‘The Bastard Executioner’ Canceled by FX After One Season

Bastard Executioner Cancelled
Courtesy of FX

The Bastard Executioner” is no more. The FX drama series is laying down its sword following Tuesday’s airing of the season one finale.

Series creator and showrunner Kurt Sutter has gone to unusual lengths to salute the hard work that went into producing the show while boldly acknowledging that the ratings weren’t strong enough to justify a renewal.

The sword-and-sackcloth drama about the struggles of warrior knights in 12th century Wales proved to be “an acquired taste,” by Sutter’s admission. And “Bastard” was produced on much more than a Medieval budget. “We did not hold back from showing the brutality of living in 1325 Wales,” he told Variety.

Sutter and FX Networks CEO John Landgraf had a candid conversation recently that sealed the decision about the show.

“The numbers just didn’t sustain the cost of the show, quite frankly,” Sutter said. “It’s all math at the end of the day. We couldn’t establish that core audience that allows you to figure out your advertising paradigm and whether or not the show is affordable.”

Sutter is putting his money where is mouth is via an ad running in the Nov. 24 edition of Variety, among other outlets, thanking the “Bastard” cast and crew for their hard work. He also gives a shoutout to Imagine Television, which produced the series with 20th Century Fox TV’s Fox 21 banner, numerous Fox execs and Landgraf, among others.

“I have been awed by the talent and commitment of this ‘TBX’ cast and crew,” Sutter states in the ad. “The audience has spoken and unfortunately the word is, ‘meh.’ So with due respect, we bring our mythology to an epic and fiery close.”

Sutter said the experience of detaching from Hollywood to produce a period drama in a remote part of Wales was exhilarating, enlightening and by the end, a little emotional.

“I love this cast and crew so much,” Sutter said. “They’re primarily British actors. They have a different mentality about the work. They’re not plugged into the numbers or worried about ‘Do I have a job?’ They’re so used to be journeymen. They were there to do the work. By the finale the whole cast and crew had bonded and everyone was so excited about this show and the mythology. And by that time I already knew it wasn’t coming back. It was heartbreaking for me.”

The bar was high for “Bastard” from the start as it was the follow-up to Sutter’s highly successful FX series “Sons of Anarchy,” which ended its seven-season run in 2014.

“Bastard” opened to modest ratings on Sept. 15 and has declined steadily with each of its 10 episodes. It fell from an average of 4.02 million viewers for its premiere in Nielsen’s Live Plus 7 ratings to 1.9 million viewers for episode six. In adults 18-49, the show dropped from 1.9 million viewers in its premiere to 856,000 by episode six.

Sutter credited Landgraf with being “kind enough” to allow him to address the decision to pull the plug in his own way. Few showrunners have the stomach to publicly acknowledge defeat. Most shows go out with a whimper. But Sutter is not most showrunners.

“I loved this f—ing show,” Sutter said. “So did the studio and the network. Landgraf is probably more disappointed than I am. Everybody gave this everything they had. The studio never said ‘no’ to me. Everybody gave me the tools that I needed to do this job. … I just didn’t want to let it disappear without acknowledging the effort that everyone put into it.”

The production process was hard on Sutter and his wife and “Bastard” co-star Katey Sagal, as it required long periods of separation from their 8-year-old daughter in Los Angeles. The pair tried to get home every couple of weeks during the 10-episode shoot that began in July and ended earlier this month. “It got a little crunchy toward the end,” Sutter said. “This show almost f—ing killed me.”

As for what’s next, Sutter is hoping for a discovery along the lines of “Bastard Executioner,” which came through a pitch over lunch with Imagine’s Brian Grazer. Sutter is still helping to shepherd a potential “Sons” spinoff at FX revolving around the Mayan motorcycle club featured in the series. That project is searching for a writer as Sutter intends to serve only as a producer. And he’s working on a feature screenplay for producer Brian Oliver, “Delivering Gen.”

Sutter is fairly unbiased in citing the reasons “Bastard Executioner” failed to connect with audiences.

“It was a dense mythology,” he said. “It was historically based. I do think they’re harder to plug into. It takes more time for people to find those shows and to have the energy to sit and watch them. … My sense is a year from now when people have the time and energy, they’ll watch and some of them will be like, ‘What happened?’”

Sutter swears he has no regrets. “I wouldn’t have done anything differently,” he said. “I love this story.”

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  1. darlean says:

    This show was way better than Sons. I had become so sick of Jax’s spoiled moping that watching the show to its bitter end bored me to tears. Executioner had an interesting plot, especially considering the supernatural oracles and their hunters, that would have been fun to see unfold.

    Sadly, I think Mayans will be more of the same as Sons, but at least Jax will not be around.

  2. Helen Ortega says:

    I loved the program. yes too many commercials but commercials help pay the bills. hope to see something on the same line again in the future. too bad ppl cant handle the truth about our society during that time period. it wasn’t all Cinderella like back then, especially what the Catholics and the Spanish inquisition did. that some was brutal stuff.

