News of Into the Badlands ending after season 3 was met with a great deal of disappointment from fans, but didn't necessarily come as a shock. Ratings had been in decline for a while, but not because the stories have been suffering. The problem is more than likely rooted in AMC's lack of enthusiasm for the series, which saw a significant drop after season 1.
AMC's post-apocalyptic martial arts drama Into the Badlands premiered in late 2015 with a six-episode first season. Developed by Smallville creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, Into the Badlands stars Daniel Wu as Sunny, a martial artist and a professional killer caught in a war between rival factions fighting for control of the Badlands. Into the Badlands is currently on its third season, which will begin airing its remaining eight episodes on March 24. The series finale will air on May 6.
AMC announced in February that Into the Badlands would not be renewed for a fourth season - though some may have seen the news coming, considering how long it took AMC to announce a return date for season 3. The first half of the season premiered in April of last year, and wrapped up in June. AMC gave no details about when the back half of the season would air, with many simply assuming that it would be back sometime in the fall. It wasn't until last month that fans finally received an update on the show's return. The break between the midseason finale and the midseason finale is unusually large; it's been a little less than a year since season 3 first aired.
It's become increasingly obvious that AMC's interest in the show is incredibly low, which is in stark contrast to AMC's attitude toward the show in season 1. Prior to airing, AMC heavily marketed the series, and tried to use The Walking Dead's success to help make it a hit by flooding the show with Into the Badlands ads. At the time, The Walking Dead was in the middle of its fifth season and still at the height of its popularity.
Into the Badlands was sandwiched between The Walking Dead and Talking Dead, in the hopes that some of the former's 14 million viewers would stick around and watch Into the Badlands during the wait for the after-show. It was a good strategy, and it paid off -- at least to a certain degree. Season 1 of Into the Badlands did receive a sizable ratings bump from The Walking Dead, but its ratings sharply declined as soon as The Walking Dead went into its midseason hiatus.
On top of mountains of advertising, AMC also promoted Into the Badlands with Kung Fu Fridays. Leading up to the series premiere, AMC aired weekly marathons of kung fu movies starring Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen for two months. AMC even shared a video of Chan himself giving the show his stamp of approval.
The show didn't turn out to be the massive hit AMC wanted it to be, but this didn't stop the network from renewing the series for a 16-episode third season at the the beginning of season 2. With season 3 being its longest yet, it appeared that AMC still had some level of confidence in the series, despite how apparent it had become that the network's enthusiasm for the series had died down. The amount of promotional material for Into the Badlands took such a serious nosedive during seasons 2 and 3, that it's no wonder that the show wasn't able to survive.