Although it has been speculated for some time, Deadline.com just made the news official: after the currently filming season of True Blood wraps shooting, Alan Ball will depart for greener pastures. Ball still has an overall deal with HBO, and is in fact developing a series called Banshee for sister network Cinemax. Also, if the show goes to a sixth season (which is almost a certainty) Ball will still have supervisory role on the show, even if he is no longer the show runner.
So what does this mean for the future of the show? Well, like I said, True Blood will almost certainly get a sixth season. It remains HBO’s highest rated series after all. But HBO doesn’t keep series around just because they keep making money–they know when to leave the party with some dignity intact. Both The Sopranos and Sex and the City only went to six seasons, and ended at the peak of their ratings. And much of the True Blood cast has shot to stardom and are probably itching to do other things soon. With Ball gone, a lot of what drew the cast to the series in the first place will no longer be there, giving them more reason to want to bail. Also, how many years can these actors pull off “ageless vampire” anyway?
Final prediction: True Blood will get a sixth season minus Ball, and end it there…and just like Sex and the City, there will probably be a True Blood movie.