[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers through the Season 5 finale of Lucifer, “A Chance at a Happy Ending.”]
One of Lucifer‘s many legacies as a show will be its remarkable ability to survive not one but two cancellations. The first time, Netflix picked up the quasi-procedural supernatural dramedy after original network Fox decided to end it, and then Netflix once again revived the series with a surprise renewal for Season 6, just as showrunners Joe Henderson and Ildy Modrovich were hashing out what they then thought would be the series finale.
TV shows are structured in terms of acts, with Lucifer having a six-act structure for its episodes, and as Henderson and Moldrovich explained to Collider in a recent phone interview, the ending of Season 5B is, essentially, where the fifth act of the original series finale would have ended — with Lucifer (Tom Ellis) assuming the mantle of God. It’s what the one-time Lord of Hell turned crime-solver been wanting all season long, warring with his twin brother Michael (also Ellis) and other siblings over the position following the retirement of “Dad” (Dennis Haysbert).
“We decided that’s a pretty good cliffhanger,” Modrovich said.
Things of course hadn’t been looking great for Lucifer up until that point — while he’d finally been able to tell his beloved Detective (Lauren German) how he felt about her, that only happened after he traveled to Heaven to bring Chloe back to Earth, at the theoretical sacrifice of his own existence. Chloe, restored from a pesky case of death, was able to take down Michael and even get an angel-killing knife to his throat — though she backed down after the sudden reappearance of Lucifer, who spared Michael’s life but did take his wings.
So Season 5 ends with Lucifer muttering, with no small amount of pleasure, “oh my Me.” But not only is there still a final chapter of the story to be told, the writers have taken the original single act of television that would have completed the series finale and used it as the foundation for the 10-episode sixth season.
As Ellis told Collider’s Christina Radish, changes to that ending were made:
I don’t want people to assume that what they see on the screen now would have been the end of Lucifer because it wouldn’t have been. We changed it and adapted it to roll with the punches, as it were… We were on the right path and on the right journey. We just needed to find a way to do what I liken to roadworks in London, where you’re on your route and, at the very last minute, there’s a sign that says, “Road closed, diversion,” and it takes you on this little diversion and gets you back to where you needed to be. We needed to find that diversion for Season 6. We found it and I think we fully justified it as well.
As Henderson explained:
As much as we say Act 6 became Season 6, it also undersells Season 6, because we discovered a ton more story. There’s a bunch of stuff we weren’t going to tell that now we can’t imagine not telling. And it’s one of those things we realized … We thought, when we got to the end of Season 5, we told all the story we wanted to tell. And it wasn’t until we got to the end of Season 5 that we had the perspective to see the story that we could tell with Season 6. Like, it’s just one of those happy accidents where you’re like, “No, we’ve told all the story … This is going to be all of the story we ever want to tell,” but then you get there, and the characters are telling us, “No, we’ve got one more, one more journey to go on.”
Henderson and Modrovich didn’t get too much into specifics as to plotlines that might get picked up again, but one thing that will play a role in Season 6 will be the fate of Dan Espinoza (Kevin Alejandro). As of right now, Dan remains dead and in Hell, a fact which is one of Lucifer’s motivations for wanting to become God and take control over the system. “That’s not right, at least in Lucifer’s mind. And that was a really important piece of the story that we wanted to tell, that Lucifer senses that the world isn’t just. He’s always felt that about himself. Now it can be represented in someone else, and that was an important thing for us to tell,” Henderson said.
Even for characters who did have big plotlines wrap up in Season 5, like Linda’s (Rachael Harris) quest to reconnect with the daughter she gave up for adoption, the showrunners say that Season 6 contains more to explore. “Season 6, partly because of COVID, became a much more intimate season. But also because we knew we had done this kind of splashy Season 5B, with a lot of spectacle, we didn’t want to try to top ourselves and just be empty action,” Modrovich said. “So we found the more intimate story for all of our characters, and a much more emotional one. We didn’t have to scrape to find stories for anybody. We just kind of dug to a deeper level with everybody.”
That said, Henderson teased that while “it is by far probably the most intimate season we’ve done, it also has the most expensive episode we’ve ever made. So, we’ve still got plenty of spectacle.”
Production on Season 6 wrapped a few months ago, with no word as yet as to when it might premiere. For now, fans can enjoy breaking down all the surprises of Season 5 — and listening to the official soundtrack for the musical episode.
Lucifer Season 5 is streaming now on Netflix.
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