Post Mortem: Southland Producer Weighs In on [Spoiler]'s Fate and the Current Renewal Odds

Southland Season 5 RecapThe following contains major spoilers from Wednesday’s finale of Southland. If you have yet to watch, avert your eyes now!

Southland‘s shocking finale left viewers’ jaws on the floor and one character’s fate up in the air.

With the gritty police drama on the bubble, what will happen to one of the LAPD’s finest could remain a mystery forever if the cancellation axe comes swinging down. So TVLine went to executive producer Jonathan Lisco, who also penned the hour, for comfort answers about the future of the bullet-ridden Cooper and the show.

RELATED | Southland Season 5 Finale Recap — John Cooper Shot

TVLINE | That was a bold ending, especially considering the show’s future is up in the air.
It was bold. But I hope you’ll agree that every season, at least that I’ve been associated with the show, we’ve done our best to give our audience an extremely satisfying finale — you have to put satisfying in quotes sometimes if it’s a dark ending that you wish didn’t happen because part of it’s being compelling — that could both be a season ender as well as possibly a series ender. The reason we do that is because of how much we value our audience, and because we’ve never been able to predict whether the show is going to get canceled or renewed.

TVLINE | When John gets shot, should viewers be taking it as this is the end for him?
I don’t think so at all. We’ve had many discussions about this in the writers room and on set. John has rebounded from so many challenges over the seasons, so it’s very possible that he could come back in some capacity, and even as a policeman. You might say, “How is that possible? He crossed a line.” Well, look at the character of Dewey. He’s “only” crashed about eight cop cars in his life. He was openly a drunk on the force, although you might argue that the LAPD has become more squared away and more regulated over the years. Yet Dewey is still an extremely respected cop. John’s gone through an odyssey this season that not only police people, but also your average person, could identity as extremely trying. If he’s guilty of anything, [it’s] not being aware of how much pain he was in, not seeking help. The possibility for him to be rehabilitated and be a character in Season 6 is certainly on the table.

TVLINE | So even after he assaults someone like that, he can still be a cop?
That’s to be determined. That’s the drama that you’d want to play out next season. I’m sure you’d have people on both sides of that argument. It’d be yet another odyssey for John to try to get his badge back. Would he succeed? You’ll have to tune in. Anything is possible. Yes, there may be criminal charges against John. If he gets out of it, if he doesn’t, it’ll be interesting to see what happens. We all believe that he’s certainly a viable character to have on the show again — and an equally compelling one.

RELATED | 2013 TV Shows — Renewed or Cancelled?

TVLINE | One theory circulating online is that John wanted to get shot when he turned around. He didn’t put his hands up. Care to comment?
We value the ambiguity with which that moment is viewed. It’s really interesting that some viewers believe John committed “suicide by cop,” and other very loyal viewers believe that he was in such a surreal haze [that] he simply wasn’t aware of what he was doing and forgot to drop the gun. I’m not going to answer that for you because in typical Southland style, we don’t hand you on a silver platter what to think. That’s one of the things that most of our viewers love about the show. … The irony of him being taken out by cops when he has a moment of feeling real despair is classic Southland. Did he do it on purpose? Did he want to leave this earth? Or was he just in a surreal haze? That’s something that every viewer is going to have to decide for themselves.

TVLINE | So does Cooper definitely survive?
I can’t comment about that. I can say this show has always been about Cooper and the other principal characters. That’s what compels people to watch. But I would argue that it’s also always been about the men and women in blue. So if in fact John is end of watch, there are plenty of other men and women in blue suits who are going to take his place and take their own journey, for better or worse. As a training officer, this is very much John’s legacy, so even if he is gone off the show – and I’m not saying he is – his spirit lives on through those people.

TVLINE | Where would you place the renewal odds for a Season 6 right now?
It’s funny — everybody in Hollywood thinks that when you work on a show, you have some kind of crystal ball. It’s anything but that. We read the trades and hear rumors just like everybody else. If you believe those, you would think there’s maybe a less than 50 percent chance of renewal. But I really think there’s a chance, and a non-trivial chance, that the show gets at least another season. This season was so compelling and felt so earned and inevitable. And we’ve got so many ideas for reinventing [the show], which I think is the hallmark of Southland. Every season, we’ve done our best to reinvent the show. I have no doubt we could do it again.

