True Detective Season 4 Uncertain After Nic Pizzolatto’s Departure

Creator Nic Pizzolatto has left HBO for FX, leaving a prospective True Detective Season 4 in serious jeopardy.

True Detective Season 3 had something unusual for the HBO anthology series: a kind of happy ending! But will the True Detectivefranchise itself follow suit and get a happy ending of its own? In other words – will we get a True DetectiveSeason 4? Unfortunately, that prospect is not looking so good in light of recent news.

Nearly a year after it was last on the air, we now know something about the still-hypothetical fourth season of True Detective – it would move forward without its creator, showrunner (and sole writer, save for one David Milch credit), Nic Pizzolatto!

Indeed, the sly foxes of FX have poached Pizzolatto away from his existing overall deal with HBO (which was purportedly worth around $3 million), and, by virtue of that, True Detective. His new deal – with Fox 21 TV Studios and FX Productions – will see Pizzolatto create and develop a new television drama series, titled Redeemer, another dark and gritty crime drama, which already has a script-to-series commitment. Moreover, compounding HBO’s pain, said new series has already procured a high-profile headliner, none other than True Detective Season 1’s Matthew McConaughey!  

further reading: True Detective Season 3 Ending Explained

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However, the departure of Pizzolatto doesn’t necessarily mean the end of True Detective. After all, it’s still a potent branding that HBO owns outright, which makes a relaunch under the creative stewardship of a new visionary a feasible alternative to cancellation. Yet, even if Season 4 does ultimately come to fruition, the major creative turnover would likely signal that we won’t see it on the air for quite a long time. Still, it’s also worth noting that True Detective fans have become accustomed to lengthy gaps between its anthological iterations.

The now-departed Pizzolatto was nursing what he described as a “wild” idea for Season 4. In an interview with EW prior to True Detective Season 3 premiere, the ex-showrunner revealed that he was already thinking about True Detective Season 4, saying:

“I dream of making a TV show where you have recurring characters and don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. After one of these I always feel so depleted. But I have to say … I have an idea…and it’s wild. It’s really, really wild. Where do you even go after this [season]? But I have an idea that’s kind of crazy. I think it needs to percolate for a while. I was looking to do another series, maybe a movie, in the meantime, but yeah. I have an idea…”

Well, hey! Nic had an idea. It sounded like a good start for True DetectiveSeason 4. However, if HBO does indeed move forward with the fourth frame, it will be interesting to see if Pizzolatto’s ideas get salvaged, or if the new showrunner decides instead to put his/her unique stamp on the franchise.

So far there’s been no word from HBO. Granted, that doesn’t mean much in this case. HBO has always been very…let’s say deliberate in how it decides to greenlight series. And True Detective seasons don’t really follow any consistent time off between seasons. The wait between True Detective Season 1 and True DetectiveSeason 2 was around one and a half years. The wait between Season 2 and Season 3 was around three and a half years.

True Detective Season 3‘s ratings were down from the show’s second season but that’s probably to be expected with the three-and-a-half-year delay. However, under new creative stewardship, a prospective Season 4 might pique enough curiosity to regain some upward momentum for the series. That, of course, remains to be seen.

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Alec Bojalad is TV Editor at Den of Geek and TCA member. Read more of his stuff here. Follow him at his creatively-named Twitter handle @alecbojalad

Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.