The final (and 7th) season of ABC’s Shondaland drama “Scandal” will unfold over 18 episodes, the network has said. This news comes just over a month after ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey announced that season 7 will indeed be the final season for the series.

“Shonda has decided the series needs to come to a close, and while this is definitely a bittersweet moment for all of us gladiators, I have no doubt what she has in store for the final season will be as powerful as what’s come before, and we will be sure to honor that every step of the way,” said Channing Dungey, president, ABC Entertainment.

“Deciding how to end a show is easy,” added Shonda Rhimes, “Scandal’s” creator and executive producer. “Deciding when to finish is quite simple when the end date is years away. But actually going through with it? Actually standing up to say: ‘This is it?’ Not so much. So, next year we are going all out. Leaving nothing on the table. Creating this world in celebration. We are going to handle the end the way we like to handle the important things in our ‘Scandal’ family: all together, white hats on, gladiators running full speed over a cliff.”

As a staple in ABC’s Shonda Rhimes programming block known as “TGIT,” the Washington, D.C.-set drama follows a political fixer named Olivia Pope (star Kerry Washington) and her team of associates who are tasked with “handling” various crises affecting the nation’s elite. Debuting in April 2012, the show broke barriers with Kerry Washington starring as the first African American female lead in a drama series in over thirty seven years. “Scandal” quickly emerged as an immensely popular show during its Thursday time slot, but has seen steady declines in viewership over the last 3 seasons.

It’s probably the right time to put “Scandal” to bed as series star Kerry Washington launched her own production company a year ago, and has since put a number of film and TV projects into development, after inking a new production deal with ABC Studios.

Also series creator Shonda Rhimes has other series to shepherd, including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How to Get Away With Murder.” Her new post-“Romeo & Juliet” series “Still Star-Crossed,” which stars British actress Lashana Lynch, has been an underperformer for ABC which moved its timeslot to Saturday evenings, meaning it’s likely going to be canceled. Rhimes’ legal ensemble cast drama, “For the People,” is set to premiere on ABC in the fall.

Shondaland also optioned Luvvie Ajayi’s book “I’m Judging You” to adapt as a comedy series, although for cable TV.

In addition, Rhimes is returning to her feature film *roots* (her breakthrough gig, we could say, was co-penning the script for the 1999 telepic “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge;” other early scripting credits include “Crossroads” and “The Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement”). Earlier last year, she was reportedly eyeing what will be a feature-length film, set up at Fox, about the so-called Dare Divas – a group of Detroit women, led by Sheri Hunter, who have dedicated their lives to pursuing adventure and encouraging other women to also take risks.

So she and Washington are busy. And dropping one series in “Scandal” is actually a reasonable decision, as they both move on and shift focus to other projects.

By the way, the inspiration for “Scandal,” real-life “fixer” Judy Smith, is making some deals of her own, most recently setting up a new legal drama at Fox, titled “Controversy” which chronicles a sex assault scandal that shakes up a college campus; she also served as co-executive producer on the CBS Washington series ‘BrainDead” and as a consulting producer on “Basketball Wives.”

TVLine as first to report the news on the number of episodes season 7 of “Scandal” will comprise.