TVLINE | Given that Cooper’s fate is up the air and several cast members have booked pilots, could you see yourself reinventing the show with a largely different cast?
It’s absolutely possible. I love these actors so much that it would be very difficult for me to think along those lines. But in the spirit of the show being about police men and women and their day-to-day on the job and the struggles and victories that define their lives, I absolutely could.

TVLINE | Some passionate fans out there would hate to see the show go out now. Is there anything they can do?
I’ve never really put a lot of stock in the audience signing petitions because I don’t know what happens in those rooms over at the network. But I know I’ve signed one. [Laughs] At the same time, while I’m not sure if they actually do any good, my attitude toward it is it can’t hurt. And The Powers That Be, who have the power to cancel or renew the show, I can’t see that they’re not swayed by passion and people loving the show. And I also believe they want to be associated with a really high quality product.

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  1. E says:

    Shocking ending. Wow. Never saw that coming. Hope the show gets renewed.

    • Please don’t cancel this show us mortals in the uk love this show it the best cop show out there and we cant leave the end like this

      • nixiepoo says:

        Im really excited that the show is a hit in England! Im curious, are the stories on the show simular to what happens there? Do the British police have the same experiences?

        • gerard deehan says:

          Try and wrap your brain dead american mind around the fact that its the exact same show aired in britian and no unlike AMERICA were smart enough to realise if you give a bunch of morons a gun it wont be long before one goes off

          • James Mckoy says:

            Actually your brain dead. You didn’t read his post properly. He said “are the stories on the show the same as what happens there?” As in real life.

          • Les says:

            the uk cop shows are not as gritty as southland and the charactors in southland and the way southland is filmed what make this show one of the best cop shows out there

        • Skc says:

          Cops or police as we call them in England, DO NOT carry guns, so no the experience is completely different. What happened with Cooper wouldn’t have happened in the UK!

        • Skc says:

          Cops or police as we call them in England, DO NOT carry guns, so no the experience is completely different. What happened with Cooper wouldn’t have happened in the UK!
          We have a very different attitude to guns than most people in the USA

        • pwee123 says:

          British police do not have the same experiences as only certain police (special gun units), are allowed firearms. I personally think since hill street blues (going back a few years), that southland is one of the best cop shows from america in years. The writing and storylines are/were brilliant.

        • Michael says:

          With apologies for some of the ignorant remarks made on here by seemingly Brit people, I will answer your question. I was a cop in the UK for 25 years. We are called cops over here, by the way. Me and my colleagues love Southland because it portrays Police Officers the way PO’s are in the USA, Canada and the UK., to my personal knowledge. I served in and around London and can tell you that we all thought and sad the same things, and went through the same experiences, as the cops in Southland. We did not carry weapons as a matter of routine, although I did on special units. Being unarmed we had to think on our feet and talk or fight our way out of situations. But the officers are the same; exactly the same. And thanks for asking. With greetings from this side of the pond. PS There are many, many brain-dead Brits here, so do not take that brain-dead writer of ignorant comments too seriously.

          • Nixie poo says:

            Thanks for the reply. I was taken aback by the rude comments before, i stopped reading comments for awhile! God Bless our brave cops on both sides of the pond!

  2. Sharon Crone says:

    I’ve watched Southland frome the beginning – PLEASE RENEW!! I want to know more about these characters. I hardly watch any TV at all – this show is at the top of my list. Keep it going!

    • Dee DePalma says:

      I agree. It’s the best show on TV. I need a Xanax after I watch. It always leaves my stomach jiggling. But I have to say I love John. He really just has to live. I’m sure they will renew it. How could they not. Everyone I know that watches it feels the same way. I can’t wait for next season!!

    • Cherie Grant Johnson says:

      What can we do? I don’t want to not have my Southland, if anyone know of a way please let me know…

  3. What a shocking cliffhanger. Remember what happen in the Season One finale when Tom Everett Scott’s character got shot. Hope a Season Six is still on the horizon.

  4. Please, please people-in-charge of such things, renew this show! Best show on TV!!!

  5. Mandy says:

    Wow. Such an amazing ending. I love this show. It brings some of the most powerful moments on TV today. Such a talented cast. I would love to see another season of the show.

