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Remembering Rome: What became of the cancelled hit HBO show?

by Charlie Bingley
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225px-Rome_title_cardIt’s been 5 years since the last showing of Rome and fans have been left in the dark ages ever since. Between 2008 and 2010 exciting rumors surfaced over a possible Rome film; yes film!  But the fire of anticipation around those rumors have burnt down to mere embers as of late. What made Rome stand out was its sheer scale, its attention to detail in costuming and architecture that were all visible in its grandeur.

In fact, it’s rumored that the period sets spanned a whopping 5 acres and that would make it one of the largest period sets ever. The joint BBC/HBO production had an estimated budget of $100,000,000, though the result of that was a new, innovative historical epic the likes of which had not been seen since of Band Of Brothers (and more recently, Game of Thrones). Bruno Heller was just one of the executive producers at the helm of the series and also was the man behind the the great writing.


Rome showcases Roman society and culture, series one during and after the glorious reign of Julius Caesar (Ciarán Hinds now Mance Rayder in Game of Thrones season 3), and the life of the historical leader and his family, series two focusing upon the power struggle between the cynical and vulgar Mark Antony and the ambitious Octavian following the climatic end to series one. Cleverly, this parallels the story of Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) and Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson), two soldiers that over the course of the series take us through the rough ride of Roman civilization, also ironically finding themselves to be unknowing catalysts of historic events. Lucius’s and Titus’s hardship and friendship is known as being one of the most memorable ever seen in a television series.

Rome introduced a mixture of both new and fresh faces. Most notably, the experienced Ciarán Hinds, who before Rome had starred in Lara Croft Tomb Raider : The Cradle Of Life and The Phantom Of The Opera, and James Purefoy (Who plays Mark Antony), who before Rome was known by roles in A Knight’s Tale and Resident Evil.


The two focus characters played by Ray Stevenson and Kevin McKidd saw their careers flourish after their notable performances in the series, Stevenson moving on to recent big budget films such as Thor and The Three Musketeers, and McKidd providing the voice of Soap MacTavish in the popular video game series Call Of Duty, and also plays Dr. Owen Hunt in Grey’s Anatomy. As you may know, two actors from Rome will be playing two big roles in Game Of Thrones season 3. Ciarán Hinds will play Mance Rayder, the ex-Night’s Watchman leader of the Wildlings, a role that was interestingly suggested to fellow Rome actor James Purefoy by some fans. The other casting choice of note is the role of Edmure Tully, Catelyn Stark’s younger brother, who will be played by Tobias Menzies, who in Rome plays Marcus Brutus. These UK actors add to an already jam packed UK cast. It can be said, with Rome having similar scale and stylistic features to Game Of Thrones, that the pair are no strangers to playing historical archetypes and will surely ease into the roles effortlessly.

JamesPurefoy1With its strong cast and increasing popularity, it was certainly a surprise when Rome wasn’t renewed for another season. Rome was initially meant to be a mini-series, but when more people got behind its creation and the quality of writing improved it turned into a full ongoing series. However, with its blockbuster size budget, Rome was scrutinized financially, causing HBO to announce that they wouldn’t be renewing Rome into its third season.

With recent shows making it past the season two threshold, is there room for optimism? Rumors suggested that Rome could have hit the big screen, a wise choice, as there is more chance for it to make its budget back, though I believe Rome was made for TV, and would be better off for it. I can’t imagine fans of Game Of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire would be to happy with their beloved series being squeezed into a two hour time frame.
1311Rome-HBO-Series-Posters1Unfortunately, this past year has seen little to no news about Rome hitting TV or film. With HBO comfortable with its resurgence of popularity of it’s shows as of late, can Rome be considered again in the near future?  This is doubtful, with Game Of Thrones in full swing, HBO undoubtedly wouldn’t take the risk of investing $100 million into a show with the competition it faces at this time, even with Rome’s past and arguably present popularity.

For now, DVD and Blu-Ray versions of the show will have to suffice for fans, the brilliant hit show will never be forgotten, and may not have to be. There is still time, and you only have to look at Band Of Brothers and The Pacific to know that HBO haven’t been shy of rekindling similar styled big budget series in the past. Whether Rome comes back with the same characters or ventures into new territories, we still would give anything for a bit of news!

