Disney+ has removed the one season wonder Willow from its content library, a move that series star Warwick Davis calls “embarrassing.”
Willow only ran for a quick eight-episode season before being canceled, yet Davis noted that fans still love watching and rewatching the short series. Now that it’s gone from Disney+, the show isn’t available to stream elsewhere.
“I meet lovely people on a daily basis who are fans of Willow, who are the reason the Disney+ series was made,” Davis posted on X. “Please tell me, Walt Disney Co., what do I say to these subscribers when they ask why they can’t watch the series anymore? #embarrassing.”
Willow getting pulled from Disney+ is a reminder that in the era of streaming services, the penalty for a poor-performing show may be complete disappearance, without even physical media to keep a show or movie alive. While in the past, a film or show that bombs could garner new fans on reruns or physical media, that’s a lot less likely with shows getting completely axed for financial reasons.
In March, Disney+ said the company would not renew Willow for a second season, although series creator Jon Kasdan has confirmed it has already been written. Kasdan deems the show more “paused” than canceled. In May, Disney+ took the show off its platform entirely. Disney+’s decision to remove the first season from the platform puts a damper on any hopes of the show’s revival.
The Disney original series debuted in 2022 and fared well in terms of plot development and aesthetics. Unfortunately, the series didn’t garner enough views to keep it afloat, leading to its eventual removal from the platform as Disney+ cut back on titles that weren’t enticing new members to join or retaining current subscribers.
Holding onto the licensing rights, even for its own content, and paying out residuals to actors costs Disney money. The company has been cutting operational costs, revamping its streaming service, and pushing more bundle options.
Willow is based on the 1988 film directed by Ron Howard and starring Davis. The series is based in the same realm as the movie but introduces audiences to new characters among all the brownies, sorcerers, trolls, and other mystical creatures. Davis reprises his role as Willow Ufgood, and stars alongside Ellie Bamber, Ruby Cruz, Erin Kellyman, Amer Chadha-Patel, and Tony Revolori.
While the series may have permanently exited Disney+, Willow could appear on other streaming services at some point. Disney CEO Bob Iger has shown an interest in working on content with other companies, either by developing new content or leasing out the licensing rights to shows, which could potentially give Willow another lease on life.