  6. I plan my Wednesdays around watching Southland. I think it deserves a renewal. It is the best show on TV now. I would love to see more shows each season. This is a winner for TNT.

  7. Sareeta says:

    Hm, I hope they get another season, but not if they come back with a whole new cast… Southland IS John, Ben, Lydia, Sammy. Without them, I don’t see myself wanting to watch. No problem introducing new characters, but is has to have the core characters or they might as well not call it Southland.

  8. Jay says:

    SouthLAnd, along with Boston’s Finest, made the best night of TV all week. if Michael Cudlitz doesn’t get an Emmy for his portrayal of John Cooper in ANY if this seasons 10 episodes then something’s really wrong. I refuse to believe this is SouthLAnd’s end of watch.

  9. Connie Fanos says:

    There is NO TV show richer in drama and character development than Southland. The acting is top notch, and, through the seasons, watching the evolution of Cooper, the gradual devolution of Sherman, and the self-destructive raging of Bryant—I can’t help but wonder who wouldn’t want to see this magnum opus go on and on.

  10. Brett says:

    I’ve watched every episode of Southland, so bear that in mind before reading further.

    The way the episode ended to me just seems like a fitting series finale, honestly. I don’t remember if they did this every season, but I liked how they showed the Southland series logo as cooper (and perhaps the show itself) were fading away…

    As much as I would love to see Cooper’s fate on-screen, I don’t want the series to continue half-assed with potential new cast members, changes, etc. The ambiguity of the ending was ingenious upon the behalf of the writers.

    This reminds me of the ending of the Sopranos in a way, as you never really know what happens and it is up to the viewer to decide. Letting viewers decide the ending of something like John Cooper’s fate serves as the ultimate tease and will be talked about among viewers for quite some time if this was indeed the series finale.

    You have to realize, this show is lucky it has even made it this far, especially after the rare switch from NBC over to TNT. Most shows when cancelled — stay cancelled.

  11. SR says:


  12. Jaded says:

    Best show on tv! Please TNT- renew Southland! Amazing acting and writing.

  13. Alex says:

    If they renew Southland, I just hope they actually promote it. The amount of promotion season five received compared to every other season was laughable. Strangely enough, it also correlated with a ratings down-tick…

  14. John says:

    The season ended so well that I think they should not renew it. Leave on a high note!
    I love southland and would not want them to keep going unless they can deliver as great a season as S5 has been, if they can then lets do it, if not then end it at its best

  15. stephen brown says:

    All I can say, is that I ve watched every episode from the start and recommended this to everyone and its only gaining popularity.

  16. Kathi says:

    There is boatloads of truly lousy television these days…and even on some decent shows…mediocre acting…actors. Somehow the combination of actors, writers, etc have combined to make the characters deep, the storylines are real (13 yrs law enforcement)….and the production….is different…good different. TNT should renew….season 6 would be as riveting as it’s been, if not better. Bring back John Cooper @cudlitz, Lydia, Sammy and Ben Sherman @ben_mckenzie . Much more stories to tell.

  17. Chelle says:

    Dear TV Line, I really do love your articles but you guys really need to pull your heads out and stop putting spoilers in your URL’s. I have you in my RSS feed, and once I get to watch a show I love coming here and reading the break down. But since I’m in Australia, I don’t get to watch shows immediatly, and sometimes I come here to read a different article (About a show I have watched) and my mouse hovers over a link to an article that I’m not ready to read yet, but lo and behold it doesn’t bloody matter because the *SPOILER* That you are so consideratly hiding in the title of the article is in the bloody URL which pops up if you accidently hover over it. I.E the URL for this very article poses the question “John Cooper – dead or alive.” You’ve managed to spoil two other big events in TV these last few weeks through the same thing. Come on guys :/

    • Danyelle says:

      So, your lesson learned, maybe don’t “hover your mouse over TVline URLs” when you haven’t seen a show more than 24 hours after it aired?

      • Pat D. says:

        I agree 100% Danyelle—-I take it one step further and purposefully avoid TVLine entirely and sites like that if I have to DVR an episode for a serial drama, especially one guaranteed to make headlines.

