Why is Snowpiercer Season 4 not airing on TNT?

Snowpiercer Episode 3 - Courtesy of Justina Mintz / TNT
Snowpiercer Episode 3 - Courtesy of Justina Mintz / TNT /

Fans of TNT’s Snowpiercer were in for a rude shock this weekend. Without warning, the network announced it would not air the completed Season 4 of the sci-fi drama. The move was the latest in several cancellations of scripted programming for both TNT and TBS amid the Discovery-Time Warner merger.

The drama is based on the 2013  movie where an attempt to stop global warming backfires to create a new ice age. The survivors reside on a train crossing the globe where a war soon wages between the elites and the working-class passengers.

Premiering in 2020, the TNT adaptation stars Jennifer Connelly and has built a good audience, with the fourth season planned as the final one. In a statement to Deadline, a TNT spokesperson confirmed that the just-completed fourth season would not be airing.

"“We can confirm that TNT will not air season four of Snowpiercer. This was a difficult decision, but our admiration for the talented writers, actors and crew who brought Snowpiercer’s extraordinary post-apocalyptic world to life remains strong. We have been working collaboratively with the producers since last year to help the series find a new home where fans can continue to enjoy the compelling story and exceptional visual experience. We look forward to working with them on future projects.”"

The confirmation was followed by a statement from Tomorrow Studios CEO Marty Adelstein and president Becky Clements, where they hoped to find a new home for the final season.

"“We love Snowpiercer and believe Season 4 completes a story with incredible talent that will entertain viewers while exploring issues of climate change and class warfare. We are so passionate about this series that we have acquired the rights to control the franchise. We hope to find the perfect partner shortly and finish a great ride with the final season.”"

The previous three seasons of the series have also been among other shows removed from HBO Max. Thus, the only way to watch is on TNT’s website or On Demand services.

Why was Snowpiercer canceled?

It’s one thing to cancel a show after a season is done but refusing to air a season that had already wrapped production is quite rare. According to reports, the most likely explanation is that this is a tax write-off for Warner Brothers Discovery. The same formula led to the high-profile cancellation of the Batgirl movie and several HBO series such as Westworld, as well as a mass culling of shows on The CW such as Nancy Drew.

This has been accelerated by the merger of Discovery and Warner Brothers, as cost-cutting measures have led to both TBS and TNT ceasing original scripted content. The sitcom Chad had likewise completed filming its second season, only for TBS to choose not to air it. The series will now air on The Roku Channel.

In short, Snowpiercer is the victim of the corporate game being played by Warner Brothers Discovery, who find it cheaper to write off the completed season rather than airing it. There is a glimmer of hope in that the studio might find a way to shop a completed season to another network easier than a regular pickup.

That means there’s still a chance for fans to see the end of Snowpiercer’s journey. But for now, its ride on TNT has been derailed.

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Snowpiercer Season 1-3 airing on Sling TV.