Ryan Murphy
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Fox series boss becomes latest showrunner to map out final story arcs long in advance

The next season of “Glee” will be its last, so says co-creator of the series Ryan Murphy.

At a Paley Center event honoring FX Network last night, Murphy said the Fox dramedy will not go on beyond its sixth season. Murphy also admitted that the death of star Cory Monteith in July has forced him to come up with a different ending for the show.

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In setting the end date so far in advance, Murphy becomes the latest showrunner to set a clear path to mapping out the conclusion of the show’s overarching storylines, which revolve around students and teachers at a high school in Ohio.

TVLine’s Michael Ausiello was first to report the news of “Glee’s” final season.

“The final year of the show, which will be next year, was designed around Rachel and Cory/Finn’s story. I always knew that, I always knew how it would end,” Murphy told TVLine. “I knew what the last shot was, he was in it. I knew what the last line was, she said it to him. So when a tragedy like that happens you sort of have to pause and figure out what you want to do, so we’re figuring that out now.”

News of “Glee” coming to a close after its 2014 run arrives after the dramedy received a hearty double renewal in April, well before Monteith’s untimely death. Murphy’s confirmation of the plan to wrap the show after season six appeared to catch Fox and studio 20th Century Fox TV off guard on Thursday morning.

The lack of comment from either the network or studio indicated that the timetable for “Glee’s” finale has yet to be formally hammered out. Moreover, Fox and 20th TV camp may pursue ample opportunities for spinoff projects tied to one or more of the series’ vast cast of characters.

“Glee” said goodbye to Monteith in last week’s episode. In his review, Variety’s Brian Lowry called the episode “emotional and heartfelt” but also “a missed opportunity.” The episode gave “Glee” its best ratings of the season, delivering 7.4 million total viewers, or a 75% spike over the previous week.

Overall, however, the series has seen a steady decline in ratings since its sophomore season. September’s season five bow drew 5.2 million viewers, a 30% drop off since the season four premiere.

“Glee” was co-created by Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Ian Brennan, who exec produce with Dante Di Loreto, Russel Friend and Garrett Lerner. The show bucked TV conventions by incorporating music into the storytelling — breaking the “Cop Rock” curse that had hung over TV tuner projects for nearly 20 years. The show has also earned accolades for its candid portrayal of teen issues, particularly in the area of sexuality and LGBT-related issues.

“Glee” yielded a bonanza of ancillary business for Fox and 20th TV, from music downloads, a slew of merchandise to a concert tour mounted in the show’s early seasons. It even sparked an unscripted show on a non-Fox network, “The Glee Project,” which ran two seasons on Oxygen and revolved around a competition to win a small role on the series. And 20th Century Fox also released a 3D “Glee” concert pic in 2011.

“Glee’s” overnight success following its May 2009 debut (in a sneak peek, with the series commencing in earnest that fall) made stars out of its ensemble, most notably Jane Lynch, a veteran character actress; Lea Michele, a legit vet; and tyro thesp Chris Colfer.

But more than anyone else, “Glee” revved up Murphy’s reputation as a master showrunner, after a cool period in his career. He and Falchuk have since collaborated on FX’s “American Horror Story,” while Murphy and another “Glee” scribe, Allison Adler, on last year’s NBC comedy “The New Normal,” which was canceled after one season.

At present, Murphy is shepherding 20th TV’s first-ever pilot for HBO, the relationship-driven ensembler “Open,” also with Adler.

AJ Marechal and Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.

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