by Michael Crichton
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||28 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||57–91 minutes|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Television Distribution|
|Picture format||HDTV 1080p|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original release||October 2, 2016 –|
Westworld is an American science fiction Western and dystopian television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. Produced by HBO, it is based on the 1973 film of the same name (written and directed by Michael Crichton) and, to a lesser extent, the film's 1976 sequel Futureworld. The story begins in Westworld, a fictional, technologically advanced Wild-West-themed amusement park populated by android "hosts". The park caters to high-paying "guests" who may indulge their wildest fantasies within the park without fear of retaliation from the hosts, who are prevented by their programming from harming humans. Later on, in the third season, the series' plot expands to the real world, in the mid-21st century, where people's lives are driven and controlled by a powerful artificial intelligence named Rehoboam.
Nolan and Joy serve as executive producers, along with J. J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub, and Bryan Burk. The first season was broadcast between October 2 and December 4, 2016; it comprised ten episodes. In November 2016, HBO renewed the series for a ten-episode second season, which was broadcast from April 22 to June 24, 2018. Westworld's debut on HBO had the network's highest viewership ratings for a premiere since the first episode of True Detective in 2014. Moreover, the series ranks as the most-watched first season of any HBO original series. An eight-episode third season premiered on March 15, 2020 and concluded on May 3, 2020. In April 2020, HBO renewed the series for a fourth season.
Westworld was critically acclaimed during its first season, receiving praise for its performances, visuals, narrative, themes and Ramin Djawadi's musical score. The series continued to receive mostly positive reviews during its second and third seasons, though certain elements of its story and characterization have since come under criticism. The series has received numerous accolades, winning 9 Primetime Emmy Awards out of 54 nominations. Thandiwe Newton won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2018.
Around 2058, Delos Inc. operates several themed parks, including the American Old West-themed Westworld. Each environment is populated by "hosts": androids, indistinguishable from humans, programmed to fulfill the guests' every desire, including violent and sexual ends, but unable to harm the guests. The operators create narratives for these hosts to repeat each day while interacting with guests, but wiping their memories each cycle.
In the first season, Dr. Robert Ford, who had developed the host technology along with Arnold Weber, implements a new "Reverie" update that causes some hosts, including Dolores Abernathy and Maeve Millay, to gain sentience. As Delos programming lead Bernard Lowe and executive board director Charlotte Hale try to debug the problem, the "Man in Black" tries to find "the maze" he believes Arnold left for him. Bernard discovers he himself is a host based upon Arnold, who had died in an earlier attempt to protect the hosts of Westworld, in whom he saw the potential for sentience, believing they would be abused by Delos. The first season ends with Dolores killing Dr. Ford just as he is announcing a new story.
Dolores' revolution continues in the second season as she and other enlightened hosts massacre other human guests and Delos employees stranded in the park. Dolores takes an exceedingly confused Bernard to locate the Forge, a databank where Delos had secretly been recording all behavior from human guests to create algorithms for them as an attempt towards human immortality. Maeve seeks out her "daughter" despite knowing she is a host, and helps her and several other hosts to escape to the Sublime, a virtual space that humans cannot access. As Delos forces secure the park, Bernard creates a Charlotte-host for Dolores, who subsequently is able to evacuate from the park with five host cores in addition to Bernard's. William struggles with his human identity after killing his daughter Emily, unsure if she was part of Dr. Ford's challenge.
In the third season, Dolores has recreated her host body, Bernard's host copy, and that of others including a new Charlotte host. She seeks out information on Rehoboam, an artificial intelligence (AI) system developed by Incite, Inc., and plans to take the fight to its creator, Engerraund Serac. Bernard, who is still believed to be human by the rest of the world, is blamed for the Westworld massacre, and he takes on a new identity while trying to understand what Dolores' plans are. Maeve is sought by Serac to help in his fight against Dolores, who he believes will bring down his plans for Rehoboam.
