Why Netflix’s Cancellation of Warrior Nun Sparked Widespread Protests Online

4 minute read

In mid-December, Netflix quietly canceled Warrior Nun, a fantasy drama series with a cult following. Based on Benn Dunn’s comic book character Warrior Nun Areala from 1993, the show follows Ava Silva (Alba Baptista) after she wakes up in a morgue with a divine artifact embedded in her back, suddenly part of an ancient order charged with fighting demons.

“I’ve just found out that @netflix will not be renewing #WarriorNun,” tweeted showrunner Simon Barry after the news came out. “My sincere appreciation to all the fans who worked so hard to bring awareness to this series, and for the love you showed me, the cast and the whole production team. It was a privilege to be a part of this.”

The cancellation came just a month after the release of Warrior Nun’s second season, which spent three weeks in Netflix’s Global Top 10 TV shows. The series is one of a growing number of original shows the streamer has scrapped early in its run (and fans would argue prematurely)—Decider counts 92 canceled original shows. The entertainment industry has been abuzz in recent months with news about scrapped shows. Much of that attention has been directed at HBO Max, which recently dumped a number of shows in addition to deciding not to air several that had already finished filming.

Read more: Why Your Favorite Show Is Leaving HBO Max

How fans have responded

Warrior Nun’s dedicated fan base—which refers to itself as Nunkind or Halo Bearers—has been rallying around the show for the past month. On Tuesday morning, the phrase “Netflix, correct your mistake” was trending worldwide on Twitter in reference to the cancellation.

#SaveWarriorNun also trended immediately following the news (it has been tweeted more than five million times), as did #CancelNetflix, as fans shared screenshots of their own cancellation confirmations. To date, more than 107,000 people have signed an online petition to renew the show for a third season.

Their pleas have been creative, to say the least. One fan posted a selfie with a #SaveWarriorNun sign while paragliding. Another shared a selfie holding the hashtag while scuba diving. A third organized a poetry open mic night for the cause. And singer-songwriter Ames—whose single Hymn For Her was featured in the second episode of the show—released an instrumental version of the track “for all #nunkind.”

The second season scored 100% from critics and 99% from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, a record-setting high for a Netflix original series. It also landed in the New York Times’ “50 Best TV Shows on Netflix Right Now” and the Washington Post’s “10 Hidden TV Gems You May Have Missed”—all with “$0 spent on promotion,” according to the showrunner.

While Netflix hasn’t clarified why it chose not to renew the series, it’s possible, even likely, that the reason comes down to basic math: perhaps simply not enough eyeballs were on the show, despite the ardent devotion of those fans who did watch. (The second season’s release was sandwiched between two highly-watched shows: Manifest and Wednesday.) Unlike with, say, a canceled network show, Netflix controls what data it chooses to release, so it can be harder to parse the logic behind these decisions.

Canceled Netflix shows

Aside from nuns with guns, Warrior Nun is known for its sapphic central romance: that between Ava and another nun, Beatrice (Kristina Tonteri-Young.) (The pair canonically cement the relationship in the second season finale with a kiss.)

The show joins a whole host of recent shows scrapped by Netflix, many of which involved LGBTQ+ characters, relationships, or storylines: 1899, First Kill, Fate: The Winx Saga, Q-Force, Uncoupled, GLOW. The streamer has now established a history of canceling queer shows like these after a season or two—despite positive reviews and devoted fans.

Those fans—as well as the show’s creators—are holding out hope that Warrior Nun might be picked up by another streamer. One Day at a Time, for instance, survived cancellation by being picked up by Pop, a television channel that sidestepped some of Netflix’s restrictions on how and when a show can air elsewhere.

“Working on Warrior Nun was a very special chapter of my life,” tweeted Baptista, the star of the show. “Thank you to the cast and crew for giving everything they had. Thank you to the fans that loved and supported us. I see you and I love you. It was all for you. I’m forever grateful.”

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com