Quoth the Raven, "nevermore." That oft-repeated line would surely come straight to the mind of charismatic serial killer - and Edgar Allan Poe fan - Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) upon learning that FOX has opted to cancel The Following after 3 chaotic seasons of murder, mayhem, and plot twists galore.
While fans still don't yet know how the story of unhinged FBI Agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) and the seemingly endless array of killers he hunts for will end, one thing is now crystal clear: this season's finale will be The Following's swan song.
Premiering in January 2013, The Following came out of the gate strong, drawing over 10 million viewers and earning a 3.2 in the 18-49 demo. Just two years later, many shows would kill (no pun intended) for those numbers. Despite criticism for its extreme violence and rampant sexuality - by network TV standards - along with its sometimes nonsensical reveals of nearly every supporting character being a villain of sorts, The Following maintained its high stats for the remainder of season 1, earning an easy renewal.
Unfortunately, season 2 of The Following proved to be a base breaker for many fans, earning even worse reviews and dipping over 30% season to season in its total viewer and 18-49 demo averages. Yet, contrary to its flailing ratings, FOX chose to pick up The Following for a third year before the second had even finished, apparently seeing potential for a series resurrection.
Sadly, that return to dominance never materialized, with the currently airing season 3 falling to a 1.1 demo average and bringing in less than 4 million viewers week to week.
Of course, with four episodes remaining in season 3, the question now becomes: how will The Following wrap up its many story threads? Joe Carroll's part of the tale reached its conclusion a couple weeks back, but will Mike succeed in taking out Mark Grey? Will Theo end up behind bars for his crimes? Will Ryan go completely off the deep end and follow in Joe's bloody footsteps? Will viewers even bother to tune in now that the show has been canceled?
These are all valid queries, and one would assume that they would be answered in The Following's two-hour series finale. The only problem is that it's not really a series finale. Seasons of The Following are shot and in the can well before their premiere date, making it highly unlikely that the writing staff knew that this would be the end for Ryan Hardy and company.
So, if finding out The Following has been canceled wasn't enough of a blow for one day, fans now face the possibility of season 3 ending on an unsatisfying cliffhanger. That is, unless the series continues on another platform like Netflix or Hulu, which is always a possibility.
Will The Following's conclusion end the series with a bang, or will it leave viewers colder than Joe Carroll's victims? We'll all find out later this month.
The Following airs its two-hour series finale on Monday, May 18th at 8pm on FOX.
Source: TV Line