The past few weeks have been something of an emotional roller coaster ride for fans of ABC's long-running procedural drama Castle. The future of the series was called into question recently when news broke that co-star Stana Katic would leave the show and her character of Det. Kate Beckett behind after eight seasons. That left series star Nathan Fillion in the unusual position of heading into a possible ninth season without one half of the dynamic that made the show work.
It was a potential scenario many members of the show's rabid fan base were not eager to see come to light, and apparently, after taking some time to think on it, neither did ABC. In a surprise move following several other cancelations that included The Muppets, Agent Carter, and Nashville, the alphabet network announced it was time to call it quits on Castle, officially ending the series after eight seasons.
The cancelation of Castle is both a surprise and somewhat inevitable. Even after Katic's departure, which came with the news that series regular Tamala Jones would also be leaving the show, ABC seemed eager to continue with the series, even going so far as to close a new deal which would see Fillion reprise his role as crime author/wannabe detective Richard Castle for season 9. Later, the announcement that both Jon Huertas (Det. Javier Esposito) and Seamus Dever (Det. Kevin Ryan), along with Molly Quinn and Susan Sullivan – who play Castle's daughter and mother, respectively – would also return, made it seem like season 9 was nothing short of a sure thing. And naturally, with Fillion and all but one of series' key players on board, the announcement that ABC was pulling the plug was understandably unexpected.
And now, news comes that the end for Castle was near no matter what, with season 9 likely to have been a truncated offering intended to wrap the series up in fewer episodes – similar to what CBS has done with the final season of Person of Interest. In fact, according to THR, two separate season 8 endings were filmed, depending on how things panned out with regard to the negotiations with the cast. One of the endings was set to open the door for another go-round, while the other reportedly served as the series finale.
Despite having a passionate audience, Castle had seen its ratings decline in recent seasons. And following certain behind-the-scenes shakeups, leading to new showrunners for the past two seasons, along with the cost-cutting measures that reportedly led to Katic's departure, it seems as though the network was trying to keep the series going despite all signs pointing to it being done.
At any rate, although the news will likely come as a disappointment to longtime fans of the lighthearted procedural, it's really no more shocking than the idea of a Beckett-less final season. Although the series won't get to go out with the sort of pomp and circumstance normally reserved for pre-planned final seasons, at least Castle gets to wrap its impressive eight-season run with its primary cast intact.
The series finale of Castle airs Monday, May 16 @10pm on ABC.