Of all the TV shows from over the past year that could have won the distinction of being the #1 fan-favorite series, you might not expect it to be a Netflix series that just got cancelled a couple of months ago. But such is the result of a newly released Rotten Tomatoes poll, which ranks the shows that fans loved the most in 2023 — and also identifies which one can claim the distinction of being the top fan-favorite series of the year.
The winner? It’s Netflix’s fantasy series Shadow and Bone, based on Leigh Bardugo’s worldwide bestselling Grishaverse novels and spanning two seasons full of adventure and magic on the streaming giant.
Rotten Tomatoes ran its poll from Jan. 9 to Jan. 19, asking viewers to pick the shows that they loved the most last year. And not only did Shadow and Bone come out on top, but the fandom showed up in such force that the review aggregation site says it felt like the result was already clear at the end of just the first day of voting (“Shadow and Bone leapt out in front of the competition from the very start and never relinquished its lead, finishing the poll with an incredible 54% of the vote”).
According to the official description from Netflix, Shadow and Bone unfolds “in a war-torn world where lowly soldier and orphan Alina Starkov has just unleashed an extraordinary power that could be the key to setting her country free. With the monstrous threat of the Shadow Fold looming, Alina is torn from everything she knows to train as part of an elite army of magical soldiers known as Grisha.”
As Alina works to hone her power, friends and enemies are sometimes hard to differentiate, nothing is what it seems in this fantastical world, and she realizes it will require more than magic to survive — especially with a crew of “charismatic criminals” on the loose.
As for the show’s cancellation after its second season: While only a handful of Netflix series were axed over the summer last year during the writers’ and actors’ strikes, Netflix kind of went on a cancellation spree once the strikes were resolved. According to Deadline, the second season of Shadow and Bone also wasn’t nearly as impactful for the streamer as the first season was.
Moreover, because of the “pipeline logjam” that the strike-delayed projects caused, setting up a crowded 2024 and 2025, Netflix decided to clear out some shows that might have returned otherwise. Netflix series like Shadow and Bone, unfortunately, suffered as a consequence.