The Leftovers was renewed for a third season on Thursday, but the news will be bittersweet for the show’s hardcore fan base: the newest installment will also be its last.
During the second season of The Leftovers, the series experienced a significant boost in critical acclaim. Its overall Metacritic score rose from a barely positive 65 in Season 1 to a near universal praise score of 80. Dan Fieberg of THR was one such critic to note the increase in quality on The Leftovers’ last season.
“If the first season of The Leftovers sometimes felt insular, the second premiere instantly proves that the show is actually boundless. Just as the first-season cast balanced prickliness and empathy, it’s easy to get into the Jarden version of the story because of the Murphys, a family led by the terrific Kevin Carroll and newly minted Emmy winner Regina King.”
Television critics speculated about whether or not that mark of quality would be enough to get the show a chance at renewal, and it seems like HBO’s interest was piqued just enough to give the series creators one more shot. That lifeline certainly wasn’t based on the show’s ratings, which have struggled significantly this year. Co-creator Damon Lindelof joked about the audience pulling a disappearing act of its own.
“I think there’s a sense of, ‘Where did everybody from season one go? Are they going to binge it? Are they coming back?’ It’s like The Leftovers itself — maybe we’ll never know. It’s a little more than two percent unfortunately.”
In the essential 18-49 age group, The Leftovers dropped by nearly 50 percent compared to the premiere set of episodes in 2014, reported TV By The Numbers. Still, a slight uptick near the finalé couldn’t have gone unnoticed by executives who decided on a renewal, including HBO head Michael Lombardo.
“This show has proven to be one of the most distinctive HBO series, and we are extremely proud of its unrivaled originality, which has resulted in such a passionate following by our HBO viewers. We admire and fully support Damon’s artistic vision and respect his decision to bring the show to its conclusion next season.”
That “passionate following” line was probably referencing one specific incarnation of support. Fans petitioned for a renewal of the series in New York City earlier this week when rumors circulated that it may be up for cancellation. In true superfan fashion, The Leftovers lovers dressed completely in white and took up chain smoking to mirror the creepy cult, The Guilty Remnant, at the center of the show.
— JΣRΣM▼ (@JeremyHinen) December 7, 2015
— • ℳ. ℓ σ ρ є z • (@OMGSweetCheeks) December 8, 2015
It seems that those advocating for a Leftovers renewal were able to make an impact with the most recent development in the show’s future. Earlier this year, Lindelof sounded less than sure that a third season was going to happen.
“I have thought about where we would go in the third season, but just the very beginnings of ideas. Some of them we had to discuss in order to make the moves that we made in the finale in terms of not wanting to put our backs on the wall.”
After its renewal, The Leftovers is likely to return to HBO sometime in 2016 for its third and final season.
[Image via Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]