The history of Lucifer (TV)

From boycotted to streaming giant.

I'd like to thanks the good folks over at the Lucifer subreddit for helping me dissect each season's themes.

Welcome everyone, the fourth (!) post in my 'Month of Lucifer'! After taking a look at the Lucifer's comic origins and the pilot episode, I want to use this post to talk a little about the history of the show. From its production history to the cancellation and subsequent Netflix revival and the surprise season 6 renewal I'm going to cover it all. Plus: I will also do a little dissection of each season and discuss each of their (central) themes. 

Without further ado, let's dive in!

The Fox era

The show started development in 2014 with both DC and Fox working on it. It was intended as a "loose adaptation" of the original Lucifer comic-books from the Sandman universe. Production went well, a pilot episode was filmed and the series was picked up with a full season order of 13 episodes for the 15-16 television season with most of the cast members already cast at this point. The only real difference between the pilot and the series is an actor chance for Dan and filming location from LA to Vancouver. The pilot was received by critics and viewers alike and the 1st season was a success for Fox. The series had an average viewership of around 7 million viewers per night and critical response was solid as well. It wasn't amazing, but it was certainly not bad either.

The high viewership and the good critical reaction didn't mean that the show's 1st season wasn't without some incident though. The show didn't have a smooth start though, but this had nothing to do with the product itself but with Christianity. In May of 2015, before the series had even aired, the American Family Association (AFA) website One Million Moms launched a petition against the show. They had a problem with the depiction of the devil stating that the show would, and I quote: glorify Satan as a caring, likeable person in human flesh." The petition launched with 31.312 signatures and ended with 134.331 signatures, but failed to make and actual impact. The show got renewed for a 2nd season in April of 2016 before the season finale had even aired.

In hindsight, I find this cancellation campaign just a little bit funny. It was inevitable that such a campaign would happen, you get that every single time a series takes influences from religion and play with it, but it´s funny when you realise that Tom Ellis himself comes from a religious family. Both his father and one of his four sisters are Baptist ministers.

The themes of each season

This first season can be described as being all about Lucifer. We start not knowing whether Lucifer is evil. In the swimming pool scene, for example, the audience is left to wonder whether the girl was being tempted to kill herself. You're left to wonder how "bad" Lucifer is. By the end of the season, however, it's clear that Lucifer is not evil. He wants justice, has a sense of right and wrong, and is in love with Chloe (even if he doesn't quite realize it yet) to the point of surrendering to his father, despite his abiding resentment of Dad, to save her life. It's about learning who Lucifer is and establishing that he isn't like the devil found in the bible at all.

The 2nd season of the show got a few more episodes then the 1st, at 18, and introduced some characters to the show that would stick around for a while. Ella Lopez brought some much-needed levity to the show and with the introduction of Lucifer and Amenadiel's mother, the supreme goddess, got another A-list actress on the show with Tricia Helfer. Season 2's production went pretty smoothly, so there isn't anything to talk about here. The only real noteworthy thing is that the season was originally set to be 4 episodes longer but because Fox couldn't find a proper spot for it in the schedule these 4 'anthology' episodes were pushed to season 3.

During season two we get a peek into Lucifer's heart. He cares for his Mom, the supreme goddess, even despite the progressively bad qualities she shows throughout the season. Even with everything she does, from manipulation to (2nd degree) murder he can't get himself to hurt her and/or send her back to hell. He is also becoming much more "brotherly" towards Amenadiel. While in season one they're adversaries, to the point they make death threats to each other in the pilot episode, with Amenadiel losing his wings and his powers, they're on common ground and learn to appreciate each other. The love for Chloe has also become a fixed principle in Lucifer's life as well, shown by his continued drive to protect her and him letting her into his life more. We see he has a visceral reaction to the killing and we see both the heights and depths he can reach with Uriel's unintended death.

Season 3 has more things to talk about then the 2nd season when it comes to the production and this has everything to do with its cancellation. You see, while the critical reception for both the 2nd and 3rd seasons are excellent the ratings started to drop. From that initial 7 million to around 4 million. Still not bad by any means, but Fox saw it differently. They were keener on introducing new shows then keeping around the ones they already had and thus cancelled Lucifer and letting its fans hang on that cliff-hanger ending in May of 2018. However, something quite unprecedented happened. In our social media era, fans have a bigger voice than ever. Many fan campaigns to get a show uncanceled have been launched, but to no avail.

