Why the Final “Divergent” Film Was Never Made: What the Cast and Creator Have Said

As 'Divergent' celebrates its 10th anniversary on March 21, here's everything to know about the fourth and final film, Ascendant, which was never made

<p>Murray Close/Red Wagon/Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock</p>

Murray Close/Red Wagon/Lionsgate/Kobal/Shutterstock

Divergent first premiered 10 years ago on March 21, 2014, but unlike other book adaptations, it never had a proper conclusion.

Based on Veronica Roth’s hit book franchise, the film starred Shailene Woodley as a young girl living in a future dystopian Chicago in which society was divided into five factions: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite.

The book series and subsequent films arrived during a frenzy for YA content, including Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games, and two film sequels followed the first, titled Insurgent and Allegiant, based on Roth’s novels of the same name.

A fourth and final film, titled Ascendant, was meant to wrap up the franchise but it never came to fruition due to Allegiant’s lackluster box office performance.

As Divergent turns 10, here’s everything the cast and creator have said about the fourth final that never was.

What was the final Divergent movie about?

Theo James and Shailene Woodley Talk About Divergent
Theo James and Shailene Woodley Talk About Divergent

Warning: spoilers about the final Divergent book ahead.

The fourth Divergent film was intended to tell the story of the second half of Roth’s third and final book Allegiant, as a "part two" to the third film of the same name.

After coming in contact with a group called the Bureau, Shailene Woodley's Tris and the rest of the group learn that their city and all of the factions have been part of a genetic experiment. However, when Tris and the others try to expose the Bureau, their leader David tries to unleash a serum to wipe their memories so that they can do the experiment over again.

The final film ends with Tris exposing the truth about the Bureau. But in the final book, the story continues: Though Tris successfully stops the Bureau by unleashing a memory-erasing serum on them, she is fatally shot by David in the process.

Why did the final Divergent movie never get released?

<p>Stephen Lovekin/Variety/Penske Media via Getty Images</p>

Stephen Lovekin/Variety/Penske Media via Getty Images

In April 2014, a month after the release of Divergent, it was announced that the final book in the franchise would be split into two films. At the time, Deadline announced that they would be released on March 18, 2016 and March 24, 2017, respectively, noting that both films would be produced separately.

Filming for the third film took place in Atlanta, Georgia from May 2015 to August 2015, while production for the fourth and final film was expected to start in the summer of 2016. In February 2016, the fourth film faced a bump in the road as Robert Schwentke stepped down as director and Leo Toland Kreiger later took over.

The franchise was dealt a major blow as the third film, Allegiant, released on March 18, 2016, to dismal box office numbers. The film grossed $179.2 million worldwide against its estimated $142 million budget, making it the lowest-grossing film in the Divergent franchise. As a result, Lionsgate began to rethink the franchise and its format.

Related: Hunger Games Director Admits He 'Totally Regrets' Splitting Mockingjay Into 2 Parts (Exclusive)

What happened to the Divergent series?

<p>Murray Close/Summit Entertainment/courtesy Everett Collection</p>

Murray Close/Summit Entertainment/courtesy Everett Collection

In July 2016, months after the release of Allegiant, it was reported that the fourth and final film would skip a theatrical release and be turned into a TV movie. At the time, Variety noted that the potential TV movie would lead into an “additional television series set in the same post-apocalyptic world.”

However, the series was quickly met with skepticism, especially from its stars. During an interview with Screen Rant in September 2016, Woodley said she was “not interested” in reprising her role for the new project.

“I didn't sign up to be in a television show,” she told the publication. “Out of respect to the studio and everyone involved, they may have changed their mind and may be doing something different, but I'm not necessarily interested in doing a television show.”

In August 2017, more details were released as Deadline reported that Starz would be developing the series after it was acquired by Lionsgate. At the time, it was announced that Allegiant writer/executive producer Adam Cozad and director Lee Toland Krieger would return, however, it was unclear who from the original cast would appear.

In December 2018, a spokesperson for Starz confirmed that the series was no longer in development.

What has the creator said about the final Divergent movie?

<p>Lars Niki/Corbis via Getty Images</p>

Lars Niki/Corbis via Getty Images

Despite the final movie never getting made, author Veronica Roth feels the film franchise is still complete. During an exclusive interview with PEOPLE in October 2023, Roth opened up about the Divergent controversy, including the controversial decision to split the final book into two movies.

"I mean, breaking things in two was all the rage at the time. That was why that decision was made," Roth explained. "But at that point, I think I always felt peace about it just because I knew the movies were taking a different track than the books, and if you change the lead up, you change the ending. So I kind of felt like at that point ... I feel like that third movie ... it's its own thing."

"It feels complete to me, relatively speaking, because what does that even mean at that point?" she added.

When asked if the final movie would included Tris' death, Roth wasn't sure. "I don't think they had a really clear outline for me,” she explained. “I think they were maybe a little worried about telling me one way or the other because maybe they were concerned about what I would say or setting expectations or something like that."

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