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HBO Max may have canceled Young Justice for the second time

Young Justice: Phantoms at DC Fandome
(Image credit: DC)

The DC Universe just got a little bit smaller, with the news that Young Justice has been apparently canceled. According to a report from TV Line (opens in new tab) HBO Max will not be renewing the show for a fifth season, meaning the show has effectively been canceled for the second time in its life — and perhaps for good.

According to TV Line, HBO Max only commissioned a single season of the series. Apparently that is still the case, and there are no plans for Young Justice season 5. 

As the title suggests, Young Justice is a show about the younger heroes in the DC Universe as they work to prove themselves worthy of joining the Justice League proper. That includes Robin/Nightwing, Superboy, Kid Flash, Ms Martian, Speedy/Arsenal and more.

This news is going to be a major disappointment for fans of the series, especially since Young Justice had a bit of a raw deal over the years. The show was originally canceled back in 2013, to a massive outcry from fans. Rumors spread that the show ended because Young Justice had a large female audience, who network executives allegedly claimed “don’t buy toys.”

Producer Greg Weisman denied this and eventually revealed that it was because the show was funded as part of a toy deal with Mattel. The tie-in toys weren’t selling well enough, and Mattel pulled the deal — leaving no money to continue for a third season.

Fans continued to campaign for the show to return, and by late 2016 a third season of Young Justice was commissioned for the fledgling DC Universe streaming service. The episodes arrived over the source of 2019, with a fourth series being confirmed at San Diego Comic Con that same year. DC Universe eventually folded into HBO Max, with season 4 premiering in October 2021.

Unfortunately, this is not the first DC cancelation from HBO Max, and it probably won’t be the last. The most notable cancellation was the DCEU movie Batgirl, featuring Leslie Grace, JK Simmons, Brendan Frasier and Michael Keaton, which was canceled during post-production — despite the $60 million budget. 

On top of that Doom Patrol and Titans, the former of which also features Brendan Fraser, are also expected to be canceled (opens in new tab). However some DC projects appear to be continuing. James Gunn confirmed Peacemaker’s second season is safe (opens in new tab), while Harley Quinn co-creator Patrick Schumacker says that the team is “very hopeful” (opens in new tab) about being renewed for season 4 — citing vibes and reception from network executives.

HBO Max also canceled a number of in-development projects ahead of the merger, including the Wonder Twins movie, while the The Batman spin-off Gotham PD was canceled back in March (opens in new tab) — replaced with a horror series about Arkham Asylum. It’s not clear what is happening to this show, or the Penguin spin-off starring Colin Farrel.

David Zaslav, CEO of the newly-formed Warner Bros Discovery, revealed that the studio will roll out a 10-year plan for DC movies — likening it to what Marvel has done with the MCU. However, he emphasized the need to focus on quality, and not release movies before they are ready. Which is reportedly one of the big mistakes Warner Bros made in the run-up to the release of Justice League.

But it’s not clear what that means for HBO Max, especially now we know it'll be merging with Discovery Plus. Discovery’s streaming service that is less focussed on scripted content and more focussed on reality TV. Zaslav himself also has a history of bashing scripted content (opens in new tab), which doesn’t bode well for HBO Max’s future.

But we can’t predict what may or may not happen once the two services have combined. A more streamlined approach could certainly prove beneficial for DC properties, rather than frantically trying to copy the Marvel formula. It’s just unfortunate that a bunch of the outlier shows, like Young Justice, might get in the way of that.

Tom Pritchard
Automotive Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.