1x01 MotherInShock

A young mother, witnesses a car crash after a driver vanishes.

The Sudden Departure
, also known as the Rapture, is an unexplained event that occurred on October 14, 2011 (three years before the start of the series), during which 140 million people (2% of the world's population) vanished without explanation. In the final episode of the series, Nora Durst claims that the 2% were transported to an alternate reality. However, from the 2%'s point of view, 98% of the world vanished.


The day of The Sudden Departure has been seen a few times in the series. The opening scene to the series shows a short moment of the departure. It is shown again in Two Boats and a Helicopter and The Garveys At Their Best. From all the flashbacks we've seen so far it appears that nobody has actually seen a person disappear although this could possibly be shown in a later episode. (However this is debatable, it is unclear if the little boy in the opening scene of the Pilot, actually saw his father vanish or if he had been looking in another direction when he disappeared. )


Nora, realizing her family has vanished.

It has been shown that the people who vanished simply disappeared, not leaving their clothing behind, like other rapture themed novels portray. Many people first noticed the moment of departure from the sudden silence. Cars whose drivers vanished crashed, causing chaos in the streets, as people tried to help each other find the departed, or the injured. It's likely that many highways were blocked up from these crashes, and other forms of transportation were stopped. It was revealed in The Garveys At Their Best that fetuses also simply vanished from the wombs of pregnant mothers.

Animals also began to act strangely after this event. As stated in the Pilot, dogs who actually saw their owners disappear returned to a feral state of mind, becoming vicious and no longer friendly to humans.


The Sudden Departure took place during the mid-afternoon (U.S. Eastern Time) on October 14, 2011. In The Garveys At Their Best, the time on the screen of the ultrasound machine shown moments before the fetus (and everyone else) departed is 2:23 p.m. This is consistent with the date being referred to as "October 15th" by the Australian weatherman in Don't Be Ridiculous, although it seems to contradict Grace Playford saying she was at the Big W (a department store chain) at the time of the Departure, as the Departure would have occurred around 3:53am on October 15 in her time zone (Australian Central Standard Time, based on the area where the scenes were shot).

Impact on SocietyEdit

The Sudden Departure left a huge impact on the world. People who lost loved ones had to grieve without knowing what truly happened. Scientists all over the world attempted to try and explain this event but eventually could not find anything. In public school systems, students are allowed to pray for forgiveness and/or the return of the departed after Other structures of society, such as shopping, Christmas holidays, school still continued, however October 14th is seen as a memorial day to remember those who left.

The government has also somewhat changed. The Department of Sudden Departure was created in order to give insurance to those who have lost loved ones in the departure. Companies were made after the event such as, Loved Ones Bereavement Figures, selling to those who lost family or friends.

Culture has been changed as well. The Annual DROP conference is a convention for all Departure related events. The convention features people telling their stories of the departed, and other information. In Guest, Nora Durst is a panelist there. Many have written books about their experiences the most seen one being What's Next.

Religion has been greatly affected by the departure. Some belive that the Biblical rapture has taken place and the end is near. Others believe that it is not the biblical rapture, since people who weren't good were taken. Other groups have been formed such as The Guilty Remnant, who believe that the world has changed and live in certain ways.

Statistics Edit

In the "Pilot," a radio announcer seems to be listing statistics about disappearances from various countries, presumably from the findings of the Denziger Commission. There were 1.47 million Departures in Iran, 1.55 million in Turkey, 1.71 million in Germany, 1.73 million in Egypt, 1.85 million in Vietnam, 1.9 million in Ethiopia, 2.25 million in the Philippines, 2.47 million in Mexico, 2.22 million in Japan, 2.81 million in Russia, 3.06 million in Bangladesh, 3.51 million in Syria, 1.02 million in Brazil, 4.17 million in Pakistan, 4.65 million in Indonesia, and 27.18 million in China.