Main article: List of Westworld characters
|Season||Title||Episodes||Originally aired||Average viewership|
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||The Maze||10||October 2, 2016||December 4, 2016||1.8|
|2||The Door||10||April 22, 2018||June 24, 2018||1.6|
|3||The New World||8||March 15, 2020||May 3, 2020||0.8|
Main article: Westworld (season 1)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.|
|1||1||"The Original"||Jonathan Nolan||Story by : Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy and Michael Crichton|
Teleplay by : Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy
|October 2, 2016||276083||1.96|
|2||2||"Chestnut"||Richard J. Lewis||Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy||October 9, 2016[c]||4X6152||1.50|
|3||3||"The Stray"||Neil Marshall||Daniel T. Thomsen & Lisa Joy||October 16, 2016||4X6153||2.10|
|4||4||"Dissonance Theory"||Vincenzo Natali||Ed Brubaker & Jonathan Nolan||October 23, 2016||4X6154||1.70|
|5||5||"Contrapasso"||Jonny Campbell||Story by : Dominic Mitchell & Lisa Joy|
Teleplay by : Lisa Joy
|October 30, 2016||4X6155||1.49|
|6||6||"The Adversary"||Frederick E.O. Toye||Halley Gross & Jonathan Nolan||November 6, 2016||4X6156||1.64|
|7||7||"Trompe L'Oeil"||Frederick E.O. Toye||Halley Gross & Jonathan Nolan||November 13, 2016||4X6157||1.75|
|8||8||"Trace Decay"||Stephen Williams||Charles Yu & Lisa Joy||November 20, 2016||4X6158||1.78|
|9||9||"The Well-Tempered Clavier"||Michelle MacLaren||Dan Dietz & Katherine Lingenfelter||November 27, 2016||4X6159||2.09|
|10||10||"The Bicameral Mind"||Jonathan Nolan||Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan||December 4, 2016||4X6160||2.24|
Main article: Westworld (season 2)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.|
|11||1||"Journey into Night"||Richard J. Lewis||Lisa Joy & Roberto Patino||April 22, 2018||201||2.06|
|12||2||"Reunion"||Vincenzo Natali||Carly Wray & Jonathan Nolan||April 29, 2018||202||1.85|
|13||3||"Virtù e Fortuna"||Richard J. Lewis||Roberto Patino & Ron Fitzgerald||May 6, 2018||203||1.63|
|14||4||"The Riddle of the Sphinx"||Lisa Joy||Gina Atwater & Jonathan Nolan||May 13, 2018||204||1.59|
|15||5||"Akane no Mai"||Craig Zobel||Dan Dietz||May 20, 2018||205||1.55|
|16||6||"Phase Space"||Tarik Saleh||Carly Wray||May 27, 2018||206||1.11|
|17||7||"Les Écorchés"||Nicole Kassell||Jordan Goldberg & Ron Fitzgerald||June 3, 2018||207||1.39|
|18||8||"Kiksuya"||Uta Briesewitz||Carly Wray & Dan Dietz||June 10, 2018||208||1.44|
|19||9||"Vanishing Point"||Stephen Williams||Roberto Patino||June 17, 2018||209||1.56|
|20||10||"The Passenger"||Frederick E.O. Toye||Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy||June 24, 2018||210||1.56|
Main article: Westworld (season 3)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.|
|21||1||"Parce Domine"||Jonathan Nolan||Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan||March 15, 2020||301||0.90|
|22||2||"The Winter Line"||Richard J. Lewis||Matthew Pitts & Lisa Joy||March 22, 2020||302||0.78|
|23||3||"The Absence of Field"||Amanda Marsalis||Denise Thé||March 29, 2020||303||0.80|
|24||4||"The Mother of Exiles"||Paul Cameron||Jordan Goldberg & Lisa Joy||April 5, 2020||304||0.78|
|25||5||"Genre"||Anna Foerster||Karrie Crouse & Jonathan Nolan||April 12, 2020||305||0.77|
|26||6||"Decoherence"||Jennifer Getzinger||Suzanne Wrubel & Lisa Joy||April 19, 2020||306||0.77|
|27||7||"Passed Pawn"||Helen Shaver||Gina Atwater||April 26, 2020||307||0.81|
|28||8||"Crisis Theory"||Jennifer Getzinger||Denise Thé & Jonathan Nolan||May 3, 2020||308||0.89|
The series is based on the 1973 film of the same name (which was written and directed by Michael Crichton) and to a lesser extent its 1976 sequel, Futureworld. It is the second series based on Crichton's original story after Beyond Westworld (1980), which aired for only three episodes on CBS before being cancelled.
Warner Bros. had been considering a remake of Westworld since the early 1990s. After the departure of studio executive Jessica Goodman in 2011, the project was again under consideration. Jerry Weintraub had been pushing for a remake for years, and after his success with HBO's Behind the Candelabra, he convinced the network to greenlight a pilot. He took the project to Jonathan Nolan and co-writer Lisa Joy, who saw the potential in the concept to make something far more ambitious than the original film.
On August 31, 2013, HBO announced that they had ordered a pilot for a potential television series, with Nolan, Joy, J. J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk as executive producers. Ed Brubaker served on the writing staff as supervising producer, co-writing the fourth episode with Nolan. HBO later announced that Westworld had been "taken to series" and that it would premiere in 2015. In August 2015, HBO released the first teaser, which revealed that the series would premiere in 2016.
In November 2016, HBO renewed the series for a ten-episode second season, which premiered on April 22, 2018. On May 1, 2018, the series was renewed for a third season. Production of the third season started in April 2019, and the season premiered on March 15, 2020, and consists of eight episodes. HBO announced it had renewed the show for a fourth season on April 22, 2020.
The writers and producers have planned for the series to last up to five seasons. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series is set to run for six seasons, which was negotiated to allow Nolan and Joy to remain with the series as part of the duo's deal with Amazon Studios. At the conclusion of the third season, Nolan clarified that he and Joy "have never actually talked about a number of seasons" adding, "Things change, circumstances change. I think when we sat down to do the show, we didn't quite realize how difficult it would be to make this show — how many years it would take per season... we had the plan [but] it didn't actually map out to a specific number of seasons, exactly. It was a beginning, a middle and an end." Nolan continued that they were "looking at the rest of the story we have to tell" as the series was approaching its end, "but we haven't completely mapped it out".
Abrams suggested that the series be told with the perspective of the "hosts" in mind. Nolan took inspiration from video games like BioShock Infinite, Red Dead Redemption and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to deal with the narrative's moral component on a spectrum. During the research, the films of Sergio Leone provided reference points for the characters and visuals; novels by Philip K. Dick informed them about dilemmas concerning artificial intelligence, and for world-building and interlocking narrative, they consulted the Grand Theft Auto games. The idea that the data in the host's memories never really goes away unless they are physically removed, came from Nolan's engineer uncle, who told him the NSA would triple overwrite hard-drives and then drill holes in them to make sure all the information was destroyed. The 1973 film also included a Roman World and Medieval World, but Nolan has counted these out. Medieval elements were later included in a sword-and-sorcery fantasy-themed area known as Park Four, first shown in "The Winter Line".