  18. Monique says:

    Please, Please ,Please renew this show!!!! Too many good shows get cancelled, And it really is not fair to your loyal viewers to end a show like this!~

  19. karen k says:

    This show is what Tv should strive to be. Can you imagine any other series surviving the moves and still being supported by it’s fanbase and critics? It absolutely deserves to stay.

  20. Linda says:

    Have loved this show from the beginning. And was so thrilled when TNT picked it up. Please renew. It’s the best cop show on TV.

  21. Steve Grasha says:

    I’ve been sad for a week over a stupid TV show…I’m glad so many of you think he is going to live, it did not even cross my mind, He’s my favorite character, as much as I like Ben.

    I hope next season opens with him waking up in the the hospital complaining about his bad luck. But they made it clear that he was trying to get shot, seems to me…SADDDD

  22. An awesome show!!! Great acting week after week! Hope it is not another of the “good” shows the networks always seem to cancel!! And- we are counting on Fate to help revive John!! What an awesomoe guy!! Can’t believe anyone would not have their timer set to Southland every week!! Keep up the good entertainment!!

  23. Michael says:

    I am a 53 yr old man-feeling like a little boy lost w/out his teddy bear! Please keep the most engaging and realistic show on the air-truly a wonderful show-supremely acted and written-a more than relevant novelty in tv now-

  24. Susan says:

    Dexter is leaving. Breaking bad is leaving. If southland doesn’t return, I’ll throw away my hope for TV powers that be to ever do anything of quality again. Guess I’ll get a kindle.

  25. T. Stout says:

    Please renew Southland! I was really hoping that Sammy was going to take Sherman out!!! Then for a second I was scared Sammy might eat his gun in the kitchen when talking to his son! Kill Cooper now?! What!!! Please don’t let John die now; the last thing he heard from his ex-wife was she doesn’t want a baby with him now!!! Why not?! He just got his life together! Well kind of…What about Olivia and Russ?! Will they or won’t they?! Oh, so many questions, so many possibilities!!! Not everyone in the world is into watching angry housewives TNT!!! My kind of drama has nothing to do w/reality tv!!!

    • Jude says:

      If Coop leaves the show, so do I. I love all the other characters but Officer Cooper brings soooo much to the table. This is the best show on t.v. so I hope they realize it is well worth continuing!

  26. olga torres says:

    Do RENEW Southland!! The dynamics of the characters are terrific. This season’s finale left me shaking my head in disbelief. When is Cooper going to get a break? He has tried to be the best police officer, but he keeps getting knocked down. The show has many opportunities to show how law enforcement lives are affected all for the line of duty. Cooper is one of the best characters on this show. Without him, I won’t watch it. This is as good as Homeland.

  27. Tom says:

    We have watched the show from day one. We love and look forward to it every week. Each time we watch it it gets better. Please fight to keep this on tv. Next to Law and Order there are no other shows to watch.

  28. Chicago Dan says:

    It’s hard to believe this quality show has only produced 43 episodes because of the very brief NBC “seasons” TNT did us fans a great honor by producing 30 more after NBC canceled it. I still think the show would do well with a hybrid of new and some returning characters – not everybody has to stay. The writing is stellar on Southland and they do a great job of fleshing out characters and issues with many, many shades of gray.

  29. regina patell says:

    do not kill cooper off he is the show and bring it back

  30. Alli says:

    Please renew! Southland is one of my favorites. I love how real and flawed the characters are. Other crime dramas don’t compare.

  31. mts says:

    I think it’s against cop’s rules to shoot someone in the back like that [twice on top of it]. Even with guys who are an extreme threat, cops almost always chase the perp until they want to throw up before they’d shoot him in the back. Doesn’t figure.

  32. TK says:

    As a police officer, I can tell you that “Southland” is very accurate, and the best cop show on TV, hands down. Please don’t cancel it. What will we do on Wednesday nights without it?

  33. Tom says:

    Kudos to the executive producer. As a retired (30 years of service) Police Officer, I can tell you without a doubt that, Southland is the most realistic police show ever. Not only the police action but the raw emotions and personal conflicts that are portrayed. It’s a side of being a cop that not many people see.

    Hope it does not get cancelled!

