HBO surprised its subscribers and the TV industry on Friday by announcing that it has canceled the big-budget science-fiction series Westworld just a few months after its fourth season concluded, Variety reports.
The series, which has received 54 Emmy nominations during its run, was intended to end with its fifth season, according to recent statements from its two showrunners, Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. The husband-and-wife creative couple had a specific ending in mind that now won’t make it to the screen, though many viewers felt that the ending of the fourth season also worked as a conclusion.
Several reasons contributed to HBO’s decision, including high production costs, declining viewership, and sliding critical response amid an overall effort to cut costs at the newly formed parent company Warner Bros. Discovery. Westworld set records when it first premiered, but its viewership declined with each season, with the recently aired season four experiencing an especially sharp drop.
HBO is known for tentpole dramas, and its current lineup is both ambitious and promising. It includes the Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon, the video game adaptation The Last of Us, critical darlings The White Lotus and Succession, and zeitgeist hit Euphoria. With an expensive series lineup like that, it also seems that the struggling Westworld may have gotten a little bit lost in the noise.
Calling Westworld “one of the highlights” of their careers, Nolan and Joy said in a statement that they have “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.”
This is not the end of the road for the duo, though; their production company has a deal with Amazon, and they are working on a new TV series based on storied video game franchise Fallout.