- The TV adaptation of another Robert Kirkman comic book failed to replicate the success of The Walking Dead and Invincible.
- The show was canceled after two seasons due to low ratings, despite a strong critical reception.
- Fox International Studios’ early investment in the show’s development and a high marketing budget may have contributed to unrealistic expectations and the show’s ultimate failure.
The Walking Dead and Invincible are two television phenomenons based on the comics by Robert Kirkman, but the writer has a third TV show that failed to match up. Kirkman’s career as a TV hitmaker was born in 2010 with the premiere of the zombie apocalypse series The Walking Dead, on which he served as executive producer. The show quickly became a ratings titan, pulling in millions of viewers and spawning numerous Walking Dead spinoff shows. Kirkman’s reputation only solidified with the 2021 release of Prime Video’s star-studded Invincible, for which he is credited as creator.
Invincible and The Walking Dead are Kirkman’s most successful and longest-running comics, but the prolific writer has created numerous titles throughout his decades-long career, including Battle Pope, Oblivion Song, and Void Rivals. While the Invincible and Walking Dead shows seemingly imply that anything Kirkman touches turns to TV gold, one failed comic adaptation disproves this theory. A horror show that premiered on premium cable was Kirkman’s first foray into TV writing, but it struggled to replicate the success of his other adaptations.
Outcast Was Based On A Robert Kirkman Comic Book
In March 2013, it was announced that a new show based on a Robert Kirkman comic book was in development. The adaptation was unlike Kirkman’s smash hit The Walking Dead, which had already been on the air for three years, in two key ways: first, the show was confirmed to be in development several months before Kirkman’s comic book was officially announced; second, Kirkman was hired to write the pilot screenplay himself, something he had never done before. Nevertheless, the show was positioned as another Walking Dead by its producers.
The Outcast comic and TV show both follow Kyle Barnes, a man plagued by demonic possession who seeks to help others suffering from the same affliction. The show was developed by Fox International Studios, the company behind the international distribution of The Walking Dead, and the U.S. rights were acquired by Cinemax after a bidding war (via THR). Like The Walking Dead and Invincible, the Outcast TV show features a good deal of gore; the horror show made no effort to hide its tonal similarity to The Walking Dead, with Kirkman even announcing the show’s pilot order by tweeting “Demons are the new Zombies!”
Outcast season 1 debuted on Cinemax in May 2016
Outcast Was Canceled After 2 Seasons
The Outcast show and comic were subject to a great deal of buzz following their confirmation, with the first issue of Outcast even outselling that month’s issue of The Walking Dead (via THR). Despite a marketing budget reportedly on par with that of The Walking Dead’s international rollout, the Outcast show did not debut to the same level of critical and commercial success that welcomed the first seasons of The Walking Dead and Invincible. While the season received a fairly strong 80% Rotten Tomatoes score, the viewing figures were unimpressive, making it clear that Outcast was not the breakout hit that The Walking Dead was.
Cinemax followed up with a second season of Outcast, but the audience numbers only continued to sag. Amid a shift in strategy for the premium cable channel, the pricey Outcast was dropped from their roster, officially ending the show after two seasons in 2018. Sharon Tal Yguado, the head of the show’s production company, relocated to Amazon, where she continued to collaborate with Kirkman and proved instrumental in the development of his streaming hit Invincible. The Outcast comic book continued to run under the Image Comics label, concluding with its 48th issue in October 2021.
Why Outcast Failed Compared To The Walking Dead & Invincible
By enlisting Robert Kirkman to develop an Outcast TV show before the comic book was even released, Fox International Studios sought to get in on the ground floor of a potential new TV phenomenon. However, this prematurity ended up backfiring for the studio. The Outcast comic never took off in the same way that Kirkman’s Invincible and The Walking Dead did, despite considerable hype driving up sales of the title’s first issue.
It bears mentioning that, as premium cable, Cinemax’s Outcast was always unlikely to draw in the viewing numbers of more accessible platforms like The Walking Dead‘s AMC and Invincible‘s Prime Video. Had the production company held off pouncing on Outcast, they could have set their expectations in line with the title’s legitimate popularity and reach. A smaller budget for the horror show might have allowed it to run for more seasons, helping it to qualify as a modest success, rather than an ambitious failure. Ultimately, Kirkman’s hitmaker reputation seems to have hurt Outcast; under a less zealous production, the show might have succeeded.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter