Don't shoot the messenger, but "Justified," the FX series starring Timothy Olyphant as a trigger-happy deputy U.S. marshal, plans to end its run after six seasons.
The good news? Season 5 premiered only last week (and you can watch its second episode at 10 p.m. Tuesday).
"It was really Graham’s [Yost, the show's creator] and [star] Tim Olyphant’s decision. I would have liked to have more 'Justified,'" FX Networks chief John Landgraf told reporters at the Television Critics Association's winter meetings Tuesday morning. "It’s one of my favorite shows. I mean, I just really love it personally, and I have a longstanding adoration of all things Elmore Leonard."
Leonard, the legendary novelist from whose work Olyphant's character, Raylan Givens, was drawn, died in August at the age of 87, not long after deciding to add Givens to the book he was working on at the time.
"A lot of it was just sort of figuring out how much story we have left," said Yost when I asked why six proved to be the magic number of seasons. "You think it might get easier" writing the show, "but we learn more about what we can't do," or find they can't do a particular story because they've already done it.
"There were financial incentives to keep going, but it really felt in terms of the story of Raylan Givens in Kentucky that six seasons felt about right," he said.
Asked by another reporter if this season, which moves beyond its Kentucky base to include scenes in Florida and Detroit -- two of Leonard's favorite locations -- was a tribute to the novelist, Yost replied that "every episode we've tried to do is a tribute to Elmore Leonard, from the beginning of the series."
Working on Season 5, "We were thinking this is going to be a lot of fun. Elmore's going to get a kick out of that. And then he died."
"I loved the man. He's going to be greatly missed," said Olyphant.
And for those who've loved Olyphant as Raylan, maybe goodbye won't be forever. When I asked the actor afterward whether there could possibly be a Raylan Givens movie down the road, he smiled and said, "I like the way you're thinking."
A movie, he added, would offer the opportunity to essentially start over, while a series that goes on and on eventually gets weighed down by its characters and their histories.