Well folks, the chances of Mindhunter Season 3 happening are not looking good. The acclaimed series launched in 2017 as the brainchild of David Fincher, chronicling the early days of the FBI’s criminal profiling unit with a trifecta of wonderful actors at its center: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv. Fincher himself directed nearly half of that first season, and he returned to helm three of the nine episodes of Season 2, which didn’t premiere until last August.
But given the fact that Fincher is so intimately involved in Mindhunter, many wondered when a Season 3 might be possible. Fincher is currently shooting his black-and-white Netflix movie Mank, which tells the story of the writing of Citizen Kane and stars Gary Oldman. He’s separately executive producing the second season of the Netflix animated anthology series LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS, which finds Jennifer Yuh Nelson stepping into the showrunner role after Tim Miller spearheaded the first season.
For these reasons, it appears, Netflix has officially put Mindhunter Season 3 on “indefinite hold.” It looks like there’s a bit more to the story here, but here’s Netflix’s official statement:
“David is focused on directing his first Netflix film Mank and on producing the second season of Love, Death and Robots,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. “He may revisit Mindhunter again in the future, but in the meantime felt it wasn’t fair to the actors to hold them from seeking other work while he was exploring new work of his own.”
The principal Mindhunter actors—Groff, McCallany, and Torv—have been released from their contracts, which means they’re free to seek other regular television work. And this makes sense. While Joe Penhall created Mindhunter, he was kind of pushed out during the making of Season 1 (Courtenay Miles was the head writer for Season 2). For all intents and purposes, Fincher is this series’ showrunner and its principal director, so the show takes up a lot of his time.
But since Fincher is shooting Mank, which will likely release this fall/winter and be followed by an awards campaign, the earliest he could start work on developing Mindhunter Season 3 is 2021, which means shooting wouldn’t start until later that year (at best) and the third season wouldn’t premiere until 2022. That’s quite a long wait, and certainly not ideal for Netflix.
The Playlist, which usually has an inside track on all things Fincher, reports that Mindhunter is effectively cancelled. They cite sources who tell them production on Season 2 took its toll on Fincher, and the filmmaker was “frustrated and feeling spiritually fatigued with it all in the end.” They note some “directorial challenges” with other filmmakers, and I had also heard independently that while Fincher is only credited with directing two Season 2 episodes, he actually had a handle on a few more than that.
Deadline hints at some dispiriting feelings from Fincher as well, noting that he wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of another lengthy location shoot (Mindhunter films in Pittsburgh) and was looking to raise the series’ production value with a bigger budget. While Deadline cites sources saying that the actors love working with Fincher and would return in a heartbeat, it sounds like Fincher is the one who’s not thrilled about returning—at least not right now.
The Playlist adds that Fincher is looking to get back to making feature films after Mank, including additional Netflix movies. It’s been six years since his last feature, Gone Girl, and he spent the break between the first two seasons of Mindhunter readying to direct World War Z 2, which fell apart over budget issues.
The Playlist also adds that the cast was well aware of this news coming quite a while ago, which may be why Groff felt confident in taking a role in The Matrix 4 this year. Regardless, all of this sounds like Mindhunter Season 3 probably won’t happen, but not for Netflix’s lack of trying. Reading between the lines, it’s clear Netflix wants to stay in the David Fincher business, hence basically leaving the Mindhunter door open whenever Fincher wants to return instead of outright cancelling the show.
So will Mindhunter Season 3 happen? Right now it’s doubtful, which is a shame. This was absolutely one of the best series on Netflix, and Fincher originally envisioned this as a five-season arc. But I also understand that a season of Mindhunter takes a lot out of Fincher, so if putting Mindhunter on the backburner gives us more David Fincher movies, that’s not a terrible trade-off.
Perhaps we’ll get more clarity when Fincher makes the press rounds for Mank, but that’s quite a ways off. For now, it’s probably a good idea to go back and savor the two excellent seasons of Mindhunter that we have. They may be the only ones we ever get.