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Will Netflix Pick Up The Last Man on Earth Season 5?

Posted by Arch on February 5, 2019

In early 2015, the Fox network began broadcasting episodes of “The Last Man on Earth,” a quirky comedy conceived by and starring Will Forte that initially focused on Forte’s character, Phil “Tandy” Miller, the apparent last survivor of a global apocalypse. The series followed the adventures of Phil and the other survivors that he began encountering, and ran for four seasons before being canceled by Fox in May of 2018.

The announcement of the show’s cancellation dismayed hardcore fans of the series, although it did not come as a surprise to Hollywood insiders. While the series began its run with a strong viewership (averaging 6.07 million viewers during the first season), the show struggled to build an audience and by the third season, was averaging just 3.29 million viewers per episode. By the fourth season, viewership dropped to 1.97 million viewers, scraping the very bottom of the network viewership rankings.

Despite the low viewership, the show had some ardent fans. Smartly written and brilliantly acted by a high-powered cast, the running jokes, call-backs to previous episodes, and extremely original plotlines all contributed to an almost cult following among TV viewers. There were only 2 million of them, but they were and are committed to the show.

Story and the Point of No Return

The story begins with Phil “Tandy” Miller (Forte), traveling around a desolate and apparently empty United States, searching for other survivors of a global apocalypse. In a surprisingly well-conceived plan, Phil leaves huge signs all over the country reading “Alive in Tucson” (his home town) before returning there to await the arrival of others. Unfortunately the others do not come, and Phil grows more and more unstable and self-indulgent. He moves into a mansion and uses an adjacent mansion’s swimming pool as an open-air toilet, appropriates works of art from local museums to hang around his ramshackle palace, and in general indulges in the kinds of pointless hedonism that a person completely on their own has nothing better than to do.

As Phil’s ability to entertain himself begins to fail, he becomes depressed and falls into despair. He decides to commit suicide, but just as he is about to do so, he spots a column of smoke in the distance, and discovers that another survivor (Carol Pilbasian, played by Kristen Schaal) has seen one of his signs and traveled to Tucson to find him. Despite being completely incompatible, the pair decide to repopulate the Earth, though the moralistic Carol insists that Phil marry her so that their children will be “legitimate”.

Over the course of the next three seasons, the cast steadily expands (and the title of the show becomes increasingly inaccurate) as the group finds more and more survivors and moves around the country for various plot-driven reasons. They marry and divorce, have children, and suffer losses and setbacks. In season 4’s finale, which unintentionally also became the series finale after the sudden cancellation of the program, the group encounters another group of apparently hostile survivors on a beach in Mexico.

Although ratings were low, it seems unlikely that the creators of the show intended for it to end like that. In fact, Will Forte indicated that he had a fairly dark resolution to the series in mind. In a podcast interview in July of 2018, Forte revealed that the mysterious second group of survivors were actually people who had learned of the deadly virus that wiped out humanity and who hid underground waiting for the infection to pass. Realizing that the virus would eventually go dormant, the underground group waited until their calculations indicated it was safe to come out, and then promptly encountered the primary cast. Mutually suspicious at first, over time the two groups would become friends and intermingle. Unfortunately, the original survivor group, while immune to the virus (and thus not dead), were carriers, and all the new people would quickly become infected and die. This was the plan for the 5th season arc, at least according to Forte.

Unfortunately, Fox did not give Forte the chance to realize this dark series ending, cancelling the show just days after the cliffhanger ending of season 4. Networks have a quick trigger finger when it comes to cancellations these days; there are plenty of fresh ideas available in the world and a show which isn’t gaining an audience after its initial run is unlikely to continue being funded. From that perspective, it is surprising that “Last Man on Earth” lasted as long as it did.

How Does Netflix Fit In?

However, the end of a show on one network no longer has to mean the end of the show overall. Over the past few years, there have been plenty of TV shows that were saved by streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon. “Longmire” and “The Killing” both had very dedicated fan bases and both were saved by Netflix after they were canceled by their original networks. Even Yahoo! Screen got in on the action when it saved Dan Harmon’s “Community” by offering a 13-episode deal for a final season that would give the characters and the story closure.

So can ”The Last Man on Earth” receive the same streaming service treatment? Netflix is the Moby Dick of streaming services, so it would make sense for the company to pick up the show given that they have plenty of resources to handle the production costs. However, Netflix has no shortage of its own shows with big budgets and a whole bunch of movies in production already. What’s more, there are some rumors that the show’s production costs were not as low as proponents of a Netflix pickup believe them to be.

In 2018 it was announced that Hulu was in negotiations to pick up “The Last Man on Earth”, albeit only for a short final season. Alas, this rumor proved unfounded and the show remains an orphan. It is worth noting that not all shows picked up by streaming services went on to have a successful continuation. For example, Yahoo’s attempt at reviving “Community” was received with plenty of criticism due to major cast and script changes.

Final Word

At this juncture it seems improbable that Netflix will be ordering the fifth season of “The Last Man on Earth.” If it is any consolation to the die-hard fans who have been hoping so hard for such a resurrection, it should be remembered that the track record of other ‘saved’ TV shows is not uniformly positive. A reborn “The Last Man on Earth” would undoubtedly have seen cast and storyline changes, and this is a show that was hugely invested in story and character. The end of the show after season 4, however unsatisfactory, may be the best outcome that could have been hoped for.

29 thoughts on “Will Netflix Pick Up The Last Man on Earth Season 5?”

