Image: AP Photo/Kin Cheung

For years, Michael Bay has teased us with the possibility that he might leave the Transformers franchise that he’s nurtured into regular explosion-fests that we have come to, well, not love, but expect. The director has just announced that The Last Knight will be his final Transformers movie, and you shouldn’t believe it now anymore than you did before.

Bay made the announcement in a letter he posted to his website, which we’ll get to later. For context, though, rumors that Bay would be leaving go back as far as right after the first movie. Back in 2007, Bay made a comment on his official form site, Shoot for the Edit, which said in part, “Transformers 2, well that’s another story. Iching [sic] to work pre-strike (June) so I might jump ship and come back a year or so later cause people at the studio have been dragging for two months. Not sure why. I’ll keep you informed.”

But the idea that Bay would quit making Transformers really gained steam in 2011, during and after Dark of the Moon. Bay himself told Slashfilm, “It’s like I’ve been working every day for two years, every single day, because I want to make up for the second one and I want to leave this franchise as best I can. I’ve had a great run, fun time doing it.” An October 2011 comment on Shoot for the Edit read, “I am currently not talking to Paramount on T4 and T5 despite reports.” Sounds like he was finished, right?

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Shia LaBeouf seemed to think the same, telling MTV News, “I’m not coming back to do another one. I don’t think Mike will either.”

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Except, of course, Bay didn’t quit. He came back for Transformers: Age of Extinction. And then that was going to be his last one. In 2014, he told USA Today, “There’s kind of a new chapter, a new direction in movies I want to make. I have a lot of stories to tell. And it’s about flexing new muscles.”

Except he still didn’t leave and now we’re staring down the barrel of Transformers: The Last Knight, a movie with King Arthur, Nazis, and Mark Wahlberg. And with its upcoming release comes Bay announcing yet again that when it comes out, he’s done. In January of last year, he told Rolling Stone: “Transformers, I still have a great time. It’s fun to do a movie that 100 million people will see. But this is the last one. I have to pass the reins to someone else.”

And yesterday, he also posted the aforementioned letter to his website, which sounds like a confirmation, but is actually a backtrack. Here’s the relevant portion:

It’s bittersweet for me. With every Transformers film, I’ve said it would be my last. I see the 120 million fans around the world who see these movies, the huge theme park lines to the ride and the amazing Make- A-Wish kids who visit my sets, and it somehow keeps drawing me back. I love doing these movies. This film was especially fun to shoot. But, this time might really be it. So I’m blowing this one out.

It’s a final chapter and a new beginning.

“Might really be it” is a far cry from the definitive “the last one” of a year ago.

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I don’t know if Bay truly means to leave every time and he’s just really easily persuaded or if he does this as a tactic to get more money out of studios. Or maybe it’s because he wants fans to tell him how much they love him and how he shouldn’t go. I honestly could not tell you why this has happened so often.

But, mostly, this is a warning to take it all with a grain of salt. Bay fans, don’t go into morning just yet. Bay haters, don’t celebrate. No matter what, someone’s going to be disappointed.