Despite being a ratings juggernaut during its latest season on ABC, "Scandal" may not last as long as Shonda Rhimes' other series "Grey's Anatomy". The series creator herself admits that the way story is built doesn't allow the Kerry Washington starrer to last until ten or even eight seasons.
"I've already decided when 'Scandal' is ending," Rhimes tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I think there's only so much 'Scandal' you can tell satisfactorily. The Fitz-Liv thing can only be told so long and in such a way. It's not a 10-season or eight-season show. I've already decided how long that is and what that's going to be. I'm not really worried about that."
Asked whether the end of Fitz's second term in the White House means the end of the series or whether the show will follow him after he leaves the office, she vaguely responds, "It would be interesting. But I've given myself a parameter of what that is, and whether or not that means we end up deciding to stretch or shrink his presidency based on that remains to be seen."
Rhimes is more direct when answering the fate of Columbus Short's Harrison Wright. "His absence will be explained definitively. What you think happened to his character happened to his character," she says, meaning that the character died after he was held at gunpoint by Secret Service/B613 man Tom in the season 3 finale.
She adds that Olivia will be most impacted by Harrison's death, but "all the Gladiators are" also impacted by the loss. "It will be very devastating for Abby in a surprising way," she teases. "You'll see how she's coping with it in a very different way than you would expect."
Admitting that season 3 was "purposefully" dark, Rhimes says they don't try to top themselves with controversial storylines. "Season four is going to be very different from season three," she says. "We're in a very different space than we were when we were even three episodes toward the end. We're in a very different spot and everybody has been wiped clean, and anything goes, in a weird way."
"I feel like when you have a show like this that reaches those operatic pitches where you get to a place where you're continually trying to top yourself, you end up in such a bad place," she continues, adding that their goal is to "tell stories about these characters." She additionally stresses that the show is not just about "how crazy can things get?"
"Scandal" will return with its fourth season on Thursday, September 25 at 9 P.M., sandwiched between the eleventh season of "Grey's Anatomy" and Rhimes' new series "How to Get Away with Murder".