For more on Rome, check out our full review of both seasons!

Leave us a comment with your own hopes and dreams for the future of this show.

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Vincent Berquez March 2, 2023 - 10:30 am

And now I am reading this in 2023 thinking what a shame that the money wasn’t spent to resurrect something good. Of course this is not at all possible. One day there will be a very good series, ‘The Twelve Caesars’. This can only be achieved if the production companies and corporations understand that what people want are to be treated with intelligence and not force-fed fantasy rubbish, as we have today. It is a different world now. Rome was good and should have carried on. That’s all that can be said.

raw_input November 19, 2021 - 8:10 am

The series ROME had a profound effect on me. Roman’s are an important part of our society and the series was so well done. It was a disappointment to me to see the series rushed through the second season and canceled. Please consider continuing the seires. The acting, set design and historical accuracy was the best I have seen in a tv series.

Fersen March 13, 2021 - 11:50 am

I enjoyed the entire first season on DVD , but after watching the interviews of the cast and crew , it struck me that the producers , directors , researchers and cast seriously missed the mark in several respects . A conscious choice was made to focus on violence , intrigue and sex ; a bit more attention should have been paid to Shakespeare . This society revered the rule of law , created great poets , playwrights , historians , philosophers , sculptors , painters and architects ; it is also the society that wholeheartedly embraced Peter and Paul . Many of its wars were defensive as well as expansive ; one would have no idea from listening to cast and crew interviews that Roman legions fought off a Celtic invasion of Italy in alliance with the Etruscans before the First Punic war , or had stood off bloody incursions by Phyrrus of Epirus . Obviously , Rome built a strong , well organized , disciplined military , and developed innovative tactics . Undoubtedly , ancient times were as violent as ours . Undoubtedly , Romans liked their sugar sweet … But there was certainly much , much more to Rome’s rise and legacy than the casual viewer would ascertain from this series . Besides historical license , character development was weak , lacking nuance for all but a few male roles , with much of the acting being stiff as well . The exceedingly high regard some have for this series speaks more for mentalities that simply relish sensationalism … By the way , the second season is even bloodier than the first , with the storyline increasingly contrived and disjointed . Enjoy it , but do some reading and visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC if you get a chance ( online if you can’t ! ) !

Krislyn of Cheswick April 26, 2019 - 2:47 pm

I have no interest in watching Game of Thrones. Dragons? Please. Gratuitous violence and sex. Rome was a MASTERPIECE. The ensemble cast was pure magic. Sure, it took creative liberties but it went to drastic measures to be as authentic as possible. Had it been given more time, it would have fleshed out an epic 7-10 years of sprawling Roman Empire history that deserves proper homage. I’m still holding out for a return… Bruno? You listening?

Jef Dinsmore April 26, 2019 - 6:08 pm

Wow, we at HBOWatch would be right there with you! If they can resemble the cast & crew of DEADWOOD then they could do it for ROME. *Sigh* If, only.

Krislyn of Cheswick May 3, 2019 - 2:42 pm

Now that GoT is wrapping up and there already is an eager audience for it, WHY NOT?? A 2 hr. film is a nice idea, but I’d settle for at least 5 more seasons of this epic production. Thanks so much for responding! I’m on a quest to turn as many as I can on to this jewel. I can’t believe it took me this long to discover it. I only wish we could bring back some characters that’ve already been written out.

B.Allen July 23, 2019 - 8:40 am

Historical inaccuracies aside, Rome was sheer perfection. The set design and lighting were as good as it gets, and Ciaran Hinds may have been the best Caesar to ever march on Rome. I would love to see it return in some form, but I doubt they could match that cast. Perhaps a prequel centered around Marius and Sulla. Or maybe Hannibal and the 2nd Punic War.
I agree, Rome ended far too soon. It left me saying ….
“Heller, give me back my series”!

Anthony Targaryen May 8, 2018 - 7:20 pm

Great show. Will watch again with more people someday. Very sad when it ended because I love Rome so much. ????

