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‘House of Cards’ Set to Return for a Shorter Final Season Without Kevin Spacey

Netflix’s Ted Sarandos announced on Monday that the sixth season will be only eight episodes and begin production in 2018


With Hollywood purging accused sexual predators from the industry, their necessary departures have forced studios to either fill a void or chart an entirely new path. Amazon cut ties with the Weinstein Company in the wake of numerous allegations against Harvey Weinstein; FX chose to cease all collaboration with Louis C.K., while also removing his credit as a producer on Pamela Adlon’s Better Things; Ridley Scott literally cut Kevin Spacey from his latest film, All the Money in the World, opting to reshoot his scenes with Christopher Plummer in the role instead. Another Spacey production, House of Cards, was also left with a decision to make after the actor was accused of sexual misconduct and assault by more than 30 people. In November, Netflix stated it wouldn’t be involved in any production featuring Spacey, and on Monday, chief content officer Ted Sarandos shed light on what that means for the sixth and final season of House of Cards.

Production of House of Cards will resume in early 2018 and will not include Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood, Sarandos announced at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. The series will wrap up with an eight-episode final season—as opposed to the typical 13—headlined by Robin Wright, who plays Frank’s wife Claire and—spoiler alert—the new president of the United States at the end of Season 5.

Though Spacey’s premature departure certainly complicated things, removing Frank Underwood from the show actually makes some sense on a narrative level. In the original, U.K. version of House of Cards—again, spoiler alert—Frank was killed at the end of the series. The U.S. version of the show could now fast-forward through that event and move beyond it. And with Wright alone at the helm—she was the best part of the show, anyway—the series gets to end on its own terms, while potentially setting the stage for spinoffs with characters like Michael Kelly’s Doug Stamper.

Before Spacey was fired, the final season of House of Cards was set to premiere in 2018. Netflix hasn’t announced if it still plans to release the new episodes next year, but by shortening the season, the company may be able to do so after all.