Why Doom Patrol was cancelled (Why season 5 isn't happening)

Doom Patrol was a fan-favorite DC TV show that ended prematurely after its fourth season. Why didn't it return for a fifth season? The answer is a frustrating one.
Doom Patrol season 4. Image courtesy HBO Max
Doom Patrol season 4. Image courtesy HBO Max /

There have been a lot of DC television shows over the past decade but very few have received the levels of acclaim that Doom Patrol did. The show was an outlandish spectacle with an eclectic line-up of outcasts that certainly didn't consider themselves heroes. And yet they were to so many people who loved watching their outrageously entertaining adventures for years.

Originally designed as a spinoff of DC's Titans (albeit set on a different earth), Doom Patrol was the second original show created for the DC Universe streaming service. It featured a star-studded cast, including Brendan Fraser, Matt Bomer, Timothy Dalton, and Michelle Gomez, and ran for four ridiculously fun seasons. Two of those seasons were on the DCU service (with the second one streaming on HBO Max simultaneously), and when it stopped producing original content, the show jumped on over to WarnerMedia's Max for the remainder of its run.

And yet, it still felt like there was more story to tell; so why didn't the mighty Doom Patrol return for season 5?

Doom Patrol was cancelled as part of the DC Universe reset

While Doom Patrol didn't generate as much conversation among comic book fans as some of the more mainstream DC TV shows, it was still incredibly popular. It's important to remind everyone of that, because Doom Patrol's cancellation had nothing to do with Doom Patrol. Instead, it had everything to do with what was going on behind the scenes at Warner Bros. Discovery and the newly-launched DC Studios.

After the Warner Bros. and Discovery merger was complete, a long line of DC Comics-based movies and TV shows were cancelled. It started with The CW's Legends of Tomorrow and Batwoman but it caught wider attention when the already-filmed Batgirl movie was cancelled before it could be released, being locked away in a vault never to be seen again. And from there, any DC movies in development were scrapped while the vast majority of DC TV shows were ended prematurely.

Doom Patrol season 5
Doom Patrol season 4. Image courtesy HBO Max /

Titans and Doom Patrol went most of that time period without a mention, making fans both incredibly nervous and hopeful about its fate - particularly because both had just launched new seasons. But it was ultimately announced halfway through their runs that those respective fourth seasons would be their last.

Thankfully, the creative teams of both shows were prepared and crafted season finales that could serve as series finales, ensuring that Doom Patrol and Titans could end on a high.

James Gunn and Peter Safran weren't the ones to cancel it

While the objective of DC Studios is to launch a new shared universe of DC superheroes and villains, co-chairmen and CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran were not directly responsible for the cancellations of Titans and Doom Patrol.

Shortly after it was announced that both shows would end with their fourth seasons, Gunn and Safran received quite a bit of blame from upset fans on social media, so the former took to Twitter to clarify that they weren't involved in the decision, revealing that it was made before they took the helm at DC Studios:

"The decision to end the series precedes us. But I certainly wish the best for the talented group of creators, actors, and the rest of the crew that produced both shows."

James Gunn

It's not that surprising that this decision was made before the pair's arrival. While they took over leadership at DC Studios, it was Warner Bros. Discovery who wanted to launch a new, single, coherent shared universe that could rival Marvel Studios' MCU; meaning that all established live-action DC properties would have to end for that to happen (or at least that was their belief).

With the pair leading the charge at DC Studios now, they are the ones making the decisions. They were happy to let The CW's Superman and Lois stick around for a bit longer as it was critically-acclaimed and among the network's most-watched shows, but they did ultimately make the decision to end it after its fourth season to avoid overlap Gunn's own Superman movie that would launch the new DC Universe.

The decision to end the established DC shows has gone down incredibly negatively, with fans thinking that DC Studios needs to give DC fans more credit (because, shocking as it might seem, it is possible to tell the difference between different TV and movie continuities) but unfortunately they were all just on the air at the wrong time.

Needless to say, Doom Patrol would have returned for a fifth season had the change of leadership not taken place. But what a heck of a run it enjoyed!

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