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Timeless creators are being sued for allegedly stealing premise for their show

Timeless (Photo: NBC)

The fall TV season has arrived, and with it a couple of lawsuits about the creation of some of its shows. Earlier this month, we reported that Black-ish creator Kenya Barris was being sued for allegedly stealing an old college friend’s idea for the show, despite all information or “evidence” made available to the public in the 2+ years the show’s been running that indicates the series borrows heavily from Barris’ own life. Now it’s NBC’s turn to deal with the litigious, as Deadline reports that the creators of Timeless are being sued for allegedly absconding with the idea for their show, not unlike how Goran Visnjic does with a time machine in said show. NBCUniversal and Sony have also been named as defendants.

The suit was filed by Onza Entertainment for breach of contract and copyright infringement. The Spanish company that claims its idea for a government-backed team of time-machine-thief hunters was pinched, if you will, by Timeless creators Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Eric Kripke (Supernatural and Revolution). The suit lays out Onza’s premise for the show, and how it “relates to the adventures of a three-person government team (consisting of one woman and two men) traveling through time to thwart undesired changes to past events.” Timeless does feature its own group of timeline monitors, similarly comprising one woman and two men, though they have more academic backgrounds. Abigail Spencer plays a history professor, Matt Lanter her muscle, with Malcolm Barrett rounding out the ensemble as an engineer.


According to the complaint, Onza executives took the idea for El Ministerio del Tiempo to an MIP-TV event, where they met “Gersh partner and head of TV lit Roy Ashton for help in getting an American version” of the series off the ground. Ashton received a DVD of the show, which was only to be used to “assist Onza in putting together a deal for Onza’s development and exhibition of an American Version.” At the time, Ashton allegedly told the Onza reps that Kripke and his Supernatural/Revolution producer Ben Edlund would be “perfect” showrunners. Instead, Onza claims that it was blown off by Sony, which had agreed to produce the show, in late July 2015, only to learn in an August 2015 Deadline report that a similar idea made up the Timeless’ (né Time) pilot, which was picked up and later ordered to series by May 2016.

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