Deadwood: An Update on the Reasons Why

HBO Deadwood series cancelledAs reported previously, Deadwood will come to an end after the wild-western’s third season (which starts airing on June 11, 2006). Though the series was not officially cancelled, the series’ cast options were not picked up, leaving the actors free to pursue other projects. If new Deadwood episodes were commissioned at a later time, it’s unlikely that all of the large number of cast-members would be available to participate.

The news upset and confused legions of fans of the unique HBO drama. A passionate “save our show” campaign has begun (for details visit which includes the suggestion that HBO subscribers cancel their paid subscriptions following the airing of the last episode of the third season. Contributions are also being accepted to pay for “open letter” ads in editions of Variety.

Deadwood series creator David Milch has said, “I am deeply disappointed by the way things turned out. (HBO) felt like they had to make a choice, and this is how they chose. I know they tried to work it out, and I tried to work it out with them.” It’s been confirmed that HBO offered to greenlight a small six-episode order of the groundbreaking drama but Milch, who has had bad experiences with so-called “short-order renewals,” rejected the offer. “For my part, I did not want to accept a short order. We couldn’t have done the work the way we wanted. I didn’t want to limp home. My old man used to say, ‘Never go anyplace where you’re only tolerated,'” relates Milch. One source has reported that Milch had already plotted the fourth (presumed final) season episodes.

So in essence, the reason for Deadwood’s ending seems to be a financial one. Milch is working on a new series for HBO (John from Cincinnati) and, due to that commitment, HBO didn’t believe that he would be able to return to Deadwood for quite awhile, delaying the possible start of a Deadwood season four. Deadwood is an expensive show to shoot and it’s assumed that the cable channel didn’t want to (or couldn’t afford to) pay the actor salaries for months while they waited for production to begin.

Creator Milch is reportedly doing his part in an attempt to save his series. He’s reportedly looking into possible tie-ins with casinos and theme parks as well as with the real Deadwood community. “I’m doing what I can,” Milch says. “Any financial participation could take the pressure off.”

HBO Chairman and Chief Executive Chris Albrecht has noted, “Not having a fourth season of Deadwood is not the result anyone wanted.” Fans and David Milch would agree and are making sure that HBO knows it. TV Series Finale home page

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89 Comments · Read them below or add one

  1. Joanne Harvey says

    Deadwood was the best series ever. I have been able to get so many of my friends to watch it and they all love it. I have watched it about 5 times and never get sick of it. It just cant finish like this, we need a fourth season at least to finish it off.

  2. Kathy Sanchez Avila says

    My sister in-law gave us Series one and we were hooked we watched series 1-3 in 10 days without break. No ending so I will leave it to my imagination but how I wish there are more to watch….

    Deadwood is by far, the best series I had ever seen. Full of wits and every scene is so enjoyable it makes you want to be inside it even as a WU sidekick!

    Mr Milch, I congratulate you and thank you very much for your genius. I should hope you’d release Series four, in paperback perhaps?

  3. James says

    Milch could have given the fans some closure and screw up royally. And that “John From Cinncinatti” had to be one of the worst shows I’ve ever seen!

    BUT…HBO has a chronic history of cutting its most popular shows short. Carnival, Rome, Deadwood, several others. They let the Sopranos run far too long till it was so stupid I couldn’t watch any more. These other shows had YEARS of material left in them and I have no story closure. ********!

    Lets hope Showtime doesn’t do this with the Tudors.

  4. Arnold says

    Deadwood was the most horrible show. It’s vulgarity and mysogynism were indescribable. I’m glad it’s off the air! And I think that anyone who has a decent bone in their body would want it off too!!!


  5. DAVID says

    As so many fans would agree, the way they ended this show was very disappointing. It was a great western with a good story line. It is ashame that it does not have an ending. After seeing all three seasons and seeing how it was ended I don’t see why anyone would buy the DVD’s, unless, they, someday have an ending for this great show. DAVID MILCH NEEDS TO GIVE THIS CLOSURE SOMEHOW!!!!!