Based on an overheard conversation at the DROP conference, North Korea apparently denies that it lost anyone in the Departure. ("Guest")

The entire population of a small town in the outback of Australia with a population of 14 people departed (including the animals, with the exception of a chicken egg that later hatches). ("Crazy Whitefella Thinking")

DSD Questions Edit

The Department of Sudden Departure has a series of questions to ask the families of the departed, which were presumably put together through a study of the statistics of those who disappeared. There are just over 150 questions ("Penguin One, Us Zero"), which include:

  • To your knowledge, did _____ have any food allergies?
  • To your knowledge, did _____ ever travel to Brazil?
  • To your knowledge, did _____ enjoy cooking?
  • To your knowledge, did _____ speak more than one language?
  • To your knowledge, did _____ have more than twenty sexual partners?
  • To your knowledge, did _____ drink more than two alcoholic beverages daily?
  • To your knowledge, was _____ born in a hospital?
  • To your knowledge, did _____ ever attempt suicide?
  • #117. In your opinion, do you believe _____ had an active imagination?
  • #118. To your knowledge, did _____ regularly use aerosol hairspray and/or deodorant?
  • #119. In your opinion, was _____ a charitable person?
  • #120. In your opinion, was _____ a religious person?
  • #121. In your opinion, do you believe _____ is in a better place? (Please explain below)
  • #122. In your opinion, was _____ racist?

In "Lens," George Brevity has an updated DSD questionnaire (Questionnaire 260-B: "The algorithm came from the Japanese"). Brevity is investigating "secondary" Departures (i.e., he is trying to either verify or discredit a supposed Departure that happened after October 14, 2011), so this is likely a different survey from the one Nora uses when interviewing verified Departure survivors for benefits, although the questioning style is similar. Some of the questions are:

  • Did the missing person bite or chew his or her fingernails?
  • Did the missing person recently commence new dietary habits including but not restricted to vegan, gluten-free or Paleolithic?
  • Would you describe the missing person as generous?
  • Would you describe yourself as generous?
  • To your knowledge, did the missing person consume one or more alcoholic beverages per day?
  • Do you consume one or more alcoholic beverages per day?
  • Did the missing person use aluminum-based antiperspirant?
  • Is the missing person a product of a multiple birth?
  • Did the missing person have visual impairment or wear corrective lenses?
  • Was the missing person diagnosed with any neurological conditions such as essential tremor, Tourette's syndrome or any disorder that manifested seizures?
  • How often on average did you dream about the missing person prior to their disappearance?
  • How often on average do you dream about them now?
  • To the best of your recollection, what were the last words the missing person spoke to you?
  • To the best of your recollection, did the missing person ever express a desire to hurt him or herself? If so, why?
  • Have you ever expressed a desire to hurt yourself? If so, why?
  • To the best of your knowledge, did the missing person withdraw more than $1,000 from his or her bank within thirty days prior to their disappearance? If so, what for?
  • Did you withdraw more than $1,000 from your bank within thirty days prior to the disappearance? If so, what for?

Although Nora seems to be using Questionnaire 260-B in "Don't Be Ridiculous," the questions seem to be in a different order and slightly differently phrased. She asks:

  • Did the missing person use an aluminum-based deodorant?
  • Did the missing person have visual impairment or wear corrective lenses?
  • Can you please describe your relationship to the missing person?

Some additional questions on Questionnaire 260-B are visible on Nora's computer later in the episode:

  • To your knowledge, did the missing person like family get togethers?
  • To your knowledge, did the missing person celebrate National Holidays?
  • To you knowledge, did the missing person enjoy hiking?

Conspiracy Theories Edit

  • One protestor outside the DROP conference believes the “World Health Organization did it,” claiming, “They’re poisoning us!”
  • The Nora impersonator at the DROP conference notes that, in 2005, the Israeli Mossad was experimenting with a plasma ray that could target all human matter and leave almost no residue, impliedly believing that this device caused the departures.

Other Theories Edit

  • Margery Botet notes a correlation between eating cereals high in sugar and preadolescent departures

Trivia Edit

  • Tom Perrotta began writing the novel The Leftovers on October 14, 2008.
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