Why 'The Outsider' Doesn't Have To End With El Cuco

Ralph and Holly could end up being the leads of a new season of The Outsider.
Bob Mahoney/HBO

The adaptation of Stephen King's The Outsider is heading into it's Season 1 finale on Mar. 8, and if it follows the events of the novel, it's sure to be an unsettling, bloody end. Though executive producer Richard Price described The Outsider as just a miniseries to Indiewire, he also informed them that he's already working on a potential new season if the show does well. If HBO renews The Outsider for Season 2, Price will need to figure out how to expand the tale, likely by following the continuing adventures of Holly or Ralph, or both of them together.

Price explained to Indiewire that every book adaptation is going to require a degree of interpretation, which sometimes leads to shows that are pretty different from their source material. This may end up being the case with The Outsider. “All we owe to the book is the spirit of the book,” Price said. “By speeding up, you gotta get rid of all the exposition, all the writing, because there’s no writing in a script; there’s no author, no narrator, no long journeys into the inner voice of the characters ... You have to start out with the murder of this child and end up with this climax; how you get there in a two-dimensional medium is going to invariably be different.”

Bob Mahoney/HBO

The show has already taken liberties with each of the characters, but it's not yet clear if The Outsider will end as the book does — one final confrontation with El Cuco in the caves — or if Price and his team wrote an all new ending that leaves the door open for a second season. Regardless, Price was clear to Indiewire that whatever HBO says goes.

"It’s like pulling a rabbit out of a glass hat — of course there will be another [if HBO wants one],” Price explained. “There’s no such thing as a series that, if it does well, they’re not going to want a second season.”

At least on HBO's end, it does seem like they're advertising to journalists that it could have a sophomore season. In Jacob Oller's The Outsider review for Paste, he wrote that "the company assured me [The Outsider] is NOT a miniseries."

Bob Mahoney/HBO

An obvious choice for a second season would be to continue following Cynthia Erivo's Holly. Holly Gibney is a recurring character in King's novels, and she features prominently in the Bill Hodges detective series as Bill's hype-intelligent assistant. She shows up in Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, End of Watch, and will be in the upcoming If It Bleeds. Though Mr. Mercedes is already an ongoing Amazon show — Justine Lupe plays Holly in that version — perhaps Price can find a way to adapt certain plots from the series and feed them into the world that HBO Holly lives in.

There's also the opportunity to just make all new stories for Holly. The Outsider could end up being a slow-burn police procedural that follows Holly — and maybe even Ralph too, as a stand-in for Bill — as she solves crimes with a supernatural bent. In a 2019 interview with Entertainment Weekly, author Richard Chizmar explained that he pitched a story idea to King for them to co-write. King told him "that’s a cool idea," but said "I’m going to be spending the foreseeable future with Holly Gibney, but you should write it.” That hints that King has big plans for Holly outside of her past cases with Bill, and possibly means she could be getting her own detective series. If The Outsider gets the green light for a Season 2, fans could end up seeing her adventures unfold onscreen.