HBO cancels ‘Westworld’ after four seasons, thwarting creators’ hopes for a fifth

A woman with long straight hair wears a futuristic suit in a scene from a TV show
Evan Rachel Wood as Christina in HBO’s “Westworld.”

“Westworld” has shuttered its gates. HBO announced Friday that the popular sci-fi drama will not return for a fifth season.

In a statement shared with The Times, HBO reflected on the “mind-bending odyssey” offered by creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan, who raised “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,” the statement continued. “It’s been a thrill to join them on this journey.”

In a statement through their production company, Kilter Films, Joy and Nolan shared that “Westworld has been one of the highlights of our careers.”

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“We are deeply grateful to our extraordinary cast and crew for creating these indelible characters and brilliant worlds,” the Kilter Films statement said. “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 cancellation comes more than two months after the show’s Season 4 finale in August, and much earlier than Nolan said he would have liked.

While awaiting word on the show’s status in October, Nolan said at New York Comic Con that he and Joy had “always planned for a fifth and final season,” according to Deadline.

“We are still in conversations with the network. We very much hope to make them,” Nolan said at the time.

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“Westworld,” a loose series adaptation of the 1973 film of the same name written and directed by Michael Crichton, premiered in 2016. At the center of the series was the titular amusement park where the rich could live out their Wild West fantasies — as brutal as they might be — with the help of artificial intelligence technology.

Evan Rachel Wood, Thandiwe Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris, Tessa Thompson, Aaron Paul and James Marsden were among the show’s stars.

Times critic Mary McNamara praised “Westworld” in her 2016 review as “television’s next big game-changer.”

“It isn’t just great television, it’s vivid, thought-provoking television that entertains even as it examines the darker side of entertainment,” she wrote.


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Beyond its critical acclaim, “Westworld” proved to be an awards-season force for HBO. During its run, the series garnered more than 50 Emmy nominations and a total of seven wins, including a supporting actress in a drama series prize for Newton, who starred as Maeve Millay. The series also won Emmys for makeup, hairstyling and special visual effects.

While “Westworld” concerned itself with futuristic technology and the idea of AI robots going rogue, star Jeffrey Wright said he thinks the series examined humanity on “several levels.”

“What are these elements that make us human? What are our drives? What’s your emotional core? All of these things that the hosts are programmed to re-create are metaphors for how we live our daily existences,” he told The Times in 2018.

“And so it’s a clever way to draw an audience in, but it’s also a useful metaphor for examining those things that we ask of ourselves: Am I in control of this loop? Is this a satisfying loop? Do I want to break this loop?”