Prodigal Son's cancellation explained

·4-min read
Photo credit: Fox
Photo credit: Fox

Prodigal Son spoilers follow.

It's officially two seasons and out for Fox serial killer drama Prodigal Son.

Tom Payne (The Walking Dead) stars in the show as Malcolm Bright, a former FBI profiler who is snapped up by an old friend working at the NYPD to act as a consultant on murder investigations.

But it just so happens that his father Martin Whitly, played by Michael Sheen, is a convicted serial killer, known as The Surgeon, who had killed at least 23 people before being thrown behind bars.

What are the odds, eh?

Photo credit: Fox
Photo credit: Fox

When a slew of murders begin cropping up across the city, Malcolm turns to daddy's twisted mind to try and catch the killer. But as you'd expect, spending an extended amount of time with a mass murderer, even if they are your own flesh and blood, has its challenges.

On May 21 last year, Fox announced that season two was happening, and the cast was given an exciting boost with the addition of Catherine Zeta-Jones.

But on May 10, it was announced that the series would not be returning for a third outing.

Photo credit: Warner Bros.
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

"Wow. Gutted. Didn't see that one coming," said Lou Diamond Phillips, who plays NYC police lieutenant Gil Arroyo, on Twitter. "Might be taking a few days away from the platform #Prodigies. Just know that you have been the most wonderful, entertaining, brilliant fan base I have ever encountered. Much Love. #GilArroyo #ProdigalSon."

But creators Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver have since told Deadline that "WBTV is shopping it" out to other networks in the hope that it'll get picked up.

Photo credit: Fox
Photo credit: Fox

It still feels unlikely, but there is some hope. A little-known show called Lucifer was originally cancelled by Fox before being scooped up by Netflix – so it's not out of the question, and Prodigal Son feels like it could be a good fit for the streamer.

But why was it canned in the first place?

According to Deadline, despite performing well digitally, it was the "lowest-rated" of Fox's current drama series. But evidently, that wasn't enough to rescue it from the TV graveyard. Instead, Fox chose to renew 9-1-1, 9-1-1: Lone Star and The Resident, while also picking up four brand new titles: Monarch, The Big Leap, Our Kind of People and The Cleaning Lady.

Having a name as in demand as Michael Sheen will undoubtedly make aligning filming schedules significantly more challenging, although he might no longer be needed (more on that later). And it's no secret that the pandemic has squeezed the coffers of broadcasters and streamers.

Netflix had renewed The Society for a second season but that was revoked, with a source telling The Hollywood Reporter that, among other reasons, "unexpected budget increases" due to the impact of COVID had played a role.

Photo credit: Fox
Photo credit: Fox

It's especially bad news for those who were following the show because it wraps up with Malcolm stabbing his own father, the fallout of which we weren't given the opportunity to see.

"Without sharing too much, it was going to be the best season of television ever produced," Sklaver told TV Line.

"We have a really fun season-three pitch. We don't want to give too much of it away because we're still hopeful of being able to tell that story. But Bright stabbing Martin at the end wasn't going to make anyone's life easier, and I think our show flourishes when all of our characters face adversity.

"Bright and Dani just kissed, but they're not going to be able to get past this. Gil and Jessica are in a good place. There's so many places that we could jump off from the ending of this season, and that's what's so exciting for us."

Watch this space for updates.

Prodigal Son aired on FOX in the US and Sky One in the UK.

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