  34. SweetD says:

    Please do not cancel this show!!! It is the only show that I watch. Everyone has done such a great job and people LOVE it!!!! I absolutely love the relationships between the partners. At least 1 more season. Please please please!!

  35. RC says:

    Renew Southland. Best cop show on TV in years. The acting, storylines and grittiness of it makes for riveting television. Don’t leave us with this cliff hanger!

  36. Theresa says:

    PLEASE renew this show! It’s my favorite! I especially have to know what happens to Cooper!!

  37. Leo says:

    John Cooper is a character people root for. If this show were to be renewed, I’d stop watching it if Cooper was killed off.

  38. Linda says:

    I have watched Southland since Day 1. It is the best show on t.v……. The grittiness, no commercial seemingly realistic episodes kept me from planning anything else on Wednesday nights…
    Besides, don’t leave your adudiences wondering what happened to Cooper…
    Please don’t cancel this show… Extremely well acted and directed.

  39. Neil page says:

    Please renew, without doubt the best cop show on tv.. Love it love it love it..

  40. Mollie Brown says:

    I am sick that Southland is cancelled. Best show on cable or network!!!

  41. Brian Danker says:

    This was the best cop show that i have seen in years. i am a San Francisco Police officer with over 28 years of service. I was very disappointed in what the writers did. I understand the writers attempted to get in the homage to the “Onion Field tragedy.” But they put to much in one episode. “Yes” any cop would suffers years of PTSD damage control, after such a brutal kidnapping and lose of a partner.The writers could have showed they respected the men and women who hold the Blue line, but they dropped the ball, They made most of this past seasons characters as lossers. What they missed was showing the lack of “integrity” It was very disappointing.
    I still hope “SouthLand” comes back for season # 6, # 7 and #8.

    • S. Carrel says:

      I have 21 yrs of police experience and I also believe that the show’s writers made the key characters look bad in the end. They dishonored them (and, in a way, all of us) and then shut the show down! Maybe they do not really respect the fine men and women in law enforcement like they claimed to, at first! It just appears as though the writers were manipulating this series to make a point to show that cops are not worth respecting! I feel disrespected by the way they ended the series and I watched every episode at least twice!

  42. Lisa wall says:

    I love southland please don’t cancel it, I always looked forward to Wednesday evenings especially when kids went to bed and we have piece and quiet sit down and watch southland lease continue.

  43. Shondraya Beck says:

    I like this show to was looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen next

  44. Alex says:

    Just watched the season finale. So sad that the show has been cancelled.

    The two comments above by former law enforcement people got one thing wrong about the show, it wasn’t there to respect the police. It didn’t make judgements, the viewer was invited to make judgements.

    However, I would say that the creators seemed to have realised this could be the last season so they ramped up the drama. They also probably didn’t have enough episodes so they jammed almost too much in some of the later episodes. We’ve seen this kind of thing before in other shows that get cancelled but go out with a bang.

  45. joseph becerra says:

    why not try and pitch it to FX? they seem to love shows like this and I think it would be perfect for them to pick it up! This show is one of the best shows out there & it really does suck big time that TNT isnt bringing it back!

  46. Fiona Enzo says:

    Love John! I actually thought the ending should have been him in the car rescuing the child in the wagon in the electrified water, then getting out of the car and walking back into the water. Shot of him looking at small boy, reflecting on his own loss of a potential child, flashback to McRaney asking him why he gave up his gun — then walking into the water. His initials were “JC.” He was too good for the people he served and served with.
    Love the show!

  47. sandy says:

    Best Cop show on TV…gritty, seedy,the belly of the beast. To end like this is tragic, we need closure. RENEW IT !!

  48. It is no often such afine cop show is on television and I am so looking forward to the show’s return. One gets the feeling of following real police at work, and of being insidd their minds.
    Please don’t cancel the finest show of it’s kind on television.

  49. Sheri says:

    Please bring back Southland!! Best cop show ever.

  50. taffythree says:

    I’m brand new to Southland, watching it on Netfix DVDs these past few months. I’m hooked! Just saw the very last episode – IT CANNOT END LIKE THAT! JOHN COOPER HAS TO LIVE & RETURN TO THE FORCE! It isn’t Southland without him.