HBO Just Cancelled A TV Series After Its First Season Was Panned By Critics

HBO finally premiered its television adaptation of The Time Traveler’s Wife back in May, nearly four years after it was initially announced in 2018 with former Doctor Who boss Steven Moffat at the helm. Despite adapting a popular novel that already inspired a successful film, the six-episode first season was panned by critics, and now the network has officially confirmed that there won’t be a second season. 

The series (which you can find streaming with an HBO Max subscription) brought Rose Leslie back to HBO after appearing in Game of Thrones as Ygritte, while Theo James returned to TV for the project after leaving Sanditon following just one season as leading man. Both actors were mentioned in HBO’s statement (via EW) about the cancellation: 

Though HBO will not be moving forward with a second season of The Time Traveler's Wife, it was our privilege to partner with master storytellers Steven Moffat and David Nutter. We are so grateful for their passion, hard work and care for adapting this beloved book. We also thank Theo and Rose, and the rest of our brilliant cast for their heartfelt performances, which completely captivated audiences.

HBO certainly did bring in a team behind the scenes known for work on major television hits, with David Nutter winning an Emmy back in 2015 for directing an episode of Game of Thrones. He directed all six episodes of The Time Traveler’s Wife

As for Steven Moffat, the developer/executive producer shared when the show was first announced that he was a longtime fan of Audrey Niffenegger’s novel, to the point that he wrote an infamous episode of Doctor Who as a response to it. Moffat is credited with writing all six episodes of what is now the first and only season. 

Despite what seemed like a recipe for success with Moffat, Nutter, Rose Leslie, and Theo James, the show was not a hit with critics right off the bat, with several suggesting that the premise of an older man interacting with his wife as a child should not have been made for television in 2022. 

Steven Moffat addressed the accusations that The Time Traveler’s Wife was about grooming, citing that James’ Henry presented himself as just a friend to Leslie’s Clare when the characters met and she was still a child. For some critics, however, the show delivering jokes about grooming to acknowledge the age difference didn’t make the situation any more palatable. 

Fans will now never know if and how Moffat might have planned to make some changes to the series in light of critiques in a second season. He came to The Time Traveler’s Wife with a string of hits to his name as the second showrunner of the Doctor Who revival (which is returning to the guidance of the revival’s first showrunner) and co-creator of Sherlock. That said, his run on Doctor Who was divisive among some fans. 

In addition to Moffat's “The Girl in the Fireplace” episode for the Tenth Doctor in Season 2 as the response to The Time Traveler's Wife, the Eleventh Doctor in Season 5 (which was Moffat’s first as showrunner) actually met his first companion as a young girl before bringing her on board his time machine as an adult. 

If you count yourself as one of the fans of the one-season series, or just want to see what all the fuss was about before the cancellation, you can find it streaming on HBO Max. The 2009 film of the same name that starred Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana is available on the streaming platform as well. For some upcoming viewing options, be sure to check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).