Despite pulling in solid ratings and ending on a cliffhanger finale, Terra Nova season 2 was canceled – here's why Fox’s cult sci-fi show as canned. The premise of Terra Nova finds Earth overpopulated and pollution threatening life on the planet in the year 2149. A rift is discovered that can send people back in time 85 million years, and a series of pilgrimages are sent through to set up a colony dubbed Terra Nova. The show revolved around the Shannon family, led by father Jim (Jason O’Mara) and Terra Nova’s leader Taylor, played by Stephen Lang (Avatar), as they struggled to survive in this new world.
Terra Nova was a hugely ambitious undertaking, with the show’s pilot said to have cost over $10 million to film, with each subsequent episode budgeted at $4 million. The series featured elaborate sets and action sequences involving CGI dinosaur attacks. Fox was hoping for a Lost-sized hit with Terra Nova and launched a large promotional campaign for the show prior to its premiere. While it received mixed reviews, with critics praising the epic scale but criticizing the cheesy writing, Terra Nova debuted to strong ratings.
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Despite ratings staying steady throughout the show’s 13-episode first season, here's why Terra Nova season 2 failed to happen.
After the season 1 finale aired, Fox revealed no decision has been made on Terra Nova season 2. This was a bad sign, with reports already circling about Fox being unhappy with the show’s expense and the production difficulties experienced filming in Australia. The cinematic scope was the show’s main selling point, but the costs involving with maintaining that look caused Fox to hesitate when it came to greenlighting Terra Nova season 2.
Fox later announced in March 2012 that Terra Nova season 2 wasn’t happening, but producers shopped the series around to other networks in hopes it would get picked up. While SyFy showed early interest, Netflix seriously considered taking on a second season, with a plan to move production to Hawaii in hope of making the series more cost-effective. While this briefly got hopes up that season 2 would press ahead, Netflix ultimately passed on the show too.
What Terra Nova Season 2 Would Have Been About
Executive producer Brannon Braga later revealed story plans for Terra Nova season 2, with the colony encountering a new, intelligent breed of dinosaur. The show apparently would have gone in a darker direction, with Taylor starting to go crazy and Shannon having to step up into a leadership position. A motion comic extra on Terra Nova’s DVD allowed fans to create their own ending to the series, though the feature didn’t allow for much creativity. One ending suggested the dinosaurs had somehow broken through from the past and were running around the cities of 2149.
Terra Nova season 2 was canceled due to a combination of high production costs and the show’s scale being a little too big for television. The series might have stood a better chance had it arrived just a few years later, where the success of more cinematic shows like Game Of Thrones could have seen its ambitions embraced.