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'Downton Abbey' to end next season (really)

This time it's official: "Downton Abbey" will end next season.

Read it and weep (if you have any tears left): PBS' "Downton Abbey" will end after next season.

And this time it's official.

Executive producer Gareth Naeme delivered the bad news in a prepared statement Thursday morning that doubled as a plug for the sixth and final season of the show, whose U.S. distribution helped shore up the fortunes of "Masterpiece."

"Millions of people around the world have followed the journey of the Crawley family and those who serve them for the last five years. Inevitably there comes a time when all shows should end and 'Downton' is no exception. We wanted to close the doors of 'Downton Abbey' when it felt right and natural for the storylines to come together and when the show was still being enjoyed so much by its fans. We can promise a final season full of all the usual drama and intrigue, but with the added excitement of discovering how and where they all end up…"

Look, you had to know that it couldn't go on forever. Not even Isis (the dog, not the terrorist group) could.

And if it's any comfort, PBS will probably miss it as much as its fans do. When it premiered to enthusiastic reviews five seasons ago, some at the network were clearly taken aback, never expecting that a show about an earl's family and the people who cleaned up after them would become not just the network's most-watched drama ever but one that regularly beat its competition on Sunday nights.

"PBS and our member stations have been so proud to be the home of 'Downton Abbey' on 'Masterpiece'  in the United States," said PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger in the same statement "We, like the fans, simply cannot wait to see what will happen to the Crawley family and their beloved staff as this incredible series culminates in Season 6."

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