HBO shockingly cancels Westworld, giving little chance for a conclusion

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores in Westworld season 4
(Image credit: HBO)

In a Friday afternoon news-dump, HBO just canceled Westworld, flipping its 'hosts' and other denizens of its mystery-box drama into the 'off' position. This means no season 5 to wrap it all up.

The complicated sci-fi drama, which saw amusement parks for the rich filled with AI-powered 'hosts' to entertain and terrify their guests, ends after Westworld season 4, which bowed out this past August. The Hollywood Reporter (opens in new tab) broke the news.

Westworld was critically admired out of the gate, but somewhere around the second and third season, things fell apart. The series had yet to finish telling its labyrinthine story, but HBO and HBO Max are part of the Warner Bros Discovery empire, which is more budget-focused than before. 

And since Westworld's ratings plummeted (opens in new tab) twice — once for its third season (0.8 million average viewers to season 2's 1.6 million), and a larger fall for the most recent outing (0.3 million average viewers), hopes couldn't have been too high. THR does note that "insiders maintain that [CEO David Zaslav's penchant for cost-cutting] was not a factor in this decision."

In HBO's statement, it announced: "Over the past four seasons, [co-creators] Lisa [Joy] and [Jonathan Nolan] have taken viewers on a mind-bending odyssey, raising 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. It’s been a thrill to join them on this journey.”

Analysis: Is there any hope for a Westworld conclusion?

We're not optimistic, dear reader. 

The one possibility we can imagine for a conclusion would have been a feature-length Westworld film, likely on the service that will result from the upcoming HBO Max and Discovery Plus merger

Except, well, there's already a pattern where Max Original movies don't seem to do well. When it came time for cuts, WBD was even eager to ditch the Batgirl movie for a write-off. And it had already spent $90 million on that.

We imagine it would take many more years and a groundswell of fan support and strong viewership numbers for this kind of miracle to happen.

Next: These are the 5 HBO Max shows you need to watch right now. Also, I just tried Netflix with ads — and it’s as bad as I thought.

Henry T. Casey
Senior Editor

Henry is a senior editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.