And then there were none: Netflix has severed ties with Marvel TV by canceling Jessica Jones and The Punisher.
The cancellations follow the previous axing of Daredevil, Iron Fist and Luke Cage and team-up miniseries The Defenders.
The third season of Jessica Jones, which has finished production, will still air (a date hasn't been set yet), but that will be the swan song for the Marvel shows on Netflix, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. Creator and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg left the series after season three wrapped for an overall deal at Warner Bros. TV; a new showrunner hadn't been named in the wake of her departure.
"Marvel's The Punisher will not return for a third season on Netflix," the streamer said Monday in a statement. "Showrunner Steve Lightfoot, the terrific crew, and exceptional cast including star Jon Bernthal, delivered an acclaimed and compelling series for fans, and we are proud to showcase their work on Netflix for years to come.
"In addition, in reviewing our Marvel programming, we have decided that the upcoming third season will also be the final season for Marvel's Jessica Jones. We are grateful to showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, star Krysten Ritter and the entire cast and crew for three incredible seasons of this groundbreaking series, which was recognized by the Peabody Awards among many others. We are grateful to Marvel for five years of our fruitful partnership and thank the passionate fans who have followed these series from the beginning."
Netflix announced its partnership with Marvel to much fanfare in 2013, committing to four ongoing shows plus The Defenders. After Frank Castle (Bernthal) appeared in season two of Daredevil, The Punisher spun off into its own series.
The cuts started in October with the cancellation of Iron Fist, which had earned the least critical praise among the Marvel shows. Luke Cage followed a week after that, and Daredevil was canceled in late November, about six weeks after its third season debuted.
Sources told THR that Netflix didn't want to hold back the Jessica Jones cast from seeking other work when the company was confident the third season would be the last for the show.
The wave of cancellations comes as Marvel parent company Disney will launch its Netflix rival streaming service — Disney+ — in late 2019. The SVOD platform will feature some of Marvel's biggest box office stars (including Tom Hiddleston) reprising their roles in TV spinoffs, in addition to new scripted live-action Star Wars series and offshoots of other Disney-owned IP.
Despite the Netflix cancellations, Disney+ chairman Kevin Mayer told THR that it's a possibility the "high-quality shows" could be revived on the forthcoming platform.
For his part, The Punisher star Bernthal told THR that "there will be more Frank Castle one way or the other," in a reference perhaps to the show's future on Disney+ or seeing the decades-old beloved character best known as The Punisher live on in other forms.
Marvel TV head Jeph Loeb offered similar sentiments in a statement Monday after the cancellations of Jessica Jones and The Punisher.
"On behalf of everyone at Marvel Television, we couldn't be more proud or more grateful to our audience," he said. "Our network partner may have decided they no longer want to continue telling the tales of these great characters — but you know Marvel better than that. As Matthew Murdock's dad once said, 'The measure of a man is not how he gets knocked to the mat, it's how he gets back up.' To be continued."
As part of its planned foray into the streaming space, Disney has slowly started removing its top content — including Marvel box office smashes — from Netflix. The Marvel TV series were expected to remain running as long as Netflix remained interested in them, though that relationship became strained during negotiations over a Luke Cage renewal after scripts for a potential third season were all but done when the two sides were unable to come to a deal. Netflix is said to have wanted to reduce the standard episode count from 13 to 10 in a bid to tighten the creative. It's worth noting that nearly all of the Marvel dramas on Netflix have had creative or scheduling issues that resulted in a revolving door of showrunner changes on series including Daredevil, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones.
Netflix, meanwhile, has been looking for other properties to turn into lucrative franchises amid a larger push to own its content. (All the Marvel shows are owned by the comic book powerhouse and Netflix has to pay a licensing fee to Disney's ABC Studios.) The streamer's recent deals have included a massive pact for The Chronicles of Narnia, which it plans to turn into a film and TV universe, as well as a big bet on comic creator Mark Millar for multiple TV shows and movies (and comics). Netflix also signed an eight-figure deal for rights to author Roald Dahl's properties with a larger goal of creating multiple animated TV series based on works including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Marvel, meanwhile, recently set four animated shows — MODOK, Howard the Duck, Hit-Monkey and Tigra & Dazzler — at rival streamer Hulu, where its live-action series Runaways also resides. Disney will become the majority owner of Hulu once its absorption of 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets is complete.