The Reason The Expanse Season 6 Was Cut Short

All good things must come to an end, and that's especially true for "The Expanse". Based on the science fiction novels by James S.A. Corey, "The Expanse" was a critical and commercial success — even surviving cancellation at its original network SyFy, spending the remainder of its run on Amazon Prime Video. As someone who's read the novels, I certainly see where the praise is coming from: the show is impeccably cast (especially when it comes to Shohreh Aghdashloo as Chrisjen Avasarala — name another character on TV who can use swear words so creatively), and it manages to adapt the events of the novels in a way that appeals to longtime readers and newcomers alike. 

The sixth and final season of "The Expanse" pulled out all the stops, pitting the combined forces of Earth and Mars' spaceships against the Inner Fleet. Compared to previous seasons, "The Expanse" season 6 was rather short, clocking in at only six episodes. It turns out there's a perfectly good reason for that.

Six Is The Magic Number

During an interview with io9, Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham (who co-created the pseudonym of Corey and wrote "The Expanse" novels) and series showrunner Naren Shankar discussed crafting the final season. According to Shankar, the decision to make the season shorter was part of an agreement between Amazon and Alcon Television:

"I mean, you always kind of agree on how much money you're going to commit to the production of the show. And that was the decision. It came down to making six episodes of it. It's always a negotiation to some extent. Could we have done 10? Absolutely. Could we have done eight? Certainly. Uh, I don't think we would've been able to tell the season in any less than six."

Even though the episode count is on the short side, season 6 manages to give each character a send-off that either fits their personal story or manages to be extremely emotional or even both. As the old saying goes, quality trumps quantity — and "The Expanse" has quality in spades.

Stay On Target

Shankar also revealed that the shortened episode length helped the writing team focus on the story they wanted to tell:

"So that was kind of presented to us as, "Can we tell this story in six episodes?" and our response was, "Let's think about it." We talked about it and we came back with, "Yeah, we can do it, but we're going to have to supersize the sixth episode." That one's really like an episode and a half."

The series finale, entitled "Babylon's Ashes," certainly features enough space battles and political intrigue to fit into two episodes' worth, and the ending feels appropriately climatic while also hinting at future adventures. Abraham hints that there are three books left in the series to adapt — so it's quite possible, if "The Expanse" continues, future seasons will be longer. Personally, I'm all for it, especially if we get to hear more of Avasarala's perfectly placed letter bombs. 

The entire series run of "The Expanse" is streaming on Amazon Prime Video now.