Apple TV's Foundation may run for as long as Game of Thrones

A promotional image for Foundation season 1 on Apple TV Plus
(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Foundation showrunner David S. Goyer has revealed that he has a "loose plan" to tell the sci-fi epic tale across eight seasons.

Speaking to SlashFilm ahead of Foundation's September 24 release on Apple TV Plus, Goyer confirmed that he had held discussions with Apple executives about the series' future.

The space opera, based on Isaac Asimov's beloved book series, is a convoluted, centuries-spanning story that, in Goyer's view, can't be told in just three or four seasons. However, the Man of Steel and Terminator: Dark Fate writer believes he can tell Foundation's complete narrative within an eight-season arc.

"When I presented the plan for season one, Apple knew that it was a big undertaking, and they wanted at least some inkling that I had a direction of where I was going in future seasons," Goyer said. "So I did present a loose plan for eight seasons. 

"And there are definitely story moments and threads that are set up in season 1 that will not pay off in this season. But at least we know what we're writing towards. We're not just starting from scratch. There is a roadmap."

Set in the future, Foundation follows a band of human exiles as they attempt to save the Galactic Empire from destruction by defying its dictatorial rulers, including the narcissistic Brother Day (Lee Pace). Led my mathematical genius Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) and his prodigy Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell), the Foundation travels to the barren planet of Terminus in order to slow the Empire's fall, or stop it from happening at all.

Foundation's first two episodes arrive exclusively on Apple TV Plus on Friday, September 24. Subsequent episodes will also be released weekly.

Analysis: Laying the foundations for future seasons

Foundation Apple TV Plus

(Image credit: Apple TV Plus)

Goyer's rough eight-season plan for Foundation initially seems like a good choice. Sometimes, TV shows outstay their welcome and don't end up finishing until they've long run out of ideas or audiences have moved onto the next big thing.

The fact that Goyer has a blueprint for where Foundation's story could go, then, bodes well. If the showrunner has a clear endpoint in sight already, the show's chief creative team has a plan to stick to and a finale to work towards. This is in stark contrast to HBO's adaptation of Game of Thrones, which overtook the plot of George R.R. Martin's fantasy book series when it reached seasons 7 and 8. Ultimately, the show paid the price with viewers for its lackluster final season, demonstrated by questionable decisions regarding fan favorite characters.

However, while Foundation has a clear end goal to hit by the TV series' conclusion, could that count against it in the long run?

As part of his SlashFilm interview, Goyer explained that there are certain story threads in season 1 that may not be answered until later seasons. Intriguing as that is – viewers will have to tune in if they want to know how certain plot points play out – it's something of a gamble. 

After all, Apple hasn't renewed Foundation for a second season yet, let alone multiple entries. That decision isn't likely to be made until the company knows how many people are tuning into Foundation. If Apple executives realize that their investment in Foundation hasn't paid dividends through viewing figures, they may elect to pull the plug on future instalments. That would mean some plot threads aren't resolved and potentially leave viewers wondering what their outcomes were.

Still, this is an issue that all TV series have. Showrunners have no idea whether their shows will be successful until they're released, so laying the groundwork for future seasons (with the hope of giving audiences the story pay-offs that they deserve) is always a risk. Even if TV shows resonate with viewers, they may not be renewed anyway, as Netflix has often shown by canceling some of its most popular original properties.

As much as Goyer wants to plant the seeds for future story threads, it may have served Foundation better if season 1 focused on telling as complete a story as possible. If Apple decides to renew it for more seasons, that would be the time to add in plot points that wouldn't pay off until further down the line.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

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