‘Veronica Mars’ Wasn’t Nearly as Dark as Creator Rob Thomas Planned

Veronica Mars burst onto the scene in 2004. A product of the now-debunked UPN network, the show was dark and edgy for its time. Featuring Kristen Bell as a high school student that moonlights as a private detective, the show was moody and featured topics like assault and murder — issues that weren’t frequent plots in teen dramas at that time. But if creator Rob Thomas had gotten his way, the noir series would have been much darker.

Keith (Enrico Colantoni) confronts Veronica (Kristen Bell) on 'Veronica Mars'
(L-R) Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars, Enrico Colantoni as Keith Mars | Ron P. Jaffe/Warner Bros./Getty Images

‘Veronica Mars’ — How it came to be

Fans of the series, called Marshmallows, are probably shocked to learn the show wasn’t even supposed to be on TV. Screenwriter Rob Thomas originally planned to pen the idea as a young adult novel with a male protagonist. But he explains in a Huffington Post interview how the female lead developed instead.

“What I wanted to write about, what was thematically interesting to me after teaching high school for years, was this generation of information overloaded media-savvy jaded-before-their-time teenagers. And I was interested in a story about loss of innocence,” Thomas said. “A story about loss of innocence to me became more powerful with a female protagonist. It hurt more. It felt more poignant. So by the time I wrote it, [the protagonist] had gone from a boy to a girl.”

Sounds like his thinking was right on. It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the teen detective.

The darker side of Neptune, California

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The series was set in fictional Neptune, California, and according to Screen Rant, creator Rob Thomas had ideas to make it even darker than it already was. Thomas had hoped to get the series picked up on a cable network like HBO so he would have a bit more freedom with some of his edgier ideas. One of those ideas was to let Veronica learn that her boyfriend Duncan was her half brother. Scandalous by any means, the idea didn’t sit well with UPN and while part of that plotline made it into the series, it was revealed the two were not related.

The series also dealt with unheard-of topics at the time — most notably, sexual assault in a teen drama. The network hesitated to air such a traumatizing ordeal but agreed in the end. This decision was twofold. It not only spoke about the violence that was seemingly commonplace among women but according to CNN, it helped some survivors talk about their own assaults and begin the healing process.

It’s hard to imagine how much darker the series would have been if it were picked up on a cable network. Due to its home on UPN, and later the CW, Thomas was forced to make changes and scale back on some of his moodier ideas.

A Hulu revival

While the original series had a cult following, it didn’t last too long. Airing only three seasons from 2004-2007, the show saw a bit of a revival in 2014 with a movie continuing the gumshoe antics of Veronica Mars and company. But diehard fans wanted more, and in 2019 eight new episodes were released on the streaming giant Hulu.

While the new season earned lots of praise, there are currently no plans for a fifth season just yet. There may not be plans for another season, but that hasn’t stopped creator Rob Thomas from coming up with ideas.  

Telling the Deadline, “They would all be eight-episode mysteries. For Season 5 the ideas I have been noodling with have all been kind of Agatha Christie in that Murder In the Manor House sort of idea.”

He says that both he and Bell are interested in continuing the show as long as it fits into their schedules. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the super sleuth has in store for us next!