Penny Dreadful had been one of Showtime's signature series since it first premiered three seasons ago. Fans particularly loved Eva Green's performance, and no one was expecting the series to go anywhere, until it did. In a shocking move, the series opted to cutaway and end the show during the Season 3 finale, and now Showtime has come out to explain that fans might have been shocked, but the network certainly wasn't. In fact, Showtime president Gary Levine is now saying that Penny Dreadful was always planned to end the way it did.
We could have announced it [was the final season] before the final season, and we decided not to... In [John Logan's] mind it was always three and out. From early on, we were trying to keep it open for possibility of more, but it became clear that trying to continue the show past the life of Vanessa Ives would be a lesser-ment. And John didn't really want to continue beyond that character.
A lot of networks have started announcing final seasons early, in order to give fans closer and to lose some of the edge that's related to cancellation announcements, but that's only become more common of late. I actually think it did serve as a huge shock, as well as a talking point that Showtime didn't let us in on the secret that Penny Dreadful was actually ending. It made the events in the finale that much more unexpected and that much harder to sit through.
Minor spoilers for the finale are in this paragraph. In the Season 3 and series finale, Penny Dreadful Vanessa ended up sacrificing her own life for the good of the world at large. Showtime also says that even if the drama could have figured out a way to move forward without Eva Green's Vanessa, the network didn't really want to move forward without showrunner John Logan on board. Losing a big character is a blow, but losing the creator on top of that might have been a blow that the series really could not have survived and been even close to the same series. Levine also touched on this at the TCA press tour (via TV Line).
The death of Vanessa Ives was plotted, and in John's mind he slowly came around to the idea that for him there wasn't [a show beyond that]. We thought the series would lose its authenticity without them.
Ultimately Penny Dreadful and Showtime came to the conclusion that a fourth season of the drama wasn't in anyone's best interests. It also meant that fans got one heck of a Season 3 finale, one that we should be talking about for some time to come.
There might not be any new episodes of Penny Dreadful coming, but TV has plenty of stuff hitting the schedule this fall. Check 'em out with our TV premiere schedule.