His Dark Materials is a trilogy written by Philip Pullman that was written between 1995 and 2000. It is one of the most popular fantasy books of all time so it is no surprise it has been adapted to the big and small screen. The first attempt was a movie adaptation of the first book called The Golden Compass in 2007. This film was received very poorly by the audience and the critics, so a sequel was never filmed. Then, in 2019 a very book-loyal TV series was made by BBC and HBO. The first season came out in 2019 and the second season premiered in 2020. Now, that the third season is coming at the end of 2022, will there be a season 4 of His Dark Materials, or is the TV series canceled?
There won’t be a season 4 of His Dark Materials. Season three will be the show’s last season. The third season was announced in December 2020, and it was stated it is the end of Lyra’s journey. The third season will be the adaptation of the last book in the trilogy The Amber Spyglass. So, technically the series was not canceled, it is just coming to an end.
It is obvious that His Dark Materials function much better as an adaptation in the form of a TV series because there is much more time to focus on the details from the book. When the TV series was announced it was said that each season will adapt one book, so the ending of the TV series was anticipated. So His Dark Materials isn’t getting a fourth season, to find out more about why this series is ending keep reading.
What is His Dark Materials about?
His Dark Materials TV series follows Lyra Belacqua and Will Parry as they discover parallel universes. The first season is focused on Lyra. Lyra lives in Oxford at Jordan College. Her world is rocked when her friend Roger goes missing. Lyra is the subject of a world-shaping prophecy, and she has this unexplained ability. Her special power is the ability to read a rare device that gives answers to any question, called the alethiometer.
She was raised as an orphan, but she finds out she is the daughter of Lord Asriel and the evil Mrs. Coulter. Lord Asriel is an explorer who is researching Dust, an invisible substance that is the manifestation of the original sin. On the other hand, Mrs. Coulter works for the Magisterium, the religious rulers that employ her to sever children from their daemons in an attempt to rid them of Dust.
Lyra and her daemon Pan with the help of an aeronaut, witches, and a talking armored polar bear find the research facility that is doing these terrible things to children. By the of the season, Lord Asriel kills Lyra’s friend Roger, and he manages to open a window to another world.
In season two, we learn more about a teenager who lives on Earth called, Will Perry. Now, he finds himself in Cittàgazze, in a whole reality with Lyra. Will and Lyra find out there are a lot of similarities between them, and that they both come from Oxford but just in different universes. Their journey takes them to Earth. There Will finds out that his missing father might be an answer to some of their questions.
The alethiometer leads Lyra to a scientist, Mary Malone that is researching Dark Matter, which is just another name for Dust. Lyra and Will have to go back to Cittàgazze because they have to find the Subtle Knife, named Æsahættr, which is the object of everyone’s desires because it can cut portals between worlds. Will becomes the knife bearer and now has the ability to make portals.
After, a lot of struggle, Will and Lyra are joined by witches who help them and protect them. In a final twist, we find out that Will’s father is alive, and that he is working with Lyra’s father Lord Asriel. In the final scenes of the season, we witness that the angels have pledged their support to Lord Asriel in the coming war against the Authority. Now, the stage is set for the Great War.
Why was His Dark Materials canceled?
Technically, His Dark Materials TV series wasn’t canceled, but it is ending after season three. HBO commissioned a three-season show that would be an adaptation of Pullman’s trilogy. So, it was the plan from the beginning not to extend the series into more than three seasons. Nevertheless, one of the executive producers on the show, Jane Tranter, candidly said in one interview that she would have liked to see this books play out in at least nine seasons so that everything from the books is adapted to the small screen.
She singled out one of the scenes in season two where Ruta Skadi meets the angels because it is cut short to maintain the pacing of the show. She pointed out that in the books that scene has amazing sequences with the characters and they just couldn’t do justice on the show. In this last season, we are sure to see many ambitious sequences, and creatures we have never seen before. And, just like in the book, this will be the climax of all the themes and philosophical ideas that have been developing throughout the story.
Maybe in the future, we will see a spin-off series that explore some other Pullman work that takes place in the same universe as the original trilogy. Also, the upside is that if this was the plan from the start to end things in season three, the writers are surely going to serve us with a satisfying conclusion to the whole series.