At long last, Westworld returns to HBO this Sunday night for its highly anticipated third season. It’s been almost two years since a new episode of Westworld graced our television screens, and for Season 3 the show is essentially rebooting itself. Leaving the park behind, the new season finds Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) venturing out into the real world for the very first time, with Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) and others making their way in a human-filled world. The storyline is far more linear than the previous two seasons, but also expands the world of Westworld in a truly massive way.
And while we have eight episodes to look forward to, fans may already be wondering how much longer Westworld will run. Is Westworld Season 4 a foregone conclusion? The ratings for the series are solid, especially at a time when HBO has yet to find its ratings replacement for Game of Thrones. So from a network standpoint, another season of Westworld is highly likely. But what about from the standpoint of creators and showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan?
In April of last year, Joy and Nolan left their overall deal at Warner Bros. Television—under which HBO falls squarely—and moved to Amazon to develop films and televisions shows there. Speaking with Variety for a profile piece on Westworld Season 3, Nolan explained why they made the jump:
“Amazon’s ambitions are big,” he says. “They want to be making big, bold television series, and that’s what we like to do as well. In a moment in which people are making unbridled television, you want to be taking advantage of that.”
They’ve already set up their first Amazon project, a sci-fi TV series called The Peripheral, that will begin shooting later this year. But where does that leave Westworld? Variety says Joy and Nolan hope to make “at least one more season” of the series, but are “coy” about seasons beyond that.
Does this mean Westworld Season 4 might be the endpoint? We know that the duo had a rough plan in mind when they began the series, and moving the hosts out of the park was always something they were moving towards. But with Joy and Nolan shifting to Amazon, and given that they’ve already spent seven years making these first three seasons of Westworld, it would not be surprising if they decided their time with this show was coming to an end.
HBO exec Casey Bloys says any decision about a Season 4 renewal won’t happen until after Season 3 premieres, but even if Westworld Season 4 is officially ordered, it’ll still be a long wait. Joy and Nolan tell Variety that the 18 to 20 months between seasons is “just how long they need to put together a show this thematically and logistically elaborate.” Even Bloys admits more time between seasons is becoming the norm, so while we get to enjoy eight all-new hours of Westworld these next couple of months, the next (final?) chapter in the story probably won’t arrive until 2022.