They were two of the most beloved characters from the series so how did Hawaii Five-O explain the departure of Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua? Hawaii Five-O is a reboot of the famous detective series, which ran from 1968 to 1980. The 2010 reboot follows a police task force in Hawaii, led by Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) and Danny Williams, aka "Danno", played by Scott Caan (Ocean's Eleven).
The Hawaii Five-O reboot has proven to be almost as popular as the original series and will return for season 10 in late 2019. There had actually been a failed bid to relaunch the show back in 1996 when Gary Busey (Lethal Weapon) took the lead role in a pilot that never aired, and a movie version was also in development at one stage. Thankfully, the likable chemistry of the new cast and the show's mix of action and humor has made it a hit.
The show took something of a hit during Hawaii Five-O season 8 when longtime cast members Daniel Dae Kim (Hellboy) and Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica) departed the show. Kim and Park played Chin and Kono respectively, and while the show may have originally revolved around the buddy cop dynamic between McGarrett and Danno, Chin and Kono soon became just as important. Both actors left the series over a pay dispute and during negotiations with CBS for season 8 they were seeking equal pay with Scott Caan and Alex O'Loughlin.
When CBS' final offer was less than equal, they decided to exit the show. Hawaii Five-O season 8 opens with the characters having already left the team. McGarrett reveals Chin left to start his own task force in San Francisco and that Kono is in Carson City helping take down a sex trafficking ring. The finale of season 7 had already set up this plot point, and her work becomes so all-consuming that she never returns. It's even mentioned that she worked with Chin's task force on the case.
Hawaii Five-O season 8 also upgraded Kono's husband Adam, played by Ian Anthony Dale (24), to a regular character and it's eventually revealed in season 9 Kono left him. While the showrunners have left the door open for both characters to return, it seems unlikely either Chin or Kono will return as main characters. Maybe when the show comes to an end they will return for the finale to bid farewell to the series. The two characters were a major part of what made the show a success, which is why fans miss them to this day.