How Mindhunter Fell Apart at Netflix

By Kirsten Howard

Serial killer drama series Mindhunter captivated Netflix subscribers, but its behind the scenes problems led to a premature burial at the streaming giant.

For fans of David Fincher’s darker films, like Se7en and Zodiac, the prospect of a new drama series from the director that focused on real-life serial killers was an intriguing prospect.

The first season started streaming on Netflix just before Halloween in 2017, and seemed to be a hit, both critically and with viewers.

Starring Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany and Fringe’s Anna Torv, the series explored the birth of criminal psychology and profiling at the FBI.

Special agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench interviewed some of history’s most infamous serial killers, with Ford becoming obsessed with the process.

Season 1 also featured a deeply disturbing breakout performance by Cameron Britton as softly-spoken serial killer Ed Kemper.

Seasons 1 and 2 of Mindhunter were supposed to film pretty much back-to-back.

But there were problems in the writers’ room, and all the Season 2 scripts that had been written were scrapped when Fincher decided they weren’t good enough.

Going back to the drawing board meant that Season 2 would take much longer to arrive, and this likely caused a financial ripple effect on an already-pricey production.

After Season 2 was finally completed and available to stream in mid-2019, Fincher said he was “exhausted” and didn’t feel like he had the energy to start work on a third season.

As a result, the cast were released from their contracts at the start of 2020, allowing them to pursue other roles.

In October, Fincher admitted that the cost of making Mindhunter would only escalate in Season 3, and that its humble viewer numbers wouldn’t support the show’s larger budget.

A third season of Mindhunter could still happen, but Netflix doesn’t seem too keen on tackling it in the near future.

A spokesperson for Netflix has confirmed Mindhunter’s fate, saying that if Season 3 ever did get off the ground, it would be at least 5 years away.

The decision to set Mindhunter adrift after two seasons leaves the show’s exploration of serial killer Dennis Rader, a.k.a. BTK, unresolved.

Fans can still turn to the book the series is based on - Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker - which could help provide some answers.