<i>Spartacus</i> to End Next Season

Starz announced this morning that the upcoming season of Sparactus will be the last for the his sword-and-sandals drama. The third and final season, titled "War of the Damned," will kick off its 10-episode run in January.

"The fans have been tremendously supportive of our show," creator Steven S. DeKnight said in a statement. "We did not come to this decision lightly. It was an extremely difficult and emotional decision for my partners and I. Yet, in the end, the story was best served by rolling all of the remaining action and drama of Spartacus' journey into one stunningly epic season that will be extremely satisfying for everyone who's been along for the ride."

Spartacus debuted in January 2010 with "Blood and Sand," followed in January 2011 by the prequel "Gods of the Arena," and this year by "Vengeance." "War of the Damned" will see the return of those stars who survived the bloody finale of "Vengeance," namely, Liam McIntyre as Sparactus, Manu  Bennett as Crixus, Dustin Clare as Gannicus, Dan Feuerriegel as Agron, Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Naevia and Ellen Hollman as Saxa. They'll be joined by Todd Lasance as Julius Caesar, Simon Merrells as Marcus Crassus and Anna Hutchison as Laeta.

"It's a bit unheard of to end a show when it's doing better than ever," DeKnight tells The Hollywood Reporter. "It's a bold move and we talked about it with Starz. How long do you run a show? Do you run it until you can squeeze every last bit of revenue out of it or do you end it on a high note? That was part of the decision to wrap up the show. The idea of ending the show when you're on top and the audience still wants more instead of dragging it out until it starts to wane and you kind of limp to the finish line. I've always thought that five seasons was the perfect number; you've got enough time to tell a great story but there's not so much real estate that you start to get a little flabby in the middle. This is ending a season early. Spartacus is a bit of an unusual duck. We've always had an ending -- it's written in history -- so we knew where we were shooting for. My original thought was that this show could go five to seven seasons but we realized the actual history is very scattershot: the rebels went north, south, east, west, then back north, then broke apart, came back together. We thought, instead of repeating ourselves with one wave of Roman senators after another going after Spartacus, getting defeated, going after Spartacus, getting defeated, why not really condense the story, give the juiciest parts to Marcus Crassus. It's like The Princess Bride: cut out all the boring bits and just make the best, most rip-roaring-est tale we can to wrap up the series."

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