Final Space and the lengths taken to save missing media

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With films and shows being abandoned left and right, preservation of “missing media” is more important than ever. As one sci-fi animation proves, sometimes that means thinking outside the box.

There used to be a time, not too long ago, when the lifespan of a film or TV show was entirely predictable. Shows and movies would get made, promoted, released, and then live on through physical media.

That model seemed to work well for everyone. Streaming came along and rocked the boat a bit, but not too much. Most things were still available through VoD or a specific streamer’s paywall. Even the likes of Netflix originals often made their way to physical media eventually. Everything was available online or at home, and that didn’t seem likely to change any time soon.

Until it did.

This was the fate of the animated sci-fi series Final Space. Its creator, Olan Rogers, had humble beginnings as a comedian and creative back before ‘YouTuber’ was even a word, let alone a job title. Rogers uploaded the original pilot for what would later become Final Space back in 2016. From this, he was able to get eyeballs on the project, and the show went to series with TBS in its first season, and then to Adult Swim for seasons two and three. Over here in the UK, all three seasons were Netflix exclusives.

The series starred Rogers as Gary Goodspeed, an astronaut trying to save the universe from destruction. The cast included the likes of David Tennant and Steven Yeun. All looked well, but then Warner Bros. merged with Discovery and the show was cancelled. It then disappeared from HBO Max completely, and once the international license ran out and the show left Netflix at the end of 2023, that was it. With season three never getting a home media release, and the first two increasingly difficult to get hold of, Final Space, for many, has effectively been erased.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Warner Bros has thrown something out as a tax write-off in recent memory. The axing of Batgirl before it even released was the most high-profile decision from the studio, which at the time seemed like it could be an isolated incident – but has since become a worrying trend in the industry. The situation with Final Space is more in line with a Disney property, though. After just six months of release, Disney Plus pulled the full first season of Lucasfilm’s Willow sequel series starring Warwick Davis, even though it was arguably one of the streamer’s most well-received outings.

With all this happening, it begs the question of why these studios started making the projects in the first place. To me, the Willow madness is the most baffling. With word of mouth slowly growing on that series over time, it could have become a sleeper hit for Disney and Lucasfilm, but with no (legal) way to watch the show, they’ve robbed it of any chance, however small, of finding a larger audience.

Instead of changing and evolving with the times, it seems the business is going back in time to the early days of missing black-and-white television. Ask any Doctor Who fan and they’ll explain in inaccessible detail about missing episodes, with a large chunk of early 60’s stories being lost to time. It’s difficult, now, to imagine how the BBC couldn’t see a future where everyone would want to watch the first time the Doctor regenerated from William Hartnell to Patrick Trouton more than once.

doctor who william hartnell
Credit: BBC

That was the sign of the times though, before home video and long before BBC iPlayer sounded like anything other than the speculative ramblings of science fiction. In 2024, the people in charge of distribution don’t have the luxury of pleading ignorance. Disney, Warner Bros. and others are deliberately making “missing media”, with no thought given to the art form or the creative people who put their hearts and souls into making it.

That’s the issue, perhaps, with the heads of these behemoth companies being businesspeople first and, often, to the exclusion of everything else. The industry increasingly feels obsessed more with the bottom line than the art which underlines it.

But, luckily, fans and people who are more creatively minded will always try and find ways to keep the thing they love alive.

Take the missing Doctor Who stories for instance. It’s been possible to produce animations of a number of adventures because, even though the footage may be lost to time, the audio isn’t. This is down to fans being obsessed enough, even right at the very beginning of the show’s life, to record the audio themselves.

This wasn’t as simple back in the day as pulling out your phone and pressing record would be now. Luckily for us, fans in the 1960s were as engrossed with what they like then as we are today. Even the audio for an episode that went out on Christmas Day 1965 (the only time that happened in the classic era) has been successfully preserved. The first Doctor even wishes the viewers at home a merry Christmas. Our thanks to the child who abandoned Christmas dinner with the family to preserve history. A hero to us all.

Since its cancellation, Olan Rogers has been pushing to keep Final Space going. After trying to convince Warner Bros to give the go-ahead for one last episode or to hand back the rights to the project, Rogers pivoted. After making the original Final Space short himself, he decided to head back to his roots. Without studio backing or interference, the aim was to make something for the love of the art form.

Rogers’ new series, Godspeed, launched its Kickstarter campaign June 2022 with the goal to raise a lofty $80k. In the end, it made over $450k.


On 15th December 2023 the Godspeed pilot, which follows a young woman trying to navigate life in an almost destroyed world, dropped on Rogers’ YouTube channel. At the time of writing, it has more than 1.2 million views. Legally, the show cannot be a continuation of Final Space, but fans may recognise familiar voices while watching. And, as Rogers himself has put it, he can’t stop viewers using their imagination.

While making the Godspeed pilot, maybe in part due to the attention the Kickstarter was getting, Warner Bros. allowed Rogers to release a one-off graphic novel to end Final Space. The agreement specified the book would receive no crowdfunding, and once it sold out, that would be that.

With no Kickstarter campaign, Final Space: The Final Chapter went up for pre-order on its own website without a single page already written. It has currently sold more than 26,000 copies. Rogers has stated the book will start with a sizeable “previously on” segment, where big events from seasons one to three will be immortalised until ink and paper turn to dust. Final Space can live on in book form, even if it can’t on screen.

Even though the ranks of the missing media club are growing day by day, creatives (and fans) are still willing to put art first. To all of you out there: Godspeed.

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