Altered Carbon: Netflix’s Sci-Fi Show Bites The Dust

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Altered Carbon, Netflix’s one of the most expensive science-fiction shows has reportedly faced the ax. Starring Joel Kinnaman and Anthony Mackie, Altered Carbon was created by screenwriter and producer Laeta Kalogridis (Birds of Prey, Shutter Island, Alita: Battle Angel) which premiered on Netflix on February 2, 2018.


Joel Kinnaman; Alter Regal

Set in the year 2384, Altered Carbon follows the story of Takeshi Kovacs, a political operative with mercenary skills. Kovacs is the last remaining soldier of the Envoys, a rebel group that was defeated 250 years prior to the show’s timeline.


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Netflix’s Altered Carbon is adapted from Richard K. Morgan’s novel of the same name. In the futuristic world, people have achieved immortality by uploading their memories and consciousness onto a cortical stack, a disk-shaped device that can be implanted in the vertebrae at the back of the neck. But like the real world, this facility can mostly be availed by the ultra-rich members of the society.

Altered Carbon Bancroft


Before dying from old age, the ultra-rich change their bodies through clones. Real human bodies or synthetically made ones are implanted with the cortical stick to transfer consciousness and memories. The host bodies are known as ‘sleeves’.

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In the first season, the 300-year-old Meth Laurens Bancroft pulls out Takeshi Kovac’s cortical stack from prison and implants it onto a host body (Joel Kinnaman). Being one of the wealthiest men in the futuristic Bay City, Bancroft strikes a deal with Takeshi. A new shot at life for Takeshi Kovac if he is able to solve a murder case; the murder of Meth Bancroft himself.


In its second season, Anthony Mackie replaces Joel Kinnaman as the new ‘sleeve’ of Takeshi Kovac. The second season of Altered Carbon is set 30 years after the events of the first season. To expand its universe, a spin-off anime Resleeved was also released on Netflix on March 19, 2020.


The ongoing CoVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of promising shows like I Am Not Okay With This and The Society. Joining the unfortunate club, Altered Carbon is the latest Netflix show to be canceled by the online streaming giant.

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According to Deadline, the streaming platform had to pull the plug for Altered Carbon due to its high production cost. Some estimates have shown that the first season of the show was more expensive than the first three seasons of Game of Thrones combined.


Prior to its premiere, Altered Carbon was originally pitched as a movie to Netflix. Instead, the streaming platform decided to roll it out as a show with a gigantic budget.

Bay City, Altered Carbon

Belonging to the cyberpunk genre, Altered Carbon contains references to some of the most influential cyberpunk movies of all time like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell. 


Despite its massive budget, most critics and fans have felt that Altered Carbon never really tapped its true potential. Its striking visuals, ambitious premise, and overly violent sequences do make Altered Carbon an entertaining watch but fails to captivate the audience with its average plotline.

Altered Carbon Cyberpunk

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Dubbed as a cyberpunk fantasyland, Altered Carbon ambitiously set out to explore philosophical and contemporary themes of gender fluidity, paranoia, hyper-urbanization, artificial intelligence, cyberspace, objective reality, and human-machine interface. In an attempt to juggle everything at once, the show failed to make a major impact on the audience.

Unfortunately, rising production costs forced the executives at Netflix to ax the show. Known for its ruthless decisions, Netflix has previously axed numerous shows over low viewership and high production costs. The once-popular show among fans of the cyberpunk genre, Altered Carbon finally bites the dust.


Written by Akash Senapati

Articles Published: 373

Akash is the Lead Content Strategist for FandomWire. Having started as a writer for FandomWire back in 2020, he now manages a global team of writers who share the same passion for motion arts, from Martin Scorsese to the latest MCU flick. He loves DC Comics, Anime, Pink Floyd, and sleeping in no particular order. His favorite graphic-medium writers are Grant Morrison, Chris Claremont, Christopher Priest, Garth Ennis, and Eiichiro Oda. Prep time > Aliens.