Fox will not renew Wayward Pines for a third season, bringing the M. Night Shyamalan-produced series to a disappointing end. But despite the short-lived show coming to a close, it did briefly experience some success. Shyamalan has returned to form in recent years after a string of duds on the big screen, delivering the well-received and appropriately creepy thrillers The Visit and Split. Many would also point to Wayward Pines as a welcome return to glory for Shyamalan, who directed the pilot and served as executive producer.
However, Wayward Pines faced considerable trouble heading into season 2 after a critically praised first run. It was originally set to end after just one season before Fox reversed course and renewed it for season 2. But complications with actors moving on to other projects led to a mostly new cast and fresh premise, which didn't quite work out as smoothly as the first season. And now, after a letdown in season 2, Fox is pulling the plug for good.
As first reported by TV Line on Monday, Fox will not bring back Wayward Pines for a third season. A network insider is on the record as saying the show is "unlikely" to return - which perhaps leaves the door slightly ajar for another surprise renewal. But Variety later confirmed the report, adding that execs had previously hinted at a potential third season late last year. It's known that Shyamalan met with the studio about season 3 at one point.
Based on a trilogy of mystery novels, the 10-episode first season of Fox's Wayward Pines covered the entire saga about a secret service agent investigating the disappearance of his colleagues in the mysterious titular town. Bolstered by a positively Shyamalan-esque midseason plot twist, season 1 earned a 79 percent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and was hailed as a return-to-form for Shyamalan. It also drew strong ratings, including 7.51 million total viewers for the season 1 episode "Do Not Discuss Your Life Before". However, a mostly redone cast and underwhelming, poorly received plot contributed to a drop-off in quality in season 2. Ratings dwindled down to a series-low 3.8 million total viewers for the late-season episode "Time Will Tell".
Wayward Pines ultimately became a case study in the challenges a show can face without the benefit of popular, acclaimed source material. Shyamalan worked directly from the novels in a lot of cases for season 1, and had no such luxury as executive producer of season 2. Ostensibly, the second run also suffered from the loss of writer and showrunner Chad Hodge, as well as losing or reducing the roles of main cast members like Juliette Lewis and Terrence Howard. At the end of the day, Wayward Pines was originally destined to be just a 10-episode limited series, and probably should've stayed that way.
Despite the disappointing end for Wayward Pines, it's still not the lowest point for Shyamalan. He's on a roll with his renewed success in his recent movies, and has the Split/Unbreakable sequel Glass heading toward post-production. Another unexpected benefit from the turnover of Wayward Pines' second season is that contributing writers the Duffer brothers moved on - and created Stranger Things. So as far as the biggest disappointments in Shyamalan's career, Wayward Pines is low on the list.