This Is Why Season 8 Of Ray Donovan Never Happened

William Goldman, the writer behind The Princess Bride and Marathon Man, famously lifted the curtain on how Hollywood works — or doesn't. The secret? "Nobody knows anything." (For industry insiders, "it's worth getting those three words tattooed on your forearm," wrote Variety for Goldman's obituary in 2018.) Why do some movies work and some don't? Why do some TV series get cancelled at the top of their game, and others labor in shadowy mediocrity for season after season? Nobody knows.

So when we ask the question as to why Showtime's Ray Donovan got axed, seemingly with a cliffhanger finale for season seven that made season eight a lock, there's bound to be some confusion. Some contradiction. And some sadness.

Ray Donovan was a little bit family drama, a lot crime drama, more than a dash of personal accountability. Liev Schreiber, winner of the Tony Award in 2005 for his performance on stage in Glengarry Glen Ross, played Donovan, a man conflicted personally, professionally, emotionally, and every other way. Donovan is a fixer, the guy who stands between scandalous behavior and the public, creating a sort of human shield for his law firm's clients — and legality has nothing to do with it. Complicating his life is his extended family, including a father (Jon Voight) recently released from prison and a brother (Eddie Marsan) with issues of his own.

The cast included Jon Voight

The series was unquestionably violent, both in its emotional content and its physicality. The storytelling explored issues of morality, loyalty, principle, and honor. It was rarely an easy watch, but always rewarding, with a story arc that lasted for seven seasons and 82 episodes. Another season must have been in the works. Until it wasn't. Showtime announced the cancellation, expressing the company's pride in the series' "strong viewership and on such a powerful note," reports Variety. What happened?

"We're still scratching our heads," showrunner David Hollander told Vulture. "The corporate elements of show business are complicated and often mired in things that will never be spoken out loud," he said. Hollander's best guess is economics, particularly in light of the recent CBS/Viacom merger. Donovan is an expensive series — the longer a series goes, the more expensive it gets, and not just actors, but also support staff. A recent move from California to New York had a huge impact on the production budget as well.

But then came another surprise. In an article dated February 13, Entertainment Weekly reported an announcement by Schreiber that seemed to contradict the corporate announcements. He thanked fans for their support, and then cryptically added, "Too soon to say how or when, but with a little luck and your ongoing support, there will be more Ray Donovan."

Maybe so. After all, nobody knows anything.