Why Servant Season 4 Will End The Series, According To M. Night Shyamalan

The third season of Apple TV+'s dark thriller "Servant" drops today, and it's already been renewed for a fourth and final season ahead of its premiere. Now, series creator M. Night Shyamalan is explaining his decision to end the show after forty episodes.

The showrunner spoke with TVLine about the show's final season, which does not yet have a premiere date. He explained the way audience numbers influence opportunities for prolonged storytelling, saying, "On a serialized show, you're kind of going, 'Did the audience like it? OK, we've got another season! What are we doing?'" Shyamalan takes the thought exercise all the way to a hypothetical season nine, before explaining that, at a certain point, "you feel that we're just adding on additions to the house rather than [focusing on] its natural design."

This Horror House Can't Stand Forever

The house metaphor is apt, as "Servant" takes place largely within the four walls of a Philadelphia brownstone that grows ever-more corrupt as the seasons unfold. The show follows a married couple, Sean (Toby Kebbell) and Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose), whose rather delusional equilibrium is disrupted when a mysterious nanny named Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) arrives to care for their infant son. The only trouble is, their son is actually a lifelike doll who seemingly comes to life when Leanne arrives.

Since then, the house has grown to include cult members, potential imposter babies, and more than one dead body. The very architecture itself grows sinister as "Servant" wears on, and as Shyamalan's metaphor puts it, it's not worth it to pile on more than the foundation can bear. "I don't want to be telling a story in relation to the decay or rise of the audience," Shyamalan says, explaining that it's perfectly fine if the show gains its biggest audience numbers when it's set to end.

It's clear that the positive audience response has influenced Shyamalan's decisions about the show's continuation before. He calls the decision about when to end "a tricky balancing act because the information that's driving you is coming in yearly," referencing viewership data. Frankly, I think it's a great idea for "Servant" to end after its fourth season. The show doesn't necessarily feel stretched out, but it does seem narratively distractible; to date, it has never answered any of its own most basic questions, like what the deal is with resurrected baby Jericho in the first place. Here's hoping the third and fourth seasons will tie some of the series' errant narrative strings together and leave viewers as shocked as ever.

"Servant" season 3 premieres on Apple TV+ today, January 21.