HBO Cancels Perry Mason Following Max Rebranding, And Season 2’s Cliffhanger Is Now A Finale

 Matthew Rhys as Perry Mason
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Warning: spoilers for Perry Mason’s Season 2 finale are in play. If you haven’t watched the now cancelled series, you’ve been warned. 

Coming out of the finale to Perry Mason Season 2, fans probably expected the big cliffhanger introduced as a consequence of the case at hand to be a good jumping off point for Season 3. The 2023 TV schedule saw the series return after an extended absence, with a conclusion that put Matthew Rhys’ hero in a pretty unexpected spot. That makes the news of the series’ abrupt cancellation even more surprising to me, as a post-Max rebrand world has turned this cliffhanger into a series finale.

Matthew Rhys on Perry Mason
Matthew Rhys on Perry Mason

R.I.P. Perry Mason, 2020 - 2023

It didn’t take long for this brave new world to do Perry Mason dirty, as the April finale came before May’s big rebrand from HBO Max to the platform’s new name. As reported by Variety, HBO broke the news through the following statement:

We are tremendously grateful for the remarkable work of Matthew Rhys and the unrivaled cast and crew of Perry Mason for their reimagining of such a treasured and storied franchise. While we won’t be moving forward with another season of the series, we are excited to continue working with the brilliant creatives at Team Downey on future projects.

With only two seasons and 16 episodes to its name, Perry Mason’s old-school noir adventures focused on one case per season. Acting as a prequel of sorts to the legendary Raymond Burr incarnation that aired on CBS in various phases between 1957 and 1995, Matthew Rhys’ version saw Perry as an alcoholic private eye-turned-devoted defense attorney. That journey took some pretty wild turns, especially through Season 2, with a finale that saw our hero ending up behind bars himself.

Juliet Rylance, Matthew Rhys and Chris Chalk in Perry Mason Season 2
Juliet Rylance, Matthew Rhys and Chris Chalk in Perry Mason Season 2

How Season 2 Ended For Perry Mason

After fighting to acquit Rafael and Mateo Gallardo (Fabrizio Guido and Peter Mendoza), Perry Mason’s namesake is forced to make a deal. With one of the brothers going to jail for the murder of Brooks McCutcheon (Tommy Dewey), Perry himself ends up in jail as well.

As the punishment for withholding the murder weapon that made for a shocking Perry Mason Season 2 reveal, Matthew Rhys’s heroic protagonist was sent to jail for four months... which is exactly where you don’t want to end a series on HBO, or any network for that matter.

The fairly young series, which counted MCU vet Robert Downey Jr. as one of its executive producers and driving forces, set itself up for the perfect continuation in Season 3. But now that Perry Mason has been cut down in its prime, that day does not seem to be coming. It’s a cancellation that feels as abrupt and disappointing as when HBO cancelled Westworld, despite creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy claiming they had one more season to properly finish the story.

Much like that previous axing, HBO’s statement was a something that read as a bittersweet parting that left the network excited for the future. Yet fans of successful series that are part of that platform’s history are probably feeling more bitter than sweet at this point. There was a lot of promise for where Perry Mason could have gone in future installments, but unless another network somehow resurrects the series post-cancellation, Perry will forever be sitting in his jail cell, perpetually waiting for freedom.

Should you want to see what Perry Mason fans are mourning, the entire series is streaming for those with a Max subscription. I’d suggest you binge it all sooner rather than later, as there’s no telling when or if the platform will remove this title, as it has with previously cancelled HBO shows in the recent past.