Castle, like other shows on television right now, is getting a little long in the tooth. Ratings haven’t been great since the show returned to the schedule this September and many believe the ABC procedural may be reaching the end of its shelf life. In fact, while showrunners Terence Paul Winter and Alexi Hawley aren’t ready to throw in the towel at the end of Season 8, they have crafted a finale that should work for a series finale, should Castle fail to get renewed. Here’s what they had to say in a recent interview:
Andrew and Terri wrote it as if it was the series finale. And there’s a very good chance that we’ll most likely be doing that here. We hope to come back for Season 9, but we have to act as if [we might not].

It’s safe to say that Castle has been a little more adventurous with its storytelling thus far in Season 8, with Kate Beckett disappearing for a while and creating friction in her relationship with Rick Castle. Obviously, that’s been tied up somewhat in the more recent episodes, with Castle finding out Beckett's secret. However, if something like Beckett’s crazy side investigation and her working on her marriage with Castle weren’t enough to pull in additional viewers, I’m not sure anything could.

While ratings have stayed above the 6 million mark this season, a lot of the show’s viewership is on the older end of the spectrum, and the ABC series has seen series lows hovering around or just above the 1.0 mark this season. That’s not a great rating for network TV, nor is it a great rating compared to overall viewership. While Castle does see viewership gains in the week following an original episode’s premiere, that may not be enough to keep the series afloat into Season 9—especially because Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion’s contracts were re-upped for Season 8 but will need to be renegotiated for a potential 9.

Still, the showrunners aren’t ready to lose all hope. Despite the fact that it’s a very real threat that Castle could get cancelled, the two showrunners told TV Line that they know the series could very well get the axe at the end of the season, but that’s still months away. In the meantime, the writers, staff, cast and crew all need to keep on doing what they’ve been doing for the last eight seasons.
The reality is that [ABC] won’t make that decision until very late. So our plan is just to tell a satisfying story and try to wrap up the season in an exciting way.

So, there you have it. Whether or not Castle lives on to see another year at the network, it looks as if everyone is aware that our time with Beckett and Rick will be short. Whether the show ends this spring or gets a renewal, Castle is steadily decreasing in the ratings and is on its way out. Luckily, the showrunners have plans in the works to give us a nice season ender that will capably serve as a series ender, should that decision come sooner rather than later.

Castle returns to the schedule on Monday, January 4 at 10 p.m. ET. To find out when the rest of your favorites are returning this winter, check out our winter TV premiere schedule.

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