- Scheduled to begin streaming on June 26
- Will comprise eight episodes
- Teaser trailer released in May
- Aaron Paul, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright and Thandiwe Newton are among the returning cast members
Westworld season 4 was confirmed a couple of weeks before the season 3 finale aired in May 2020, suggesting that – despite a drop-off in viewers – HBO still has plenty of faith in its big-budget sci-fi drama.
"From the western theme park to the technocratic metropolis of the near future, we've thoroughly enjoyed every twist and turn from the minds of master storytellers Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy," said president of HBO programming, Casey Bloys in a company statement. "We can't wait to see where their inspired vision takes us next."
Showrunners Nolan and Joy are back to continue their epic tale – originally based on the 1973 movie directed by Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton – and, going on past form, it's probably best to expect the unexpected.
In its third year, the drama took a hard turn away from the android theme park setting at the heart of the first two seasons, spending most of its time in the human world. Westworld season 4 seems likely to continue in the same vein, picking up existing storylines and, possibly, finding new roles for familiar faces.
Spoilers for the season 3 finale follow, so make sure you're all caught up before reading any more information on Westworld season 4's release date, cast and story.
Release date: HBO has confirmed that Westworld season 4 will begin streaming via HBO Max on June 26, 2022.
Cast: Aaron Paul, Tessa Thompson, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright and Thandiwe Newton will all reprise their roles in Westworld season 4. Evan Rachel Wood will also be returning, even though her character, Dolores Abernathy, was killed off in the season 3 finale. Prodigal Son's Aurora Perrineau has reportedly joined the cast for a few episodes, too.
Story: Westworld season 3 essentially ended with the beginning of a revolution, led by Aaron Paul's Caleb. We're expecting that plot strand to continue, alongside Bernard's quest to understand the Sublime.
Westworld season 4 release date
HBO confirmed Westworld season 4's release date, June 26, in a cryptic teaser trailer prematurely shared to YouTube in May. We've embedded the footage below.
Season 4 will comprise eight episodes, and stream on HBO Max in the US and Sky Atlantic and Now TV in the UK.
Westworld season 4 cast and story
Showrunners Lisa Joy (who directed the Hugh Jackman-starring Reminiscence last year) and Jonathan Nolan are traditionally spoiler-phobic, so specifics on the Westworld season 4 story are currently thin on the ground. That said, Joy did give Deadline’s Hero Nation podcast a couple of small teases.
Asked for a word to describe the show’s return, she said “Inversion”, and also promised that, “You’re going to see some new worlds that I think are really fun, and you’re going to see someone who I kidnapped from Reminiscence in a funny way.” (Before you get too excited about a Marvel-style shared universe, it’s important to note that Joy stated there was no “crossover” between Westworld and her movie debut, so the connective tissue may not stretch any further than the fact Thandiwe Newton and Angela Sarafyan starred in both.)
One thing we’re pretty sure about is that we won’t be seeing a certain maniacal trillionaire again – Serac (Vincent Cassel) is now dead, and his ridiculously advanced AI are longer controlling humanity.
What's less clear is the fate of Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood). Technically she won't be truly dead until all the hosts perish, as she was revealed to be the template machine on which all others were based. However, the femme fatale version of Abernathy bent on taking down the human world order appears to be no more: Serac deleted her memories in search of the keys to the Sublime, a secret server to which some hosts have escaped.
The thing is, humans and robots return from death with such regularity in Westworld that there’s always a chance that characters can come back as hosts.
Wood implied that Dolores as we know her may properly be finished this time in an interview on The Tonight Show: “I think obviously it's been proven, you know, it's quite hard to get rid of characters, but I do think certain things are final.” How final?
“Dolores is gone,” Nolan told Variety in 2020, but we see the character in season 4's first trailer, so we're confident of her appearance in new episodes.
“From the beginning Lisa and I wanted to make a show that constantly reinvented itself, that could be a different show every season,” he continued. “I think it’s important with a show in which death can be impermanent – these are robots, after all – to mark the occasion with Dolores. We love Evan Rachel Wood and we haven’t [sighs] started talking publicly about exactly what the show looks like going forward. But it looks very different.”
So, while Dolores may be finished, Wood could be playing an entirely different character in Westworld season 4.
HOLLY 🔥🔥🔥 Dolores Is Back 🔥🔥!! #Westworld S4 Evan Rachel Wood onset of Westworld season 4 in New York !#WestWorld #JonathanNolan #EvanRachelWood pic.twitter.com/KpHNOlA3MZOctober 6, 2021
Back to the Sublime, and Bernard’s (Jeffrey Wright) final scene suggests that we may be heading even further in the future, perhaps to find “an answer to what comes after the end of the world”. Once we discover that it’s he, not Dolores, who holds the keys to the android afterlife, he puts on a mysterious headset. Then we see him covered in dust, as if he's spent many years stuck in the same spot.
“Bernard is still trying to solve it all and he is still very much part of the struggle,” Wright told Deadline. “The struggle goes on, and Bernard is still right there at the center of it. It’s going to be fun.” He also added that, “Season 4 is going to be more of the Westworld you’ve come to expect and more digging down into some issues and some technology that is going to look familiar to us, as always.”
Since humanity is descending into anarchy, there's still plenty to be resolved in the present. As Caleb (Aaron Paul) continues the revolution in Dolores' stead, Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) searches for her daughter and Charlotte Hale (Tessa Thompson) builds her host army alongside an android version of the Man in Black (Ed Harris), could we experience different timelines with Bernard in the future? Or a far-future world where the hosts are the dominant force?
Whichever way it goes, Deadline reported in August 2021 that we'll see Caleb encounter Charlotte Hale in this season.
While no cast details have been confirmed beyond the addition of Prodigal Son's Aurora Perrineau, we'd predict these key characters will return for season 4 – especially Paul, Newton and Harris, who all appeared in the HBO sizzle reel.
Westworld season 4: what we want to see
After the show's promising premise was established in season 1, the second became much too complex. With characters dying and returning all over the place, the stakes became ever lower, and it was easy to lose track of who was alive, dead, or Dolores.
Season 3 was a soft reset as the action mostly unfolded in a more digestible single timeline. Westworld season 4 should continue this approach: we don't want to have to pull out a pen and paper just to stay on top of what's going on.
Get daily insight, inspiration and deals in your inbox
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the TechRadar team.