Castle had a bit of a roller coaster final season on ABC. There were ratings drops, speculation of cancellation, cast firings and then an actual cancellation. Now, though, we know why things happened the way they did. New ABC President Channing Dungey has spoken out about the confusion over Castle's last season.
That's a case where you have things running on sort of two parallel tracks. We were always very up-front with the studio and the producers about the possibility that we might not be bringing the show back for season 9, but the studio has to do what they need to do in order to prepare for the possibility of season 9. So they did what they felt they needed to do in order to be ready if they did get the nod. Ultimately for us at the network, we did not feel that it was the right thing to do to order another season.
Channing Dungey spoke about Castle during the Television Critics Association's press tour today (via Entertainment Weekly), and revealed that things were really as confusing behind the scenes as they seemed to be. The "two parallel tracks" that Dungey talked about refers to the network, ABC, and the studio and producers behind Castle. According to Dungey, ABC was always forthcoming during Season 8 with regards to the possibility that Castle would not return to the network for Season 9. Meaning, from their point of view, it wasn't necessary to make any cast changes, since the show might not be coming back anyway. But, apparently, in an effort to make sure that Season 9 would happen, the producers and studio behind the series decided to let go two of the series' performers. Tamala Jones, who played medical examiner Dr. Lanie Parish, and (shockingly) lead actor Stana Katic, who played Kate Beckett, were (in what must be the most passive aggressive way to fire someone) simply not asked to come back to the show. If you're not invited to renew your contract that ran out, that basically means you just got fired.
Dungey notes that the studio must have done what they felt was needed to be ready if they did get asked back for Season 9, which seems to mean that they got rid of two cast members, including a lead, to make the show cheaper to produce and, hopefully, more attractive for renewal by ABC. And, this did give fans hope that the show would be able to have at least a truncated Season 9. Unfortunately, the move didn't work, because less than a month after Stana Katic and Tamala Jones were let go, Castle was still cancelled.
This all boils down to Channing Dungey saying that the confusion over Castle's renewal was really the fault of the studio and producers of the show, not ABC. The network never gave them any concrete hope that Castle would live on for Season 9 if they made big cast changes; that was something the show decided to do completely on its own, and it ended up not working out for them. Well, now that Castle's eight season run is a thing of the past, you can check out our Fall TV premiere schedule to see what show might be able to fill the void for you.