Why Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop Was Canceled

Simply put: Cowboy Bebop wasn’t particularly well-received. The show’s Rotten Tomatoes score is 46% among critics and 55% among audiences. An RT score is never an ironclad metric for objective quality but it’s an excellent jumping off point when assessing whether a TV or movie is working or not. Meanwhile, here at Den of Geek, we found the show to be generally unsuccessful, with Joe Matar writing:

“It only makes sense to compare a remake to the original but, if I try to separate it anyway and assess this on its own, it would still be a tonally-confused, low-quality show. This is Netflix chaff. This is the kind of series they shovel into the web en masse that quickly and quietly disappears into the folds of their impossibly vast show catalog. Unfortunately, it’s Netflix chaff that happens to share its title with one of the best anime series ever made.”

Perhaps due to that lack of quality, Cowboy Bebop ultimately didn’t find a big enough audience to justify its continued existence and costs to Netflix. Details on Cowboy Bebop’s budget are not publicly available yet but the need for CGI spaceships, elaborate sets, and complicated fight choreography certainly makes it more expensive than a traditional Netflix drama. For comparison’s sake, Altered Carbon (another sci-fi Netflix series) reportedly cost $7 million per episode. Cowboy Bebop was likely around that number as well.

Though it may not always feel like it, we’re still relatively early on in the streaming era. When Netflix’s marketing team decides that one of its series is worth an aggressive pitch to the public, the failure of that series can seem particularly shocking. But despite an increase in budgets and ambitions, even the streaming world often operates just like the traditional TV world of yore. All the ambition and money in the world mean nothing if the public isn’t vibing with your show. 

If nothing else, it was all worth it for this blooper reel of Ein wandering into and ruining shots. 

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