UPDATE: It's a Mir-a-cle! On December 10, HBO officially renewed "The Leftovers" for a "third and final season." Sorry, Season 4, you have been ruled out. Here are some statements from HBO Programming President Michael Lombardo and show creator Damon Lindelof.

Michael Lombardo: "It is with great enthusiasm that we welcome back Damon Lindelof, Tom Perrotta and the extraordinary talent behind THE LEFTOVERS for its third and final season. This show has proven to be one of the most distinctive HBO series and we are extremely proud of its unrivaled originality, which has resulted in such a passionate following by our HBO viewers. We admire and fully support Damon's artistic vision and respect his decision to bring the show to its conclusion next season."

Damon Lindelof: "I have never, ever experienced the level of creative support and trust that I have received from HBO during the last two seasons of THE LEFTOVERS. Tom, myself and our incredible team of writers and producers put tremendous care into designing those seasons as novels unto themselves...with beginnings, middles and ends. As we finished our most recent season, it became clear to us that the series as a whole was following the same model...and with our beginning and middle complete, the most exciting thing for us as storytellers would be to bring THE LEFTOVERS to a definitive end. And by 'definitive,' we mean 'wildly ambiguous but hopefully mega-emotional,' as all things related to this show are destined to be. On behalf of our incredible crew and superb cast, we are all tremendously grateful that HBO is giving us an opportunity to conclude the show on our own terms...an opportunity like this one rarely comes along, and we have every intention of living up to it. One more thing. We are blessed by the unwavering support of our fans and the incredibly powerful voice of the critical community. We feel absolutely privileged to heat up one last helping of leftovers."

No idea when Season 3 will debut, since they haven't filmed it yet, but congrats to all of us!

ORIGINAL POST:

Faith alone will not save "The Leftovers," but binge-watching might.

Season 2 of the HBO show just ended last night and it's hard to tell whether Season 3 will happen or not. The Justin Theroux-led drama does not exactly have a "Game of Thrones" level fan base, but the fans who do watch the show love it -- even when they're frustrated by it -- and want this thoughtful, challenging, perplexing, and profound story to continue. But the problem is that, even though many of us thought Season 2 was superior to Season 1, a lot of people stopped watching -- way more than 2 percent of the viewer population just disappeared. If more viewers don't catch up through DVR or On Demand, and the current fans don't speak up and request a Season 3, then the whole production will depart.

Damon Lindelof has been making the media rounds after the Season 2 finale, and everyone is asking about Season 3. Here are portions of his Q&As:

TVLINE | When do you think there will be a decision on a Season 3 renewal?
Damon Lindelof: I don't have a timetable... HBO loves the show. My hope is that the finale is well received, and that there is a good feeling about the season that extends into the first couple weeks of December. And then we can ride that wave into a pickup. I will say this: If you are a fan of The Leftovers, let should let your voice be heard.

TVLINE | I imagine you probably have some ideas in your head about what a potential third season looks like. Throw me a scoop?
Damon Lindelof: The one thing that I would say to you is that Scott Glenn is a starting pitcher that we have used as a relieving pitcher. I would really like to see some more of Kevin Senior. And not just in the present, but in the past.

HITFIX: So let's talk about the future. Where do things stand, as far as you know, and what has to happen for a season 3 to exist?
Damon Lindelof: I don't know what the answer to the last part is. I can guess at what those things are, but no one has told me what the rules are. I know that HBO is really happy with the creative of the show; they've been immensely supportive of what we wanted to do, and they've been highly collaborative and pleased with the results. That said, all of us have to take a pragmatic look at the numbers. HBO is not Netflix or Amazon. The numbers of the show are known, and the truth of the matter is that the ratings are down from season 1. If the show was always an underperformer, the little engine that could, and the trajectory was flat, or up or down a little bit, we wouldn't be in the situation we're in now. The reality is, everybody felt that the show was ascending a bit, creatively and ratings-wise, towards the end of the season, and in the interim between the two seasons, we lost a lot of the audience coming into this year. That's the situation that we're in. The critical buzz, the critical response, and the fan response, has been much more positive this year than it was last year. And that matters; that's important. But I think what would be great is if there were some kind of bump in the finale ratings. We actually saw an uptick in the ratings for episode 9, which I was surprised by, considering we were up against "The Walking Dead" mid-season finale and an incredible football game that I was watching and rooting for the Broncos. It would be great if that trajectory continued. It would probably be bad if we lost viewership from episode 9 to the finale. Any case that can be made for a show that is picking up momentum would be huge. But the reality is, I'm talking to HBO. We're going to sit down before the holidays and get a sense of where everybody's head is at. I certainly want to make more episodes of "The Leftovers." That's kind of how things sit.

The Hollywood Reporter: If HBO orders a third season, how would you try to and draw in more viewers somehow? Or is one of the perks of being on premium cable that you don't have to worry about ratings (season two averaged 0.67 million weekly viewers)?
Damon Lindelof: Anybody who says to you that they don't want more viewers is a much more confident individual than I am. I do subscribe to the idea that the more people watching the show, the better the show is. The more critical acclaim, the better the show is. I'm just not the person who's like, "Hey, if I like it then f— all of y'all." Television in particular is a medium that is designed to go out to the masses, and I would like a lot of people [to watch my show.] That said, I also understand that the subject matter is really asking for a big investment from the audience. One of the things that we can all acknowledge is that there's so much great television out there. People who will evangelize the show, they'll be like, "Oh my god, you've got to watch The Leftovers. I cried like a baby last night." The person they're saying that to might think, "I'm not entirely sure I want to cry like a baby?" The show does ask for an intense emotional investment, and I have to acknowledge that. And I want to keep writing that show. To HBO's and Warner Bros.'s credit, no one is asking me how can we make the show more accessible to people. I don't know how you would even do that. I guess one way would be, like, to cast Matthew McConaughey in the show. "McConaughey joins Leftovers season three!" But then there's the people who love The Leftovers and have been watching it for two seasons who would probably go, "I don't know, man. I love Matthew McConaughey, but I don't know. That feels exploitative. It feels like a ratings grab." So, I wouldn't know how to begin to make the show more accessible. If you have any ideas, I'm open to good ones. I'm whorish that way."

Lindelof also promised, "if we get to do more, I'm going to try not to f— it up." (Tip: Don't cast McConaughey. That would indeed be a ratings gimmick.)

So what say you -- should there be a "Leftovers" Season 3 or not? Now is not the time to silently chain-smoke, you must speak now or forever ditch your pad of paper. We say yes to a third round, and hope they use it to really tackle and potentially answer the major questions of what happened to the departed, and why. DON'T let the mystery be!

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