Based on The Mortal Instruments YA book series by Cassandra Clare, the television series Shadowhunters ran for three seasons on Freeform before getting a cancelation that blindsided everybody. Although it wasn’t exactly beloved by critics who gave it a mixed reception, the series had a devoted fan base made of both book and non-book fans alike.
On her eighteenth birthday, Clary Fray discovers that she was born from a long line of half-human, half-angel warriors called the Nephilim who are designed to hunt demons and other creatures of the shadows. Upon her discovery, she meets the Lightwood siblings, Alec and Isabelle, and their adoptive brother Jace, who becomes her primary love interest. Not long after, her mother is kidnapped by Valentine Morgenstern, an extremist, and Clary must team up with the Lightwoods and the other Shadowhunters in order to save her.
Moral Instruments adaptations just can’t seem to catch a break. Before the premiere of Shadowhunters in 2016, Clare’s novels were developed into a film titled City of Bones: The Mortal Instruments starring Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower. The film was both a critical and box office failure. Despite being a planned trilogy, all moves to continue the franchise were halted when it barely made back its budget of $60 million. Now, the same has happened with Shadowhunters, and once again, a lack of finances seems to be the reason.
Netflix is the real culprit though. Constantin Films produced the series, which required a hefty dollar sign for its glossy look and special effects, with assistance from a deal made with Netflix who helped pick up the tab. When the streaming platform, canceled the deal, Constantin Films couldn’t afford to keep the series going. It went to Freeform in hopes of finding a secondary producer, but the network couldn’t afford it.
Shadowhunters was canceled in June 2018 but released a two-part series finale to wrap up loose ends, giving everyone a somewhat satisfying conclusion. Malec got married and went to Idris, Clary lost her memory but was reunited with Jace in the final moments of the series, and Isabelle became head of the New York Insitute and finally got together with Simon who became a Clave Deputy. Everyone got their happy ending, and the series officially ended on May 6, 2019.
Freeform addressed the cancelation in a statement: “We are very proud of Shadowhunters, a series that broke new ground in the genre world and became a fan favorite. However, along with our partners at Constantin, we reached the very difficult decision not to renew the show for a fourth season. But as big supporters and fans ourselves, Freeform insisted on and championed the filming of a special two-part finale that would give devoted fans a proper ending. The 12 episodes will air in spring 2019. We want to thank our talented creators, producers, cast and crew along with our colleagues at Constantin for their hard work and dedication and to Cassie Clare for her incredible book series. We look forward to the final chapter of this breakthrough drama.”
Hope was not all lost though. Fans of the series refused to accept defeat and not moments after the news of the cancelation hit the internet, the hashtag “SaveShadowhunters” went up on Twitter. It spread across the globe, followed by petitions and letters written to networks pleading for someone to pick it up. It was dubbed the Save Shadowhunters Campian, and its grand finale saw two billboards put up in Time Square and a “Save Shadowhunters” banner attached to an airplane that flew over Netflix HQ.
As of right now, the campaign is still going on and Shadowhunters is no closer to getting a new home network than it was a year ago, but fans remain hopeful.