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HBO cancels the sci-fi series 'Westworld'

Luke Hemsworth, Jeffrey Wright, Aaron Paul, Angela Sarafryan, Tessa Thompson, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, and James Marsden attend HBO's <em>Westworld</em> Season 4 premiere at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on June 21, 2022 in New York City.
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Luke Hemsworth, Jeffrey Wright, Aaron Paul, Angela Sarafryan, Tessa Thompson, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, and James Marsden attend HBO's Westworld Season 4 premiere at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center on June 21, 2022 in New York City.

Fans of Westworld won't get to see the show again — at least for the foreseeable future.

HBO decided Friday to cancel the hit sci-fi series after its recent fourth season, which ended on Aug. 14.

Westworld was one of the most talked-about TV series since its debut on HBO in 2016. As recently as mid-October, show runners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy were still talking about the possibility of an extension. "We had always conceived of a fifth and final season," Nolan tod Variety. "We're still in conversations with the network."

The dystopian drama set in a high-tech, Wild West-centric theme park also racked up many awards, including 54 Emmy Award nominations. In 2018, Thandiwe Newton won a primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

But even as the show's lavish budget topped $100 million, ratings and viewership plummeted over the course of its four seasons.

"I know that the ratings have been sharply declining. I know there's been general dissatisfaction even among the core fandom of Westworld," said Joanna Robinson, a senior writer for The Ringer who covers film and TV. "All of that in a broader TV sense usually leads us down the path towards cancellation."

But Robinson, who has covered the show extensively since its inception, said she was still surprised at the network's decision.

"The way that Westworld ends its fourth season on a clear cliffhanger of sorts, that does feel abrupt and kind of astonishing," Robinson said.

Robinson added she wouldn't be surprised, however, if HBO ends up capitalizing on the cliffhanger by releasing a film version, perhaps 10 years from now, to wrap things up.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Chloe Veltman
Chloe Veltman is a correspondent on NPR's Culture Desk.
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