By Kelly Connolly
Updated August 11, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Jonathan Hession/SHOWTIME

Had Penny Dreadful returned for a fourth season, it would have looked as new as one of Victor Frankenstein’s creations.

Showtime’s Gothic horror series surprised fans when its season 3 finale ended with the death of Eva Green’s Vanessa Ives — and an ominous title card reading, “The End.” The unexpected series finale originated with creator John Logan, who, according to Showtime programming president Gary Levine, “didn’t want to cast a pall on the final season.”

“He also didn’t want to tip to the death of Vanessa Ives,” said Levine. “I think we all together came to the idea [of], You know what? The series has made bold moves in all different directions. Let’s make a bold move of putting up ‘The End’ at the end of the final episode and then announcing to the world that it was over.”

Speaking during Showtime’s executive session on the final day of the Television Critic’s Association’s summer press tour, Levine and Showtime CEO David Nevins revealed that they’d made repeated attempts to extend the drama’s lifespan, even without Eva Green — or, possibly, Logan — involved.

“I think [Logan] always envisioned a three-season arc for her and that character,” Nevins said. “I was trying to keep open the possibility of going beyond, but as we were going into that final season, it became clear that the combination of that character and John as a writer were the heart of the show, so it seemed like it was going to be foolhardy to continue going.”

“The death of Vanessa Ives was plotted,” added Levine, explaining that Logan considered how there might be “life for the series beyond Vanessa Ives” but concluded that, “for him, there wasn’t.”

“So then it became a question for us: Is there a life for the series beyond both Vanessa Ives and John Logan’s writing? And for us, we thought the series would just lose its authenticity that way. So it was a moving target, which is partly why we chose to end it.”

Vanessa might say it wasn’t in the cards.

Additional reporting by Marc Snetiker

Episode Recaps

Penny Dreadful

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