Well, it finally happened. At the end of Ted Lasso’s supersized finale, the American coach left AFC Richmond behind, ultimately deciding to return home and co-parent his son in Kansas. It’s not a shocking decision, considering Ted’s (Jason Sudeikis) narrative this season had become less about managing the club and more about reconciling with his familial apprehensions.
There have been several hints that Season 3 would mark the show’s conclusion, the most obvious one being Sudeikis himself calling it the “end of the story” he wanted to tell. But Apple TV+ has yet to confirm that the series is finished. Judging by how the finale itself closes out, the future of Ted Lasso could go in a number of directions.
Season 3 saw a noticeable increase in its episode runtimes, moving away from the crisp 30-minute installments into tedious hour-long endeavors. According to Sudeikis, that expansion was necessary in moving storylines away from Ted to highlight the show’s growing ensemble cast. In doing so, the series set itself up for a potential Ted-free fourth season. Near its end, the finale “So Long, Farewell” features an extended montage of Richmond’s future without Ted. Trent Crimm (James Lance) finally publishes his book, aptly renamed The Richmond Way, and it is perhaps the most obvious nod to where the series is headed. It could be interesting to see what becomes of Ted’s legacy and how that plays a role in the team’s future, both in terms of football and within their personal lives.
Meanwhile, after ultimately deciding against selling the team, Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) taps Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) as the new club manager, with Beard (Brendan Hunt) and Nate (Nick Mohammed) sticking around as his assistant coaches. Dr. Sharon (Sarah Niles) also returns as the team’s therapist, this time helping Roy overcome his emotional stagnancy. Just prior to Ted’s departure, Roy finally accepts that he’s a Diamond Dog. He has no idea where he stands with Keeley (Juno Temple), especially given the reemergence of an unresolved — and frankly, tired — Roy/Keeley/Jamie (Phil Dunster) love triangle. For Roy to actively reach out and ask for help from others, rather than continuously dwell in his self-hatred and misery, shows a necessary growth for his character that Season 3 hadn’t previously displayed. It also potentially creates a stronger foundation for Roy and Jamie’s friendship, considering how the finale immediately stripped that dynamic apart in service of an unnecessary feud.
Yet the idea that has the most exciting potential isn’t within prolonging former narratives, but on an all new terrain. There’s a brief moment where Keeley hands Rebecca a binder hinting at the emergence of an AFC Richmond Women’s Team, which opens up a wide range of possibilities for these two beloved female characters. Not only would centering a spinoff on a women’s team maintain the spirit of Ted Lasso, it would also provide Keeley and Rebecca, who are arguably the most dynamic and compelling characters of the original ensemble, a chance to rewrite their disappointing Season 3 arcs. Their friendship, while still present, was weakened by poor writing. Gone were the Keeley and Rebecca who fiercely encouraged each other to pursue their goals and become the best versions of themselves. Instead, their conversations lacked any semblance of emotional depth, staying within surface-level topics of romantic trysts gone wrong.
Keeley, in particular, suffered a great deal. While Temple did phenomenal work with the material she was provided, her character was ultimately reduced to a prop. Her unsavory romantic relationship with Jack (Jodi Balfour) was handled carelessly, and it treated Keeley’s bisexuality as a plot device. It feels more regressive to introduce a sapphic character for the sake of depicting queerness, rather than as an avenue for more nuanced representation. And the failure of their relationship ultimately added zero growth to Keeley’s personal journey, since it wasn’t spoken of ever again.
Rebecca’s storylines were also more scattered than usual. Though she entered the season with a clear goal in mind — beating and destroying Rupert (Anthony Head) — she becomes distracted by a number of events, including her mother’s eccentric psychic and a spontaneous date with a mysterious Dutch man. In the end, none of these arcs came together in a cohesive manner. There wasn’t enough build-up to make her final relationship satisfying, and her conclusion’s messy execution weakened Rebecca’s overall character.
An AFC Richmond Women’s Team might be the perfect opportunity to bring back the Rebecca and Keeley that viewers initially fell in love with. During the finale, Rebecca sells 49% of her shares to fans, which allows her to upgrade the club and even fund a whole new team. It’s a great way for her to become even more involved at Richmond, as she now realizes that they were her true family all along. It would also bring a fresh set of characters and conflict, rather than risk repeating the same storylines.
Similarly, Keeley’s PR firm would be given a much more interesting platform to thrive. In Season 3, her adventures at KJPR were far too disconnected from Richmond, floating on an island that felt tonally separate from the rest of the show. A spinoff would allow Keeley’s arc to become more intertwined with the new women’s team, since she and Rebecca could work together in building it from the ground up. There’s ample room to dig deeper into the KJPR office culture, especially considering Ted Lasso failed to introduce any real conflict. It also provides Barbara (Katy Wix) with more room to grow, as her professional relationship with Keeley develops further.
In speculating the possibility of sequels and spinoffs, it becomes evident that Apple TV+ holds immense potential to recreate what made Ted Lasso such a beloved phenomenon in the first place. As Season 3 unfolded, the show experienced a notable decline in quality, with characters turning into exaggerated versions of themselves and character growth taking several steps backward. For a spinoff to succeed, it must diligently address these shortcomings in order to recapture the same essence that initially captivated audiences. Otherwise, AFC Richmond might just risk overstaying their welcome.
Ted Lasso Season 3 is now streaming in full on Apple TV+. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.
Dianna Shen is a TV Writer at Primetimer based in New York. Her work has been featured in Paste Magazine and Decider, among other outlets.