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The Real Reason HBO Is Letting The Outsider Go

It's been a pretty rough week for small screen adaptations of the works of Stephen King. Just days after Hulu announced it was bringing the axe down on the fantastic anthology series Castle Rock, Deadline has now confirmed that HBO has done the same with The Outsider.

Adapted from King's 2018 bestseller of the same name, The Outsider finds a small town shaken to its core after a little league coach (Jason Bateman) is arrested for the vicious murder of a local boy. With loads of physical evidence and several eyewitnesses on board, the case seems a slam dunk for Sheriff Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn), until conflicting evidence confirms the accused was in another city when the murder occurred. 

From there, things get weird in truly horrifying ways we wouldn't dare spoil if you haven't seen The Outsider. Just know that the series' 10 episodes are as unsettling, and full of dread, as any story bearing King's name. 

You should also know that The Outsider actually spans the entirety of King's source material. And given that The Outsider was initially green-lit as a limited series event, it seems HBO bosses weren't entirely on board with continuing new stories not originating from King himself, issuing a brief but concise statement about The Outsider's cancellation. "We enjoyed our collaboration with Richard [Price], Jason [Bateman], Andrew [Bernstein] and the MRC team, and we wish them well in continuing the world created by the brilliant Stephen King."

Still, the cancellation is a bit surprising as viewership for The Outsider was reportedly growing with each new episode. So encouraging were the numbers, series creator Richard Price even plotted a second season with King's blessing. Apparently that simply wasn't enough to convince HBO to go all in on season 2 of The Outsider.

The Outsider could make a return on a different platform

Fear not, King fans, 'cause even if The Outsider is currently down, it may not be for long. And if HBO isn't willing to gamble on a second season of a drama as challenging, or relentlessly bleak as The Outsider, the series' production house MRC Television is betting someone will.

In her own statement, MRC Television President Elise Henderson offered her intention to shop the show elsewhere after offering sincere thanks to HBO for a successful season 1 run. "We thank HBO for a great partnership in the first season and for helping to bring in a massive audience who fell in love with The Outsider. We are looking forward to finding a new home for this remarkable series."

Not surprisingly, streaming giant Netflix may have a hand in saving The Outsider, as they've worked with MRC on several projects in the past, including House of Cards and Jason Bateman's current streaming hit Ozark. But even if Netflix doesn't choose to add another name to their growing slate of reclamation projects, it's hard to believe some other outlet won't be intrigued by The Outsider's viewership potential.   

It sounds like Price has an intriguing approach for the new season as well, reportedly opting to pivot away from Mendelsohn's character and focus instead on Cynthia Erivo's troubled-but-ingenious detective Holly Gibney. That approach should prove beyond exciting for anyone who's seen or read The Outsider, as Gibney is one of the most intriguing characters ever conjured by Stephen King, and Erivo pretty much stole the series with a towering performance as the preternaturally gifted sleuth.

As it is, we'll have to wait and see if another outlet is willing to put that character front and center for season 2 of The Outsider.