Is Dre in Swarm based on a real serial killer or not?

Swarm -- Courtesy of Prime Video
Swarm -- Courtesy of Prime Video /

Swarm is unlike any horror series I’ve ever experienced. But this is not a review of the show. This is me trying to figure out if the disclaimer at the start of every episode has anything to do with Dre’s character or not. I have endeavored to remain vague about episode details to avoid spoilers.

As for the disclaimer, here’s what it states: “This is not a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is intentional.”

Okay, I can honestly say I’ve never seen one like that before. “Based on true events.” Yes. Or even, “This is a work of fiction. Any similarities to real people or situations is not intentional.”

The disclaimer preceding Swarm episodes really set the precedent for what was to follow, which was a whole lot of crazy and a whole lot of murder. There’s no way a real person has ever done what Dre did, is there?

That’s what I set out to find out.

Swarm’s disclaimer

The first time I saw the disclaimer, I thought the series was just being cheeky and that this might be a lot of fun. A similar disclaimer that comes to mind isn’t for a horror series but for the dramedy Flack, which warned: “The celebrity culture you see is highly manipulated. Behind the scenes it is sordid, shocking, and salacious…just like this show.”

I forgot all about Swarm‘s disclaimer until episode 2. This time when I saw it, I immediately wondered if what had happened at the end of episode 1 had really happened in real life, especially as I watched Dre terrorize new people in episode 2.

If there was a crazy fan/serial killer, who was she and what had happened to her? And how had I missed this story? Did I miss the Dateline about it?

Apparently not. But let’s explore what Swarm is about and what did inspire the “true” parts.

Swarm is now streaming on Prime Video

Swarm — Courtesy of Prime Video /

Swarm was created by Donald Glover (who produced and starred in Atlanta) and Janine Nabers (who wrote for Atlanta and was a supervising producer for Watchmen). Nabers also wrote Swarm.

Dominique Fishback delivers an incredible performance as the series’ main character, Dre. That is to say, the perplexing, disturbed, chilling, nerve-racking, heartbreaking mess of a character who is Dre.

Wow. She’s a lot. Intense. Focused. Awkward. Odd. Unexpected. I’m still trying to digest and process who —and what— exactly Dre was. There’s no shortage of shows with damaged characters these days, but I feel like Dre’s took it to a whole new level.

Swarm and Stan culture

Anyway, even though the disclaimer might lead you to believe Swarm is based on a true story, Pop Sugar reported it’s not. It is based on “stan” (a combo of “stalker” and “fan”) culture, though, which is real. As Pop Culture explained, “stan” refers to the 2000 single of the same name from Eminem and Dido. The song tells the story of an obsessed fan “whose actions become increasingly more alarming as the song goes on.”

Here’s how defines stan culture:

"The behavior or beliefs of an extreme fandom whose members fervently and blindly support their chosen celebrity or team, often demonizing or reviling anyone or anything opposed to, or not sufficiently devoted to, the object of their worship."

Okay, learning this helps me better understand Dre. She’s a stan on steroids.

But is she real?


Pop Sugar referenced a Billboard article that addressed whether Ni’Jah’s character (the superstar Dre is obsessed with in Swarm) was inspired by Beyonce. It specifically stated, “Dre is a fictional character.” (And Ni’Jah’s wasn’t inspired just by Beyonce either, but by “more than one celebrity.”)

As far as Dre goes, thank goodness there’s never been a stan like her. There are some crazy true crime stories out there, but wow. I’m very relieved to know her killing spree in Swarm wasn’t based on real events.

Next. Smile is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. dark

Are you relieved to learn Dre isn’t based on a real character too? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!