On the latest episode of The Hollywood Reporter's Awards Podcast, the comedian said, in regards to his FX series , "I think the guy that I played on the show -- the just-divorced, kinda under-water dad/struggling New York comic -- I don't think I have stories for that guy anymore," implying he's done with the series.
However, he did add: "The show is autobiographical, so what [FX president and general manager] John Landgraf and I have always thought is that it may come back with a different set of stories from a different angle, a little further down the road. And I don't know where that's from yet, so it just depends on if it writes. I think, for me, if I'm on TV again doing a single-camera show, it's Louie. But I don't know. I have no idea."
Translation: It doesn't sound promising. But Louis C.K.'s statements are backed up by ones Landgraf made last year at the Television Critics Association's fall previews, when he announced that Louie would be going on an "extended hiatus." At that time, Landgraf claimed that the show's return was "[C.K.'s] choice," equating the situation to Larry David's control over Curb Your Enthusiasm at HBO.
The fact of the matter is, Louie has never scored big in the ratings for FX. The show's latest season, which concluded in May 2015, was its lowest-scoring yet, with a high of just 630,000 viewers overall, according to Nielsen data. However, the show is often a "sure thing" come awards season, having garnered 22 Emmy nominations and three wins. And if there's one thing FX loves, it's Emmy awards. So as long as Louis C.K. can make the show on the agreed-upon budget, there's no reason for the network to say no, should he come back with a new idea a few years down the line.
A bigger question remains, though: why didn't Louis C.K. bring his latest project, Horace and Pete, to FX if Louie was off the table? Since its release (via his own website), the comedian has revealed that the show didn't make the money he was expecting, and his production company is now in hefty debt until the money can be made back on a second-tier sale to the likes of Netflix or Hulu. Surely FX executives would have jumped at the chance to put on an experimental one-off multi-cam drama had they been asked. This was clearly a case of C.K. overestimating the power of the internet and his own name. Indie TV isn't yet at the place of indie film, where the path to financial success is clearly plotted out.
No one knows if Horace & Pete would have fared better at FX over being independently released, but the network is at least open to partnering with Louis C.K. again if he's open to it. Unfortunately for Louie fans, it sounds like that ship has sailed.