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The real reason The Crown is ending

While the monarchy remains a fixture in the United Kingdom, it seems the Queen's reign is over in streaming land — and much sooner than you might have expected. That's right, Netflix's critically-adored historical drama, The Crowncouldn't even outlast the interminable reign of its subject.

The monarch in question is Queen Elizabeth II, who has ruled the House of Windsor and reigned as Queen of England since ascending to the throne nearly seven decades ago. Elizabeth succeeded in 1952 at the age of 25 after the death of her father, King Georg VI (of The King's Speech fame). The Crown, which was created for Netflix by lauded film and television scribe Peter Morgan (The Last King of Scotland, The Queen), opens with Elizabeth's 1947 wedding to Prince Philip Mountbatten, and follows her ascension to the throne, covering her various personal and professional entanglements throughout her reign in the 20th Century and beyond.   

With so much narrative ground to cover, Morgan clearly needed lots of space to give the Queen's story its due. In fact, the man behind The Crown originally envisioned a six-season run for the streamer, with three different actors portraying the monarch over two seasons each (Claire Foy donning the crown on seasons 1 and 2, Olivia Colman claiming the apparatus on seasons 3 and 4, and Imelda Staunton presumably closing things out on seasons 5 and 6). That plan never quite came to fruition, as Netflix has recently announced that the show will end after its fifth season. Unsurprisingly, it seems money is a big factor in the streaming giant's decision to bring The Crown's reign to an early end (via The Hollywood Reporter).

The Crown is dead, long live The Crown

That end is hardly great news for fans of The Crown, but it's easy to see why the balance sheets may have pushed Netflix toward its decision to conclude the show sooner rather than later. The Crown is, after all, a lavishly produced piece of work that features as much talent behind the camera as it does in front. Marquee performers like John Lithgow, Helena Bonham Carter, Vanessa Kirby, and Gillian Anderson have all made appearances on the show, and actors like that don't come cheap. At those personnel costs on top of the expensive production design, and you've got a pretty daunting sum.

Simply put, The Crown is a very expensive show to produce, and while Morgan and his crew ensure every penny spent is seen on screen, Netflix may be looking to re-allocate Morgan's portion of its multi-billion dollar production budget to a flashier show better suited to attracting new subscribers. In doing so, the company will unfortunately be sacrificing a bit of prestige, as The Crown has been a fixture during awards season. The series has earned a whopping 26 Emmy nominations to date, with more almost certain to come.  

Even with The Crown ending a season early, the show will still have outlasted the vast majority of Netflix's original series. The streamer has started to engage in a little belt-tightening lately by weighing production costs more critically against their viewing statistics. Considering the massive price tag attached to each episode of The Crown, it isn't surprising that the economics didn't line up. To hear The Crown's creator Peter Morgan tell it, the show's early end may well be a blessing in disguise. "At the outset I had imagined The Crown running for six seasons, but now that we have begun work on the stories for season five it has become clear to me that this is the perfect time and place to stop" (via Metro UK).

The Crown will go out on a high note

The good news in all of this is that fans have two more full seasons of The Crown to enjoy before the series wraps up. (That isn't always the case with television shows — many of which have been unceremoniously axed or canceled without another season up ahead, leaving them ending on a cliffhanger.) 

Season 4 of The Crown hasn't yet aired, and is slated to hit Netflix later this year. The collection of episodes will take place across the era of time in which Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister (The X-Files and Sex Education's Gillian Anderson will play the first female PM on The Crown), and will introduce the late Princess of Wales, Diana (relative newcomer Emma Corrinwill portray her). 

The Crown season 5 is further down the line, and even better news is that Imelda Staunton is still on board to portray Elizabeth on the final season — all but ensuring the show will go out with a most dignified bang.