Kurt Sutter Cancels ‘The Bastard Executioner’

Bastard Executioner Lee Jones Flora Spencer Longhurst
Lee Jones as Wilkin Brattle and Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Baroness Lady Love Ventris in ‘The Bastard Executioner’ (Photo by Ollie Upton / FX)

Prior to what we assumed was the final episode of season one of FX’s The Bastard Executioner, creator Kurt Sutter posted a heads up on Twitter and Instagram to be prepared for the “final” episode. He didn’t say season finale or final episode of season one, and there’s a good reason for that: Sutter canceled The Bastard Executioner. Not one to do things conventionally, Sutter announced the cancellation with an ad in The Hollywood Reporter.

Sutter thanked his cast and crew for their commitment to the series in the ad, but before it ran he sent emails to The Bastard Executioner family to let them know there would not be a second season. The series didn’t catch on with FX viewers and Sutter, whose Sons of Anarchy was a ratings hit, told THR that we didn’t want to write a show no one was watching. The Bastard Executioner premiered to 2.1 million viewers but went down in the ratings each week. The writing was on the wall when it drew less than 1 million viewers for an original episode.

In the ad, Sutter acknowledges the lack of viewers: “The audience has spoken and unfortunately the word is, ‘meh.’ So with due respect, we bring our mythology to an epic and fiery close. Uno tempore. Uno amor.”

Speaking with THR, Sutter said that he’d been in contact with FX Networks CEO John Landgraf throughout the season. “John and I have been in touch the whole time, and it’s not like it had a chance and I said, ‘Let’s not take it.’ But yes, it was a mutual decision in terms of the timing of it. First, I’m so OCD, it’s hard for me to begin something new if something else is still dangling. It’s almost like, I had to clean up, put it away and say, ‘Thank you very much, this was fun.’ But, also, I didn’t want to string the cast along. I just think it’s unfair when that happens, when people don’t find out for another three months whether they have a job in May. To me, the way we are handling it — in terms of, is it going to happen? Is it going to work? Let’s figure it out, give me a yes or no — is the way it should be done.”

The series starred Lee Jones, Stephen Moyer, and Flora Spencer-Longhurst.