BoJack Horseman is ending after its upcoming sixth season, but it's unclear whether this was the choice of the show's creator or if Netflix cancelled the series. Telling the story and struggles of fading TV star BoJack Horseman (Will Arnett), the animated comedy has proved itself to be one of Netflix's very best original series since its debut back in 2014.
Mixing its anthropomorphic silliness with incredible gags, visual details to pore over, and a serious commentary on a number of major issues, BoJack Horseman is far beyond just being a sitcom, instead deftly blending comedy and drama, which makes the recent announcement that BoJack Horseman season 6 will be the last a very difficult pill to swallow.
The show is set to end in 2020 when the second part of season 6 debuts on Netflix, giving fans enough time to prepare themselves for the finale of BoJack Horseman and what heartbreak it might contain, but there's still a mystery as to why it's ending. It may be that creator and showrunner Raphael Bob-Waksberg has decided it's time to call it quits, but it might be that the streaming service forced his hand.
BoJack Horseman Wasn't Cancelled Because Of The Animators' Union
When the news was revealed that season 6 of BoJack Horseman would be the last, one of the most popular theories as to why was that it had something to do with the crew's decision to unionize earlier in the year. The animators on the series, which is made by animation studio ShadowMachine, successfully negotiated a deal in July with The Animation Guild, which included health benefits and wage minimums. While that's great for them, there has been talk Netflix wasn't too happy about it.
This largely stems from the cancellation of Tuca & Bertie, which is made by the same animation studio (and comes from a BoJack Horseman producer). Despite being a major hit with critics. Netflix cancelled Tuca & Bertie after just one season, and the news was announced just a few days after the union deal. It's been suggested that played a part in the cancellation, and that it might've done the same for BoJack Horseman's ending. However, people involved in the series have moved to quash such talk. Animator Aaron Long said on Twitter that the ending "was already decided when we joined the union." Long has since added that unionizing might not have helped if it hadn't already been decided that season 6 would be the last, but that "BoJack artists didn't kill the show by demanding the same pay as Big Mouth and Paradise PD." Since other Netflix cartoons are already in the union, this isn't the reason BoJack Horseman is ending.
BoJack Horseman Is One Of Netflix's Longest-Running Shows
What's worth remembering with BoJack Horseman's ending is that it is already one of Netflix's longest-running original series, with five under its belt and a sixth on the way. Few series have had such longevity on the streaming service: Orange is the New Black ended after season 7; Grace and Frankie is also ending after seven seasons; and House of Cards came to a close after a truncated sixth season. This puts BoJack right among them as one of Netflix's oldest series, which is a testament to its enduring quality and popularity, but also perhaps the reason for it ending.
The way Netflix structures deals mean that shows often get more expensive to make the longer they go on. They operate on a cost-plus model that involves paying for production costs upfront plus a premium of 30% of the costs, while also adding a number of other bonuses on top of that, and it's believed that payments significantly increase after three seasons. That's why so many Netflix shows end after 2-3 seasons, such as One Day At A Time, American Vandal, Love, and so on. Of course, if a show is popular enough then it's worth paying for, which has obviously proved to be the case with BoJack Horseman. It's a hit for the streamer, but with season 6 on the horizon, it's not much of a surprise that it's ending, because it's already outlasted most other Netflix Original Series and then some. There's also its algorithm to consider, which is what many cancellations and renewals are based upon: if a series isn't driving subscribers or retention, then it's less likely to be saved. A show in its sixth season would typically find viewership starting to slide, at least on a traditional network, so it might be that something similar is happening with BoJack.
Was BoJack Horseman Cancelled By Netflix?
There hasn't been any official word on whether BoJack Horseman was cancelled by Netflix or not, but it does seem to be the case. Aaron Paul, who is one of the stars of the series as the voice of Todd, said on Twitter that: "...sadly Netflix thought it was time to close the curtains and so here we are. They gave us a home for 6 beautiful years. Nothing we could do about it." Paul's comments don't leave much room for different interpretations, and do make clear that, from his perspective at least, Netflix did indeed cancel BoJack Horseman. On the flip-side, THR notes that the decision to end BoJack Horseman was a creative one from Bob-Waksberg, so the truth of the matter is a little murky.
It's likely that the answer lies somewhere in the middle: Netflix wanted to cancel the series, much like they did Tuca & Bertie earlier in the year, and Bob-Waksberg was able to fit that into his plans for the show. This cancellation, if that's what it is, does come with the upside that the decision was made far enough in advance to give the writers and animators enough time to plan a proper ending. That might well be why its final season is airing in two-parts, in order to have even more time to pull it off, although it's worth noting this is something Netflix has done previous, such as with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's final season. Even if season 6 wasn't initially planned as the ending, it seems likely that BoJack Horseman would've been wrapping up sooner rather than later, either after season 6 or 7. This isn't a hangout sitcom that can run for 10-12 seasons, but rather a more tightly plotted character study that can't last forever. Bob-Waksberg also has a new animated series on Amazon, Undone, which may also have factored into the decision. Netflix may well have cancelled BoJack Horseman, but since it's ending, it might mean there's one last ray of hope for its titular character.