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Prison Break Season 5: Why the Revival Series Was a Mistake

Prison Break season 5 brought the show back after a long absence but suffered from the same mistakes that spoiled the original series finale.

Prison Break season 5 may have finally given Michael Scofield and his brother Lincoln a happy ending, but the revival series was a mistake. Prison Break season 1 was a pulpy, highly entertaining thriller with great characters and provided a fresh take on the prison subgenre. From the beginning though, the series had an inbuilt flaw – the concept itself. Prison Break season 1 had to end on the Scofield’s escaping, and season 2 found them on the run. Of course, they were back in another prison by the end of that season and this subsequent pattern would repeat in ways that soon became very tedious.


In an attempt to move away from this formula, Prison Break then began to introduce convoluted conspiracies and shady government agencies to extend the concept, and the narrative focus of season 1 quickly became lost. The show first ended with Prison Break season 4, which revealed in a flashforward that Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) died, presumably of the terminal brain cancer he was diagnosed with. A TV movie called Prison Break: The Final Break later showed he sacrificed himself to save his wife and brother one last time by electrocuting himself to open a locked prison door.

Related: Prison Break’s Revival Finale Explained

So, Michael was definitively dead – until Prison Break season 5 arrived in 2017. Prison Break season 5 followed a number of high-profile revivals of popular shows like The X-Files and Twin Peaks, and the new show was pitched as a limited miniseries. Of course, the show struggled to explain how its lead character could still be alive – even if he survived the electric surge from The Final Break, there was still the terminal brain cancer issue. This ensured Prison Break season 5 would eventually be forced to explain his survival via some farfetched retcons, meaning the Prison Break revival series ended up being a massive mistake.

Why Prison Break Was Cancelled

Kaniel Outis in Prison Break Season 5

Despite declining ratings following its ludicrously unrealistic fourth season, Prison Break‘s original cancellation in 2009 was for a different reason altogether. At the 2009 TV Critics Press Tour, former Fox media executive Kevin Reilly told reporters that Prison Break had been canceled due to a lack of creativity in the writer’s room. As originally reported by E! Online, Reilly went on to state that “The show has just played out. You get to a point creatively where you feel all the stories have been told, and you want to end strong.” This moment of prescience by the Prison Break team would prove relatively short-lived, however, with a Prison Break revival series confirmed to be in the works by Fox by June 2015.

Why The Prison Break Revival Series Was A Mistake

Robert Knepper as T-Bag in Prison Break

Prison Break had something of an issue with reversing major character deaths even prior to bringing Michael Scofield back from beyond the veil. Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead universe) originally left the show during a contract dispute in season 3, with Lincoln (Dominic Purcell) discovering her character’s severed head in a box. Callies later returned for Prison Break season 4, with her death handwaved away as an elaborate ruse by the villains. While Prison Break was never exactly realistic, the increasing reliance on silly twists gradually turned fans off of the continuing series.

Michael’s emotional death in season 4 at least offered some closure in this regard, but Prison Break season 5 even undid that modicum of finality. Prison Break season 5 didn’t offer much in the way of fresh ideas for the central concept either, contriving another convoluted conspiracy to reunite all the main characters again. The suspension of disbelief required of even the most loyal of audiences looking for hidden messages meant Prison Break season 5 divided critics and alienated fans – with the Prison Break revival series subsequently labeled a mistake.

Related: How Prison Break Became Homer’s Modern Odyssey

Will There Be Prison Break Season 6?

If nothing else, Prison Break season 5 was designed as a concrete ending for the series, reuniting the brothers once and for all. That said, season 5 sets up Prison Break season 6, with Michael being offered a government job to make use of his unique skills. Star Wentworth Miller also revealed that same year he pitched an endearing silly season 6 idea where the brothers are locked up by their psychotic, previously unrevealed brother Tag and they’d have to relive their past escapes in a new prison.

Series creator Paul Scheuring, on the other hand, appears content that Prison Break season 5 is the end of the road for the show. Fox’s most recent statement on the series’ future in August 2019 confirms Scheuring’s sentiments, with the network confirming there are no current plans to revive Prison Break to date. The final nail in the coffin for the show’s future, however, arrived in February 2021 after the previously keen Wentworth Miller reversed his stance, stating that there will be no more plans for Prison Break featuring Michael Wentworth – closing the book on the series’ already tenuous future once and for all.

Next: Michael Scofield’s Death Explained

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