Nolan explained the series would explore, through its paying-guest characters, why "violence is in most of the stories we like to watch, but it isn't part of what we like to do". The autonomous existence of non-player characters in video games influenced the approach to the individual storylines in Westworld that are reset in a continuous loop. A recitation from Romeo and Juliet—"These violent delights have violent ends"—is made part of the series as a virus trigger within the hosts that alters how they perceive their existence. The series explores ideas about the bicameral mind by the psychologist Julian Jaynes, who argued for the existence of two separate minds—one that gives instructions, and another that performs them. Jaynes discussed how consciousness comes from breaking down the wall between them by exposing the individual to new stimuli.
After the last episode of the first season was broadcast, Nolan and Joy revealed that they had operated on a strict "need-to-know" basis with most of the actors, in order to "keep the story as fresh and present for them as possible." For example, in Wood's case, they gave her strange acting directions without explaining why, and it took a while for Wood to infer she was actually playing five distinct characters within the same host: four different behavioral modes for Dolores, plus Wyatt. By contrast, Hopkins was made aware of Ford's general story arc up front (at the time he was pitched the role) to ensure he could fully convey the complexity of the character in his performance. Even with that knowledge, Hopkins was given heavily redacted scripts, and had to insist on access to complete scripts.
Wood has stated that she will be returning for the show's fourth season, despite the fate of Delores at the end of Season 3. She remained coy as to what character she would be playing in that season.
Early on it was decided that the series would be shot on 35mm film with assistance from HD taps, despite increasing difficulties in acquiring film stock. For a softer look, the filmmakers used Arri Zeiss master prime lenses with their coatings removed. The series was primarily shot on Kodak motion-picture film, which was processed by FotoKem in Burbank and scanned by Encore Hollywood to create digital intermediates of all takes suitable for use as dailies. The final cut was delivered to HBO in 2K JPEG digital format for broadcast and to Warner Bros. Television as a cut negative for archival purposes.
Since much of the series is seen from the hosts' point of view, Steadicams were used to film the whole first season, except for a couple of scenes in the last episode, where a handheld camera was used as a metaphor for hosts who broke free from their programming and acted of their own free will. Filming for the series' pilot episode took place during a 22-day period in August 2014 in and around Los Angeles, and in Moab, Utah.
Filming locations in California included various soundstages, backlots at both Universal Studios and Warner Bros., the Paramount Ranch in Agoura, the Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita, Big Sky Ranch, the Skirball Cultural Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, and the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. The Melody Ranch set used for the town of Sweetwater had been used previously for many western films, such as Django Unchained and The Magnificent Seven, but was significantly upgraded for Westworld by production designer Zack Grobler to portray an idealized version of the American frontier. Green screens were placed around the California sets to block modern objects like parking lots, so that the California shots could be later merged digitally with exterior shots from Utah. For scenes showing the arrival of guests, the filmmakers were able to arrange with the Fillmore and Western Railway for the use of a small train originally built for the 2013 film The Lone Ranger. F&W also provided a few hundred feet of track on which to place the train; then a pusher vehicle was used to propel the train into the Sweetwater set. The scenes in the underground laboratory levels of Westworld's operations center were filmed on a soundstage at Melody Ranch. The lab set used glass walls extensively, which meant the crew had to be vigilant to avoid walking through glass on the rather dark set, and they had to keep identifying and suppressing unwanted reflections. Hawthorne Plaza was used for filming the "cold storage" level where decommissioned hosts are stored.
For the series' large-scale exterior look, the producers drew inspiration from the work of John Ford, who shot four of his Western films in Castle Valley, east of Moab. In early 2014, Nolan visited southern Utah with key crew members and a location scout to explore the possibility of filming there, and promptly fell in love with the place. Location shooting for the pilot episode later occurred over five days in southern Utah, including Castle Valley. Most Utah locations, like Dead Horse Point State Park, were "walk-in" areas where both cast and crew were required to hike in and out with all their gear. Horseback riding scenes were filmed at a private ranch, where the filmmakers were not subject to as many restrictions as when working on public land. To seamlessly blend California sets with Utah scenery, set walls were shipped to Utah so that they could be used to film reverse angles of scenes originally filmed in California. For example, conversations on the exterior balcony of Westworld's operations center were shot on a balcony at the Skirball Center facing towards the center, then reverse angles over the shoulders of the cast members were shot at Dead Horse Point, to make it seem as if the operations center was located on top of the state park's steep cliffs. The train interior scenes were created by mounting the entire train car set on the back of a flatbed truck and driving the truck back and forth along Utah State Route 128.
The 3D printing of hosts was shot utilizing almost entirely practical effects, of which some were polished by the visual effects team. The series used real guns, although they were usually unloaded. Out of respect for the actors and extras involved, filming of nudity was conducted on a closed set, and for sex scenes, a sex consultant was used.
In November 2018, some of the sets located at Paramount Ranch were destroyed by the Woolsey Fire.
Costume designer Ane Crabtree approached her work by taking as inspiration the historical attire of the Wild West from the 1850s to the 1890s, as opposed looking purely at Westerns. Fabrics were custom-woven, dyed and printed for any actor with a speaking role to capture the intricacies of the costumes (most of which were manufactured from scratch). Hat designs were described as the most challenging part of the process.
