Since Black Lightning debuted on The CW in 2018, it has developed a small but loyal following of fans. Many of these devoted viewers were disappointed to learn that the superhero series had been canceled, and that the fourth season would be the last.
However, the cancellation news was softened by another update: a spin-off series focused on Painkiller (Jordan Calloway) was in the works
A backdoor pilot even aired during the final season of Black Lightning, but Painkiller was not listed in The CW's fall of 2021 line-up.
Jordan Calloway later confirmed that Painkiller would not be moving forward on the network, much to the disappointment of Arrowverse fans.
Why was the 'Black Lightning' spin-off, 'Painkiller,' canceled?
Though viewers were prepared to say goodbye to the Pierce family with the May 24 series finale of Black Lightning, they were disappointed to learn on that same day that Painkiller would not be getting a series order.
Khalil Payne aka Painkiller became a regular character in Season 2. He was originally a close ally to Tobias Whale (Marvin "Krondon" Jones III), until he realized how much of a supervillain Tobias was.
The seventh episode of Season 4, which was simply entitled "Painkiller," served as a pilot episode to introduce a series all about the track-star-turned-hero.
On May 24, just hours before the series finale aired, Jordan Calloway confirmed that The CW did not pick up Painkiller.
"For those of you who have not heard, Painkiller will not be going any further. So, let's rip that Band-Aid off now, OK?" the actor shared in an Instagram video. "Now, what I wanted to do was, just very quickly, make a video saying 'thank you.' Thank you to the fans, thank you to the supporters, thank you to [The] CW, to Warner Media for affording me the opportunity to even do a spin-off. Also, thank you, most importantly, to my cast, my crew, and to my guy, [Painkiller]."
Jordan then noted that he was officially saying goodbye to the Painkiller character.
"Doing this project has been nothing less than a blessing. I can't put into words how grateful I am," Jordan added. "From the experiences I've learned, to the relationships [that] I've made, it has been a blast. It has been phenomenal. As we lay this character to rest, we move on to the next chapter, I wanted to say thank you..."
Neither the actor nor the network shared exactly why Painkiller was axed. Black Lightning consistently had low ratings by The CW standards throughout its run, and viewership continued to decline throughout the final season. It can, therefore, be expected that the backdoor pilot episode didn't get the buzz that was needed in order for it to move forward.
The CW has greenlit more superhero shows — including an origin story for Naomi from the DC Comics.
Black Lightning fans may not be happy with the latest Painkiller update, but The CW is still focused on delivering superhero content. Superman & Lois was renewed for a second season shortly after the first episode aired in 2021s. A new series, Wonder Girl, is slated to premiere once Supergirl comes to an end.
Before the Season 4 finale of Black Lightning aired, The CW confirmed that Naomi had also officially been picked up for a season order.
The show, which will be written and produced by Ava DuVernay, follows DC Comics character Naomi McDuffie (Kaci Walfall) after she develops superhuman strength. The drama will tell Naomi's origin story on the screen for the first time at length. A premiere date has yet to be announced.
You can catch up on past seasons of Black Lightning on The CW, Netflix, or Hulu.