Credit: Mark Levine/ABC

UPDATE: Lionsgate would not comment further on Nashville‘s future when EW reached out, but in a conference call Thursday morning with analysts, Lionsgate Television Chairman Kevin Beggs elaborated on the future of the drama. “The fans and everyone else is clamoring for more seasons… we kind of go one season at a time with our thinking, so our near term plan is getting another season,” he said, adding that Lionsgate has about four to five potential outlets looking to pick up Nashville and that “most are in-bound inquiries coming to us” to continue the show. “We have long term deals with the cast. These kinds of shows can go on forever and ever. That’s our hope and expectation, but we gotta do it one season at a time. We hope to land season 5 and keep talking about the show to come.”

As for the showrunners, Beggs also told analysts if a fifth season moves forward, they would continue with the original plan to have Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick (known for their work on thirtysomething) take over for the next season.

In addition, Beggs told Deadline Wednesday night before the finale, “Lionsgate, ABC Studios and Opry Entertainment couldn’t have asked for better partners on Nashville than ABC, as together we created a drama that has captivated viewers worldwide and turned #Nashies into a potent group of superfans. We want to thank creator Callie Khouri and showrunner Dee Johnson for their inspiration and guidance through tonight’s exciting season finale, and know that more of the Nashville story is waiting to be told.”

EARLIER: Maybe that’s not all, y’all.

Nashville, after being canceled in a surprise move by ABC, didn’t exactly land on a completely satisfying series finale: The country music drama ended with a cliffhanger that left Juliette’s (Hayden Panettiere) fate up in the air (too soon?), without a happy reunion with Avery (Jonathan Jackson) in sight.

After the episode aired, however, Lionsgate TV, the production company’s television branch that produces Nashville, tweeted a cryptic message on the cliffhanger reassuring fans that “there’s more story to be told” with the fan hashtag #BringBackNashville.

So, was the cliffhanger ending a way for Lionsgate and the show to drum up interest in a potential season 5? After all, the company had previously announced it was in talks with other networks to pick up:

…and, according to TVLine, decided to scrap an alternate, happier ending in favor of one that would spark fans’ curiosity and make the series more attractive to other outlets. Whatever the plan, the dramatic cliffhanger successfully helped the movement’s hashtag trend, as star Charles Esten pointed out:

Episode Recaps

Legendary music icon Rayna Jaymes struggles to maintain her place in the spotlight while dealing with the ambitious rising pop vixen Juliette Barnes.
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