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. It was part of NBC's action programming block, Thrillogy.
The series follows Jarod, a young man on the run who is a "Pretender": a genius impostor able to quickly master the complex skill sets necessary to impersonate a member of any profession. In each episode, Jarod assumes a new professional identity (e.g., doctor, lawyer, soldier) in his quest to uncover his origins, deliver justice to criminal wrongdoers who evade the law, and stay one step ahead of The Centre, the sinister think tank that kidnapped Jarod as a child to exploit his Pretender abilities. According to show creators Steven Long Mitchell and Craig Van Sickle, the character of Jarod was inspired by serial impostor Ferdinand Waldo Demara.
Following NBC's cancellation of the series, two television movies continuing the storyline were aired on TNT: 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, 2013.