‘The Rookie’: Is the Hit Nathan Fillion Crime Drama Based on True Story?

by Emily Morgan
(Photo by phamous2/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

For the past three years, fans have watched Nathan Fillion transform himself from a relatively unknown actor to a star. Part of the reason for this is due to his role in “The Rookie.”

ABC’s procedural dramedy follows a man named John Nolan. Nolan is a 40-something officer with no law enforcement experience who joins the LAPD and proves he works just as hard as his much-younger colleagues.

Since its debut in 2018, the show quickly became a solid contender as the network’s most popular show. As a result, “The Rookie” was recently renewed for a fourth season. In addition to having a phenomenal cast, part of the reason why the show is a hit is that it’s based on real events.

There’s no doubt that fans clearly love to see Fillion taking on the role. However, it’s safe to say the show may not be successful as it is had it not been for real-life events.

Even die-hard fans of “The Rookie” may not know that the story has a basis in the real world.

Though some aspects of the show have been dramatized, “The Rookie” is based on the real-life story of William Norcross. As it turns out, Norcross did leave his family’s Pennsylvania printing business at 44 to head to California and become a police officer.

At the time, Norcross was unmarried with no children and had no law enforcement experience. However, that didn’t stop him from pursuing his dreams.

The Real Life Story Behind ‘The Rookie’

“[Law enforcement] was something I had always thought about in the back of my mind.” He added, “Then, all of the sudden, I wake up and I’m 40-something years old and I figured if I was ever going to make a change, that now was the time to do it,” he told the New York Post.

“I looked around; I always thought about LA. The LAPD has no age limit, as long as you can pass the requirements. I saw they had expedited testing where you can cram a couple of months of testing into one week. And that’s how it started.”

Norcross made the trek to Hollywood not to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, but because he wanted to join the force.

Today, Norcross currently serves as a producer on a hit network show while still holding down his job with the LAPD. He also has no plans of retiring from the LAPD anytime soon.

“I’m happy with my day job,” he said proudly of his duties. “I came out here to be a police officer and that’s what I’m here for. Anything else that’s happened to me … I’ve been incredibly fortunate — but I’m here to be a police officer.”