Joss Whedon Exits HBO's 'The Nevers'

Joss Whedon -Getty- H 2020
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Joss Whedon's TV return is not going as planned.

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator has departed The Nevers, the sci-fi drama ordered straight to series at HBO that was the prolific writer-director's return to TV following Fox's ill-fated Dollhouse.

"We have parted ways with Joss Whedon. We remain excited about the future of The Nevers and look forward to its premiere in the summer of 2021," HBO said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday.

Picked up straight to series in July 2018 following a bidding war with other outlets including Netflix, Whedon was poised to write, direct, exec produce and serve as showrunner on The Nevers. The series is described as an epic science-fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies and a mission that might change the world. Longtime Whedon collaborators Jane Espenson and Doug Petrie, who are also writing, and Bernie Caulfield also exec produce.

Casting on The Nevers has already been completed. The series is headed by Laura Donnelly (Outlander), who plays Amalia True, a "menace to Victorian" society and a reckless, impulsive and emotionally damaged hero who is the leader of the group known as the Orphans. The cast also features Olivia Williams, James Norton, Tom Riley, Ann Skelly, Ben Chaplin, Pip Torrens, Zackary Momoh, Amy Manson, Nick Frost, Rochelle Neil, Eleanor Tomlinson and Denis O'Hare.

"This year of unprecedented challenges has impacted my life and perspective in ways I could never have imagined, and while developing and producing The Nevers has been a joyful experience, I realize that the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic, is more than I can handle without the work beginning to suffer," Whedon said in a statement. "I am genuinely exhausted, and am stepping back to martial my energy towards my own life, which is also at the brink of exciting change. I am deeply proud of the work we have done; I’m grateful to all my extraordinary cast and collaborators, and to HBO for the opportunity to shape yet another strange world. The Nevers is a true labor of love, but after two plus years of labor, love is about all I have to offer. It will never fade."

When HBO ordered The Nevers in mid-2018, Whedon described the series as "maybe the most ambitious narrative" he's created. The Nevers marked Whedon's return to the small screen and the first show he has created since Fox's Dollhouse. His credits include Firefly, Buffy spinoff Angel and serving as an exec producer on ABC's Marvel drama Agents of SHIELD, which was showrun by his brother, Jed Whedon, and sister-in-law, Maurissa Tancharoen.

Whedon's decision to exit The Nevers comes as Justice League actor Ray Fisher has accused the Buffy alum of "abusive, unprofessional" behavior on the set of the DC Comics feature film. Producers Warner Bros. — a corporate sibling of HBO — is investigating Fisher's allegations.

Whedon's departure from The Nevers was first reported by Cinemablend.