Everything We Know About 'Mindhunter' Season 3
David Fincher's thriller series is unfortunately in a bit of a limbo.
Netflix's Mindhunter, the serial killer drama that follows the creation of the FBI's behavioral science unit, wrapped its second season in 2019 with a hefty dose of skepticism about the nascent department's effectiveness. The series is based on the book Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit, written by retired FBI agent John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker, and it takes viewers on tense journeys inside prisons as agents Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) interview imprisoned serial killers.
Created by Joe Penhall (The Road) and produced by David Fincher (Fight Club, Gone Girl), the series was initially picked up at Netflix for two seasons and the chance of renewal. Meticulously directed and chilling in its ability to evoke the terror of the killers in its orbit, it's easily one of Netflix's best original series. While the series hasn't yet been picked up for another season, here's everything we know about the potential for Mindhunter Season 3 so far. As it stands now, it's not looking so good.
Will there be a Season 3 of Mindhunter?
While Season 2 aired to much acclaim in summer 2019, in early 2020 TVLine reported that the series is "on indefinite hold at Netflix," so whether it's coming back or not is totally up in the air. This doesn't mean that the show is canceled, but because executive producer David Fincher has his hands tied with a handful of other projects, Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv "have been released from their contracts." A representative for Netflix told TVLine, "[Fincher] 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."
Now, considering Fincher's next two projects—Season 2 of the sci-fi anthology Love, Death and Robots and Mank, a historical drama about the making of Citizen Kane—are Netflix productions, it's definitely in Mindhunter’s favor that the showrunner is on good terms with the streamer. But in a Mank-centric interview with Vulture from October 2020, the director answered a question about Mindhunter being "done" with a not exactly optimistic "I think probably."
He went on to explain that the series might not make financial sense for Netflix. "For the viewership that it had, it was an expensive show," he said. "I honestly don’t think we’re going to be able to do it for less than I did season two. And on some level, you have to be realistic about dollars have to equal eyeballs."
In the past, the team behind the show sounded more hopeful about a potential return. Cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, who worked on much of Mindhunter and collaborated with Fincher again on Mank, did admit to Collider in June that he doesn't know what's going on with the series, but would like to see it continue. He said, "I've heard things are on hold for a little bit. We'll see. Who knows? But it would be an honor to go back."
Netflix’s renewal process can be opaque and cruel, so there's reason for some concern if you're a fan of the series. The OA got the axe despite two well-received seasons, and the cancelation of shows, like sitcom One Day At A Time and animated comedy Tuca & Bertie (both of which were picked up elsewhere), have been met with fan outrage.
On the upside, though, Holt McCallany told The Hollywood Reporter that Fincher always intended the series to follow a five-season arc, so it makes sense that Mindhunter could come back… sometime. It just doesn't look like that’ll be anytime soon.
When will Mindhunter Season 3 premiere?
Given that the series is on indefinite hold, we can only speculate as to when, if ever, Season 3 will hit screens. Fincher is clearly busy with Season 2 of Love, Death + Robots and Mank—the latter of which drops on Netflix on December 4—and that's on top of the coronavirus pandemic, which is preventing countless shows and movies from going into production. All things considered, we're probably looking at Mindhunter arriving in 2022 at the earliest, if it's back at all.
There was nearly a two-year gap between Seasons 1 and 2, which premiered in October 2017 and August 2019, so fans are used to waiting. We'll just have to wait a bit longer than originally expected.
Who's returning for Mindhunter Season 3?
It's tough to imagine the show working without the dynamic between its major players: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCalleny, and Anna Torv as Holdon Ford, Bill Tench, and Wendy Carr, respectively. Since the three leads have been released from their contracts, though, there is a possibility that one or two or all three of them won't come back.
Were the show to return, it's also possible that we'll see characters from Season 2 carried over to the third season as well. That would include Stacey Roca as Bill's wife Nancy, Joe Tuttle as Special Agent Greg Smith, Michael Cerveris as Ted Gunn, and Sonny Valicenti as Dennis Rader (the "BTK killer"). Other possibilities include Albert Jones as Special Agent Jim Barney and Cameron Britton as Ed Kemper. However, Netflix hasn't made any official casting announcements.
What's the plot of Mindhunter Season 3?
Mindhunter's first season took place in the late 1970s, with its second season picking up in the early 1980s. It's reasonable to expect that Season 3 would take place in the early to mid-1980s. That means that we could see any number of infamous serial killers on the show. We'll likely see more of the BTK killer, who's been seen in seemingly unrelated scenes throughout both seasons. Taking cues from the source material, it's also possible that Season 3 will feature appearances from the likes of Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, or Jeffrey Dahmer.
Vulture speculates that, based off of the real criminals that FBI agents John E. Douglas and Robert K. Ressler interviewed in the past, we could also see killers like John Joubert IV, Joseph Paul Franklin, Donald Harvey, and Gary Ridgway appear in Season 3.
Aside from the investigations, there's also plenty of story left regarding Bill's adopted son, Brian, who was involved in a murder during Season 2. More vaguely, McCallany hinted to The Hollywood Reporter that Season 3 could be "a complete reimagining of the show." After two seasons filming in Pittsburgh, the show may move to a new location should it be picked up for a third season.
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