Rhimes has given indications in recent months that she had an end date in mind for the show, which has ranked as one of ABC’s most-watched and buzziest dramas for the bulk of its run. The show was among the first to capitalize on Twitter and second-screen social media activity as a means of boosting awareness and viewership of linear telecasts.
In January, ABC Entertainment chief Channing Dungey indicated that the network was expecting the finale to come sooner rather than later. TVLine reported that the decision was Rhimes’ call.
“I would say yes, in Shonda’s head,” Dungey said in January when asked whether there was a plan for ending the show. “I know already that she has some great ideas for next season, which will be season seven. We have not really talked about what happens after that. But I love the show and I would happily keep the show on as long as she feels that she has creative runway to write the show.”
“Scandal” turned Kerry Washington into a major star, and its success helped cement Rhimes’ status as an uber-showrunner. “Scandal” was the pillar of ABC’s “TGIT” strategy of loading up Thursday night with Rhimes-produced sudsers. Of late, however, a resurgent “Grey’s Anatomy” has eclipsed the viewership of “Scandal.”
Asked recently by Variety how much longer the show would run, Washington said, “I don’t know, it’s in Shonda’s hands,” she said. “I don’t know, but I trust Shonda. We’ll see.”