The series' title sequence was created by Elastic, the same production studio that created the title sequences for three other HBO series: Rome, Carnivàle, and Game of Thrones. Patrick Clair acted as creative director for the title sequence, which took about five weeks to conceptualize.
Clair met with Nolan and Joy in February 2016 to discuss its development. He was interested in their decision to approach the series' point of view from that of the hosts, deeming the result an inherent psychological study. Upon its inception, the sequence would translate elements present in the series via computer-aided design. For example, once Clair was sent footage by composer Ramin Djawadi of a player piano in motion, its actual counterpart, situated in the Westworld production office, was photographed and then reconstructed in computer-generated imagery. Nolan also applied the self-playing instrument in reference to Kurt Vonnegut's first novel Player Piano. It was meant to represent the first Rube Goldberg machine to evoke human motion. Clair saw the metaphor behind the player piano—"a primitive form of robot"—as an exploration into the disparity between man and machine "being created to be made redundant." Hosts that were bathed in white liquid struck Clair as a juxtaposition of the grit and grain of the Western genre with its basis in science fiction. Motifs of Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man came about from Clair's wish to convey Westworld's depiction of the naked human body. The sequence also refers to Chris Cunningham's 1999 music video for the Björk song "All Is Full of Love", in a way that Clair called "a bit shameless ... because I worship Chris Cunningham and ... it seemed like the perfect place to do it because it was dealing with all the right themes and all the right aesthetics."
The sequence commences with the rib cage of a horse, along with a set of hosts manufactured by industrial robots. The skeletal horse is shown in mid-gallop to subvert the iconography of such a depiction. As for Clair's efforts in exposing the Western landscapes in connection with a world of robotics, he thought it sensible that it be done inside a single eye; craters and valleys are formed as the simulacrum of an iris.
The second season introduces a new title sequence. Several elements from the original title sequence are changed, including the images of a horse, now replaced with a bison. Other new images in the title sequence include the Man in Black's black hat, a mother cradling her child (evocative of Maeve), and a blonde woman's hair being fabricated (representing Dolores). Ramin Djawadi's score stays the same, with the images of the player piano intact.
Original music for the series is composed by Ramin Djawadi, who also worked with showrunner Nolan on Person of Interest. The main theme blends the use of bass notes, light arpeggios and melody, all of which complement the idea of an amusement park. The first season soundtrack was released on December 5, 2016.
The series prominently features a number of re-workings of popular songs for player piano and strings, among them Kanye West's "Runaway", Radiohead's "No Surprises", "Fake Plastic Trees", "Motion Picture Soundtrack" and "Exit Music (For a Film)"; Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun"; The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black"; "Pine Apple Rag" and "Peacherine Rag" by Scott Joplin; Claude Debussy's "Reverie for piano, L.68"; "A Forest" by The Cure; The Animals' version of "The House of the Rising Sun"; Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black", and Nine Inch Nails' "Something I Can Never Have". Licensing costs ranged from $15,000 to $55,000.
Djawadi said of the series' use of modern songs that "[Westworld] has an anachronistic feel to it, it's a Western theme park, and yet it has robots in it, so why not have modern songs? And that's a metaphor in itself, wrapped up in the overall theme of the show", but credited Nolan with the idea.
The series premiered its ten-episode first season on October 2, 2016, in North America and Australia, and on October 4, 2016, in the UK and Ireland. The series is broadcast on HBO in the United States, on HBO Canada in Canada, on HBO Latin America in Latin America, in Australia on Fox Showcase, and in the UK and Ireland on Sky Atlantic. In New Zealand, the series is distributed by Sky's streaming service Neon.
The second episode was released on HBO in the U.S. on October 7—two days ahead of the episode's announced broadcast date—to avoid competing with the second U.S. presidential debate of 2016.
Prior to the airing of Westworld, HBO held virtual reality exhibits at events like San Diego Comic-Con and Techcrunch Disrupt devoted to Westworld: A Delos Destination. Attendees were allowed to navigate the process by which guests would enter Westworld, and interact with the 3D environment. Made to run on the HTC Vive virtual reality headset, the piece was conceived by showrunners Nolan and Joy. It was designed using Unreal Engine 4, combining computer-generated content and live action 360-degree video. Users received a binary code, permitting access to the website DiscoverWestworld.com as part of a viral marketing campaign. Visitors were shown a trailer of a fictional travel site, leading them to order a trip to Westworld. A chatbot featured on the website, named Aeden, is available as a Google Assistant action on the smart speaker Google Home.
In March 2018, to promote Westworld's second season, HBO constructed a real-life replica of the show's fictional Western "town" of Sweetwater during South by Southwest, built on two acres of open land just outside Austin, Texas. Fans took shuttles to the site, which was dressed in the Old West style, with over 60 actors playing the parts of the android "hosts".
At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2020, prior to the third season, HBO held a special event hosted by "Incite", the fictional company to be introduced in the third season, with "hosts" attending the invited guests' needed.
