The cancellation news came less than three weeks after the space Western series made its world premiere on the streaming service last November 19th.
Based on the 1998 Japanese anime series of the same name and the 2001 Japanese anime film of the same name, Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop stars John Cho (Spike Spiegel), Mustafa Shakir (Jet Black), and Daniella Pineda (Faye Valentine) as three bounty hunters, aka “cowboys,” who are all trying to outrun the past. Set in the year 2171, the show focuses on the adventures of the said ragtag trio of bounty hunters chasing down criminals across the Solar System on the Bebop spaceship.
Though the 10-episode first season of Cowboy Bebop ended on a cliffhanger teasing some new characters and things to come, the show’s cancellation isn’t totally surprising. The Hollywood Reporter pointed out that the sci-fi series had a lukewarm reception from critics and audiences alike.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Cowboy Bebop has an approval rating of 46% based on 74 critics. “Maybe next time, Space Cowboy — this live-action Bebop has a fun enough crew to spend time with, but it disappointingly replaces the soulfulness of the source material with kitsch,” reads the website’s critics consensus. And the viewers seemed to agree, as the show only got 57 percent audience score on the site.
According to Netflix’s Top 10 site, Cowboy Bebop has racked up almost 74 million viewing hours worldwide since its debut. Though it appeared that the series got plenty of sampling during its first week of release, its viewers reportedly plummeted 59 percent for the week of November 29th to December 5th. Ultimately, just like all Netflix renewal verdicts, the decision to cancel Cowboy Bebop was made after weighing the value of the show’s viewership and cost.
Naturally, Cowboy Bebop’s cast and crew are saddened by the show’s cancellation, with some of them calling the move a missed opportunity. “not to rub it in your faces, but as the individual who has read the cowboy bebop s2 scripts more than anyone else in this world – fuck you’re missing out,” tweeted series writer Naomi Markman last week.
Shakir, meanwhile, shared a heartfelt message to fans on Instagram following the cancellation news, noting that he’s proud of the series despite its short run. “What a cool opportunity right?! I got to play Jet Black! I’ll never not be him..so to speak. That’s badass to me,” the actor wrote on the social networking site alongside a photo of his character. “@netflix went balls to wall for us in order to get it done. They really looked out for us when shit hit the fan. But at the end of the day business is business and this was a big ship that needed a lot of fuel. Maybe the ‘haters’ and the critics got us maybe it wasn’t as good as we thought. All I know is we got this done under the craziest conditions and I’m proud of what we did. Thank you for dreaming with us. See you space cowboys.
Showrun by André Nemec, with original anime series director Shinichiro Watanabe on board as a consultant, Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop also stars Elena Santine (Julia) and Alex Hassell (Vicious).