Amanda says:
Please make season 5! (I am in Australia) Loved the quirky dark humour of this series, and it would be like ripping out the final chapter of a book and asking someone if they liked it……
Someone PLEASE make season 5 with the present crew! It deserves a final season to finnish the story properly.
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Linda says:
Please bring it back for another season. Love the show
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Emily Wooton says:
UGH! I love this show and it’s characters. Hugely entertaining, hugely digestable episodes with a ton of quirks and long-running jokes. PLEASE Someone pick it up. Fans deserve at least one last season!
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Oliver Rosewell says:
I dont even want another season I just want Closure Closure Closure Closure Closure so even 1 40 min episode would be great. So stop being turds and bring this back.
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Paul says:
Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, bring this show back for season 5. We are dedicated fans of the best original adventure comedy on network TV. Will Forte, you are a great creator of this show. What can we do to bring the gang back?
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Leila says:
Men I loved that show. Had to search when would season 5 finally begin and found this. What a bummer.
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Karrie says:
Please pick up this show. It’s so cute. I love everything about it. I’ve shown to others and they love it too and have been binge watching.
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sue says:
Please pick up the last man on earth Netflix!
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Brenda says:
I loved this show! I beinged watched all 4 seasons and was looking forward to a season 5. Then saw that it had been canceled. I hope that it gets picked up by Netflix or one of the other streaming services.
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Mellie G. says:
Been watching since the beginning. What a great cast. I would love to see a final season.
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Laughing in Louisiana says:
Binge watcher here. I would LOVE to see a season finale of this great piece of entertainment. However, if not cost effective, I agree that there should be a movie to tell the tale. If all that fails, well…farts!
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Mich says:
I hope they bring it back, my husband and I binge watched the show.
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Samantha says:
See that is just it. IN today’s world not a lot of people watch shows when they first air. We are all spoiled to watching them on our time. That makes it so hard for a network show to be successful in its time and leads to big networks like fox getting rid of and ending great shows prematurely.
I just started watching it when the show was airing its 4th season but I started from the beginning on hulu. When I finished the entire series I get online to search for clues to the next season because it was a majorly huge cliff hanger. And I was so disappointed to see that it had just been cancelled. Fox is a really irresponsible network. You see what happened to last man standing. I want this show back. (PS I cant even get Fox network station in where I live to watch shows when they air I have to watch them on hulu).
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Greg says:
Please pick it up! These characters are the most original and zaniest we’ve seen in a long time.
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Abbas says:
Crazy about this series and literally asking for a chance to bring it back again but, I don’t want it to continue if cast and story changes. Not at all
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Scott says:
Great show, BRING IT BACK NETFLIX!! They could also do a movie to end it properly.
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Justin says:
How the hell did Brooklyn 99 get picked up over this? This is the most thoughtful and comedic show I have seen since the office…
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ray says:
Fox really sucks! I hope someone will pick this show up! Best show in television!!!
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Andi Cruzatti says:
Heart broken !!!! Bring it back !
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Beto says:
Really the best shows I’ve see it please pick up Netflix!!
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AlexR says:
We watched back to back seasons of this amazing show last year on Amazon in the UK. We reached the end of Season 4, excited for the next season to then read it had been cancelled. We were soooooo disappointed. Assuming the show does does not suffer the pitfalls indicated in the above article, I would love to see it picked up by the likes of Amazon or Netflix and at least have some conclusion in a final season. I am currently avoiding any articles outlining how Season 5 might have ended, just in case it comes back to life! Fingers crossed.
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Alannah says:
I binge watched these seasons just to find out it’s cancelled. Real bummer! Hoping a network will pick it up just like Brooklyn nine nine was.
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CroatianGuy says:
I’m so disappointed 🙁
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Stephen J naus says:
The Last Man on Earth was a brilliant series. By far, better than any comedy on TV. To go without a proper last season is a huge mistake. HUGE MISTAKE! Picking up this show by either Hulu or Netflix is a win for either. PLEASE DO IT.
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Angel Rich says:
I’m devastated and heartbroken. We just binged 4 seasons to find out this news. This is one of the greatest shows ever created. Please pick it up Netflix.
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Nick says:
This is very disappointing. Please pick the show back up. It was nice to finally have a show that wasn’t like hundreds of other shows in the same genre. To leave this series on a cliffhanger like it did is just wrong! Also, Todd was getting his baby!!! Don’t do this to Todd!
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Mtho says:
Please, please, please I’m begging you guys bring it back. I’m yawning for a proper finale to this great story….*Crying*
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K.O. says:
Bring it back, I swear as a regular old common non-rich person who has great taste in tv…it would be s good idea. Because I’m incredibly pissed at Fox, not only do they have crap news but they’re very good at sticking there flacid penises in good shows. IT SHOULD HAVE JUST WENT TO SEASON 5. It ain’t like y’all don’t have money to spend! Or hey NETFLIX, you asses should buy it sense y’all had the bright idea to renew GD, Friends!!!!! Nobody asked for that!
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Melissa says:
This show is fantastic and not like all the others. I just binge watched all 4 seasons during the Christmas late nights when I was wrapping presents after everyone went to sleep. I need a season 5!
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Chris says:
Please bring Last man on earth back. My girl friend and I just got into the show when they cancelled it. We fell in love with the characters, goofy humor, and interesting storyline. Would love to see the last season or maybe a couple more. Just turned a couple of my friends onto it. They LOVED it
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