Perry Mason Canceled By HBO After Cliffhanger Finale

HBO's Perry Mason has been cancelled, ending with a season 2 finale that sees the titular lawyer sentenced to two years in prison.

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

Perry Mason has been canceled after two seasons on HBO. The series served as a reimagining of the classic story by Erle Stanley Gardner and offered viewers a fresh take on the character’s early years. Created for the streamer by Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald, the series stars Matthew Rhys in the title role and premiered in June 2020.

“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,” HBO said in a statement via Deadline. “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.”

Set in 1932 Los Angeles during the Great Depression, the series focuses on the origin story of defense lawyer Perry Mason. As a down-and-out private investigator struggling with personal and professional challenges, Mason is haunted by his experiences as a World War I veteran and becomes entangled in a high-profile child kidnapping case with far-reaching implications.

Each episode delves into the underbelly of 1930s Los Angeles, highlighting issues such as corruption, racism, and religious tensions. As Perry Mason investigates the case, he uncovers a web of secrets, deceit, and a conspiracy that extends beyond the initial crime.

perry mason

The season two finale sees Perry Mason representing a pair of Mexican siblings charged with the murder of a distinguished oil heir. In the episode’s final moments, the famed defense attorney walks into prison to serve a four-month sentence for hiding the murder weapon in his office. He was willing to commit the crime to ensure his clients got a fair trial.

Perry Mason received critical acclaim for its atmospheric setting, strong performances, and complex storytelling. It also earned praise for its attention to detail in recreating the era by capturing the social and political climate of the time. Matthew Rhys was particularly lauded for his portrayal of a flawed and troubled detective turned lawyer.

Along with Rhys, Perry Mason features a talented cast, including Juliet Rylance as Della Street, Perry Mason’s loyal secretary; Chris Chalk as Paul Drake, a police officer who becomes involved in the case; and Shea Whigham as Pete Strickland, another investigator working alongside Mason. The series was executive produced by Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan under their Team Downey banner.

Robert Downey Jr. discussed the possibility of a third outing before the season two premiere. “I mean wouldn’t that be nice?” he said. “I think that Matthew and all the other people populating it in front of the screen, all our people behind the scenes, have built this incredible world that I know we could continue to tell really interesting stories about,” he continued.

“We would be lying if we didn’t say we’ve certainly been talking a ton about a third season, but our fate rests in the hands of others,” Downey Jr. added. Although Perry Mason was well-received by critics and audiences, the studio opted to scrap it. The move is likely part of the cost-cutting efforts at Warner Bros. Discovery, leading to the cancellation of many popular shows.