In news that comes as a surprise but really shouldn’t (see below), HBO has decided to cancel Westworld after its recent fourth season, meaning there will be no Season 5, as I first reported on Twitter.
“Over the past four seasons, Lisa and Jonah have taken viewers on a mind-bending odyssey, raising the bar at every step. We are tremendously grateful to them, along with their immensely talented cast, producers and crew, and all of our partners at Kilter Films, Bad Robot and Warner Bros. Television. It’s been a thrill to join them on this journey,” read a statement from HBO.
“Making Westworld has been one of the highlights of our careers. We are deeply grateful to our extraordinary cast and crew for creating these indelible characters and brilliant worlds. We’ve been privileged to tell these stories about the future of consciousness – both human and beyond – in the brief window of time before our AI overlords forbid us from doing so,” read a statement from Kilter Films, which produced the series.
Last month, Westworld co-creator Jonathan Nolan told Deadline that he hoped HBO would pick up a fifth season so he and Lisa Joy could wrap up their ambitious story. “We always planned for a fifth and final season. We are still in conversations with the network. We very much hope to make them,” Nolan said at the time, with Joy adding that the two of them “have always had an ending in mind that we hope to reach. We have not quite reached it yet.”
— brett “Let Art the Clown Dunk” thousand (@BrettThousand) November 4, 2022
While the cancellation of Westworld certainly caught many off-guard, ratings for the series plummeted in Season 3 and never recovered, while critics turned their back on the show, which got lost in a confusing mythology.
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has the scalpel (more like a meat cleaver) out these days, and if there’s an expensive show that isn’t performing up to expectation (like Westworld), he’ll have no problem cutting it out of the lineup like a tumor that simply needs to be excised.
I didn’t watch Westworld, but it sounds like Season 4 ended in an ambiguous place rather than on a big cliffhanger that would only further anger fans who had been hanging around and patiently waiting for answers to the show’s many mysteries. Then again, in the streaming age, it’s always possible that we’ll revisit these characters down the line one day, as HBO returned to Deadwood many years after that series was canceled.