Shadow and Bone cancelled after two seasons as Netflix axes five underperforming shows

Tolya, Tamar, Alina, Mal, and Nikolai gaze at something in the distance in Shadow and Bone season 2
Shadow and Bone's time has come to an end on Netflix (Image credit: David Lukacs/Netflix)

Shadow and Bone won't be back for a third season after Netflix finally revealed it was cancelling the beloved fantasy show.

After months of radio silence, one of the world's best streaming services has put the Grishaverse-set series out of his misery and officially confirmed its cancellation. The news was broken by Deadline yesterday (November 15), whose report claimed Netflix has been waiting until the writers and actors strikes were over before it wielded the axe.

Alina uses her sun summoning powers as Mal watches on in Shadow and Bone season 2

"What do you mean we've been dumped by Netflix?!" (Image credit: Netflix)

Shadow and Bone isn't the only Netflix TV original that's been brought to a premature end. Glamarous, a Kim Cattrall-starring live-action comedy-drama, has been consigned to the scrap heap after a single season, with that show joined on the 'one season and done' pile by three animated shows – Agent Elvis, Farzar, and Captain Fall – amid the latest round of Netflix cancellations.

It's Shadow and Bone, though, that's the biggest casualty. Netflix had high hopes for the young-adult (YA) fantasy series, with the streamer suggesting it could join its genre siblings, such as The Witcher, as a mainstay on the platform for years to come.

Indeed, there were plans to tell the franchise's main story across multiple seasons, as well as spin out side projects that would flesh out Shadow and Bone's fascinating universe. A Six of Crows spin-off, which would have starred Kaz and his merry band of lovable scoundrels, was touted as a potential offshoot, but it's been canned alongside the mainline series.

Unsurprisingly, there's been an outpouring of love for the TV adaptation in the aftermath of its cancellation. Leigh Bardugo, Shadow and Bone's creator and creative consultant on its live-action adaptation, said she was "heartbroken" in an Instagram post (see above) in the hours after the announcement. Fans have also taken to social media platforms, including X (formerly Twitter) and Reddit to express their sadness and outrage over Netflix's decision.

Succumbing to the Shadow Fold

A scarred General Kirigan looks upset in Shadow and Bone season 2

Huh, looks like the Darkling won after all... (Image credit: David Lukacs/Netflix)

As has become the norm, Netflix claims that decisions to cancel shows aren't taken lightly. Per Deadline's report, the streaming giant weighs up each show's performance against its production costs before deciding whether it deserves another season.

Unfortunately for Shadow and Bone, it doesn't seem to have done enough to warrant a third runout. Shadow and Bone season 1 was a relatively big success for Netflix, with 55 million households watching it within its first 28 days on the streaming service (per The Hollywood Reporter). 

However, its second season, which debuted in March 2023, failed to recapture the show's early magic. According to Netflix's official Top 10 website, Shadow and Bone season 2 only spent five weeks in the top 10 most-watched Netflix shows and failed to capture the number one spot during that time.

Truth be told, that won't come as a huge shock to some fans and critics. Indeed, in our Shadow and Bone season 2 review, we called it "magic-fueled mishmash" whose notable issues "hold it back from being a truly fantastical entry for the hit TV show".

As its sophomore season struggled to make inroads among Netflix's audience, Shadow and Bone fans attempted to game its viewing stats to prevent it from being cancelled. That fan campaign took place in May, though, just before the writers strike began. It's possible that this industrial action, coupled with the actors strike that brought Hollywood to a complete standstill in July, also contributed to Shadow and Bone's demise, but we'll never know for sure.

No matter what the main reason is for the series' canning, we suggested the writing was on the wall when Netflix announced that it was making a second season of One Piece. The streamer's live-action adaptation of Eiichiro Oda's long-running manga was a massive hit in August; so much so that it only took a month for Netflix to decide to renew it. Considering that a third installment of Shadow and Bone wasn't confirmed a month (or even two) after its second season ended, One Piece season 2's announcement spelled bad news for Shadow and Bone season 3

Alina Starkov, Shadow and Bone's protagonist, might have done enough to save the day in one of the best Netflix shows' two seasons, but there's little she could do about the series succumbing to the Shadow Fold. Rest easy, Shadow and Bone.

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Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

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