Stop us if you've heard this before, but AMC's "Hell on Wheels" is about to reach the end of the track.

AMC announced on Friday (November 7) that it has renewed the absurdly resilient historical drama "Hell on Wheels" for a fifth and final season.

And get ready for frustration/delayed-gratification, because in now-familiar AMC style, the climactic "Hell on Wheels" season will be split into two halves over two years. 

The first seven episodes of "Hell on Wheels" Season 5 will air in the summer of 2015 and then the series will conclude with seven additional episodes in the summer of 2016. That follows the same pattern that saw "Breaking Bad" end its two-year final season in 2013 and will see "Mad Men" cap off its two-year final season in 2015.

"With season five of ‘Hell on Wheels,’ we are proud to bring our trans-continental journey to conclusion for the large, loyal audience that has traveled with Cullen Bohannon and his crew for so many years," blurbs AMC President Charlie Collier. "We look forward to appropriately honoring ‘Hell on Wheels’ in this final season. Enormous thanks to the terrific writers, cast and crew for all they have achieved and for all that lies ahead in the Wild West."

If you truly believe that "Hell on Wheels" is going to end in Summer 2016, it will make the end for one of the odder journeys in recent TV history.

"Hell on Wheels" aired two 10 episode seasons in the warmth of AMC's normal Sunday drama home. A third season was ordered, but then held off amidst a very public showrunner swamp. Then, in what appeared to be a sign of disinterest, AMC pushed "Hell on Wheels" to Saturday nights. Instead of tanking, "Hell on Wheels" actually thrived on Saturday and ratings for the third season rose, leading to a 13-episode renewal for the currently airing Season 4.

Through the first 10 episodes of the fourth season, "Hell on Wheels" is averaged 3.4 million viewers in Live+3 viewership, up a hair from last season's Live+3 figures.

Of course, stories like the topsy-turvy run of "Hell on Wheels" are becoming more and more frequent in the changing industry.

When "Hell on Wheels" got its last unlikely renewal, I mentioned "The Killing" as a similarly winding journey with its multiple AMC cancellations and that was even before it was resurrected by Netflix for a closing six-episode run.

Are you glad "Hell on Wheels" is getting 14 episodes to conclude its story?


A long-time member of the TCA Board and a longer-time blogger of "American Idol," Dan Fienberg writes about TV, except for when he writes about movies or sometimes writes about the Red Sox. But never music. He would sound stupid talking about music.