Though Season 1 of Westworld ended with the death of Sir Anthony Hopkins' character Robert Ford, the show hasn't been know for killing off its leads. Much of the time, when a character dies, they are replaced with a "host" version, like Tessa Thompson's Charlotte Hale. Even Ford appeared for much of Season 2, as a figment of Bernard's imagination. So the Season 3 finale came as a bit of a shock, as the series seemed to kill off Dolores. Now, the Westworld showrunners have revealed Dolores' fate, and it looks like she may not be back. Warning: Spoilers for Westworld Season 3 follow.
Dolores wasn't the only character killed off in the finale. Ed Harris' William, aka the Man In Black, also died. But his death was more in the show's traditional vein, with a host "Man In Black" doing the murderous honors, ensuring Harris will continue on the series.
Dolores, on the other hand, is already a host, one who has died with alarming regularity. But her death this time wasn't just her body taken out in a fight. Instead, her memories, the things that make her "her," were deleted, one packet at a time. And her last scene felt very final. As the last of her memories are wiped away, she disappears out of the virtual simulation of the Westworld park, leaving Maeve all alone to carry on the fight.
Speaking to Variety, Westworld showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy confirmed the Dolores fans know and love is dead.
Dolores is gone. We’re not yet discussing publicly the direction the show is taking, but the fun thing about this show is, you know, from the beginning Lisa and I wanted to make a show that constantly reinvented itself, that could be a different show every season. I think it’s important with a show in which death can be impermanent — these are robots, after all — to mark the occasion with Dolores.
But much like Ford, William, Charlotte, and others, the death of her character does not necessarily mean actress Evan Rachel Wood is leaving the series. When asked if this was Wood's final season, Nolan responded:
I f—ing hope not... That version of that character is gone. We love Evan Rachel Wood and we haven’t [sighs] started talking publicly about exactly what the show looks like going forward. But it looks very different.
For fans of Dolores, this is good news. Someone, perhaps Bernard or Maeve, will find a way to build a new Dolores. But who that new version of her is, and how large a role she'll play in Westworld Season 4 remains a mystery.