The fourth season of Westworld, which concluded its run last August, is the show’s final installment.
HBO announced on Friday that it has canceled the dystopian sci-fi drama after four seasons. The series’ cancellation came as a surprise, as the show was once considered one of the cable network’s biggest tentpoles, which received a whopping 54 Emmy nods, including a best-supporting actress win for Thandiwe Newton for her role as Maeve Millay.
Will there be a season 5 of Westworld?
Westworld co-creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy planned a fifth and final season for the series, hoping to give the show a proper ending.
“We always planned for a fifth and final season,” Nolan told Deadline last October while promoting his new Amazon sci-fi series The Peripheral. “We are still in conversations with the network. We very much hope to make them.”
A month before that, Joy told the news outlet: “Jonah (Nolan) and I have always had an ending in mind that we hope to reach. We have not quite reached it yet.”
Apparently, HBO has recently made a decision, and that is to pull the plug on the series. “Over the past four seasons, Lisa and [Jonathan] have taken viewers on a mind-bending odyssey, raising the bar at every step,” the network said in a statement announcing the show’s cancellation. “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.”
Though HBO decided to end Westworld after its fourth season, it doesn’t necessarily mean that fans have seen the last of the mind-bending universe. A Westworld sequel or reboot is always a possibility, as the network has a history of reviving its beloved TV shows several years after they aired their finale. For instance, Deadwood: The Movie premiered on the network 13 years after the show’s season 3-ender.
Why was Westworld canceled?
HBO didn’t give a reason for canceling Westworld, but The Hollywood Reporter pointed out that the linear ratings of the high-budget series dropped sharply for its third season and fell off even further for its fourth season.
According to TVSeriesFinale.com, Westworld season 4 averaged a 0.06 rating in the 18-49 demographic and 349,000 viewers in the live+same day ratings (including DVR playback through 3:00 AM). Compared to season 3, that’s down by 73% in the demo and down by 57% in viewership.
It’s also worth noting that Westworld’s critic average on Rotten Tomatoes dropped from 80-plus percent for its first two seasons to 70-plus percent for its latter two. Fans also admitted that the show had become confusing in its latter seasons, and lacked likable characters to root for towards the end of its run.
Westworld’s cancellation might also have something to do with Warner Bros. Discovery’s aggressive cost-cutting strategy under the leadership of the company’s new CEO David Zaslav. However, network insiders told The Hollywood Reporter that saving money was not a factor in the show’s ultimate fate.
James Marsden on Westworld’s cancellation
In an interview with Rolling Stone published in January 2023, Westworld star James Marsden expressed his upset over HBO’s decision to cancel the show after four seasons.
“I’d be lying to you if I told you that the way we ended Westworld wasn’t a disappointment,” said the actor, who portrayed Theodore “Teddy” Flood in seasons 1 and 2 of the series, and again in season 4. “I’m never going to speak without gratitude about any of my experiences, but it would have been nice to be able to complete the story we wanted to finish. I love this Westworld family. It was one of those unique opportunities to be part of something where I also would be sitting at home ravenously waiting for the next episode as a fan.”
Despite his discontent with HBO’s move to not order a season 5, Marsden made it clear that he understands why the network went in that direction. After all, HBO is a business, and it is bound to produce projects that are deemed profitable.
“I totally understand it’s an expensive show and big shows have to have big audiences to merit the expense, I just wish it was about more than financial success,” the actor said. “But who knows, maybe there’s some world where it can get completed somehow. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking, because I know we had plans to finish it the way we wanted to.”
Based on Michael Crichton’s 1973 film of the same name, the HBO series begins in Westworld, a fictional, technologically advanced Wild-West-themed amusement park populated by android hosts. The park caters to high-paying guests who may indulge their wildest fantasies within the park without fear of retaliation from the hosts, who are prevented by their programming from harming humans. Later in the series, the show expands to the real world, in the mid-21st century, where people’s lives are driven and controlled by powerful artificial intelligence.
Westworld featured an acting ensemble that includes Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Jeffrey Wright, James Marsden, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Luke Hemsworth, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Simon Quarterman, Rodrigo Santoro, and Angela Sarafyan, among many others.