Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly have been excited for creator Joss Whedon to return to the small screen with HBO’s new series The Nevers. An original sci-fi project following people in Victorian-era London who develop superpowers, the series is slated to premiere in the summer of 2021. But while we wait to see the first episode of the show, Whedon has already decided to take a step back from the series. Read the full statement from the director below.

If this is your first time hearing about The Nevers, here’s the official synopsis:

In the last years of Victoria’s reign, London is beset by the “Touched”: people — mostly women — who suddenly manifest abnormal abilities, some charming, some very disturbing. Among them are Amalia True (Laura Donnelly), a mysterious, quick-fisted widow, and Penance Adair (Ann Skelly), a brilliant young inventor. They are the champions of this new underclass, making a home for the Touched, while fighting the forces of… well, pretty much all the forces — to make room for those whom history as we know it has no place.

This would have been the first original series that Joss Whedon created since the short-lived Dollhouse, though he did serve as executive producer on Agents of SHIELD without actively being involved in the series, mostly because of his work on The Avengers. So why did he leave?

CinemaBlend was sent this official statement by Joss Whedon regarding his exit from The Nevers:

“This year of unprecedented challenges has impacted my life and perspective in ways I could never have imagined, and while developing and producing The Nevers has been a joyful experience, I realize that the level of commitment required moving forward, combined with the physical challenges of making such a huge show during a global pandemic, is more than I can handle without the work beginning to suffer. I am genuinely exhausted, and am stepping back to martial my energy towards my own life, which is also at the brink of exciting change. I am deeply proud of the work we have done; I’m grateful to all my extraordinary cast and collaborators, and to HBO for the opportunity to shape yet another strange world. The Nevers is a true labor of love, but after two plus years of labor, love is about all I have to offer. It will never fade.”

HBO made a much shorter statement confirming Joss Whedon’s departure, reassuring it won’t stop the show:

“We have parted ways with Joss Whedon. We remain excited about the future of The Nevers and look forward to its premiere in the summer of 2021.”

Considering this is an original show where Whedon created the world himself, it seems surprising that he would step away so suddenly. This year has been hard on everyone, but surely by the time a second season would be underway, the global pandemic wouldn’t be hurting physical production nearly as much. But there may be another reason Whedon is leaving the show.

Perhaps Whedon has endured a more strenuous situation in 2020 due to the controversy that has been stirred up by actor Ray Fisher about the filmmaker’s alleged inappropriate and disconcerting behavior while directing reshoots for Justice League. Fisher certainly seems to think so, since he posted this on Twitter:

I have no intention of allowing Joss Whedon to use the old Hollywood tactic of “exiting”, “stepping down”, or “walking away” to cover for his terrible behavior.

WarnerMedia’s JL investigation has been in full swing for over 3 weeks now.

This is undoubtedly a result of it.


— Ray Fisher (@ray8fisher) November 26, 2020

Like Warner Bros. Pictures, HBO falls under the WarnerMedia banner, so there’s a chance whatever these investigations have learned about Joss Whedon’s behavior on the set of Justice League has resulted in this parting of the ways. At this time, it’s unclear how far along in production the series was, but Nick Frost finished his work on the series back in September, so maybe Whedon was able to complete the entire first season before leaving.

Laura Donnelly and Ann Skelly are leading the series and a supporting cast that includes Olivia Williams, James Norton, Tom Riley, Ben Chaplin and Nick Frost. In fact, Frost just recently praised the show, saying:

“It looks fucking crazy, it looks amazing. I think the script is fantastic. My character’s like a serial lunatic. … Apart from the fact there’s a supernatural element, it just feels totally different. … I mean, even me with a broad kind of lexicon of knowledge of the supernatural and the genre, I was reading the scripts thinking, ‘Fucking hell, this is gonna be incredible.’”

We’re bound to hear more about The Nevers as production gets closer. But will it still be able to make that summer 2021 release date? That seems like a difficult prospect unless it’s much later in the summer, but we’ll see what happens.

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