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Here's Why Y: The Last Man Was Canceled

Turns out taking most of a decade to make a TV series can cause some problems.

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Three characters from Y: The Last Man (Yorick, Agent 355, and Dr. Mann) stand in front of a roaring fireplace.
Yorick (Ben Schnetzer) and Agent 355 (Ashley Romans) meet with Dr. Allison Mann (Diana Bang).
Photo: FX on Hulu.

Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s beloved Vertigo comic Y: The Last Man did not have an easy road to its live-action adaptation. Over the course of 14 years, there was a doomed movie, rights switcharoos, multiple recastings, and a pandemic that delayed it getting on screen in any format. But it took less than eight weeks for the show to be canceled. As it turns out, the two things are intimately related.

In a great article over at the Hollywood Reporter, Leslie Goldberg explains FX on Hulu’s decision to ax the show it had spent years and years trying to make. There’s a lot of inside baseball, but it really boils down to two things: time and money. FX originally ordered Y to series back in February of 2019, but creative differences between the showrunners and the network, along with needing to recast Eternals star Barry Keoghan after his breakout role in Dunkirk, delayed things immensely. After hiring Eliza Clark to spearhead the series, Ben Schnetzer was cast as Yorick in February 2020... and you know what happened then. Meanwhile, FX had to keep paying the cast to stay onboard through the delays.


And that’s the kicker, as FX had to decide whether to spend $3 million to extend the options on the cast by October 15, shortly after the show’s seventh episode aired. As THR explains: “Ultimately, FX brass declined to pay $3 million to further extend options on the Y cast as execs did not want to leave the cast in limbo yet again. The cancellation decision was, per sources, not based on viewership figures as Hulu, like other streamers, does not release traditional ratings data. That means FX had little to no data on which to evaluate the series, including how it performed in its entirety over a certain timeframe, etc.” (That includes people binge-watching the show after it fully airs on November 1, for the record.)

If you’re a fan of the series, I wouldn’t worry too much about the show not getting a second season. Showrunner Eliza Clark said, “I’ve never in my life been more committed to a story, and there is so much more to tell” after the announcement of the cancelation. Also, sources say HBO Max is a likely home for the series, which makes sense given that Y: The Last Man was a DC comic (via its Vertigo imprint) and HBO Max is home to all things DC Comics, since both are owned by Warner Bros. If HBO decided to make a new season of Titans, I can’t imagine it won’t jump at the chance to add Y to its lineup. The penultimate episode of Y: The Last Man—for now—airs on Monday, October 25.


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