“Westworld” has come to an end, to the shock and horror of its devoted fanbase.
HBO announced on Friday that the mind-bending sci-fi series has been canceled after four seasons, and the network will not be moving forward with a Season 5, which has been planned as the concluding chapter.
“Making ‘Westworld’ has been one of the highlights of our careers,” creators Jonah Nolan and Lisa Joy’s Kilter Films said in a statement. “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.”
HBO added a statement of its own: “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.”
Joy told TheWrap in August that a planned fifth season was the endpoint for her and Nolan’s ultimate vision of the show, although she acknowledged at the time that there was no guarantee the series would be renewed to finish out the story.
“We had always planned on ending the series next season,” Joy said. “You know, we always thought that ‘Westworld’ should kind of come full circle and back to the West. But with Dolores, who was just a player in other people’s games, finally getting to write her own. Just to close up a lot of the stuff that we’ve seen before like the flashforward with The Man in Black and everything, so we have a plan for Season 5 – but, you know, life can make other plans for you.”
Joy added that they had the Season 5 ending in mind even when they were writing the pilot for the show, which made a splashy debut on HBO in 2016 as a riff on the Michael Crichton novel of the same name.
This version of “Westworld,” however, expanded beyond a theme park populated by robots in Season 3 as its A.I. protagonists made landfall and began interacting with the world at large. Season 4 largely took place in the aftermath of the A.I. robot takeover, and ended with Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores venturing into the Sublime – a kind of cloud in which many of the remaining A.I. hosts had been uploaded – to spin up “one last game” to determine if any part of robot or human sentience could be preserved in the post-human world.
Ratings for “Westworld” Season 4 took a significant tumble to a series low of 0.31 million viewers versus the show’s high of 2.24 million viewers for the Season 1 finale, this after a dropoff in Season 3 viewership as well. While new Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zazlav has been keen on cost-cutting measures, insiders maintain that was not a factor in the decision to cancel “Westworld.”
The show racked up 54 Emmy nominations during its run, winning nine.
Joy and Nolan’s Kilter Films remains busy, however. They just launched the equally high-minded sci-fi series “The Peripheral” on Prime Video and are in production on the highly anticipated adaptation of the video game franchise “Fallout,” also for Prime Video.