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Ratched Season 2 - Will It Ever Happen?

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Co-created by "American Horror Story" and "Glee" mastermind Ryan Murphy, "Ratched" serves as a prequel to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," a critically acclaimed 1962 novel by Ken Kesey and an Oscar-winning 1975 film adaptation. The 1940s-set series concerns the harrowing and frightening life of Nurse Mildred Ratched (Sarah Paulson), the complex and cruel villain of "Cuckoo's Nest." In its first 28 days of availability on Netflix in the fall of 2020, "Ratched attracted a remarkable 48 million viewing households, making it the streamer's most-watched new series of the year. 

Garnering both huge ratings and respectable plaudits, Netflix had high expectations for the series, ordering two seasons of "Ratched" before a single frame had been shot. That means it's technically possible that "Ratched" Season 2 could come back ... but with three years passing since Season 1 hit Netflix, the facts seem to suggest otherwise. Here's everything we know so far about a (hypothetical at this point) second season of "Ratched" and if it will ever actually happen.

Spoilers for "Ratched" season 1 follow.

Why isn't Ratched Season 2 happening yet?

The likely holdup on that promised Season 2 of "Ratched" involves a contractual quagmire. "Ratched" was presented as a Netflix original production, but the streamer was really just the distributor. In actuality, the series was ordered in late 2017, and "Ratched" creator/showrunner Murphy produced Season 1 of "Ratched" through Fox 21 TV studios. Then in 2018, Murphy left his longtime home of 20th Century Fox Television in favor of a Netflix deal potentially worth $300 million.

Then in 2019, 20th Century Fox — and as a result, Fox 21 TV Studios — was purchased by The Walt Disney Company. Things got even trickier in 2023, when Murphy opted not to renew his Netflix deal and signed with Disney. That puts the state of his ongoing Netflix projects in limbo. The streamer has yet to order a third season of Murphy's "The Politician" or begin production on more episodes of "Ratched."

So not only does Netflix no longer have Murphy around to maintain the tone, voice, and quality of a theoretical Season 2 of "Ratched," but the company may not want to make another set of episodes at all. The series didn't have the same cultural impact or enduring viewership as did previous Murphy shows like "Glee" or "American Horror Story" or the Netflix-era "Dahmer." Netflix could simply find it more economically feasible to not make more "Ratched" and cancel its Season 2 order.

What the cast and crew has said about Ratched Season 2

In August 2022, "Ratched" star Sarah Paulson gave a far-reaching interview to Variety that focused on her work in projects conceived by Ryan Murphy. Fresh off of an Emmy nomination for her work in "Impeachment: American Crime Story" and reflecting on her work in various installments of "American Horror Story" and a cameo in "Feud," Paulson had nothing to say about a second season of the "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" spin-off.

Sadly for "Ratched" fans, when Variety asked Paulson about "Ratched" Season 2, the actress couldn't provide an update because she didn't know if another installment was even happening, let alone if it was in production or if she'd reprise her lead role. If the main star and frequent collaborator with the show's creator can't provide any information, it's not likely that "Ratched" Season 2 is on the way soon, if at all.

What could be explored in Ratched Season 2?

Fans of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" who haven't seen the Ryan Murphy show might be disappointed to hear that the first season of "Ratched" is only loosely and indirectly connected to the source material. But star Sarah Paulson has already teased that the show will gradually work its way toward Ken Kesey's story and the 1975 film adaptation. "Ideally, by the time we're in Season 4, we're in that story of 'the Cuckoo's Nest,'" the actor told The Hollywood Reporter in 2019. It's certainly possible that writers could introduce Chief Bromden, the novel's narrator, to point the way to those events, assuming the series ever moves forward.

In the meantime "Ratched" writers left plenty of dangling plot threads to address. At the end of "Ratched's" first season, the titular nurse moves to Mexico to get away from her brother, Edmund (Finn Wittrock) — after all, he's on a killing spree, and she's his primary target. The siblings are on an inevitable collision course that could come to a head in Season 2, and we'd expect "Ratched" Season 2 to continue building to an inevitable final showdown. Of course, this is a prequel, so we have a pretty good idea who'll survive.

Where to watch Season 1 of Ratched

Whether "Ratched" ever comes back, the first season of the series is a highly acclaimed and well-made piece of television. "Ratched" Season 1 amassed critical and audience scores above 60% on Rotten Tomatoes, and it received nominations in three major categories at the 2021 Golden Globe Awards: Best Television Series – Drama, Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama (Sarah Paulson), and Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Supporting Role (Cynthia Nixon). As it's a Netflix original project, all eight episodes of "Ratched" are exclusively available on that streaming platform.

Fans curious about where the show is ultimately headed may want to dive into its inspiration. The 1975 film version of Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," which won Louise Fletcher an Academy Award for her haunting portrayal of Nurse Ratched, is available to purchase or rent on Amazon's Prime Video platform.