Seven acclaimed, high-profile TV shows are making fans wait a rather long time for new episodes — with 2018 shaping up to be a year that’s getting skipped by a bunch of top series altogether.
Network executives explain it’s the price we have to pay for increasingly cinematic storytelling. “The reality of how ambitious these productions are and how sought after some of the creators are, it means you’re going to have longer cycles,” says FX chairman John Landgraf, who previously let Atlanta creator and star Donald Glover take a year off to play Lando Calrissian in Solo: A Star Wars Story before the series returns in March. “I don’t think it’s optimal, but it beats changing the showrunner and having it suck. I know I’d prefer to have Game of Thrones back earlier. But if you ask me, ‘Would I rather have Game of Thrones back earlier or would I rather have it be good?’ I’d would rather have it be good.”
The trend started with Netflix deliberately breaking the annual cycle in a big way by spreading out seasons its Marvel shows like Jessica Jones and Daredevil. Now HBO is starting to do this too, with Westworld returning this spring after a two-year break and four more of the channel’s major titles either officially confirmed to skip (or extremely likely to skip) this year due to various reasons, some beyond the network’s control.
Here are seven hits that won’t have new episodes any time soon:
Game of Thrones
HBO recently confirmed the eighth-and-final season of the fantasy drama won’t air until 2019. Spending more than a year to make just six episodes has to be some kind of industry record, but showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have long been determined to increase the series’ spectacle every season and deliver a final run that satisfies even its most demanding fans. “They’re perfectionists and this is the soonest it can come back at a level of quality that they are comfortable with,” HBO programming chief Casey Bloys tells EW. Season 1 actor Jason Momoa, who recently visited the set, assures us season 8 will be “the greatest thing to ever air on TV.”
Season 3 has been a long time coming — the second round aired back in 2015. And for a while it was unclear if the show would ever return. But after HBO greenlit a new season set in the Ozarks last fall (and cast Mahershala Ali, Stephen Dorff, and Carmen Ejogo), there was some hope that maybe we’d get the new season in 2018. Nope. Bloys tells us that with production starting in February the drama won’t be ready until next year. It seems time is a flat circle that will take at least another year to come back around.
When will Netflix’s sci-fi smash return for season 3? That’s as big of a mystery as who gave Will Byers that dreadful haircut. But the gap between seasons 1 and 2 was 15 months, season 2 aired in late October, creators the Duffer brothers are still writing the next edition, and a start-of-production date has yet to be set … so you don’t need psychic powers to deduce we won’t likely be revisiting Hawkins this year.
Big Little Lies
HBO originally intended its 2017 limited series based on Liane Moriarty’s bestseller to be just that — limited. But after winning all those Emmys last fall, the network made new deals with stars and exec producers Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman for a second season and added Andrea Arnold (Transparent) as director. The Golden Globes showered the title with more trophies on Sunday. But Bloys says it’s “impossible” for the show to return this year, and that’s a big little truth.
Rick and Morty
Fans of the Adult Swim animated sci-fi series — which became a full-fledged pop culture sensation last year — know the show has one creative rule: no time-travel stories. Which is a shame because somehow generating more time is exactly what the producers need right now. After season 3 took nearly two years to make (partly due to producer Dan Harmon’s self-professed perfectionism), season 4 is seemingly on a similar track as the show isn’t even officially renewed yet and writers have publicly stated the series won’t likely be back until 2019 (there’s nothing official on this yet, however).
There’s no air date yet for the HBO comedy’s seventh-and-final season, but it’s looking unlikely to return this year after production was postponed while Emmy-winning star Julia Louis-Dreyfus underwent treatment for breast cancer. Showrunner David Mandel has said they had planned to take longer than usual to make the final season anyway to give the show a proper send off. HBO’s programming chief is hopeful filming will begin in the coming months. “They’ve got a big [season] planned,” Bloys says. “They pitched it out to us, it’s really funny. When Julia [Louis-Dreyfus] is ready to get back we’ll be shooting — I’m not sure what date we settled on — but we’re waiting for her to feel well enough to get back to it.”
In this case, a 2019 return is great news — because until a couple weeks ago Fargo fans didn’t know if they’d be getting any more of the acclaimed crime anthology at all. But showrunner Noah Hawley has revealed he has a fresh idea for a Midwest tall tale that FX teases was “enormously” exciting and is planned for a 2019 launch. Naturally, Hawley won’t reveal anything specific, instead joking: “I’m finally doing the Space Station Fargo.”