Why Legacies Was Canceled (Where The Vampire Diaries Series Went Wrong)
After months of speculation, it’s officially been confirmed that Legacies is being canceled after season 4. CW’s decision to cancel Vampire Diaries spinoff Legacies wasn’t entirely a surprise to the faithful audience who have watched the show since season 1. What is more surprising is that Legacies was the last show on the bubble to get the ax by the CW.
Legacies, which first premiered in 2018, was conceived as a spinoff of The Originals, which itself was a spinoff of The Vampire Diaries. It followed Hope Mikaelson (Danielle Rose Russell), the daughter of Klaus Mikaelson (Joseph Morgan), and her adventures at the Salvatore School. As the title of the show indicates, it was all meant to revolve around the legacy Hope has to live up to as the daughter of Klaus Mikaelson after his death and the world’s only Tribrid.
But despite a smart premise, Legacies never quite lived up to the standards set by its predecessors. With the allowance that the COVID-19 pandemic made the writing and production of every show a lot harder and more inconsistent, Legacies floundered in the past few seasons, leading to cast members like Kaylee Bryant (Josie) exiting the show and the CW pulling the plug. Here’s why Legacies was canceled and what went wrong.
Legacies Never Seemed To Know What It Wanted To Be
Legacies seemed to understand that Hope was its central character, but beyond that, it didn’t seem sure of much else. Legacies season 1 was a much campier tone clearly aimed at a younger demographic than the previous two Vampire Diaries universe shows. The monster-of-the-week setup found Legacies‘ Salvatore School students battling a new monster each episode, monsters that were often downright cheesy at times. Legacies never seemed to take itself seriously, but as the seasons progressed, the tongue-in-cheek awareness disappeared and the show became utterly self-serious. The tone of the show varied wildly from season to season, sometimes even episode to episode. The writers never seemed to be comfortable in Legacies‘ initial space of being a strongly campy YA monster show and so it never had a strong identity.
The Storylines Just Weren’t That Compelling (& Got Repetitive)
What’s more, as it tried to figure out what kind of tone it wanted to strike, Legacies seemed to forget that the entire engine of the show was supposed to be the legacy laid on Hope. But Legacies made the mistake of framing her story in terms of the external threats she faced rather than the internal pressures Hope felt living up to the Mikaelson family name. The conceit Legacies used to showcase Hope as the school’s protector was Malivore, the fathomless pit from which the monsters were spewed that was also somehow a living golem, and only Hope becoming the Tribrid could stop it. The problem was that any storyline involving Malivore or the Malivore Pit was, quite frankly, boring. Much like the tone of the show, the writers never seemed to have a complete grasp on what Malivore was, exactly–now it’s a black pit that eats monsters; now it’s a golem; wait, now it’s somehow Landon’s father–and the murkiness of the concept didn’t help endear it to viewers. Malivore only seemed to exist as a plot device when needed, and as an excuse to have a ready supply of new monsters. It just wasn’t terribly compelling, and the Malivore storyline, especially involving Landon, should have been wrapped up after the first season. Unfortunately, as it was the conceit around which the entire show had been built, it continued for far too long.
That wasn’t the only problem with Legacies‘ narratives, however. Legacies tended to recycle the same stories and character arcs over and over again. Landon (Aria Shahghasemi) and Hope’s on-again, off-again relationship always found them coming together and then breaking up again for the same exact reason every time. The same goes for Lizzie (Jenny Boyd) and MG’s (Quincy Fouse) will they/won’t they dance; they either liked each other at different times or both liked each other at the same time but refused to act on it. Likewise, Lizzie and Josie’s codependent relationship in Legacies wore thin. Trapped in repeated narrative cycles, the characters of Legacies never really seemed to grow in any meaningful way or learn from their experiences, which made for an intensely frustrating viewing experience.
Legacies Didn’t Develop Its Supporting Characters Until Too Late
In the beginning, there were characters that got a lot of attention, namely, Hope and Landon. A few other characters, such as MG, Josie, and Lizzie, also got a fair amount of focus. But other recurring characters, such as Jed (Ben Levin) and Wade (Elijah B. Moore), were little more than two-dimensional character tropes until Legacies season 4 (and Wade still is). Other characters throughout the seasons, like Rafael (Peyton Alex Smith) or Ethan (Leo Howard), got plenty of focus, but their stories were never particularly interesting and the writers never seemed to know what to do with them or how to make them vital to the show.
In Legacies‘ defense, it did do a better job of developing some of these characters, but it wasn’t until well into Legacies season 3 and, really, Legacies season 4, that supporting characters got time. By that time it was too late. There were too many underdeveloped, stagnant characters whose arcs were going nowhere and the show clearly had no idea how to get audiences to care about them. Legacies created a catch-22 for itself by focusing so much on Hope and Landon’s relationship in the first few seasons that it failed to properly develop other characters. When those characters’ arcs weren’t really working, the show would return its focus back to Hope and Landon’s relationship drama, leaving audiences even less interested in those neglected characters than before. There were characters who certainly might have been complex and interesting had they been properly developed, as Jed’s character development in Legacies season 4 showed, but, sadly, they were never given the chance.
Legacies Forgot It Was Part Of The TVD Universe For Too Long
It’s understandable that Legacies initially wanted to set itself apart from its darker, moodier predecessors. But it went too far in its attempt to be something different, separating itself not just in tone, but also in its stories. Events and characters from The Vampire Diaries and The Originals were mentioned so infrequently that it got weird after a certain point. For example, Josie and Lizzie’s mom, Caroline (Candice King), never once appearing in Legacies no matter what terrible ordeals they were going through was so unrealistic and odd that it just became inexcusable by season 2. Not only did Legacies tie itself into knots to avoid overt ties to the previous two shows, but–a worse offense to longtime audiences–it also often ignored the established lore of the Vampire Diaries universe. Set rules about magic and how supernatural creatures worked were often ignored or retconned, upending the years of careful worldbuilding of the previous two shows.
By Legacies season 4, the writers seemed to realize that the show was badly floundering and had gotten too far away from the other series. The show suddenly seemed to remember that it existed in the Vampire Diaries universe and did an abrupt 180-degree turn. Season 4 was suddenly jam-packed with cameos and guest appearances by a number of characters from Vampire Diaries and The Originals. Likewise, core components of the previous two shows, such as a vampire’s ability to switch off their humanity, were reintegrated back into Legacies as though they had always been part of the series’ lore. While it made for better viewing and a show that finally felt like it was part of the same cohesive universe, once again, it was a course correction that came too late. Legacies season 4 has found the show hemorrhaging viewers and its ratings dropping. With the new ownership Warner Bros. Discovery looking to cut any shows that aren’t generating revenue, Legacies landed on the canceled list. With Legacies‘ cancellation, the Vampire Diaries universe comes to a close after 13 beloved years. Unfortunately, the universe’s final show just never lived up to its potential.