Netflix's The Haunting of Hill House creator Mike Flanagan says he (briefly) considered ending season 1 on a cliffhanger. The series, which is based on Shirley Jackson's celebrated 1959 gothic horror novel of the same name, premiered back in October and has quickly become a critical darling for the streaming service. It's also given Flanagan another item to add to his collection of acclaimed supernatural horror projects, along with films like Oculus, Hush, and Gerald's Game (the latter two of which were also released through Netflix).
Haunting of Hill House season 1 follows the members of the Crain family as they confront their traumatic past - specifically, the summer they spent living in (and, in their parents' case, fixing up) the mysterious Hill House in the early 1990s - in the wake of another personal tragedy in the present-day. Season 1 ultimately plays out as a standalone narrative and wraps up every major plot thread by the conclusion of its final episode (or, at the very least, seems to), without offering any real clues as to where a second season could go. However, according to Flanagan, there was a point during the show's development where he considered going in a different direction with the season 1 finale.
In an interview with TVLine, Flanagan revealed that he and his writing team considered ending Haunting of Hill House season 1 on a cliffhanger. He went on to emphasize that the idea was only briefly considered and abandoned shortly thereafter:
“It didn’t look like anything I’d want out there in the world, which is why we abandoned it quickly. It was part of the very, very early conversations we had about it, but it never really took a shape that I’d want to talk about.”
Flanagan indicated to TVLine that he's quite confident he made the right call here, and rightly so. The Haunting of Hill House season 1 ends on a note that brings its story, themes, and character arcs alike to a very satisfying and otherwise poignant conclusion, in light of everything the Crains have already endured (and lost), up to that point. A cliffhanger ending might have left the (red room) door open wider for a second season, but it might've simultaneously robbed the season 1 finale of much of its emotional impact and felt like a cheap attempt to keep the story going for its own sake. It seems Flanagan reached a similar conclusion early on in the show's creative process, which explains why he's all the more hesitant to even explain his original idea now.
For similar reasons, Flanagan has made it clear that if The Haunting of Hill House season 2 ever does come to pass, it won't revolve around the Crain family. As far as the show is concerned, their story is all done, and to continue it from here would risk undoing what the season 1 finale was able to accomplish. That isn't to say the show is hurting for season 2 options; far from it, the series could explore anything from the backstories of the many souls that are permanently trapped in Hill House, or pick up with a different family as they encounter the building in the present-day. It's also possible that one or more of the Crains could show up in season 2 in a supporting role, especially considering how Hill House itself likes to play with time and memory.
The Haunting of Hill House season 1 is now available for streaming on Netflix. We will keep you updated about a potential season 2.