HomeTrendingThe True Story Behind The Hollywood Blockbuster 'Split'

The True Story Behind The Hollywood Blockbuster ‘Split’

M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Split’ was an early hit for 2017 and appeared to be a return to his favorable old ways. Shyamalan’s career took some serious stumbles in the 2000’s. James McAvoy, who plays the film’s terrifying antagonist, is undoubtedly the reason for the film’s success as he plays a man suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder, aka Multiple Personality Disorder. What you may not know is that McAvoy’s character is actually based on a true story…The story of Billy Milligan. Now, it seems commonplace for insanity pleas to be entered in court, but Billy Milligan was the first person in American Legal History to be acquitted of a crime based on psychological condition. His lawyers argued that Billy wasn’t responsible for his actions and that his alternate egos were acting on their own accord. Milligan was revealed to have 24 distinct personalities throughout his trial and during his time in a mental hospital in Athens, Ohio. Someone who also had 24 unique personalities: McAvoy’s character in Split. Billy’s personalities consisted of 2 groups, “The Ten” and “The Undesirables”. The personalities in The Undesirables were the ones responsible for Milligan’s criminal behavior. The most vicious of The Undesirables who inhabited Milligan’s psyche was named Kevin, which inspired James McAvoy’s character, named Kevin Wendell Crumb.

The Ten

These ten are the alter-egos whom personalities decidedly were not “undesirable”. These personalities shared consciousness and were revealed to doctors and therapists early-on. The Undesirables had to be coaxed out of Milligan. While Billy Milligan (William Stanley Milligan) is the core personality, the rest cover a wide range of personalities.


Arthur is an extremely sophisticated and educated Englishman. An expert in science and medicine, with a focus on hematology. He is generally in charge of the others during times that require intellectual thinking. Arthur is one of only two personalities who could classify a person in the group as an undesirable, considering his intellectual abilities and potential to break or bend the rules.

Ragen Vadascovinich

Ragen Vadascovinich has been given the title, “keeper of hate”. His name actually translates to “rage again” in Russian. Ragen speaks with a Slavic accent and describes himself as Yugoslavian. He can write and speak in Serbian and is extraordinarily strong, but to paint the picture of what one person can do that the others can’t, it should be noted that these abilities literally stop when another personality is present. During times of danger, Ragen is the primary member of The Ten that takes over. He admitted committing robbery in order to support “the family”, but had no knowledge of the rapes.


Allen is the con-artist of the group. As the con-artist, there is a social aspect of this personality, making Allen the most likely to speak to others (real people). An interesting trait about Allen is that he’s the only right-handed identity and he’s the only one of the personalities that smokes cigarettes.


Just like a gang of misfits and classic criminals, Milligan created Tommy, who’s the escape artist of the group. Naturally, Tommy is often confused with Allen considering the criminalistic disposition. His unique identifiers are his ability to play the tenor sax and wealth of tech knowledge as an electronics expert.


Where Milligans identities aforementioned have little to no problem socializing with others, Danny is afraid of people, especially men. One interesting quirk about Danny is that he only paints still-lifes and never paints landscapes. His fear of others seems to be complemented by an intense observation of life around him, which translates into his paintings.


David is one of the outlandish identities of Milligan’s which is also demonstrated in ‘Split’. David is a young boy, described as an eight-year-old, and nicknamed “keeper of pain”. He comes out of the woodwork to take the pain of the others. His childish personality is vulnerable, so it would make sense that he comes forward when hurt to instill feelings of sympathy in others.


Christene, was a surprising personality of his as a three-year-old girl, who would stand in the corner in school when “Billy” would get in trouble. She was the only identity that could show more vulnerability that David. She has dyslexia, but Arthur taught her to read and write. Milligan’s therapist also noted that Ragen has a special bond with her as a protector considering her intense vulnerability.


The only thing we know about Christopher is that he identifies as Christene’s brother and he plays the harmonica. The therapists weren’t able to coax that identity into the spotlight for long, so we gather information about Christopher through the others.


Adalana is something of the housekeeper because she cooks and cleans for the others. She’s something of the motherly figure of the group, however, that posturing is something of deception as she hid her true colors. Milligan’s attorney claimed that Adalana had admitted to committing the rapes without the knowledge of Milligan or the other identities.

The Undesirables

These people were labeled “undesirable” after breaking the rules laid down by Ragen and Arthur. These alter-egos were no longer allowed “on the spot” (that is, to hold consciousness) and only revealed themselves after Milligan was sent to the hospital.


Phil is a thug and took part in planning some small time crimes. Has a Brooklyn accent. Marked due to him being a criminal.


Kevin is a criminal planner; he helped devise a plan to rob a drug store. Labeled also because he is a criminal.


Walter is Australian. He calls himself a big-game hunter and has an excellent sense of direction. Was often used as a spotter. He was labeled because he shot and killed a crow.


April only has thoughts about destroying Billy’s stepfather. Declared an Undesirable when she convinced Ragen to kill Chalmer. Luckily though Arthur was able to talk him out of it at the last second.


Samuel is a Jewish person and the only one who believes in God. Was marked because he sold some of the other people’s personal paintings.


Mark is the workhorse. He is often referred to as the zombie because he does nothing unless he is told, and will stare at walls when bored.


Steve is the impostor, he uses imitations for comedy. Steve never accepted that he was an MP. He was made to be undesirable because his comedy caused the family problems.


Lee is the prankster and his practical jokes normally get the family into trouble. He does not care about consequences for his actions. He was made an undesirable because one of his jokes put them into solitary confinement.


Jason is the pressure valve. He was used at the beginning to release tension for the family, but he caused them to get into too much trouble and was marked as an undesirable.


Bobby always dreams of leading some adventure or fixing some global crisis, but he has no ambitions and was labeled due to that fact.


Shawn, who is four and deaf, makes buzzing sounds so he can feel the vibration in his head. He was labeled an undesirable because there was no benefit from being deaf later on in life. (Even though he is an undesirable he was never cast into the shadows beyond the spot; he was just never allowed to take the spot.)


Martin is a snob, from New York. He wants things just handed over to him without earning them.


Timothy worked in a florist shop until he encountered a gay man who flirted with him. He went into his own world after that.

The Teacher (Not an Undesirable)


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