  3. Kenny says:

    Maybe if FX didn’t have a 10 minute commercial every 5 minutes more people watch. Great show, suck azz network!!! FX sucks

  4. Kenny says:

    Maybe if FX didn’t have a 10 minute commercial every 5 minutes more people watch. Great show, suck azz network!!! FX sucks

  5. Joanne Wolfe says:

    I have been waiting patiently for a new season to begin, I finally decided that I needed to google it and here we are. Cancelled. Second best show on television next to Game of Thrones and you all decide to cancel. I am MAD.

  6. Brian says:

    I find it amusing how shows are cancelled with really little regard to the viewers. as said a survey of the audiences should be taken first. Recording of episodes and watched later don’t count into the numbers or into the nielsen ratings at the end of the day/night. I found Sutter’s new project absolutely worthy after SOA. With the same grit and reality, Sutter and the cast proved to be outstanding in the writing of the episodes and the delivery in acting. I will very much miss this show, and I believe with another season the audience would have grown just like SOA’s did thru their seasons. Numbers and advertising shouldn’t always be the determining factors in the success of a show! Give the audience a voice!

  7. Pat says:

    What determines that people are not watching a protectular series? Do they not take into the fact that veiwers now days have DVR’s and they record shows as to skip commercials. This is me and if surveys r not taken into effect that shows r recorded and watched later, then may I suggest that they do whomever these surveyors r. So many series cancelled that r really great and replaced with crapy shows to say it nicely! I wouldn’t watch some of the series this year if somebody paid me, too many reailaty shows, those should be on though the day and have decent series on at nite, so people that work can can home at nite, put their feet and know they can watch a decent really good series! Come all u producers, directors for gosh sakes pull yourselves together!

  8. Sandra says:

    I me so disappointed! I loved this show and was looking forward to season 2.
    This happens way too much!!
    I am reluctant to get into any more series for the fact that they can be cancelled with no regard to the fans.
    This was a great series and the acting was superb. I loved the characters and the sets and costumes were authentic. Well Done!!!! It was a big mistake to cancel!

  9. Juho Laitakari says:

    I loved the show and I believe it would have gained a growing audience outside UK. I believe Nordic audience was just about to find it. The biggest problem of the show, in my opinion, was leading male actor’s tendency to be a little bit too syrupy, in an awkward way.

  10. Tony Langley says:

    My wife & I absolutely loved this show, and were very sad that it was canceled. I actually liked it better than Vikings, which we watch, too.

  11. Amanda Maes says:

    Loved this show! Dvr on this had the same problem, cut parts out and had to wait for them to air again. The story, film, characters, acting,writing; love it all! The set scenery wasn’t the best but that really didn’t matter, that time period was dirty. My every person I recommended this show to was hooked! I recruited at least 50 people to watch it. BRING IT BACK! I need to know the entire story!

  12. Richard says:

    well all I can say, it was a brilliant series, yes could be said production wasn’t brilliant, but that added to the beauty of it…it felt realistic, rustic…sorry we wont see it to the end…

  13. Peter Randrup says:

    I feel like if the show had been based on a series of books it wouldn’t have been cancelled. As a series of books (very rich in detail) I think it would have gained a huge following…then everyone would have been clamoring for it to become a TV series.

  14. Peter Randrup says:

    One of my all time favorite shows. I was excitedly waiting for the next season. I didn’t find the show complicated in anyway. I’m shocked it didn’t find a bigger audience. Is the series based onsome books?Can I read the continuing story??

  15. Randy Poer says:

    I loved the show but it was not easy to follow at times. I can see how it didn’t get a large enough following. You had to pay attention and think about what was happening, not like sit-coms or reality shows.

  16. Sam says:

    was a great show, well acted, well written and intriguing to watch

  17. Renée Fernandes says:

    So sad to see this show canceled. We enjoyed watching it as we like period dramas. All the actors fit their roles very well.

  18. Steven Sviat says:

    Bastard Executioner was greatly intriguing. Problem for me (and perhaps many viewers) was that recording on Direct TV DVR was all over the place. Some episodes truncated` missing 20 minutes, then cut short on other episodes. This left big gaps in the storyline and in frustration, I deleted recordings and was willing to wait for re-airing or the DVD release to get the entire story!
    Bring it back! I live for period drama!

  19. Vernon Webb says:

    Too bad it was a great series a nice change from the mundane reality tv episodes

  20. Anna says:

    Quite disappointed that those of us who loved and watched the show are now left hanging because other people don’t know a good show when they see it. I hate when things just stop with no ending our closure!!! This is a day and time when good shows are smothered by every idiotic reality show one can think of or the same zombie apocalypse b.s. that’s been said and done. I personally prefer period pieces, maybe I’m biased, but either way this sucks. How can shows like this even have a chance with people’s minds warped with the other garbage on tv? I think there should always be an ending,even if it’s one episode, end it for us that know a love a good show when they see it.

  21. Deborah Hall says:

    I’m sorry hear that the show “Bastard Executioner ” was canceled. I waited all year for season 2 to come about. I love that show and would love to see its return. I’m dying to know what happens next after season 1!! So it’s a bummer that it’s canceled. It broke my heart to know that.