In Lucifer's case, however, it was a success. Shard by fans, cast and crew alike the hashtag #SaveLucifer became the #1 trending topic on Twitter soon after its creation with a second hashtag, #PickUpLucifer, trending as well. This, and the multiple fan petitions, lead Warner Bros. Television to start shopping the show to other networks and streaming services. It was finally picked up by Netflix, who already held the streaming rights for the show in many European countries including the Netherlands, on June 15th the last day before the cast and crew would get severed from their contracts.

Compared to season 1 & 2, season 3 is much very episodic in natures and is thus hard to find a common thread for. The large episode count (26) and the high amount of anthology episodes (6) doesn't help with this. The season takes a while to get going but once it does, around the mid-season mark, you can start to see the seasons central theme(s) take shape. This season is all about selfishness vs selflessness. This can be best seen when you contrast Marcus Pierce/Cain and Lucifer's journeys. Pierce's main goal is to finally die, to make the mark of Cain that made him immortal disappear. 

Throughout the season everything he does is in pursuit of this goal and he doesn't care about what he has to do or who he has to hurt to get his goal. It's only that he does something selfless for the first time in his life, stop toying with Chloe's heart, that his curse is finally lifted. Lucifer starts the season off as his usual, self-absorbed self, but the more the season progresses the more problems this behaviour creates for him. From Maze getting fed up with his behaviour to Chloe starting to exclude him from cases his selfless behaviour is starting to catch up with him. Season 3 ends on quite the cliff-hanger, with Chloe finally seeing Lucifer's devil face and realizing he truly is the devil. With Chloe (finally) in the know and the show moving to Netflix, season 4 was shaping up to be quite different from what came before.

Season 4: the beginning of the Netflix era

And season 4 was indeed very different. With only 10 episodes in the season and more freedom in terms of what the show could tackle, the showrunners seemed to have distilled the show to its core. There was less filler, more near/implied nudity, and a higher focus on the Lucifer lore in comparison to the previous seasons. The biggest development in this season was the growth Chloe went through.

She adjusts to the fact that Lucifer is the devil. Meanwhile, Lucifer's feelings for Chloe keeps on grown and with the arrival of Eve, he learns what it's like to have a real girlfriend. He also progresses in self-understanding, accepting that he is the cause of his "fall", inching towards peace with Dad, hopefully, and accepting his role as the ruler of Hell for the greater good of the universe. Lucifer went back to hell at the end of the season with the future of the series uncertain for a while. Many thought that it was the end of the series but Netflix announced a 5th, and 'final' season two months after season 4 had dropped. Originally slated to be another 10 episodes, the season got extended with another 6 episodes later that year with the first 8 episodes dropping this Friday.

Lucifer back as the King of Hell at the end of Season 4.

But, Lucifer seems to be the show that refuses to die. Even with season 5 being announced as the final to the series, rumours starting to pop up at the beginning of 2020 that Netflix was looking to reverse that decision and get a 6th season of the ground. At this time, a report came out that revealed that Lucifer was the most demanded (streaming) show of the year. After a few months of contract negotiations, the 6th season and true final season is now a reality. No word yet on when to expect the season or how many episodes there will be (my guess is 10) but at this point, it really doesn't matter. There's still plenty of Lucifer content on the horizon for our fans and taking into account how long it took to get season 5 and the current situation in the world I don't think we'll see season 6 anytime soon, but that's OK. We'll have enough Lucifer content to keep ourselves busy until then!


Well, that was it. That's the end of the Month of Lucifer. I know there's still a week left, but I intended to work towards the launch of the season and as that happens later this week I feel like I'm done with it for now. If you do want some more Lucifer content though, I wrote a post about season 6 way back in April of this year when that season was nothing more then rumours and you can check that one out if you're interested. With how few we still know about the season the post is still relevant for you to read.

I'd like to thank you all for going on this journey with me and hope that you had as much fun with it as I have. As this was the very first theme month I´ve done there have been some struggles here and there but in the grand scheme of things, I think that it went pretty well and I´m happy with it overall. I will have more theme months later down the road but for the foreseeable future, this will be it. I want to focus a bit more on individual content.