8:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'How to Get Away With Murder' to End With Season 6 on ABC
How to Get Away With Murder's end is officially in sight.
The previously announced sixth season of the ABC drama starring Viola Davis will be its last, the network announced Thursday. The Shondaland-produced series from showrunner Pete Nowalk will wrap its run with 15 additional episodes in the 2019-20 broadcast season. Murder joins the previously announced 11th and final season of Modern Family as ABC hits ending their runs during the 2019-20 broadcast season.
"Viola Davis made television history with her unforgettable portrayal of iconic female antihero Annalise Keating," ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said in a statement. "I am eternally grateful to her, Pete Nowalk and Shondaland for creating and bringing to life such a smart, sophisticated and groundbreaking series that has long been an integral part of Thursday nights on ABC."
The final season — which is set to return Thursday, Sept. 26, at 10 p.m. ET/PT — will follow Keating's class through their final semester in law school while the deception, fear and guilt binding her with her students proves deadlier than ever. (Watch a trailer for the final season, below.)
"Deciding to end this series was a brutal decision, but ultimately the story tells you what to do — as it did here," said Nowalk. "For me, Annalise Keating's journey has always had a clear ending. Knowing I have 15 episodes left to finish her story, and the chance to give all the characters their own killer endings, is a gift rarely given to a series creator, and I'm grateful to ABC and ABC Studios for the opportunity and creative freedom.
"I am so thankful to the brilliant cast, writers and crew for dedicating themselves to the most rewarding experience of my career over the last six years. I also want to thank our fans. The only reason this show exists is because of your loyalty and enthusiasm. I can't wait for you all to see how it ends, with twists and turns and all the craziness we love to create every Thursday night. Buckle up."
In its recently concluded fifth season, Murder continued to shed viewers. Both seasons four and five suffered double-digit rating declines. But the drama remains a strong performer in delayed viewing, with more than half of its seven-day 18-49 rating and almost half of its total audience coming after it first airs.
Nowalk, meanwhile, last year opted to renew his overall deal with producers ABC Studios after Murder executive producer Shonda Rhimes departed. He became one of a handful of the prolific producer's disciples to remain at her former home.
During Murder's run, Davis made Emmy history when she became the first black woman to take home the statuette for lead actress in a drama series. Davis is the first black actor to win an Oscar (The Help), a Tony (Fences) and an Emmy. She also has won a pair of SAG Awards and collected Golden Globe and other nominations for her role as a damaged legal professor. The drama's conclusion arrives as Davis and the cast had reached the end of their standard six-season contracts. Jack Falahee, Liza Weil, Matt McGorry, Aja Naomi King, Charlie Weber, Karla Souza and Billy Brown co-star.
Murder is one of three remaining Shondaland dramas at ABC after Rhimes moved her production company to Netflix with a lucrative overall deal in 2017. It joins the 16th season of Grey's Anatomy and the spinoff Station 19 on the network's schedule. ABC is pulling out all the stops to reinvigorate its firefighter-focused drama, with Grey's showrunner Krista Vernoff also adding oversight of the spinoff to her purview as she looks to better unite both series and ensure Station 19 is around for many more seasons to come. (Grey's, it is worth noting, last season became TV's longest-running primetime medical drama ever. It has already been renewed for an impressive 17th season as it finished last season as ABC's highest-rated drama series.)
How to Get Away With Murder and Modern Family join NBC's The Good Place; Fox's Empire; CBS' Criminal Minds and Madam Secretary; NBC's Blindspot; and The CW's Arrow and Supernatural as broadcast hits that will end during the 2019-20 season.