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Austin Butler’s Forgotten 2010s Fantasy TV Show Explained (& Why It Was Canceled)

Before achieving stardom in Hollywood, Austin Butler starred in a short-lived, MTV fantasy adventure series. Here's what happened to it.

Before becoming a distinguished name in Hollywood, Austin Butler starred in a short-lived, fantasy series called The Shannara Chronicles. In recent years, Butler has demonstrated that he has what it takes to be a leading light in the movie industry with his multi-nominated and highly praised performance as Elvis Presley in the 2022 biographical drama about the late rock ‘n’ roll icon. The aftermath of Butler’s convincing Presley portrayal, which was saturated by critical consideration from the Academy Awards, the Golden Globe Awards, the American Music Awards, and more, increased interest in his future roles.



Butler’s casting as Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in Dune: Part Two is highly awaited by those curious to see if he can bring another magical performance to the big screen. In the meantime, Butler is basking in well-deserved fame that makes it easy to forget he once starred in several projects from Disney and Nickelodeon. One in particular, The Shannara Chronicles, is a buried part of Butler’s catalog and one notoriously lost to the 2010s.



Austin Butler Starred In MTV Fantasy TV Show The Shannara Chronicles

In 2016, Butler starred alongside a humble cast of characters that sought to bring The Sword of Shannara trilogy of novels by Terry Brooks to life. MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles explored the dynamics of war, evil, and adventure in the vast fantasy landscape of the Four Lands. Throughout the show’s two-season run, Butler played the role of lead character Wil Ohmsford, a young adventurer with his sights set on studying to become a Healer.



The Shannara Chronicles had a fair share of mixed reviews, with most of its positive critical attention coming after the show’s conclusion. An MTV show originally, the fantasy-adventure series was appreciated for the casting of young, talented actors and fantastical special effects that weren’t mind-blowing, but worked within the fight scenes and magical elements of the series. Overall, however, The Shannara Chronicles was obscured by cheesy, oftentimes incoherent writing and plot direction that could have been righted had the show not been canceled after season 2.



Why The Shannara Chronicles Was Canceled After Season 2

The Shannara Chronicles did have serious potential and the makings of a fierce cult following that grew during its run on MTV, but it wasn’t enough to keep it alive. The series had its strongest presence on the network where it pulled in over 7.5 million viewers for its premiere and maintained healthy viewership throughout its first season. But when The Shannara Chronicles was shockingly passed over to Spike TV because of MTV’s move away from scripted series, it met a stark drop in viewership in season 2 that it never recovered from.



Season 2’s episodes struggled to surpass a peak of 310,000 viewers, and consequently, The Shannara Chronicles was dropped by Spike TV. In addition to the high costs of fantasy television and the Spike TV parent company’s interest in rebranding to more adult-focused content at the time, The Shannara Chronicles’ low viewership sealed its fate. The Shannara Chronicles was shopped around by other networks for a while but was ultimately left stranded in the 2010s, becoming a forgotten anecdote in Austin Butler’s burgeoning acting credentials.

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