Jane The Virgin

Okay, so maybe Jane's "immaculate" pregnancy is explained pretty quickly. Still, it's the conceit of the show and religion plays a big role in motivating the characters. 

The Returned

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Based on a French series, this show follows people who have returned from the dead. There was also a show on ABC called Resurrection with basically the same premise. 

Sleepy Hollow

Finally, for a dark twist, the Fox series combines U.S. history, the supernatural, and many religious images and characters into one big mystery. Their vigilante justice is explained with literal demons, so it'll be interesting to see how Hand of God grounds similar themes in reality. 

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