Spartacus' fight for freedom came at a great cost in the series finale of "Spartacus: War of the Damned". In fact, [SPOILER ALERT!] it's the titular character himself who died in the last battle against the Romans.
Speaking of the tragic ending for his character, Liam McIntyre shares to Entertainment Weekly, "I love the movie 'Gladiator' and I just think if he had lived through the end of that it just would have lost so much of the impact of what he was doing. So I'm glad [we] didn't do that." Pleased with the show's ending, he adds, "What kind of hero is ending as the guy going, 'Alright, see ya thousands of dead slaves!'? It just didn't feel right."
The Australian actor also sings praise for the way showrunner Steven S. DeKnight depicted the death of Gannicus. "He's made what is ultimately a horrible, tragic loss into something of a strange victory," he says.
As some characters made the ultimate sacrifice in the finale, McIntyre, like many viewers at home, was emotionally moved. He reveals that when he watched the episode with Todd Lasance, who played Caesar, "We couldn't quite look at each other because by about halfway we were just openly weeping.
To TV Guide, series creator DeKnight explains his decision to have Spartacus die in the mountains instead of in battle. "It was purely for dramatic purposes," he claims, before elaborating, "There was a lot of discussion with some having a strong feeling that he should die on the battlefield and die as a warrior and not limp away... You need something. You need a ray of hope at the end that you won't get on the battlefield."
"The compromise is that yes, he should not leave the battlefield willingly, he should be dragged off because he's dying and he can't fight because he asks for his sword in his final moments. But really I wanted to pay homage to history, that his body was never found, but definitely needed that final dramatic scene with his last words."
He adds in an interview with EW, "It would be disingenuous to have him walk off into the sunset. Plus, just the simple fact that he has nothing to walk off to. His love for his wife, which brings us all the way until the final scene of the series - his love for his wife and that loss really keeps him from ever having a life beyond this. His life really ended with her - any chance of a happy life, of a simple life. For him he was either going to win or he was going to die. There's really no middle ground."
As for Gannicus' tragic death, DeKnight thinks "it's the perfect for him because here's the guy who said, 'I'm not part of this cause' for so long." He adds, "And then he does commit to it and he is one of the people who gets nailed to the cross. I think it's very symbolic. That and the final scene with Spartacus are the final two powerhouses of the episode. It's pretty dramatic."
He additionally admits that Naevia's way of death was deliberately violent. "Because of the story line, there was no fading off into the sunset for Naevia," he reasons. "She was so damaged and brutalized that she was going to basically conquer Rome or die trying. There was not middle ground. She goes out like a gladiator, which is a little nod that we wanted to do - on her knees with a sword coming down into them. It was a nod to her becoming a real warrior."
Calling the end of the show "very bittersweet," DeKnight admits he doesn't know about the progress of the possible Caesar spin-off. "I honestly couldn't tell you. I'm not involved with the Caesar spin-off at the moment. I'm eyeball-deep with military and aliens at the moment," he says, referring to his upcoming sci-fi drama which is being developed for Starz.