It's the end of the line for Westworld: the fourth season of the show that aired earlier this year will be the last one, with HBO announcing that the series has been canceled ahead of an expected fifth and final season.
The news comes via The Hollywood Reporter and other outlets, with a statement from HBO praising the team behind the series, starting with the husband-and-wife duo of Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy who created the show.
"Over the past four seasons, Lisa and Jonah have taken viewers on a mind-bending odyssey, raising the bar at every step," the statement reads. "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."
Nolan and Joy had previously gone on record as wanting to have the opportunity to wrap up loose ends and to bring the series to a definite conclusion. Season four ended rather ambiguously – which was by no means unusual for Westworld.
"Making Westworld has been one of the highlights of our careers," said Nolan and Joy in their own 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."
The Westworld story
Taking most of its inspiration from the 1973 film of the same name, Westworld was initially set in a futuristic theme park populated by AI-controlled robots. Designed to look something like the American Old West, the park gave its human visitors the opportunity to live out role plays and fantasies.
As you might expect, things soon started going wrong at the park. The four seasons that the show ran for took viewers on a journey through the ideas of free will, consciousness, artificial intelligence, morality and technological advancement. The scope of the show expanded to other theme parks and eventually real world settings.
It attracted its fair share of star power too: Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Tessa Thompson, Aaron Paul, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden and Jimmi Simpson were some of the actors that showed up on screen. The series earned 54 Emmy nominations and nine wins throughout the course of its run.
In the end though, it seems it couldn't maintain enough of an audience for HBO to keep it going. Strong viewing figures during season one declined season after season, with some critics complaining that the various ins and outs of the show – involving jumps in time, memory and reality – were too difficult to keep up with.
Ultimately HBO didn't provide a reason why Westworld has been canned, whether because of budget cuts or viewing figures or anything else – but it's clear that the series ended up as not quite the force it was at the beginning.