Kiishan March 9, 2018 - 2:02 am

The way I look at it, its perfect now for pre-casting and scripting. Got will finish this year, everyone will be hungry for a power struggle in depth with historical precepts after GoT. Im damned sure of it. Since most of the cast were already in GoT, it would such a waste to not bank into the feeling of a lost and a hole to the end of a good series of film making. There would be so much craving that Rome is simply the most obvious of answers. If x files can come back 10 years after silence, ROME be damned if this cant come back.

By next year pre production publicity can be done nudging slightly in GoT network near finale. About 2 years give or take and you’ve got ROME s03 2020

Anthony Targaryen May 8, 2018 - 7:17 pm

Just finished rome. Loved it and very sad that it’s over. More would be gr eat of course. Game of thrones is my favorite show but after watching rome this year I truly love it too. Would be awesome if they could bring it back.

sdf October 23, 2017 - 3:06 am

good enough for pre GoT period but now don’t think so

FetishDoll October 6, 2017 - 11:38 am

I don’t think I’ve seen a series that evokes more emotion.. Ya Game of Thrones but if you read the books :D the tele series feels limp

I would love so very much for them to continue this.. Netflix or whatever; everything about this effing series :D the little Roman cultural touches… The psychologically trying moments jesus x christy :( i just finished a binge of it and I miss so much what it could have become. They could have spent less money and it would have been as good! THE ACTING?!?

at least it had 2 seasons and we got to experience it. I got the series on DVD for my aunt :) and tried to show it to a lot of ppl (it aint everyone’s cup of tea though)

Guest July 29, 2017 - 10:58 pm

Please please bring rome back …..season 3

Ken Richard March 29, 2017 - 10:58 am

I thought the series was excellent and it was interesting to see how the roles between characters reversed time and time again.

jameswhite15 November 3, 2016 - 6:09 pm

It really wasn’t that good. Took me years to get past the first three episodes and only just jumped to Season 2 and completed watching it. Much too slow and way too much dramatic freedom. Acting was not great either.
Hope it never returns as was.

refugeesillegalsgohome November 25, 2016 - 10:11 pm

You know absolutely nothing about good acting or production

Spike Equinus January 17, 2017 - 6:46 am

Well said !

Joe Dick July 9, 2017 - 12:11 pm

You’re a moron.

Brutus August 15, 2016 - 1:17 pm

Makes Rome. Runs out of money. A few years later, goes at it again with Game of Thrones.

Joe Dick July 9, 2017 - 12:20 pm

They realized the solution was more tits and ass.

Jason Kerr July 2, 2016 - 3:59 pm

deadwood got similar treatment unfortunately. rome did not have anyone who could hold a candle next to ian mcshane playing al swearingen tho marc anthony and caesar were more compelling than 99.8% of character actors.

on the other hand, game of thrones has to be the worst budget to acting ratio ever imagined.

Robertjm July 14, 2016 - 7:09 pm

What did you think of Ian McShane’s role in Game of Thrones? I was really underwhelmed with the way it ended up. It definitely illustrates your last paragraph!!

Jonas Campos September 19, 2016 - 11:13 am

what did the comment say? It was deleted :(

FLYFX May 4, 2016 - 11:09 am

I am destroyed that HBO denied this cast of actors a third season or even a movie. What a fantastic cast, what a fantastic show, and the best period to make a series of with such rich history. I too am watching the show again on Amazon and must say it just guts me to know it will never come back. Idiots HBO, you let down a hell of a cast of actors. Nice to see Titus Polo make an appearance on Black Sails for Starz. Again, I can’t believe Spartacus survived as many seasons as it did vs Rome. Shame!!!

Joe Dick July 9, 2017 - 12:40 pm

Spartacus survived because it wasn’t too challenging for viewers. It was more along the lines of Game of Thrones – lots of tits and ass.

Raul Hernandez May 1, 2016 - 1:09 pm

I’ve been watching these again over the last couple of days, and it’s really a shame it ended when it did. Although, I would really have missed Antony, who was such a lovable pig. While not perfect as far as accuracy it was light years ahead of anything else. If they ever did manage to bring it back I hope they would get Ian McNeice as the newsreader, he was fantastic.

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