That’s all she wrote for Castle Rock, as Hulu has pulled the plug on the horror anthology series based on the works of Stephen King after two seasons.
The news comes nearly a year after Season 2 premiered to disappointing ratings, only to be quickly forgotten amid a glut of anthology shows and limited series this year. And that’s the problem right there. Castle Rock never really had much buzz, which was concerning given how popular King is with genre audiences these days. And yet, despite the well-known IP, I never once heard anyone say, “did you see what happened on Castle Rock last night? It was wild!” You need word-of-mouth to cut through the current content clutter, and the show never quite got to that must-see level.
Season 1 was a hodge-podge of King tales that featured a cast including Andre Holland, Bill Skarsgard, Melanie Lynskey, Jane Levy and Sissy Spacek, while Season 2 took things in a different creative direction and tackled Misery, with Lizzy Caplan playing the role of Annie Wilkes, and Tim Robbins co-starring alongside Elsie Fisher.
Castle Rock may have also been a victim of ownership, as the somewhat expensive show hails from Warner Bros. TV and J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot, and like other streamers, Hulu wants to focus on owning its content. With that in mind, the streamer has embraced its new FX on Hulu strategy, having also recently cancelled High Fidelity, Harlots, Runaways and Future Man.
Fans of Castle Rock may very well follow Abrams to HBO Max, where he and Warner Bros. TV are re-teaming to produce a spinoff of The Shining centered around the Overlook Hotel — a setting that seemed to be teased at the end of Castle Rock‘s first season, though that story arc never materialized. Abrams previously executive produced Hulu’s acclaimed limited series 11.22.63, which was based on King’s book about a man who travels back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK.
Dustin Thomason and Sam Shaw created Castle Rock and served as showrunners, and while I think they had the right idea by going the anthology route, the show’s audience never justified its budget. These things happen, as do Election Day news dumps you hope fans won’t notice. Obviously, there are bigger things at stake tonight, so here’s hoping the future we wake up to isn’t a King-esque nightmare like something out of Castle Rock. For more on the even-more-sad High Fidelity cancellation, click here.