Expanse Season 6 ending explained: Why Season 7 isn’t coming
Here's why The Expanse ending doesn't totally match up with the books.
After six seasons, the epic sci-fi series The Expanse has come to an end. The game-changing nine-book series written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (under the pen name James S.A. Corey) was ambitious enough on the page but translating these pages to the screen is slightly miraculous.
Back when the show was still on the SyFy Channel in 2017, the authors told Inverse they hoped people would think of the show as “the science-fictional version of War and Peace.”
And if you’ve seen the final episode — “Babylon’s Ashes” — then you know this boast is pretty accurate. Here’s how the show ends, why there’s not going to be a Season 7, what the cast says about the ending, and what to read next if you still want more Expanse. Spoilers ahead for The Expanse Season 6.
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How does The Expanse Season 6 end?
The biggest conflict in The Expanse Season 6 is mostly about various combined forces — of Earth, Mars, and the Belt — fighting Marco (Keon Alexander) and the dangerous “Free Navy” for control of the Rings (wormholes that allow quick passage through space).
In the final episode, “Babylon’s Ashes” (named for the sixth novel in the series), the crew of the Rocinante decides to intentionally trigger the awareness of the “Entities” who live in the Ring, aliens who have kind of been in hibernation. To do this, a massive overload of one ship is required, which basically causes Marco and his Free Navy to be absorbed/destroyed forever.
Essentially, the finale of The Expanse makes the defeat of Marco and the Free Navy end-all-be-all of the entire series. This, more or less, dovetails with the basic structure of the novel Babylon’s Ashes, in which Marco and the Free Navy cease to exist. After this, Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) holds a kind of peace treaty with all the different factions of the Solar System, establishing a united guild — the independent “Transport Union” — to regulate traffic through the Rings. As in the book, Avasarala nominates Holden (Steven Strait) to head this new organization.
Because the character of Drummer (Cara Gee) is substantially different in the series than she is in the books, this negation goes differently in the show than in the sixth book. In the book, Holden nominates the character of Michio Pa to run the Transport Union. But in the show, he accepts the job... at first!
It seems like a deviation from the books, but it’s really not. Holden accepts the job as President, appoints Drummer the Vice President of the Union, and during his acceptance speech, resigns immediately, giving Drummer the job as President. This gesture of faith seals the deal with peace between the Belt and the inner planets. It feels like a major change from the books at first, but because Drummer is a pseudo-parallel of Michio Pa from the books, it actually ends up nearly the same.
The Expanse’s happy ending
At a glance, The Expanse series finale gives the tumultuous series — sometimes labeled “Game of Thrones in space” — what appears to be a happy ending. Since the beginning, it was unclear how the show would manage to adapt the majority of the books, and after the series was canceled by the SyFy Channel following Season 3, it felt like there was no way that the show would continue at all. After Amazon picked up the series for Season 4, the show gained a second life, and now with the conclusion of Season 6, it gives longtime fans a pretty clear and conclusive ending with very few strings dangling.
Speaking to Inverse, Holden actor Steven Strait said that doing Season 6 was “a relief” because the cast and crew were “able to complete the story that we've worked so long.” Strait also feels that the show “stuck the landing, and creatively, gives the show the send-off it deserves.”
Dominique Tipper — who plays Naomi — specifically felt like the ending of the show vindicated the much-maligned humans who live in the Asteroid Belt, the Belters but showing in the end, the Belters do share power with the “inners,” those from the inner planets like Mars and Earth.
“I think it's what Belters deserve,” Tipper says. “And I think it's what the fans deserve. It's what we always pull for as human beings, there's always in all the darkness some hope. And I love that we ended on that because I think it's true to real life. Sometimes it's hard to remember that that exists. And I'm glad we've ended on that message, rather than any other one.”
Wes Chatham and Nadine Nicole — Amos and Clarissa, respectively — agree with their castmates, though, they also reflect that the ending of the series is “bittersweet.”
“This is the first time I’ve had a role of this size and this caliber,” Nicole says, adding that she feels like the depth of the characters and the story hopefully touches people for a long time. “As artists, or goal is to make a difference in the way of storytelling by allowing people to live vicariously through these characters and reflecting life back on them to feel either more heard or understood.”
Thinking about the legacy of the show, Chatham adds that if he’s known for playing fan-favorite Amos in 20 years, he’s totally cool with that.
“Man, if people remember me, 20 years from now, I would feel honored and blessed,” he says. “That would mean that the things that moved me in my life are the things that fans have seen. If what I connect to in my work is the thing people are still thinking about and talking about, I would feel honored and happy.”
What about The Expanse Season 7 and the other books?
Although The Expanse Season 6 finale presents a clear ending to the TV series, Holden does describe a few loose ends in the final scene: Way more ships are going through the Rings now, piracy will happen more often, and, some aspects of the protomolecule are still unclear. Because Naomi, Amos, Clarissa, Bobbie (Frankie Adams), and Holden are all on the Rocinante together in the end, you could argue the episode suggests there could be plenty more seasons to come.
However, there’s no reason to believe The Expanse Season 7 will happen for two big reasons.
First, co-author Daniel Abraham said in 2020 that Season 6 was the ending of the series. “We are adapting a story to a place where there is a graceful place to take a pause, and a give a satisfying ending to the story we began in Season 1,” Abraham says. In more recent interviews, he has been open to the idea that more seasons could happen, recently stating, “As we always say, there are three more books!”
However, in the novels after the events of Babylon’s Ashes, the next book — Persepolis Rising — is set roughly 30 years later. So, if there were an Expanse Season 7, it would likely be an entirely new series with several new characters, while the existing characters would likely be relegated to cameos and much older than they are now.
It’s not impossible, of course. Some kind of limited Expanse sequel series could happen on Amazon or somewhere else. But as of now, this journey is over. The Expanse, as we know it on TV, has ended. And if you’ve seen the finale, then you know the cast is right: They went out on top.
The Expanse Seasons 1-6 are streaming now on Amazon Prime.