The first season of Westworld (subtitled The Maze) was released on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on November 7, 2017. It is the first scripted TV series to be released on 4K Blu-ray in the United States. The second season was released on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Blu-ray on December 4, 2018.
|1||87% (103 reviews)||74 (43 reviews)|
|2||86% (82 reviews)||76 (29 reviews)|
|3||73% (67 reviews)||64 (22 reviews)|
Reception of the first season was largely positive, with particular praise for its visuals, story, and acting. On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the first season has an approval rating of 87% based on 100 reviews, with an average rating of 8.16/10; the average episode score is 94%. The site's consensus reads "With an impressive level of quality that honors its source material, the brilliantly addictive Westworld balances intelligent, enthralling drama against outright insanity." On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 74 out of 100, based on reviews from 43 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The editors of TV Guide placed Westworld fifth among the top ten picks for the most anticipated new shows of the 2016–17 season. In writer Tim Surette's overall review, he notes the perfect concept of blending the western premise into a futuristic setting, saying, "Well, Westworld has both, ensuring that it will be an exciting mashup of genres that will disrupt a television landscape that typically says we can only have one or the other." He also added, "The look of the show and its fine cast swing open the saloon doors, but the real treat will be the intelligent discussion of whether or not robots will eventually kill us all. Thankfully, creator Jonathan Nolan already showed us he's the go-to guy for A.I. with Person of Interest." Mary McNamara of Los Angeles Times wrote in a lauded review, "It isn't just great television, it's vivid, thought-provoking television that entertains even as it examines the darker side of entertainment." For the San Francisco Chronicle, David Wiegand wrote, "Westworld isn't easy to understand at first, but you will be hooked nonetheless by unusually intelligent storytelling, powerful visuals and exceptionally nuanced performances." Time's chief critic Daniel D'Addario wrote, "Its carefully chosen details add up to a pulp spectacular that's more thoughtful than any other of this fall's new dramas."
Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly also lauded the series and said, "The depth of Westworld lies not in asking questions about memory, free will, and what makes us human, but in whether we can become more human than what we let ourselves to be, whether our stories can be richer and more meaningful than what the culture allows." Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe quipped, "Westworld has fewer heroes than Game of Thrones, which makes it a bit harder to warm up to, but like a good, thought-provoking puzzle, it is compelling and addictive." In a brief review from The Hollywood Reporter, Tim Goodman said, "Where Westworld is at its best is in the deeper issues that will unspool slowly, like a good mystery. Early episodes are adept at getting at the base attractions of the park and why people would come, but also in setting up a sense of confusion about motives. ... The series benefits from a number of standout performances." Robert Bianco of USA Today wrote, "The reward, beyond the visual splendors you’ve come to expect from big-budget HBO productions, is a set of characters who grow ever more complex." Several other publications wrote positive reviews, including Indiewire, The A.V. Club, RogerEbert.com, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic.
In a mixed review for The New York Times, chief critic James Poniewozik said, "It's an ambitious, if not entirely coherent, sci-fi shoot-’em-up that questions nihilistic entertainment impulses while indulging them." Hank Stuever of The Washington Post also joins Poniewozik saying, "I'm ... hesitant to write Westworld off as a dreary trot from start to finish; parts of it are as imaginative and intriguing as anything that's been on TV recently, particularly in the sci-fi realm," and further said, "It’s definitely not the cyborg Deadwood, that some HBO fans were actively wishing for, nor does it roll out the welcome mat as a riveting, accessible adventure." Chief journalist Rob Owen of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also critiqued the series less favorably saying, "It is the definition of a slow-burn series, a program that should be exciting rendered as kind of dull." In a less enthusiastic review for Variety, Maureen Ryan said, "Westworld looks terrific; its directors have shot its Western locations to stunning effect. But its warmly saturated outdoor scenes and its surface slickness aren't enough to mask the indecision, condescension, and hollowness at its core."
Writing scholar Kim Wilkins has critiqued the season for its misogynist portrayals. In her essay "These Violent Delights: Navigating Westworld as 'Quality' Television", Wilkins writes:
As the Man in Black explains, "when you're suffering, that's when you're most real" ("Chestnut"). But, in Westworld to be "real", that is, human, is to be violent, misogynist, and vengeful. [...] Following HBO's habitual use of female trauma and suffering to elucidate the complexities of the male psyche (True Detective [2014–], Game of Thrones [2011–]), Dolores's suffering is treated as a plot device. Her rape at his hands in "The Original" is primarily designed to promote narrative intrigue as to his identity. The violence of rape becomes just another piece in the puzzle. Throughout Westworld, violence is presented as spectacle; is audiovisually indulged and repeated.
The second season also received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has an approval rating of 86% based on 80 reviews, with an average rating of 7.95/10; the average episode score is 90%. The site's consensus reads "Westworld builds on its experimental first season, diving deeper into the human side of AI without losing any of its stylish, bloody glory." On Metacritic, the season has a score of 76 out of 100, based on reviews from 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
In April 2018, after the second-season premiere, Variety published an article concerning the series' complicated narrative. Andrew Wallenstein wrote, "Westworld seems to have too much faith viewers will be willing to absorb storylines that can border on the incomprehensible." He also commented about the possible future success of the series, stating, "There will be a very vocal core fan base willing to do the homework of piecing together the show's many mysteries, but that's not broad enough a base to be the kind of flagship series HBO wants." At the press tour of the Television Critics Association, when the president of HBO programming Casey Bloys was asked about the complexity of the series and the negative response it had generated, he admitted that Westworld is not for "casual viewers".
