The Expanse season 6 brings the live-action Amazon series to a dramatic close, but why is the story ending here, with 3 books still to adapt?
After its debut, The Expanse season 6 marks the Rocinante’s farewell run, but why is this acclaimed sci-fi series being cancelled now? The Expanse launched on the Syfy channel in 2015 and immediately found itself topping critics’ end-of-year lists. Based on the series of novels by James S.A. Corey (otherwise known as Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), The Expanse delivered grounded, intelligent science-fiction, with high production values and impressive visuals underpinning the socio-political themes and multi-layered characters.
The Expanse season 6 is the show’s final installment and was produced by Amazon Prime Video. This is not the first time the show was ended, however. After just three seasons, Syfy cancelled The Expanse, before Amazon swooped in to save the day, rescuing the much-loved series from an abrupt conclusion. Following a further three seasons on Prime Video, Amazon made a bittersweet announcement in November 2020, confirming season 6 would mark The Expanse‘s ending. This is disappointing news, with the Rocinante’s adventures still attracting rave reviews from fans and critics alike.
Now The Expanse season 6 has come and gone, bringing an eventful run of space dogfights and alien antics to end. Until its final chapter, the Rocinante retained its critical armor. So why is the story ending with season 6?
Why Amazon Is Ending The Expanse With Season 6
Amazon hasn’t provided an official reason for ending The Expanse, but considering there are nine books and each season adapts roughly one written installment, season 6 can’t be considered the most ideal ending for the show. As with anything in the TV industry, money is likely a factor. The Expanse‘s per-episode budget has never been made public – one producer confirmed on Reddit that the figures were high, but not Game of Thrones levels, as some suspected. Alas, those visual effects and futuristic sets don’t come cheap, and The Expanse‘s Toronto stage is around 80,000 square feet. Counterbalance this with The Expanse‘s popularity, and the prospects of running into double-figure seasons begin to look slim.
Like other streaming services, Amazon doesn’t release viewership figures in the same way network TV ratings are measured, but estimates suggest The Expanse season 4 performed well for the platform. Unfortunately, the switch from Syfy to Amazon wasn’t enough to turn The Expanse into a mainstream juggernaut befitting of its IMDB review score. In the modern era, only the most popular shows survive long enough to reach a seventh season and, put simply, The Expanse clearly didn’t attract the kind of numbers that Amazon would’ve wanted to keep the show running. On the bright side, The Expanse evidently performed well enough to warrant a proper ending with season 6, rather than the immediate smiting Syfy attempted.
Away from business, other factors might’ve played a part in The Expanse‘s cancellation. As per the source material, The Expanse season 7 would’ve comprised a 30-year time jump, posing a huge narrative hurdle for writers to overcome. In past interviews, producers revealed they were considering ways of handling this timeline leap, but The Expanse ending with season 6 and avoiding the problem altogether arguably makes more sense. The main cast can’t spend entire seasons in old-person makeup or being digitally aged through CGI, but the time jump is vital to the overarching story, and can’t be ignored completely without deviating wildly from the books. Wrapping things up with season 6 allows The Expanse to sidestep these potential pitfalls.
Why The Expanse Needs To Continue
The Expanse‘s ending has been positively received – but this latest cancellation shouldn’t be where the story ends. “Babylon’s Ashes” addresses the immediate storylines in play – Marco Inaros’ domination, peace between Inners and the Belt, Naomi’s attempts to rescue Filip, etc. However, the larger long-term arcs remain unresolved. Admiral Winston Duarte is still building something sinister over on Laconia – with the planet’s Protomolecule station pulsing blue as it creates a brand new warship unlike anything Earth and Mars are capable of. Even more foreboding is the growing anger behind the Ring entities. The Marco Inaros incident has riled up the Dark Gods further, and Holden remains concerned that these mysterious aliens could wipe out humanity at any given moment.
With multiple questions still to answer and The Expanse‘s ending teasing Laconia’s invasion of the Sol system, and the alien threat that wiped out the Protomolecule, the live-action version of James S.A. Corey’s sci-fi opera is primed for a continuation in some form. Whether that means a feature-length movie, or The Expanse season 7 remains to be seen.
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