The Pretender is an American action drama television series created by Steven Long Mitchell and Craig W. Van Sickle, that aired on NBC from September 19, 1996, to May 13, 2000.
The series follows Jarod, a young man who is a "Pretender", a genius impostor able to quickly master the complex skill sets necessary to impersonate a member of any profession. Being kidnapped as a child by The Centre, a sinister think tank located in the fictional Blue Cove, Delaware, who exploited his Pretender abilities; Jarod escapes as an adult, and goes on the run. He is chased by a trio of Centre agents: Miss Parker, the daughter of a pivotal figure within The Centre; Sydney, a Centre psychologist who raised Jarod; and Broots, a Centre computer expert. In each episode, Jarod assumes a new professional identity (e.g., doctor, lawyer, soldier, pilot) to investigate a crime framed on someone else, and deliver justice to the actual culprits. In the meanwhile, Jarod searches for his origins, and leads Miss Parker, Sydney, and Broots on a chase to discover the dark secrets of The Centre – including how they are involved in the death of Miss Parker's mother.
The series was inspired by serial impostor Ferdinand Waldo Demara. Apart of the network's Saturday night lineup, NBC cancelled the series after four seasons. TNT ordered two sequel television films that aired in 2001: The Pretender 2001 and The Pretender: Island of the Haunted. In 2013, creators Steven Long Mitchell and Craig W. Van Sickle began updating the story with a series of books and graphic novels; the first, The Pretender: Rebirth, was published on October 7.