The Divergent Series: Ascendant was supposed to wrap up the sci-fi saga but was eventually abandoned – here's why the final movie was canceled. Following the huge success of The Hunger Games franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence, there was a short-lived fad of adaptations of YA sci-fi novels. This included The Maze Runner trilogy and The Divergent Series, with the latter set in a futuristic society where people are divided into factions based on their virtues.
The main character Tris learns she is a Divergent, meaning she doesn’t fit into any one group, leading to her becoming a target. Based on the best-selling YA novels by Veronica Roth, the Divergent series featured a great cast of up and coming actors, including Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller, Zoe Kravitz, and Bill Skarsgard. While Divergent and its sequel The Divergent Series: Insurgent were solid hits, they didn’t reach the same heights as The Hunger Games, and the future of the franchise was in question following the underperformance of The Divergent Series: Allegiant in 2016.
Following the financial disappointment of the third movie, there were plans to wrap up the saga with TV movie The Divergent Series: Ascendant. Those plans eventually came to nothing, so let’s explore why the final movie was canceled.
The Divergent Series: Ascendant TV Movie Was A Response To The Box-Office Of Allegiant
Prior to the release of The Divergent Series: Allegiant, there were already signs interest in the franchise was waning. The second movie only outgrossed the original by a tiny margin, and audience interest in YA movies, in general, appeared to be shrinking rapidly. This downward thread was confirmed by the box-office of Allegiant, which grossed less than $180 million worldwide; for comparison, Insurgent made almost $300 million the year before.
The Divergent Series: Allegiant split the final book in Roth’s trilogy in two, with the expectation production would begin on the final movie after part one hit theaters. The meager financial returns of Allegiant halted that plan, and in July 2016 it was announced a TV movie would wrap up the story, which would also add new characters that could feature in a potential TV spinoff. The cast response to this was far from enthusiastic, with Shailene Woodley stating she didn’t sign up for a TV movie and doubted she would return. Co-stars Theo James and Miles Teller later ruled out a TV movie return too.
The Divergent Series: Ascendant Was Canceled In 2018
None of the Divergent cast was interested in making the jump from three big-budget blockbusters to a TV movie, let alone one that acted as a pilot for a potential series. Woodley wanted to return to complete Tris’ story, but only for a theatrical movie. The actress later admitted she was so disappointed with how the saga ended she considered quitting acting entirely. While development on the TV series was still ongoing in 2017, it was eventually confirmed in 2018 that lack of interest from the original cast killed The Divergent Series: Ascendant.
While The Divergent Series: Ascendant would have provided closure to the story, making it a TV movie would have been an acknowledgment the series had failed on the big screen. Cast members like Teller and Kravitz were already moving on to bigger roles and projects, so the odds of convincing them to return were always slim. It’s a shame for fans of the franchise that it didn’t get a proper conclusion, and proves The Divergent Series: Allegiant shouldn’t have split the final book in two.