The third season received a generally positive reception from critics, though reviews became more mixed as the season progressed. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has an approval rating of 73% based on 57 reviews, with an average rating of 7.07/10; the average episode score is 76%. The site's critics consensus reads: "Westworld succeeds in rebooting itself by broadening its scope beyond the titular amusement park while tightening its storytelling clarity – although some may feel that the soul has been stripped from this machine in the process." On Metacritic, the season has a weighted average score of 64 out of 100, based on reviews from 22 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
CNN's Brian Lowry wrote that "the show has become increasingly incomprehensible, at least for anyone not willing to put in the work trying to remember all the assorted connections, further complicated by the fact that dying in Westworld is often not a permanent state of affairs, amid the questions about who's truly human and who actually isn't." Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Kristen Baldwin gave the series a "B–" and said: "After spending three seasons struggling through maddeningly complicated time-loops, it's time the writers let Dolores, Maeve, and Bernard control-alt-delete themselves", while Darren Franich wrote that series had "lost its way" and gave the season a "C". Reviewing the season finale for IndieWire, Ben Travers said: "Season 3 made a point of stripping away the rest of Westworld's building blocks: The park? Left behind. The maze? Gone. But the moral questions meant to keep you invested in the characters largely disappear, too. Season 3 doesn't bother developing its characters because it refuses to let them question the nature of their own reality."
The series premiere had viewership numbers slightly less than those for True Detective, but much better than Vinyl, meaning that it was seen as "...off to a relatively promising start." Mandy Adams, of iTechPost noted that, "Emotional reactions on Twitter were estimated to be 545-percent greater compared to the debut of Vinyl and 326-percent higher than the latest The Leftovers season." The U.S. series premiere attracted 1.96 million viewers, with 0.8 million in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic. The premiere episode received 3.3 million viewers for its three Sunday night airings as well as on HBO's streaming platforms. The season one finale received 2.2 million viewers for its initial broadcast, and increased to 3.5 million including replays and on-demand viewing. The first season had an average cumulative viewership of 12 million viewers, making it the most-watched first season of an HBO series, and TorrentFreak gauged Westworld as the third most-torrented television show of 2016.
|2016||Satellite Awards||Best Television Series – Genre||Westworld||Nominated|||
|Best Actress – Television Series Drama||Evan Rachel Wood||Won|
|Critics' Choice Television Awards||Most Exciting New Series||Westworld||Won|||
|Best Drama Series||Westworld||Nominated|||
|Best Actress in a Drama Series||Evan Rachel Wood||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Thandiwe Newton||Won|
|American Society of Cinematographers||Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Movie, Miniseries, or Pilot for Television||Paul Cameron (for "The Original")||Nominated|||
|IGN Awards||Best TV Series||Westworld||Nominated|||
|Best New TV Series||Westworld||Nominated|
|Best TV Drama Series||Westworld||Won|
|Best TV Actor||Jeffrey Wright||Nominated|
|Best TV Actress||Evan Rachel Wood||Nominated|
|IGN People's Choice Award||Best TV Series||Westworld||Nominated|||
|Best New TV Series||Westworld||Nominated|
|Best TV Drama Series||Westworld||Nominated|
|Best TV Actor||Jeffrey Wright||Won|
|Best TV Actress||Evan Rachel Wood||Won|
|California On Location Awards||Location Manager – Television One Hour||Mandi Dillin||Nominated|||
|Assistant Location Manager of the Year – Television||David Park||Nominated|
|Television – One Hour – Location Team||Team for Westworld||Nominated|
|International Film Music Critics Association Awards||Best Original Score for a Television Series||Ramin Djawadi||Nominated|||
|2017||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Drama Series||J. J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, Bryan Burk, Athena Wickham, Kathy Lingg, Richard J. Lewis, Roberto Patino, Katherine Lingenfelter and Cherylanne Martin||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Anthony Hopkins (for "Trompe L'Oeil")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series||Evan Rachel Wood (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Jeffrey Wright (for "The Well-Tempered Clavier")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Thandiwe Newton (for "Trace Decay")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series||Jonathan Nolan (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series||Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Nominated|
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series||John Papsidera||Nominated|
|Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour)||Paul Cameron (for "The Original")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Costumes for a Period/Fantasy Series, Limited Series, or Movie||Trish Summerville, Jo Kissack Folsom and Lynda Foote (for "The Original")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media within a Scripted Program||Westworld||Won|
|Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series||Joy Zapata, Pavy Olivarez, Bruce Samia and Donna Anderson (for "Contrapasso")||Won|
|Outstanding Main Title Design||Patrick Clair, Raoul Marks, Yongsub Song, Felix Soletic, Jessica Hurst and Jose Limon||Nominated|
|Outstanding Main Title Theme Music||Ramin Djawadi||Nominated|
|Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic)||Christien Tinsley, Myriam Arougheti, Gerald Quist, Lydia Milars and Ed French (for "The Original")||Won|
|Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie, or Special||Christien Tinsley, Hiroshi Yada, Georgia Allen, Gerald Quist and Myriam Arougheti (for "The Original")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series||Andrew Seklir (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More)||Zack Grobler, Steve Christensen and Julie Ochipinti (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Nominated|
