One of FX's most unabashed success stories, Justified recently debuted yet another strong season premiere episode for its fifth season. Taking lawman Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) out of the relative comfort zone of his home stomping grounds, the premiere showed that Justified need not be confined by its (admittedly colorful and important) local geography.
Yet, despite the series' apparent ability to grow and change successfully, Justified may not be around much longer. According to the show's producers, plans are in place for season 6 of Justified to be the show's last.
Variety has shared the scoop that showrunner Graham Yost is planning to end Justified after its sixth season. At an event for the show's season 5 premiere, FX executive Nick Grad confirmed that the current vision for the series sees it concluding after the next season. Grad commented:
“We like having shows that rate really well, and there’s an instinct that you want it to go on forever. But it doesn’t... Another metric that’s important to us [beyond ratings] is, ‘What shows are going to be talked about in the next 20 years?’ If you’re making a great, 80-hour movie, it has to have a beginning, middle and end. Going out at the right time is going to make your show last forever — we want to make shows that stand the test of time.”
A likely influence on the showrunners' plans is the recent passing of author Elmore Leonard, who originated the characters and story on which Justified is based. The show has already paid tribute to Leonard, but one gets the sensation from Variety's article that his death has taken some of the wind out of Justified's creative sails.
At the same time, Grad admitted that the current plans to end Justified with season 6 are subject to change, dependent on how the series' showrunners feel after the end of season 5. If there are more stories to tell – and be told within the organic framework of the series – they may end up pressing forward into a purely theoretical season 7.
There's much to be said for television series that don't overstay their welcome. Grabbing an obvious recent example, Breaking Bad seemed to bow out at exactly the right moment, rarely testing viewers' patience (with the exception of an egregious "mid-season" hiatus) before its planned ending. If Justified goes for a similar final run, it could cement itself among the pantheon of truly great modern television series.
What say you, Screen Rant readers – should Raylan Givens hang up his hat after six solid seasons, or should he keep pressing on as long as he can?
Justified is currently dispensing its fifth season of Southern-fried justice Tuesday nights on FX.