Update (8/11): True Blood has officially been renewed for a fifth season. Look below for a press release regarding this announcement.

Love it or hate it, HBO’s hit vampire series True Blood shows no signs of slowing down – especially now that show creator Alan Ball announced today that he has just signed a new contract with HBO for another season.

Speaking at the True Blood panel for the summer Television Critics Association press tour, Ball laid to rest the rumors that fans have been spreading about True Blood coming to an end. Following True Blood season 2’s premiere, HBO quickly renewed the series for a third and fourth season. With that move, fans began to speculate whether or not season 4 would be his last.

Making his intentions clearer than ever, Ball stated, “I have no desire to leave. Doing the show is more fun than anything else I’ve ever done.”

Even though Ball’s contract renewal means that True Blood will almost certainly return for a fifth season, HBO has yet to officially announce its plans to renew the fan favorite series for another season. That being said, fans should take Balls announcement as a sign that the series will continue.

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To add fuel to the proverbial fire, Ball also revealed that the writers are already working on stories for True Blood season 5. While Ball wouldn’t go into much detail, he did say that one of the stories would include viewers seeing how one of the vampires was made.

Updated: HBO has officially renewed True Blood for a fifth season. Below you’ll find a press release of the announcement.

HBO has renewed the hit show TRUE BLOOD for a 12-episode fifth season, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming.  Created by Alan Ball, the series will begin production of new episodes later this year in Los Angeles, with debut set for summer 2012.

“I am thrilled that TRUE BLOOD continues to enjoy a phenomenal reception from both subscribers and critics,” noted Lombardo.  “Alan Ball and his gifted team have devised the greatest thrill ride on TV.”

“I remain amazed and delighted by the enthusiasm of our viewers,” says Ball.  “I can’t imagine having more fun than this.”

Mixing romance, suspense, mystery and humor, the Emmy®-nominated show takes place at a time when vampires have come out of the coffin, and follows the on-and-off romance between waitress and part-faerie Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), who can hear people’s thoughts, and 173-year-old vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer).  Series creator Alan Ball (creator of the Emmy®-winning HBO series “Six Feet Under”) is also an executive producer of the show, which is based on the bestselling Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris.

Following the disastrous third season, which was rampant with poor character arcs and a compete mishandling of the series’ ever-growing cast, fans were more than worried about what they might see as the fourth season began.

Fortunately, it appears that Ball has figured out how to perfectly handle the fantastical storylines and numerous cast members – but does that mean a fifth season will do the same?

Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) is already confirmed for True Blood season 5

As True Blood settles in its pseudo-soap opera nature, many fans are beginning to wonder whether the series has become too fantastical. With vampires, witches, gods, ghosts, shapeshifters, werewolves, werepanthers and fairies (phew!), the series, as it currently stands, is much more “grandiose” than when it humbly began.

Of course, that can be said for many series. As shows progress with age, the storylines and characters tend to grow – and it’s typical for them to lose some of the audience that originally trumpeted a premiere. With Ball only slightly basing each season of True Blood on the books, we’ll just have to wait and see how the series makes its transition into season 5.

If anything, we can at least look forward to Russell Edgington’s return, as Denis O’Hare has already stated that the producers intend to bring his character back at the beginning of the fifth season.

True Blood airs Sundays @9pm on HBO

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