Cinemax didn’t cancel Banshee – turns out the creators did.
Jonathan Tropper has explained the decision to cancel the action-drama after the upcoming fourth season, despite seeing it as a five-season show.
In short, Tropper didn’t want Banshee to go the way of certain other shows that have stretched beyond their natural lifespans, so he took the executive decision to axe the show, as he explained in a column on Grantland:
The recent announcement that our show would be coming to an end confounded our fans and media alike. Why would Cinemax cancel their flagship show at the height of its popularity? The answer is even more confounding. They didn’t. I did, in consultation with Banshee’s creative team.
Like most creators of television, I am a lifelong TV watcher. I don’t think there are any writers’ rooms in which the writers don’t reference other shows as a matter of daily routine. We all stand on the stooped shoulders of the shows that came before us, while trying our damndest to be original. I am acutely aware of all the shows that I have loved, as well as the shows that wore out their welcome, tried my patience, and let me down — shows that stayed past their expiration date simply because of the not-insignificant revenues that flowed through them. I’m not going to get specific, but we all know the signs: stunt casting, trips to exotic locales, weddings, Mulder leaving, etc. We all know that feeling of helpless frustration when a good show gets left out too long and goes stale.
I was determined from the start not to let that happen to Banshee. Banshee’s premise, by its very implausible nature, was always one with a somewhat limited shelf life. How long can anyone really pull off being a fake sheriff? We always felt that, under the best of circumstances, the show had a five-season arc. And we could have easily done that fifth season. We had the ratings, we had the fans, we had the passion.
Ultimately Tropper felt that extending the story would have required a “potentially shark-jumping contrivance” that could have damaged Banshee‘s legacy:
But as Season 4 took shape in the writers’ room, I started to feel two things simultaneously. The first was excitement — we were taking the show in an exciting new direction that I knew our fans would love. The second, though, was a growing sense of unease about what came next. Though we had no shortage of new ideas, I gradually found myself realizing that the story of Lucas Hood was reaching an end.
I talked about it with the other executive producers and with our execs at Cinemax. We brainstormed a number of plotlines that would extend the show, some of which showed real promise. But they all required a contrived divergence from our original raison d’être. I was haunted by the notion of becoming that show that hung around too long, of sullying the memory of four organic seasons with that potentially shark-jumping fifth one.
Of course, it remains to be seen just how much of an ‘organic’ ending Banshee has given that Season 4 wasn’t wholly designed as the last in the series until late in the day.
You can read the Tropper’s full piece @Grantland.