Willow, the best fantasy TV show on Disney Plus, has been cancelled after one season.
As first reported by Deadline (opens in new tab), the series’ spellbinding run on Disney Plus has been unceremoniously cut short, leaving fans devastated that the cult-classic franchise won’t continue past its eight-episode run.
Lucasfilm and Disney haven’t explained why Willow has been dumped after a single season. However, with Disney tightening the production purse strings and Lucasfilm re-evaluating its movie and TV show output – the Disney subsidiary has already shelved a number of planned Star Wars films – it appears that Willow is simply a casualty of the studios’ plans to rein in spending and streamline their content map.
These streaming services have created a self-fulfilling prophecy – they keep cancelling shows, so we’re too afraid to watch things in case they get cancelled, and then they cancel them MORE because we’re not watching them. #willow https://t.co/2YMRIgW1flMarch 15, 2023
The Willow TV series was a small-screen follow-up to the 1988 fantasy film of the same name, which has over the years become a cult classic movie. The sequel show, which saw Warwick Davis return as the titular Nelwyn sorcerer, picked up 20 years after the original flick’s story, and saw six unlikely heroes set out to seek Willow’s help in saving the world once more.
Willow was an underrated hit following its Disney Plus debut, the series garnering an 83% certified fresh rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab). Despite proving popular with fans and critics alike, however, it hasn’t done enough to earn a second season on Disney’s primary streamer. Still, if nothing else, it’ll continue to be one of the best Disney Plus shows around, in our opinion.
If you’re interested in reading about its development, check out our exclusive chat with Willow‘s cast about how “everything aligned perfectly” to make the TV series.
A fantastical show that deserved another run-out
Willow wasn’t as successful as other Lucasfilm-led TV projects, such as The Mandalorian or Andor. Its positioning as a TV sequel to a somewhat niche fantasy film didn’t appear to help it win over casual viewers; and, with the show releasing in November 2022, it likely struggled to compete with some of the best Netflix shows that launched around the same time, such as megahit series Wednesday and The Crown season 5, and 1899.
Even so, it deserved better than to be cancelled after one season. Willow found a delightful balance between honoring the original film and breathing new life into its franchise. The series’ pleasing approach to LGBT-plus and sapphic representation, expansion of a fantastically-developed universe, and family-friendly focus (albeit one with some thematically dark elements) positioned it as a wholly inclusive TV show, too. In short, there was plenty to admire about Willow on Disney Plus.
As other TV shows on Disney Plus – as well as those unlucky projects that have been cancelled on Netflix, Prime Video, and other streaming platforms – have found out, though, such positives don’t guarantee a TV series’ renewal. Just look at Netflix’s popular 1899 TV series, which was canned after a single season, or the recent cancellation of Three Pines on Prime Video, also after one season.
Disney Plus doesn’t have many traditional fantasy shows in its back catalog. Sure, TV series housed within some of its biggest franchises, including Star Wars and Marvel, dabble in the fantasy genre. Other third-party licensed series, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, can be considered fantasy shows in certain lights, too.
It’s a shame, then, that one of Disney’s most singular fantasy series has been scrapped so soon after its debut. The Willow franchise deserves better than being cast aside in this manner, particularly as – outside of Star Wars and Indiana Jones – Willow is Lucasfilm’s most well-known entertainment property. Here’s hoping it’s not another 35 years before Willow returns to the big or small screen.