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FX and Hulu Finally Admit They Are Working on More Seasons of Shōgun

We could spend two more seasons with Lord Toranaga and John Blackthorne

Phil Owen

[UPDATE: May 16, 2024] Usually, the old adage "never say never" is used in the television business as a way to keep hope alive about a show with an uncertain future before that hope is eventually crushed under the weight of inevitable cancellation. Following Shōgun's success on Hulu, saying "never say never" about a second season seemed to be more of the same; Shōgun is based on a book with no paper sequel, the series' creatives warned us that continuing the story would be massively difficult, and FX had touted it as a limited series. 

Well, never say never. Shōgun is being eyed for a second season, and possibly more. FX, Hulu, and the estate of Shōgun author James Clavell announced that they are "working to extend" the series "with two additional seasons of the drama series." Co-creators Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo, executive producer Michaela Clavell, and producer/star Hiroyuki Sanada are all expected to be involved once again, and a writers room is being assembled and will begin work this summer. 

Shōgun is expected to compete in the drama series category — instead of the limited series category — at the next Emmys, which may have something to do with this announcement.

[ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS] Shōgun on FX (and Hulu!) has been the surprise TV hit of the spring thanks to its impressive production values, great performances, and a complex and dramatic historical tale set in feudal Japan that hits the same sweet spot that Game of Thrones did. Naturally, now that Season 1 has wrapped up, the series' fans are clamoring for more Shōgun. Normally, a second season would be assured under these circumstances, but things are a little different for Shōgun.

That's because Shōgun is a limited series based on a novel, and this first season of the series took us all the way to the end of the story. For FX to produce a second season, series creators Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks and the network would have to go beyond the source material and tell an original story. And that's a very different sort of task than adapting the book was, and one that would be very easy to screw up.

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Shōgun, based on the novel of the same name by author James Clavell, tells the story of how shipwrecked British sailor John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) in 1600s Japan gets tangled up with Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) and Lady Mariko (Anna Sawai) during Toranaga's rise to power. It's a beloved story for a reason — the political drama is enthralling and made for great television.

Despite the story from the Shōgun novel being completed, that doesn't necessarily preclude a second season from happening. Shōgun itself is a fictionalized version of a real story of how the Tokugawa shogunate came to power, and so there's more that the series could mine there. And Shōgun co-showrunners Kondo and Marks are theoretically open to the idea. But only theoretically at this stage, judging by comments Marks made in The Hollywood Reporter.

Eita Okuno, Anna Sawai, and Hiromoto Ida, Shōgun

Eita Okuno, Anna Sawai, and Hiromoto Ida, Shōgun

Katie Yu/FX

"I keep saying it's like we want to let everyone be on the same page when it comes to the book. And hopefully now the TV audience and the book audience are on the same page with what the story is and where it resolves," Marks told THR. "I think if we had a story, if we could find a story, we would be open to it. But I don't think that anyone ever wants to be out over their skis without a roadmap and everything. And it's also just about, do people want more of it?"

The answer to that last question seems fairly obvious, since the show is so popular and is already being called the best show of 2024, but obviously there's plenty more to consider here.

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"It's also about, not even topping the book, but how do you even equal the roadmap that Clavell laid out? And I don't know if it's possible. I don't know if Clavell could have done it either. That's probably why he moved on to other books too, right? He knew what he had done. Yeah, it's a tough one," Marks said.

This is a common refrain for situations like this one: They'd like to do more Shōgun, but only if it makes sense and they're able to craft a worthy follow-up that won't embarrass anybody involved. It's probably not a discussion that will be settled quickly.

Shōgun is streaming on Hulu.