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Here's Why Fans Think Altered Carbon Got Canceled

Altered Carbon hit Netflix with high expectations, a massive budget, and a fresh spin on living forever. Unfortunately, the clock struck midnight for the cyberpunk series about immortality after two seasons, leaving Altered Carbon on a cliffhanger and Takeshi Kovacs' story forever unfinished.

Based on Richard Morgan's 2002 novel of the same title, Altered Carbon created a world where the rich discovered a way to live forever (and ever and ever) as their consciousnesses are digitally stored in stacks and can be placed in an endless procession of bodies known as sleeves — so long as the stack isn't destroyed, that is. The story revolves around the best fighter in the universe, Takeshi Kovacs, who lived in two different sleeves during the series' run. While actor Joel Kinnaman kicked off the series in the Kovacs vessel to viewer acclaim, fans were sorry to see him depart as Anthony Mackie's take on the man who just couldn't seem to die left many viewers unconvinced and dissatisfied.

Altered Carbon season 2 ends with Mackie-Kovacs sacrificing himself, destroying his sleeve and stack in the process. In cliffhanger fashion, it's implied just before the credits roll that the humanoid AI Edgar Poe (Chris Conner) backed up a version of Kovacs before his stack was destroyed — proving the dead really don't remain dead forever in this dystopian tale. As the series ended abruptly and left a never-ending backup of unanswered questions, fans have conjured some theories as to why they believe Altered Carbon got canceled.

Fans cite a combination of poor writing, bad casting, and budgeting

Despite Altered Carbon opening up a whole new sci-fi world to Netflix viewers, fans have cited many flaws in the second season that leave them not entirely surprised by its cancellation. A Reddit user posting by the handle u/KevTravels wrote, "Folks blaming Mackie but it's the abysmal writing that did in the show. And the massive cut in budget!"

Many fans, whether justified or not, don't think Mackie was the right person to play Kovacs — no amount of talent can save a role that's just the wrong fit. Still, that's not the only reason they believe Altered Carbon's plug was pulled after season 2. One user believed the second season was lacking clever twists and engaging mysteries, calling it a mediocre love story between Kovacs and Quellcrist Falconer (Renée Elise Goldsberry). Another user went as far as calling the writing "hot garbage."

At times, Altered Carbon season 2 left audiences feeling like it was relying on its world and aesthetics to do the heavy lifting at the expense of character development. A true protagonist isn't clear in the second season, with Quellcrist's story eating up a lot of time and yet another Kovacs reappearing (this one played by Will Yun Lee), making it hard to follow and get invested. After Kovacs was the clear protagonist in season 1, fans were confused about who to root for in season 2.

Whether the characters were paper-thin, the flashy effects and sets were less impressive, or the writing left a lot to be desired, it appears not enough people showed up to the digital stadium. According to Deadline, "Netflix's decision not to proceed with further seasons was made in April and is not COVID-related but stems from the streamer's standard viewership vs. cost renewal review process." As a monster budget — even a reduced one — is always going to be required for a project of Altered Carbon's scale, it presumably made more sense for Netflix to cut its losses as opposed to bleed cash on another season.