  22. Jason b Woodson says:

    Wish I could have had a chance to maybe read what you had in mind on the Bastard Executioner series.
    Enjoyed all your work!

  23. Faithful watcher says:

    I am Soooo disappointed. I loved that show.

  24. Rebecca Lammon says:

    Ditto for Kathy’s words. I am only 32, but I loved every piece of this. The lore, the unflinching truth about the tortures that were part of this time, and especially the love story between Love and Wilkins. Now we will never know more about Annora, what happened to the soldier that got away, whether Wilkins and Love have a baby, whether Love saves the Shire, or how the rebellion is settled. It didn’t leave at a horrible part, but I was certainly hoping for more. So so sorry to see it die.

  25. Kathy Wilson says:

    K. Sutter….I absolutely LOVED BASTARD EXECUTIONER…I am 67 years old and love the old time hard-core realism of what life WAS LIKE back then…I am really sad…it was time for Season 2 to be set up for my DVR and then I looked up B.E. and now see it was canceled….a really great production cut off at it’s toenails….please come back with it….loved Katey Segal…and ALL the other actors!!! I am very, very sad!!!! : (

  26. Jonette Knight says:

    Jeeze here I am waiting for Season 2.

  27. Sr says:

    I just learned there wouldn’t be a 2nd season and was so disappointed. I admit I was taken aback by the violence at first but it’s really no more violent than shows like Walking Dead. I really liked this show and was looking forward to more seasons.

  28. Jc says:

    Nielson ratings are complet hogeash and utterly useless. This show was fantastic and people loved it. When are the studios and Hollywood gonna figure out Nielson has not been an effective tool for measuring REAL viewer interest in a least the last 10-15 years.

  29. Paul says:

    Shit that sucks like someone taking a good book away and you started reading it

    • Let me guess. Too violent? Or “Too anti-church?” It was a great series and we enjoyed it. It’s sad the real history of the world is so under-appreciated by the Pokemon and Kardashian generation.

      • corey says:

        He was saying it was a good show. He compares it to reading a good book and somebody taking it away before you got finished reading it.
        Smdh

  30. meagan says:

    I really dislike it when there is a good series that is interesting to watch and it gets canceled. Seems to happen to the more intellectual programs instead of the crap of reality tv.

  31. meagan says:

    So I still want to know what happens.

  32. Angelia F Micke says:

    I was just heartbroken…was so excited for the next season to start…just found out it is never going too…Big Fat Bummer

  33. Tin says:

    That is really disappointing it is a very well written story. I hate when the good ones slip trough your fingers they should have hung in there and advertised more. I only just caught on to it through hulu

  34. Anna Pena seidl says:

    Sad, this series was great!! I am quite upset that it was cancelled, it just left me hanging not knowing what happened next, everything about this series was great and realistic loved it .

  35. Beth says:

    WHAT?! Loved this show! Huge fan of Sutter’s style. First we lose Jax and now Wikin. Not happy.

  36. Nason says:

    So sad to discover this. I guess it went the way of Firefly or Deadwood. It’s almost like some people forget that cinematography is a form of art. Loved this show. Hopefully we can see a movie or a season two after a hiatus.

  37. Mel says:

    So disappointed the show was canceled! It was great! I binged watched it and by the end of the season I felt attached to the characters and wanted to see what was in store for them! I’m so sad!

  38. Just curious…What would it cost per season to bring it back (assuming everyone is available)?…Really enjoyed the characters and dialogue.

  39. Tracey says:

    Have you tried other networks? I fell in love with the show and I see others have as well.

  40. me6661973 says:

    I never knew this show shame thanks hulu I watch it wish season 2 come out in change of heart. Damn Kurt great writer.

  41. Stephen says:

    This is just stupid…this is a GREAT project…I loved every episode …and was waiting anxiously for it’s return….so saaaaad….

  42. Carol Hamilton says:

    I really loved the show! Very sad to find out that it won’t be continuing. I was looking forward to season two.

  43. Debbie Korutz says:

    I am so very, very disappointed to find out that one of my favorite show from last seas will not be returning. I adored “The Bastard” and all of the actors on the show.

  44. Randy Connor says:

    Sorry to hear the show ended. I looked forward to every episode.

  45. ange says:

    This show was a must in my home!!! It brought us all running to the set to see what happens next. I am very sad to see it won’t be back on, but the damn Kardashians are still running full force.

  46. Rebecca Perez says:

    Just saw this…so incredibly disappointed, thought this was a fabulous show

    • Elissa says:

      I wish Kurt Sutter would read the 550 plus comments posted to this article. The show was cancelled in November and people are still talking about it!
      I think cancelling was a mistake. The cast amazing. The story needs to continue!

  47. rugby843 says:

    My sister and I loved the show, characters and story very good. So disappointed.

  48. Q says:

    I loved the show & am sorry it wasn’t accepted.

  49. Jack Dolan says:

    I was wondering what happened. I was looking for info on when it would return and found out it had been cancelled. I’m very sad. It was a GREAT show. I haven’t been able to find out if the Musketeers or the Last Kingdom are returning either.

  50. Llana Dyess says:

    I loved this show! So wish it hadn’t been cancelled!

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