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HBO abruptly cancels Westworld

Westworld's story will remain incomplete at four seasons, despite requests from creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan for one more season to wrap things up

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Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld
Evan Rachel Wood in Westworld
Photo: John Johnson/HBO

Sorry, violent delight fans: Those violent ends have come at last, as HBO announced today that it’s cancelling its sprawling sci-fi series Westworld after four seasons on the air—and without the fifth season that series creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy were reportedly hoping to get in to cover the “one last game” promised in the show’s now-series finale.

Admittedly, Westworld has never really hit the cultural highs that it achieved in its first season back in 2016, when its twisty puzzle-box structure felt like it was working with, rather than distracting from, the show’s heady questions about consciousness, morality, memory, and more. The show’s ratings dropped hard for its third season in 2020, and dipped even further in the fourth, which largely ditched the whole “hyper-complicated theme park for rich assholes” idea in favor of more adventures in the real world. (Or simulations of the real world. It was still Westworld, after all.)


As THR notes, Nolan and Joy have been very explicit about hoping to get one more season of the series: In a recent interview, they both spoke about how the show wasn’t quite finished. “We always planned for a fifth and final season,” said Nolan. “We are still in conversations with the network. We very much hope to make them.” Joy was similarly straightforward: “Jonah and I have always had an ending in mind that we hope to reach. We have not quite reached it yet.”

But it now seems like that ending won’t look like anything, to us. Instead, Westworld—which starred, in its most recent incarnation, Evan Rachel Wood. Thandiwe Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, Aaron Paul, Angela Sarafyan, Ed Harris, James Marsden, and Luke Hemsworth—will end on a far more ambiguous note that the also-probably-pretty-ambiguous-note (this was still Westworld, after all) its creators intended.


HBO issued a statement about the cancellation today, thanking Joy and Nolan for all the work they’ve put into that thing they just killed:

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.