  6. Skyler Doherty says

    Not to make a season four of Deadwood has to be one of the
    Stupidest moves ever. This was one of the best ever, and to stop
    It like you did is fu**ed up you ******* **** suckers

  7. Rae says

    Never was much into westerns save for Eastwood’s Unforgiven.
    My husband got this show & I couldn’t get into it.
    Then about a month ago, I just wanted to see it & I was hooked!
    My favorite characters being Bullock & Al. I even liked the eccentric Richardson & mouthy Trixie.
    Such a shame this show is to stay buried.
    It’s been 3 yrs now so I doubt the show will get an ending. As I type this, I still have 3 episodes left of Season 3.
    I’m drawing it out..
    All the great ones seem to just cancelled.

  8. Steve says

    What a shame….. I had never really heard of Deadwood till a friend lent me the series.
    Brilliant is all that comes to mind in every aspect. I never felt unsatisfied with any episode, however ending the series in such a manner was extremely disappointing. Perhaps if the TV series proves to be impossible to continue, could the writers contact a publishing house to release the rest of the story in a series of books?

    I welcome any solution HBO can come up with, as long as the viewers get the satisfaction of an adequate (although spectacular would be more like it) ending.
    Just my two cents worth…..

  9. jeff fairchild says


  10. Brian says

    Guys, it’s not entirely HBO’s fault. Be sensible here. HBO is a business. They are in it to make money. The facts are these. At the time, HBO was facing a crossroads, between Rome Season 2 and Deadwood Season 4. Both are monumentally expensive shows, and HBO could really only afford to greenlight one for its final season. Rome drew more ratings, and thus more subscription bills being paid. HBO is not without a heart though. They recognized that Deadwood had a strong fanbase despite having lower ratings than Rome. They originally offered to allow Milch to do a 6-episode season to close out the story. He refused. They then offered to allow him to do two 2-hour episodes to close out the story. He sat on it, while filming JFC. HBO was paying the salaries of the all the actors in Deadwood while Milch sat on his decision. The Deadwood cast is huge, larger than most television casts. It is a costly responsibility for HBO to pay the actors and getting no work out of them because ONE man cannot make up his mind.

    In the end, HBO was forced to release the actors from their contracts because the cost was just too great to sustain. Now ask yourselves this, who’s fault is it that Deadwood didn’t get it’s just dessert? HBO could have canned the show and washed their hands of the fanbase entirely, but instead they presented Milch with TWO alternatives to not only give Deadwood it’s deserved finale, but also please HBO subscribers and Deadwood fans. Milch was unwilling to compromise, and instead tried to make a point, even though there was absolutely no way for him to get what he wanted (a full Deadwood season). So don’t blame HBO for the lack of a Deadwood Season 4. Blame Milch for being too stubborn to accept a compromise. If he had, we all would have seen the finale by now, and it probably would have been 100 times better than JFC season 1.

  11. says

    I’ve fallen in love with the series Deadwood. What could’ve made HBO cancel this terrific series? Why not simply keep the show going and pay the actors whatever they would have required to stay in the show? Its almost always a matter of money that decides these things. Deadwood was so unique and had such a huge following that I can’t imagine why they stopped running this series. Such a waste! If there was any show I would wish to come back, more than any other, it’d be Deadwood! I love the repeats and miss the show a lot because eventually the repeats will end as well.

  12. DeWayne Dymek says

    I know all good things come to an end. I could understand HBO’s need to
    cancel Deadwood if they had something, anything better or equal to it on
    their schedule. Have I missed what that might be? Certainly not “John from
    Cinncinnati”. Louis CK, whew, that really sucked. I’ve read many of the comments
    that were submitted and it seems that we really need more Deadwood. Please,
    you’re more than willing to let us pay for HBO every month, give us a voice.
    At lease do the movies to give us closure.

  13. Robert From Malibu says

    WTF! What a blunder. HBO you suck. I will cancel my subscription. TV is so awful already, and you are helping it get worse. John from Cincinnati? WTF!!!

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