‘Westworld’ axed by HBO amid declining viewership

Tess Thompson in Westworld
Image via HBO Max

The beloved HBO sci-fi drama show Westworld has been cancelled.

Despite the sudden news about the show’s cancellation, creators had hoped that a fifth season could be granted to them in order to button up the storylines that were established in the fourth season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. As part of the announcement, HBO released the following statement:

“Over the past four seasons, [series Co-Creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy] 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.”

In a previous interview with Deadline last month, Nolan said, “We always planned for a fifth and final season. In that same article, Joy echoed that sentiment, saying, “Jonah and I have always had an ending in mind that we hope to reach. We have not quite reached it yet.”

Despite those hopes that conversations with HBO to finalize the fifth season would continue, it appears there won’t be any more episodes beyond season four. While Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav has had a reputation for aggressive cost-cutting, that was not necessarily the main reason for Westworld‘s cancellation. According to THR, “Insiders maintain that [Zaslav’s cost-cutting pledge] was not a factor in this decision.” The article also cited the show’s sharp decline in viewership over the years.

But the issue may be a little more nuanced than low ratings alone. Westworld‘s cancellation was cited as being the result of “a multitude of factors,” according to Variety. That includes the aforementioned decline in viewership, but also “the production’s hefty price tag” and the “ongoing evaluation of programming across the board” at WBD.

This all comes after Zaslav promised to cut $3.5 billion in spending at WBD.

Kilter Films, the production company behind Westworld, made its own statement about the show’s cancellation, which included a tongue-in-cheek reference to “AI overlords.”

“Making Westworld has been one of the highlights of our careers. 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.”

The fourth — and now final — season of Westworld aired on HBO over the summer, and all episodes are currently available to stream on HBO Max.