The decision to send Nashville out on a cliffhanger was a creative one as much as it was a business one, per The Powers That Be.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lionsgate TV chairman Kevin Beggs said, “The ending we ran was the ending always envisioned for this season,” adding, “To go with a too-easy wrap-up is more of a disservice to the fans who have invested four years in this great cast and these great stories. And there [are] more stories to tell.”
In the cancelled series’ ABC swan song on May 25, the fate of Hayden Panettiere’s Juliette was left very much up in the air as the plane that was carrying the starlet lost radio contact. As TVLine reported, an alternate ending showing Juliette alive, well and being reunited with estranged hubby Avery (Jonathan Jackson) at the airport was shot but ultimately discarded.
The ambiguous ending was intended to buoy Lionsgate’s efforts to find Nashville a new home, but viewers were not pleased. “We love Nashville, but leaving Julliette missing at the end of the final episode sucked,” sighed TVLine reader Carol. Fellow fan Marla, meanwhile, said the finale “was very good but it would have been great without the cliffhanger! I would have loved to see Juliette and Avery get their happy ending!”
According to Beggs, the studio is currently engaged in “serious conversations with multiple buyers about continuing the show on another platform… We wouldn’t take such a strong position to advocate for [the cliffhanger ending] if we didn’t feel good about our chances moving forward.”
For his part, Nashville leading man Charles Esten is bullish about the show’s Season 5 prospects, telling TVLine that the addition of new showrunners Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick (My So-Called Life, thirtysomething) leaves the series “pregnant with possibilities,” adding, “There’s magic all over this thing.”