Westworld ends not with a bang or a whimper or a fourth robot apocalypse but a cancellation.
Westworld has been canceled. The Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan show about robots and apocalypses captivated and then confused audiences and finally seemed to have forgotten what it was about entirely by the time its fourth and final season aired earlier this year. So while it’s a bummer the show is gone, it’s also not much of a surprise.
HBO emailed a statement on the cancellation, saying:
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.
The final season could, at times, feel repetitive as compared to seasons past. The end of the second season felt like a series finale, and in the third season, the cast, led by Evan Rachel Wood, ended the tyranny of an AI that felt vaguely Google-like in its omnipresence. That could have been a perfectly lovely ending as well!
But then Westworld came back a fourth time, in a future where all the characters seemed to be dead, robots, or dead robots. There was a smattering of apocalypses, a number of fun callbacks to seasons pasts, and a whole lot of pondering the nature of self. Ratings… well, they cratered.
So it’s not surprising HBO has pulled the plug. HBO is currently owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, and its CEO, David Zaslav, is a man who likes to save a buck. “I believe that the grand experiment of chasing subscribers at any cost is over,” he said on an earnings call yesterday. He then mentioned canceling expensive shows if they couldn’t do as well as reruns of The Big Bang Theory. By Westworld’s final season, it was averaging less than half a million live viewers per episode. Big Bang Theory reruns on TBS do more than double that.
Westworld is on HBO Max if you want to catch up. But personally, I’d suggest watching the final season of The Good Fight on Paramount Plus, as that show has similar cyber dystopia vibes but with a clear sense of how we got from our present to that awful future. You could also check out Humans, which aired on BBC America around the same time Westworld first premiered. Like Westworld, it’s about how we use robots to enable our own chronic dehumanizing behavior, but it’s centered on robots and a family you can root for. Or you could go watch Person of Interest, which was created by much of the same creative team as Westworld and explored many of the same concepts but did it in a much more comprehensible way.