‘Lucifer’: Inside the Twice-Canceled Show’s Hell of a Ride to a Heavenly End

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#SaveLucifer was the devil’s saving grace quite a few times


It’s not uncommon for a TV show to be resurrected in this day and age, whether because of fan outcry or impressive delayed-viewing stats or a streaming service looking to give an under-the-radar but critically acclaimed title a second chance. But the case of “Lucifer,” the show about Tom Ellis as the Devil come to Earth that just refused to move into the afterlife, is a special one that deserves some glorious reflection as it approaches the Friday launch of its true, for real, absolutely final season at Netflix.

After all, the devil managing to escape cancellation hell twice and find salvation on a platform that boosted its audience is an actual miracle in this TV landscape.

First of all, it still doesn’t feel real,” “Lucifer” co-showrunner Ildy Modrovich told TheWrap last month. “And I think part of it is because we haven’t released our final season, but mostly I just feel so thankful that we got to have this experience, and I will never forget it. And talking about fate versus free will, it all seemed to just happen the way it was supposed to happen, just everything from the very beginning, from the pilot to now. And getting saved and then getting a final season after we thought we were going to end with Season 5. All the twists and turns felt like, yeah, that’s the way it was supposed to play out.”

Ellis echoed Modrovich’s sentiments: It “doesn’t feel like it’s over yet,” the actor said, noting how destiny has guided “Lucifer’s” path.

“We’re used to sort of working with each other and then going on hiatus and sort of spending a few months apart and then coming back together. It feels like we’re probably going to all see each other again in a few weeks,” the “Lucifer” star told TheWrap.

“When that doesn’t happen, that part’s a bit sad. So I don’t know. Season 6 was like an opportunity for us to kind of take a bit of time to say goodbye to each other and slowly grieve our characters or grieve the loss of this kind of thing that’s been at the forefront of our lives for six years. But I don’t know. I think everyone feels like– no one is sitting there feeling there’s an injustice being done. Everyone’s going, ‘This feels right.’ So that’s that’s quite comforting.”

The drama, which Tom Kapinos developed from a DC Comics character created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg, has had a hellish journey since its debut on Fox on Jan. 25, 2016. That first episode of “Lucifer” drew a 2.4 rating in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic and 7.16 million total viewers, according to Live + Same Day Nielsen data.

The cast of “Lucifer” (Netflix)

“Lucifer” aired its first three seasons on Fox — garnering a Season 2 renewal, a second-season back order and an early Season 3 pickup all within nine months — before being canceled by that network in May 2018. At the time of its cancellation, the show was averaging a 1.1 rating, according to Nielsen’s delayed viewing data. The finale episode, which aired just weeks after its cancellation, settled for a 0.5 rating and 2.4 million total viewers, according to Live + Same Day data. While all ratings have progressively declined across broadcast television for years, the third season’s dropoff was big enough for Fox to decide to pull the plug before the Season 3 had finished airing.

But the cancellation sparked a very intense #SaveLucifer social media campaign led by Lucifans (as they call themselves), who were loyal to the show and the romance between Ellis’ Lucifer Morningstar, who abandons his post as the ruler of Hell to pursue life in Los Angeles, and LAPD Detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German), a.k.a. “Deckerstar.” After just one month, Netflix took note of the Jerry Bruckheimer Television and Warner Bros TV.-produced show’s popularity and struck a deal with the studio to give the devil a second chance, ordering a fourth season of “Lucifer.”

One month after that 10-episode installment launched in May 2019, the streaming service renewed “Lucifer” for a final 10-episode season, marking the show’s second cancellation — but at least this one was going to be a planned ending.

Lucifer Season 6
Lauren German and Tom Ellis in “Lucifer” (Netflix)

Well, once again, Lucifans wouldn’t hear of it, and after immense outcry and fan campaigning that rivaled the effort put into saving the show when it was initially canceled at Fox, Netflix decided in July 2019 to add six more episodes to Season 5. Three months later, Netflix split Season 5 in half, with a plan to launch the first eight episodes as Season 5A and then hold the remaining final eight episodes for an absolutely final Season 5B.

Again, “Lucifer” fans continued their Season 6 campaigning ahead of the debut for Season 5A in August 2020. Turns out, #SaveLucifer had enough holy power behind it to work one last time, as Netflix announced on June 23, the day after revealing Season 5A’s 2020 debut date, that would commission a sixth and “final, final” 10-episode season that would follow the release of Season 5B.

That meant Modrovich and her “Lucifer” co-showrunner Joe Henderson, who at that time were just about to film the Season 5B finale and intended series finale, had to begin crafting a way to turn that ending into a 10-episode final season. According to the team, the ending hasn’t changed, and what you’ll see when Season 6 launches on Friday is what they had planned, but they’ll fill out the season with bonus plots that they previously hadn’t gotten to do.

Inbar Lavi and Lesley-Ann Brandt in “Lucifer” (Netflix)

Armed with the knowledge they weren’t at the end just yet when the fifth season arrived, Lucifans welcomed the show’s return — in big numbers too. “Lucifer” topped Nielsen’s streaming video on demand rankings with the launch of Season 5A in August 2020, racking up 1.6 billion minutes of viewing in the U.S. from Aug. 17-23, and coming in No. 1 again this past May with the debut of Season 5B, which saw the show tally 1.3 billion minutes of viewing the week of May 24.

But now, the time is drawing nigh to say goodbye, once and for all, with Friday’s premiere of Season 6, the 10 final episodes of “Lucifer” — an event that is sure to match, or even outperform, the streaming audience for both halves of Season 5.

So how does the team behind the awesome force that is “Lucifer” feel about the fact this is, again, for real, the actual end? Mostly, they’re thinking about you.

“Just realizing, wow, what a run it was,” German told TheWrap. “And we’ve been talking a lot about the fans today, and just an appreciation for the fans and how they came in and saved us. And really, it’s the only reason we’re here. And I don’t know, it’s been nice talking about this season because it just reminds you that you get to work and you have hard days, but on a day like this, you just remember the good times. So it’s great.”

D.B. Woodside and Kevin Alejandro in “Lucifer” (Netflix)

The final season of “Lucifer” sees Ellis’ once-devil about to become God and promises a “bittersweet goodbye” to the entire cast of characters, according to Netflix. Seriously, the streamer even added “Bring tissues” to the description.

Henderson said he’s “just dying for everyone to watch Season 6 because it is our love letter, and it is our goodbye to the show.”

However, “Lucifer” wouldn’t be “Lucifer” if there wasn’t the tiniest hope that one day there could be more, right? And that’s exactly the note Henderson left us on.

“We love the show. We love the characters. We love the world. We would love to come back. So tell Netflix,” he said. “But, for now, this is our goodbye. And, as you’ve seen, it’s an ending.”

The sixth and final season of “Lucifer” launches Friday on Netflix.


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