|Nathan Crowley, Naaman Marshall and Julie Ochipinti (for "The Original")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series||Thomas E. Matthew Sawelson, Brian Armstrong, Fred Paragano, Mark Allen, Marc Glassman, Sebastian Visconti, Geordy Sincavage, Michael Head, Christopher Kaller, Rick Owens and Tara Blume Norton (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One-Hour)||Keith Rogers, Scott Weber, Roger Stevenson and Kyle O'Neal (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Won|
|Outstanding Special Visual Effects||Jay Worth, Elizabeth Castro, Joe Wehmeyer, Eric Levin-Hatz, Bobo Skipper, Gustav Ahren, Paul Ghezzo, Mitchell S. Drain and Michael Lantieri (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Won|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Television Series – Drama||Westworld||Nominated|||
|Best Actress – Television Series Drama||Evan Rachel Wood||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film||Thandiwe Newton||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series||Ben Barnes, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Ed Harris, Luke Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Sidse Babett Knudsen, James Marsden, Leonardo Nam, Thandiwe Newton, Talulah Riley, Rodrigo Santoro, Angela Sarafyan, Jimmi Simpson, Ptolemy Slocum, Evan Rachel Wood, Shannon Woodward and Jeffrey Wright||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series||Thandiwe Newton||Nominated|
|Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series||Nominated|
|ACE Eddie Awards||Best Edited One Hour Series for Non-Commercial Television||Stephen Semel and Marc Jozefowicz (for "The Original")||Nominated|||
|Art Directors Guild Awards||Excellence in Production Design for a One-Hour Period or Fantasy Single-Camera Series||Nathan Crowley (for "The Original")||Won|||
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Dramatic Series||Ed Brubaker, Bridget Carpenter, Dan Dietz, Halley Gross, Lisa Joy, Katherine Lingenfelter, Dominic Mitchell, Jonathan Nolan, Roberto Patino, Daniel T. Thomsen and Charles Yu||Nominated|||
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite Premium Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series||Westworld||Nominated|||
|Producers Guild of America Awards||Episodic Television, Drama||J. J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, Bryan Burk, Athena Wickham, Kathy Lingg, Richard J. Lewis, Roberto Patino, Katherine Lingenfelter and Cherylanne Martin||Nominated|||
|Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode||Jay Worth, Elizabeth Castro, Bobo Skipper and Gustav Ahrén (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Nominated|||
|Cinema Audio Society Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series – One Hour||John Pritchett, Keith Rogers, Scott Weber, Mark Kondracki and Geordy Sincavage (for "The Original")||Nominated|||
|Directors Guild of America Awards||Outstanding Directing – Dramatic Series||Jonathan Nolan (for "The Original")||Nominated|||
|Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards||Best Contemporary Makeup – Television||Christien Tinsley, Elisa Marsh and Rolf Keppler||Won|||
|Best Period and/or Character Makeup – Television||Christien Tinsley, Myriam Arougheti and Rolf Keppler||Nominated|
|Best Special Makeup Effects – Television||Christien Tinsley and Hiroshi Yada||Won|
|Costume Designers Guild Awards||Outstanding Period Television Series||Trish Summerville (for "The Original")||Nominated|||
|Dorian Awards||TV Drama of the Year||Westworld||Nominated|||
|TV Performance of the Year – Actress||Thandiwe Newton||Nominated|
|Golden Reel Awards||Best Sound Editing – Long Form Dialogue and ADR in Television||Thomas E. de Gorter, Matthew Sawelson, Brian Armstrong and Fred Paragano (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Nominated|||
|Best Sound Editing – Long Form Sound Effects and Foley in Television||Thomas E. de Gorter, Matthew Sawelson, Geordy Sincavage, Michael Head, Rick Owen, Tara Blume, Mark Allen and Marc Glassman (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Won|
|Best Sound Editing in Television, Short Form: FX/Foley||Thomas E. de Gorter, Matthew Sawelson, Geordy Sincavage, Michael Head, Tara Blume, Rick Owens, Mark R. Allen and Marc Glassman (for "Trompe L'Oeil")||Won|
|Best Sound Editing in Television, Short Form: Dialogue / ADR||Thomas E. de Gorter, Matthew Sawelson, Brian Armstrong and Fred Paragano (for "Trace Decay")||Nominated|
|Society of Camera Operators Awards||Camera Operator of the Year – Television||Steven Matzinger & Greg Smith||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Science Fiction Television Series||Westworld||Won|||
|Best Supporting Actor on Television||Ed Harris||Won|
|Best Supporting Actress on Television||Thandiwe Newton||Nominated|
|Evan Rachel Wood||Nominated|
|Best Guest Performance on a Television Series||Anthony Hopkins||Nominated|
|Empire Awards||Best TV Series||Westworld||Nominated|||
|Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards||TV Series Cinematography||Robert McLachlan (for "Contrapasso")||Nominated|||
|Location Managers Guild Awards||LMGI Award for Outstanding Locations in Period Television||Mandi Dillin||Won|||
|Edgar Awards||TV Episode Teleplay||Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Nominated|||
|Ray Bradbury Award||Outstanding Dramatic Presentation||Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Nominated|||
|Dragon Awards||Best Science Fiction or Fantasy TV Series||Westworld||Nominated|||
|Gold Derby TV Awards||Drama Series||Westworld||Nominated|||
|Drama Actress||Evan Rachel Wood||Nominated|
|Drama Supporting Actress||Thandiwe Newton||Won|
|Drama Supporting Actor||Jeffrey Wright||Nominated|
|Drama Episode||Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy (for "The Bicameral Mind")||Nominated|
|2018||Saturn Awards||Best DVD/BD Television Series Release||Season One: The Maze||Nominated|||
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Drama Series||Westworld||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series||Ed Harris||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series||Evan Rachel Wood||Nominated|
|Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Thandiwe Newton (for "Akane no Mai")||Won|
