Walker is The CW's Most-Watched, But Season 5 Update Has Fans Worrying Anyway

Walker is The CW's Most-Watched, But Season 5 Update Has Fans Worrying Anyway
Image credit: The CW

As much as viewers love Jared Padalecki, it may not be enough.


  • Walker has the highest ratings in The CW's history.
  • The show's popularity is largely due to the Supernatural star in the title role.
  • However, producing a new season may prove too difficult financially.

When Supernatural ended on The CW in 2020, many viewers were left with an insurmountable emotional void (and it wasn't just because of the controversial finale). The main consolation was the then-new sports drama All American, which had been on the air for two years and had become one of the most critically acclaimed shows, earning a perfect 100% score from critics on Rotten Tomatoes in its second season. What The CW still lacked, however, were impressive ratings.

That all changed in January 2021 with the release of the neo-Western action drama Walker. Not only was the new series a reboot of the iconic 1993 series starring Chuck Norris, but it was fronted by none other than Supernatural star Jared Padalecki as the legendary Texas Ranger. Each season's ratings shattered all previous records on The CW set by other projects.

But while Walker is still on the air, it is also one of the last members of the network's 'old guard' not produced under the auspices of Nexstar Media Group, which is now The CW's largest shareholder. And unfortunately, despite record-breaking ratings, the show's fate is in jeopardy.

The Show That Broke Records on the CW

Walker's pilot episode alone has become the most-watched episode on the network since The Flash 's fourth season premiered in 2018. The series's ratings have only increased since then, essentially securing its status as the most-watched show in the network's history. Though each of the four seasons released have received a fairly cold reception from critics, the ratings speak for themselves, with an audience score of an impressive 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Season 4 currently sitting at a perfect 100%.

Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be enough to get the show renewed for at least one more season.

Despite High Ratings, Walker May Not Be Renewed

Walker has an impressive track record for any series, which has so far kept the show on The CW despite a cancellation policy for most of its shows after Nexstar acquired a 75% stake. However, the CBS/The CW co-production may not be picked up for at least one more season. Like most of The CW's uncanceled drama series, Walker underwent major cuts last year that made it much cheaper to produce. Still, it may not be profitable enough.

Reportedly, the show's licensing fee is incredibly low at around $500,000 per episode, so it may not be worth it for CBS. In addition, American studios not associated with foreign co-productions may find it almost impossible to produce anything for such a low license fee, even if they are based in states with tax incentives, like Texas.

It requires incredibly shortened shooting days, a more modest set, and basically a lower quality production. In this context, it is much easier for The CW to simply abandon further work on Walker, because the low quality will not provide the same high ratings as before, and the series will never pay off.

Season 4 has only four episodes out of the announced thirteen, so there is still plenty of time for The CW to make a final decision. It will all depend on the ratings of the new episodes and the financial benefit for the network.

Hopefully, the idea of keeping Jared Padalecki, The CW's main audience magnet in the 2020s, for at least one more season will seem more than profitable to the executives.

In the meantime, the next episode, titled We've Been Here Before, will air on The CW on May 1 at 8 p.m. ET.