“Kate Beckett has been a beloved character on our hit series Castle for the past 8 years,” ABC said in a statement. “We are grateful for Stana Katic’s talent and dedication to the series and we hope to continue our relationship. Tamala Jones has also been an integral part of the series and we are grateful she was a part of Castle.”
“Castle has been one of the greatest joys of my creative life, and I hope the show continues on for years to come,” he wrote. “Stana has been my partner all this time, and I thank her for creating the character of Beckett who will live on for all of us as one of the greatest police officers on television. I wish her well, and have no doubt she will succeed in everything she pursues. She will be missed.
A decision has not yet been made on the future of the series, as it was not among the 15 shows that ABC recently renewed, but Deadline, which first reported the news, says the network is eying a shortened season 9 with just 13 episodes. According to ABC, however, since the show has not yet been renewed, a decision on episode count has not been made.
Katic, who plays Detective Kate Beckett on the long-running series, previously signed a one-year deal for season, with Deadline reporting she was not even approached to re-up her contract. Jones, who played medical examiner Lanie Parish, also happened to be Beckett’s best friend.
Katic’s exit lines up with what former ABC boss Paul Lee told reporters at the winter Television Critics Association’s press tour he was optimistic about the possibility of future seasons of Castle, with or without its leading characters. That, of course, remained up in the air after he was replaced by Channing Dungey.
With Castle‘s future up in the air, executive producers Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter recently told EW that they’ve shot a final scene that could act as closure for the series. “If we hear that we’re not coming back, we have shot something that we can put at the end of the episode as a way to put a button on everything,” Hawley said. “Obviously that would be a bad thing because it would mean no more. We did it in order to try to protect the fans, because you can’t end the series on a cliffhanger.” Added Winter: “The hope is that it never sees the light of day.”
Even before news of Katic’s exit, the producers had been planning to open season 9 with a clean slate, with this season’s ongoing LokSat mystery set to be tied up by season’s end. “Our plan from the beginning was to wrap up the loose threads because driving into season 9, which we’re very hopeful that we’ll have, we wanted to come in with a clean slate and be able to tell new stories and not owe anything back,” Hawley told EW on Friday. “In terms of the finale, ABC asked us to design a cliffhanger that would hopefully draw eyeballs back next season, but also would leave it open, because unfortunately for us there are a lot of deals that need to be made again this year. As Paul Lee said back at TCA, which I think still stands with Channing having taken over, we just don’t know what’s going to fall out on a business level. While it breaks our heart that it’s not going to be primarily a creative decision going forward, we are very hopeful that everybody can make a deal and everybody can come back as is.” That, obviously, did not work out.
However the powers that be plan to write Katic and Jones out, producers previously promised that its leading characters would not be killed off after a report surfaced speculating the loss of a co-lead on a well-established drama. “We killed off Montgomery in season 3,” Winter said back in October. “We’re not killing anymore people off.” However, that game plan certainly could’ve changed by now.
Castle creator Andrew W. Marlowe seemingly addressed the exits on Twitter Monday. “Heartbroken. There are no words. #nmc” It’s unclear as of yet what “nmc,” in this case, stands for, but among our best guesses: No more Castle. No more comment. Not my choice.
Castle airs Mondays (10 p.m. ET) on ABC.