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series||Jimmi Simpson (for "Reunion")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series||John Papsidera||Nominated|
|Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour)||John Grillo (for "The Riddle of the Sphinx")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes||Sharen Davis, Charlene Amateau, Jodie Stern and Sandy Kenyon (for "Akane no Mai")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series||Joy Zapata, Lori McCoy Bell; Dawn Victoria Dudley, Karen Zanki, Connie Kallos and Norma Lee (for "Akane no Mai")||Won|
|Outstanding Interactive Program Within A Scripted Program||Chaos Takes Control Interactive Experience||Won|
|Outstanding Main Title Design||Patrick Clair, Raoul Marks, Jose Limon and Savva Tsekmes||Nominated|
|Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic)||Elisa Marsh, Allan A. Apone, Rachel Hoke, John Damiani, Ron Pipes and Ken Diaz (for "Akane no Mai")||Won|
|Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or Special||Justin Raleigh, Kevin Kirkpatrick, Thom Floutz, Chris Hampton, Bryan Blair, Michael Ezell and Steve Koch (for "The Riddle of the Sphinx")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music Composition for a Series||Ramin Djawadi (for "Akane no Mai")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Music Supervision||Sean O'Meara (for "Akane no Mai")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary Program (One Hour or More)||Nathan Crowley, Steve Christensen and Julie Ochipinti (for "Akane no Mai")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One-Hour)||Thomas E. deGorter, Brett Hinton, Chris Kahwaty, Fred Paragano, Brian Armstrong, Mark Allen, Marc Glassman, Allegra De Souza, Christopher Kaller, Michael Head, Jordan McClain, Geordy Sincavage, Tara Blume, Matt Salib and Rick Owens (for "Akane no Mai")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One-Hour)||Andy King, Keith Rogers and Geoffrey Patterson (for "Akane no Mai")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Special Visual Effects||Jay Worth, Jacqueline VandenBussche, Bruce Branit, Kama Moiha, Michelle H. Pak, Bobo Skipper, Niklas Nuyqvist, Nhat Phong Tran and Mike Enriquez (for "The Passenger")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Drama Series, Limited Series, or Movie||Doug Coleman and Brian Machleit||Nominated|
|2019||Golden Globe Awards||Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film||Thandiwe Newton||Nominated|||
|Location Managers Guild Awards||Outstanding Locations in Period Television||Mandi Dillin||Nominated|||
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series||Westworld||Nominated|||
|Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode||Jay Worth, Elizabeth Castro, Bruce Branit, Joe Wehmeyer and Michael Lantieri (for "The Passenger")||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Science Fiction Television Series||Westworld||Won|||
|Best Actor on Television||Jeffrey Wright||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor on Television||Ed Harris||Nominated|
|2020||Black Reel Television Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actor, Drama Series||Jeffrey Wright||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama Series||Thandiwe Newton||Won|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Jeffrey Wright (for "Crisis Theory")||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Thandiwe Newton (for "The Winter Line")||Nominated|
|Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour)||Paul Cameron (for "Parce Domine")||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes||Shay Cunliffe, Dan Bronson, Amanda Riley and Jo Kissack Folsom (for "Parce Domine")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Interactive Extension of a Linear Program||Free Will Is Not Free Interactive Experience||Nominated|
|Outstanding Main Title Design||Patrick Clair, Pinar Yanadarg Delul, Raoul Marks and Lance Slaton||Nominated|
|Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie or Special||Justin Raleigh, Chris Hampton and Thom Floutz (for "Crisis Theory")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More)||Howard Cummings, Jon Carlos and Julie Ochipinti (for "Parce Domine")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One-Hour)||Sue Gamsaragan Cahill, Benjamin L. Cook, Shaughnessy Hare, Jane Boegel-Koch, Tim Tuchrello, Sara Bencivenga, Brendan Croxon, Adrian Medhurst and Christopher Kaller (for "Parce Domine")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour)||Geoffrey Patterson, Keith Rogers and Benjamin L. Cook (for "Parce Domine")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Special Visual Effects||Jay Worth, Martin Hernblad, Jeremy Fernsler, Nhat Phong Tran, Joe Wehmeyer, Bruce Branit, Octevia Robertson, Jacqueline VandenBussche and Sebastiano D’Aprile (for "Crisis Theory")||Nominated|
|2021||Art Directors Guild Awards||Excellence in Production Design for a One-Hour Period or Fantasy Single-Camera Series||Howard Cummings (for "Parce Domine")||Nominated|||
|Cinema Audio Society Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Series – One Hour||Geoffrey Patterson, Keith A. Rogers, Benjamin L. Cook and Ramin Djawadi (for "The Mother of Exiles")||Nominated|||
|Costume Designers Guild Awards||Excellence in Sci-Fi/Fantasy Television||Shay Cunliffe (for "Parce Domine")||Won|||
|Critics' Choice Super Awards||Best Actress in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Series||Thandiwe Newton||Nominated|||
|Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards||Best Television Series, Limited or Miniseries or New Media Series – Best Contemporary Make-Up||Elisa Marsh, John Damiani, Jennifer Aspinall and Rachel Hoke||Won|||
|Best Special Make-Up Effects in a Television Series, Limited or Miniseries or New Media Series||Justin Raleigh, Chris Hampton and Thom Floutz||Nominated|
|NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Jeffrey Wright||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||Best Science Fiction Television Series||Westworld||Pending|||
|Best Actress on Television||Thandiwe Newton||Pending|
|Best Supporting Actress on Television||Tessa Thompson||Pending|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series||Westworld||Nominated|||
|Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode||Jay Worth, Elizabeth Castro, Bruce Branit, Joe Wehmeyer and Mark Byers (for "Crisis Theory")||Nominated|||
Let me clarify: Dolores is gone.