PREVIOUS May 5: It looks like we will know very soon whether ABC’s veteran procedural drama Castle will return for a ninth season. I have learned that the network has a deadline until end of day tomorrow, May 6, to make a renewal decision, determining whether the May 16 finale will be branded as a season or series finale and which of the two final scenes shot will make it to air. Regardless, it will be female lead Stana Katic’s last episode on the show.
I hear that star Nathan Fillion has closed a new deal for Season 9. In part to secure that, ABC and ABC Studios opted not to bring back Katic. The move also was driven by budgetary reasons that saw another original cast member, Tamala Jones, exit too. (Co-stars Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas are said to be coming back.) All signs had been pointing to a renewal, possibly for a shortened, 13-episode ninth season at a reduced license fee. “Why would they go through all that trouble and not pick up the show?,” an observer marveled.
So why is ABC waiting until the last second? I hear the deals with some of the actors have been taking a long time, (and some may not be finalized yet). Also, the network is screening its pilots this week, so it would make sense to see all drama pilots before making a decision. Still, despite being on the bubble based on ratings performance, Castle is a legacy show for ABC that makes money for Disney, so its renewal for a likely final chapter should not be tied closely to new series pickups. Another possible reason for the lack of renewal could be the fan backlash to Katic’s ouster but that is something the network brass must have foreseen.
Castle already has a road map for Season 9, drawn by Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter, who joined as showrunners at the beginning of Season 8 and I hear are expected to come back. All key pieces are in place for next season, with the only uncertainty being whether there will be a next season. Observers are optimistic, but we will have a definitive answer within the next 24 hours.