Why Hulu’s Castle Rock Was Cancelled After Season 2 | Screen Rant

After season 2 of Castle Rock, Hulu canceled the horror series; here’s why the Stephen King adaptation didn’t get a season 3. Castle Rock is named after the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, the setting for several major works written by prolific horror author, Stephen King. The fictional Maine town is the main setting for 15 of King’s stories and it’s referenced in 22 of his other works. While Castle Rock brought an interesting idea to the King universe by bringing all of these stories together, Castle Rock was canceled by the streaming giant Hulu.

Before Castle Rock was canceled, show creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason included the Shawshank State Penitentiary from King’s book Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption as the foundation for several characters. It also brought back several actors familiar to King’s movies such as Sissy Spacek of Carrie fame as well as Bill Skarsgård, who portrayed Pennywise the Dancing Clown in Andy Muschietti’s IT: Chapter One and IT: Chapter TwoCastle Rock season 2 took a drastic turn by pivoting away from the original cast and characters and instead centering around Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Caplan) from the 1987 novel and 1990 film adaptation, Misery. Season 2 also involved the town of Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine. Jerusalem’s Lot is the setting for King’s vampire novel Salem’s Lot and the town is referenced in his other popular works like The ShiningDoctor Sleep, and Pet Sematary.

Related: Every Stephen King Character In Castle Rock Seasons 1 & 2

Castle Rock was a remarkable contribution to the expansive list of Stephen King adapted media due to its ability to merge major stories and locations from the fictional town to create one cohesive story. Both seasons have remarkably high reviews with season 1 sitting at a current rating of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes and season 2 with an 89% rating. With the series’ success, it is hard to believe that it wasn’t renewed for season 3, but it was Castle Rock Hulu chose for the can. Here’s why Hulu closed the book on the incredible series after only two seasons.

A season 3 Castle Rock Hulu revival could still theoretically happen. The series isn’t short source material; there are around 15 stories that take place in Castle Rock, but the plan to cancel the series was made long before audiences became aware. It had been an entire year since fans heard any news on the stories of Castle Rock season 3. The longer an announcement was drawn out, the clearer it became that there would be no more trips to Castle Rock to see the Shawshank State Penitentiary or Jerusalem’s Lot. Castle Rock season 2 finished on December 11th, 2019, and Hulu finally announced late in 2020 that Castle Rock was canceled for good. So far, there haven’t been any strong leads on the show getting revived elsewhere.

When Hulu made the decision to cancel Castle Rock after season 2, it was not based on reviews or viewership. Instead, it was based on the fact that they had always intended to conclude the series after Annie Wilkes’s story. This was due to an array of factors, one of which includes a major shift in company interest towards HBO Max. While this explanation is undoubtedly true, it may also be a result of so many potential Stephen King adaptations of major stories set in Castle Rock that focusing on the show closes too many other avenues for converting great King stories to the small screen.

As of now, there’s no information on whether or not Castle Rock will be picked up again after its cancellation. That being said, there have been plenty of popular shows that escaped cancellation or were rebooted due to fan response. As well, the series does not lack any source material. For instance, Gerald’s Game takes place in the fictional town, but it was transformed into an incredible and disturbing feature-length movie for Netflix in 2017. It would be a major feat — and a risky one — to tackle doing another adaptation of the story so close to this acclaimed release. There are a ton of stories that take place in Castle Rock, but the plan to cancel Castle Rock was made long before audiences became aware. It had been an entire year since fans heard any news on the state of Castle Rock season 3. After Hulu announced Castle Rock‘s cancellation, it was clear that there would be no more trips to see the Shawshank State Penitentiary or Jerusalem’s Lot.

Related: Castle Rock: How The Marsten House Connects To Stephen King’s Universe

While it may have disappointed some fans, Castle Rock being canceled before its third season was probably inevitable. It also wasn’t the worst thing for the legacy of the show. Many properties with cult followings maintain a fanbase because they were canceled before becoming bad (the most famous example probably being Firefly‘s success). Castle Rock is based on the fiction of Stephen King, of which there is a notoriously vast amount, and it only took two seasons for this to be a burden rather than a boon. Not only was Castle Rock far from the only King adaptation available, with The Stand and Lisey’s Story miniseries in 2020 and 2021 respectively, but there are a lot of current shows in the horror genre that deliver Stephen King vibes much more effectively.

Shows like Stranger Things and American Horror Story both draw heavy inspiration from King’s work – so much so that he’s an outspoken fan of both. Both have performed much better than Castle Rock too. Stranger Things and AHS aren’t based on King’s works, but they both satisfy the audience’s craving for the kind of weirdness delivered by CarrieIT, and even Stephen King adaptations he hates like The Shining, and they do it much better than Castle Rock. There might have been a time for Castle Rock’s fanservice blending of classic Stephen King characters in the 90s or 00s, but in the 2020s there just isn’t as much room or demand for it.

Ultimately, Castle Rock had to end in order to avoid growing stale; this decision dodged potentially retelling stories that have already been made into film/television adaptations in the past decade, which could feel repetitive to audiences. While there is no news on whether or not HBO Max will pick it up later for their streaming platform, it seems highly unlikely. In the meantime, Stephen King fans still have the opportunity to enjoy the prolific authors’ work with shows like Chapelwaite and Paramount+’s upcoming Pet Sematary prequel.

Next: It: Why Derry Is Cursed In Stephen King’s Universe

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Author: Mara Bachman