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The Real Reason The Expanse Is Ending With Season 6

The Expanse is one of the more impressive sci-fi shows to emerge in recent years. The high-concept jaunt through a near-future interplanetary diaspora has won legions of exuberant fans. Unfortunately, the show's production has been as troublesome as the average mission for the crew of the Rocinante

The sci-fi epic (based on the nine-book series of the same name by James S.A. Corey) started out as a beloved cult favorite on Syfy, but the ratings were so low that the channel canceled it after three seasons. However, the show was promptly revived by Amazon after just a couple of weeks in limbo. Apparently, CEO Jeff Bezos is an enormous fan of space opera and the source material specifically, which made the expensive series a natural fit for his Prime Video streaming service.

Per Deadline, the show has been officially renewed for season 6, ahead of the premiere of season 5. Because season 4 of The Expanse ended on a major cliffhanger, and it seems like there are plenty of more stories to tell, it's good to know that there'll be at least a few more episodes on the horizon after season 5 lands in December. Unfortunately, the early renewal comes a pretty serious caveat: The sixth season will be the show's last. This is especially troubling, since it's unlikely the writers will able to adapt the remaining plot from the book series in just one more set of episodes. In all likelihood, The Expanse on TV is going to end far short of The Expanse in novel form. Here's real reason the series is ending with season 6.

It looks like the show has run its natural course

All good things come to an end, and judging by the comments of executive producers Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson (via The Hollywood Reporter), The Expanse might just get the best possible ending a show can hope for in this day and age: a natural one. 

"From the moment we committed to bringing this show to life up until this final season, we have worked tirelessly to honor the vision of the writers," Kosove and Johnson say. "We have prided ourselves on having one of the most diverse casts on television and giving a platform to stories that matter."

These comments make it pretty clear that the writers of The Expanse have heard about the decision to make season 6 the final one, and that they agree with the distributor's choice. Considering all the trouble and turmoil that The Expanse has gone through, it's reassuring that the show will get the all-too-rare chance to bring its story to a comparatively natural close. 

So far, the streaming series has adapted the source material at a pretty standard one-book-per-season rate. As fans of the novels will tell you, after book 6 (entitled Babylon's Ashes), the story jumps several decades into the future and enters a new phase with a fresh antagonist. In all likelihood, The Expanse series will avoid the awkwardness of this lacuna in the timeline, and simply bring the story to a close at the end of the Free Navy arc with the resolution of the war between Earth, Mars, and Marco Inaros. Another option would be to cram the entire two-book Free Navy arc into season 5, followed by the entire three-book Laconia arc into season 6, but that seems like an awful lot of ground to cover. 

We should have a better idea about the direction they're taking once The Expanse season 5 debuts on Amazon Prime Video on December 16, 2020.