Over the weekend it emerged that the third season of Spartacus – titled War of the Damned – would be its last. The gory historical drama is a ratings hit for Starz so the news that it would end after three seasons – and a mini-series prequel – surprised some. Show-runner Steven S. DeKnight has explained his reasoning behind the decision to bring the drama to a close.
“It’s a bit unheard of to end a show when it’s doing better than ever. It’s a bold move and we talked about it with Starz. How long do you run a show? Do you run it until you can squeeze every last bit of revenue out of it or do you end it on a high note? That was part of the decision to wrap up the show. The idea of ending the show when you’re on top and the audience still wants more instead of dragging it out until it starts to wane and you kind of limp to the finish line. – Steven S. DeKnight speaking to The Hollywood Reporter
In the interview with The Hollywood Reporter the show-runner admits that he originally envisaged Spartacus running for five to seven seasons but didn’t want the show to become repetitive.
‘My original thought was that this show could go five to seven seasons but we realized the actual history is very scattershot: the rebels went north, south, east, west, then back north, then broke apart, came back together. We thought, instead of repeating ourselves with one wave of Roman senators after another going after Spartacus, getting defeated why not really condense the story. … It’s like The Princess Bride: cut out all the boring bits and just make the best, most rip-roaring-est tale we can to wrap up the series.’
Spartacus has proved to be a runaway success for Starz with six million viewers tuning in per week for the historical drama. The series has successfully blended the type of storylines found in Rome and The Tudors with the visual style of the war movie 300. Spartacus has developed a reputation for its graphic sex scenes, gory violence and strong language as well as killing off key cast members at a breath-taking pace.
The first season finale ended with a bloody massacre as Spartacus (Andy Whitfield) led a slave rebellion killing lanista Batiatus (John Hannah). The prequel Gods of Arena – which was produced when season two was delayed – introduced and killed off characters such as Gaia (Jaime Murray) and Tullius (Stephen Lovatt) The second season finale shocked many when it killed off Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), Llithyia (Viva Bianca) and Mira (Katrina Law).
The third and final season of Spartacus – War of the Damned – is expected to premier on Starz in January 2013.