Say it ain't so, Alan Ball!  Is the long time series creator, executive producer and head writer departing 'True Blood' after the current season?  That's the most likely outcome.

Ball has sat at the head of HBO's adaptation of Charlaine Harris' 'Southern Vampire Mysteries' novels since its very beginning, but according to Forbes, rumors began swirling last Friday of his imminent departure from the series.  Today, Forbes writer Roger Friedman claimed to have confirmed the news, noting "exhaustion" to be the primary culprit behind Alan Ball's departure.

So what does this mean for our favorite Bon Temps vampires, werewolves, fairies and shifters, as HBO prepares to launch the fifth season of its acclaimed franchise this summer?

Friedman says, "Ball will still be with the show, I’m told, but a new regime will guide the fates of the characters into their new season. This could also very well be a money issue, as series tend to get more and more expensive as they drag on."

Blastr also notes that the likely candidate to replace Ball will be that of his co-executive producer Gregg Fienberg, having been with 'True Blood' since season 2, but thus far HBO hasn't issued any comments on the events.

When last we left 'True Blood' things were in quite a pickle for our heroes, as - SPOILER ALERT -  Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) cradled the lifeless body of her best friend Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley), and Alcide Herveaux discovered the concrete crypt of former vampire king Russell Edgington to be empty!

Who's to say how Alan Ball's departure will affect the series going forward, but if 'The Walking Dead' is any guide, losing one's main show-runner might just be the shot in the arm 'True Blood' needs to get our blood pumping!