Netflix has canceled Altered Carbon after only two seasons (and an anime). Variety reports that the series was canceled as a result of Netflix’s standard approach of comparing the cost of a series to the number of viewers it generates. Given that the show potentially cost a few million dollars per episode, the sci-fi series would have had to pull in some impressive numbers to win out in that calculation.
The series was based on the novel Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan and landed on Netflix with a giant splash, giving the streamer another pop culture hit with the first season in 2018. However, the anime film, released in 2019, met with tepid reviews, and the second season, which landed this February, failed to garner as much hype and attention as the first. Compounded with rising production costs due to COVID-19, the series probably became too expensive for Netflix to excuse the third season.
The concept behind Altered Carbon could have easily run for longer. It takes place in a world where the human brain has been digitized and people can download themselves into new bodies. This meant that the show’s protagonist, Takeshi Kovacs, could be recast every season and could technically go on forever with another big-name star taking over the role each season. Indeed, the first two seasons featured Joel Kinnaman and Anthony Mackie in the role, respectively. Plot lines did carry over from the first season to the next, but much like Doctor Who‘s regenerations, the show could have carried on forever with no need to halt because an actor was growing out of the role.