Every episode starts with the onscreen words "This is a true story. The events depicted in this film took place in Minnesota in 2006/ 1979/ 2010 (depending on what season it is). At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred." This is a nod to the way that the 1996 source movie Фарго (1996) started (also by claiming that its events were based on a true story). However, neither the movie nor the TV show are actually based on true events. In a 2014 interview, the show's Executive Producer Noah Hawley clarified the "true story" episode introductions by saying "the show.... It's all just made up. The whole cloth. I didn't go looking for [a] true crime. It started from a character standpoint and everything grew organically out of that."
Bruce Campbell, who plays President Ronald Reagan, was also briefly visible onscreen in the source movie Фарго (1996). He is in the soap opera that is playing on the TV in the kidnappers' cabin. This was actual archival footage of the young Campbell in a real 1980s soap opera, Generations, that really was one of his early acting jobs.
In the trailer for season 1, there is a clip where Mr. Numbers (Adam Goldberg) shoots a would-be robber with a gun covered in a Scrunyon bag. No such scene appears in the series. However, you can find the deleted scene in the "extras" section in the DVD, among others.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who plays ex-con Nikki Swango in the third season, signed on to join the series without knowing anything about her part. She assumed she would be playing a "really nice Minnesota cop or a really sweet Minnesota housewife."
There is Jewish symbolism throughout the first four episodes of season 1. Lester Nygaard's (Martin Freeman) house number is 613. The ransom note to Stavros (Oliver Platt) asks for an amount ending in 613 and when Gus (Colin Hanks) talks to Molly (Allison Tolman) after he has arrested Lorne (Billy Bob Thornton), he tells her that he was on "a 613 - a dead dog". According to Judaic authorities, there are 613 mitzvahs - or commandments - in the Torah. Of course, we also keep seeing the Mitzvah Tank, in front of Gus's apartment, at the gas station where Gus gets the 613 call.
The same building is used in all three seasons of Fargo with different uses. Season one is Lester's (Martin Freeman) work office. Season two is the butchers Ed (Jesse Plemons) works in. Season three is the apartment building Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) lives in.
The second season is a prequel to the first season, taking place nearly 30 years before. It expands on the Solversons' family and their story, and Molly Solverson (played by Allison Tolman in season one) is seen as a young girl.
During season 2, Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst) is very eager to participate in a Lifespring seminar. Lifespring was a real organization founded in the mid-1970s and was an offshoot of the so-called "human potential" movement that began in the late 1960s. Starting in the late 1970s until Lifespring disbanded in the mid-1990s, dozens of lawsuits levied a wide variety of complaints against Lifespring, ranging from characterizing it as a fraudulent pyramid scheme to holding it responsible for over two dozen participants' deaths.
Ewan McGregor spent more than two hours each day in makeup to transform into Ray Stussy, with a wig, prosthetic nose and padding. He actually gained weight for the first episode, in which his character is semi-naked throughout one scene, but began losing the weight after that scene was filmed.
The soundtrack for season 2 contains several songs featured on the soundtracks for Coen brothers Tracy Letts films. Included among them are: "Man of Constant Sorrow" and "Didn't Leave Nobody but the Baby" (О где же ты брат? (2000)), as well as "Run Through the Jungle" and Kenny Rogers' "Just Dropped In" (Большой Лебовски (1998)) and "Danny Boy" (Miller's Crossing (1990)).
The fourth season is expected to begin filming in the fall of 2019, to air in 2020. Writer/creator Noah Hawley stated that it will be a "period piece" set before the events of the second season in 1979. According to Hawley, season four will "look at Fargo from a thematically different place."
Ewan McGregor and Carrie Coon appear together in Season 3. McGregor appeared in Август (2013), based on the play by Tracy Letts, husband of Carrie Coon. Ironically, Letts was initially quite resistant to McGregor's casting in the film adaptation.
During a 2014 interview on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," Noah Hawley said that the inspiration for the character Mr. Wrench (who, like Russell Harvard, the actor who plays him, is deaf and communicates through American Sign Language) came from Hawley's time living in Austin, Texas, near the Texas School for the Deaf. "As I was formulating the show, I kept seeing sign language around everywhere. And it's such a compelling and visual means of communication. But it's also a language that most people don't speak. So it creates an amazing amount of privacy for deaf people - to be surrounded by hearing people and to be able to communicate in a way that no one can really understand. And to put in a context where you might have characters coming in who can communicate in that way can be really unsettling for characters like Lester or other characters who are confronted. You know, there is a scene in the third episode where Russell's character confronts Lester directly - signs directly at him. And it feels very aggressive because it's a very - it is a very aggressive thing that he's saying but it's also - he knows someone's saying something to him. He doesn't understand. He can't respond. He doesn't know how to get out of that situation." Coincidentally, Russell Harvard graduated from the Texas School for the Deaf.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Throughout the first season, Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) uses riddles and parables to suggest that he is the ultimate predator and often alludes to wolves while doing so. Moments before he is killed by Gus (Colin Hanks), a wolf looks at him through the window of his cabin. Although never explicitly discussed in the show, this was done to highlight the moment that Lorne became the prey, while Gus became the predator.
Throughout season one, Lester (Martin Freeman) wears a red hooded jacket, a reference to "Little Red Riding Hood" fable, indicating that he is a sort of prey running away. He drops it when he starts to feel like a new man starting from episode 8 (Фарго: The Heap (2014)). This moment tracks the fact that Lester is no longer prey. In episode 10 (Фарго: Morton's Fork (2014)), while hunted by Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton), he finds the red hooded jacket and wears it again, alluding that Lester is again prey being hunted by wolves.
Out of all the characters in the series, Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) is the only one who appears in all three seasons. He can be seen as a child (signing with Mr. Numbers) in the final episode of season two.
To play V. M. Varga, his character in season 3, David Thewlis's teeth are made up to make them look fractured, decayed, and rotten. It is not until season 3's episode 4 that the explanation for his dental condition is presented: Varga is bulimic. People who vomit frequently often have dental problems because, along with the food they disgorge, they also introduce large amounts of stomach acid into their mouths and through their teeth. This corrosive acid wears away at tooth enamel, causing characteristic dental brittleness and decay among bulimics.
Bear Gerhardt (Angus Sampson) is the only child of Floyd (Jean Smart) to outlive her. Charlie Gerhardt (Allan Dobrescu) is one of four remaining Gerhardt grandchildren at the end of the season - along with Dodd's (Jeffrey Donovan) remaining three daughters who are mentioned, but never appear on the show.
In the 1996 film Fargo, after the handoff with Jerry Laudegaard's father-in-law, Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) is seen burying the ransom money off of a major highway. He sticks a windshield scraper in the snow to mark it's location. Unfortuantely he is killed leaving the whereabouts of the money unknown. In the 2014 show Fargo, Satvros Milos (Oliver Platt) finds a windshield scraper sticking out in the snow and it is revealed that there is a briefcase full of money. The money that Showalter would leave behind would later help fund Milos' supermarkets.
Lester Nygaard's (Martin Freeman) conversation on the phone with Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) after he kills his wife is very similar to Jerry Lundegaard's conversation with himself in his kitchen in the 1996 film of the same name after his wife is kidnapped. The phrases "aw jeez, heck" are commonly mirrored as are the hesitations and pauses. This is most likely done on purpose.