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Nobody saw this coming.
It’s unclear whether the fictional author turned private detective Richard Castle will continue to fight crime another day, but if he does it will be with two fewer people in his corner—and Castle fandom is not happy about it.
Deadline is reporting that Stana Katic (Kate Beckett) and Tamala Jones (Lanie Parish) will not be returning to Castle for its ninth season, which is in the works and has yet to be renewed by ABC. The two actresses found out the news last week and were cut due to “budgetary reasons,” and Katic’s departure comes after she had signed a one-year contract for season 8; star Nathan Fillion is still negotiating to return for a shortened season 9.
Katic didn’t comment on the circumstances behind the departure (and has yet to comment on social media), but according to TV Line’s Michael Ausiello, it wasn’t her decision.
“Rather then [sic] distract from what was an amazing experience, I would just like to say that I’m very grateful to ABC for giving me the opportunity to be a part of a much beloved show,” Katic said in a statement. “Thank you to the fans.”
Said Jones: “I’ve had so much fun playing the wonderful and unfiltered Lanie over the past eight seasons. … I will greatly miss the cast and crew—it’s been a privilege getting to work with this incredibly hard working group of people. Thank you to ABC for this opportunity and to the fans for their unwavering support. It’s been an incredible journey and I can’t wait for what lies ahead!”
ABC confirmed the departures in a statement released to Deadline.
“Kate Beckett has been a beloved character on our hit series Castle for the past 8 years,” ABC said. “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.”
Seeing a lead of a long-running show leave at the end of a season (or not return) isn’t uncommon, especially as the series continues. But in Katic’s case, her sudden departure is leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of Castle fans—as well as the people who’ve worked closely with her during the past eight years.
It doesn’t appear that some members of the Castle cast were informed of these departures before it was published online. Regardless of who knew beforehand, they were sad to see their colleagues leave the show—with Andrew W. Marlowe, a former showrunner, noting that he was “Heartbroken.”
However, for the fans, it’s more than just losing two beloved female characters on a long-running procedural drama—especially for Katic’s character, who’s seen as the heart of the show.
Kate Beckett is an integral part of Castle. She’s an ace New York Police Department detective who ends up being Castle’s muse. The darkness in her past drives some of the show’s overarching plots, and she is one-half of Caskett, the show’s premiere ship. For a few seasons, there was flirty banter between the two characters, and the characters eventually pulled a Moonlighting and got together.
Some fans would rather ABC end Castle than try to make a shortened season without Beckett; some called for its cancellation.
Remember, TV ladies, even if the ENTIRE show was built on your relationship with the male co-lead, you’re still completely expendable!
— lisa eastham (@itslisae) April 18, 2016
I guess the lesson we can take away from this is that the male lead will always be prioritized, no matter what.
— Carly Lane (@carlylane) April 18, 2016
Other fans are upset that a popular ship will likely be broken up. In a sea of dead female, LGBTQ, and non-white characters on television as of late, people worry that Beckett will soon join them.
In the past few weeks alone fans have had to deal with the sudden deaths of Lexa and Lincoln on The 100, Laurel on Arrow, Denise on The Walking Dead, Abbie Mills on Sleepy Hollow, more on Vampire Diaries, The Americans, The Magicians, The Blacklist, and many others. It’s giving fans the indication that women on TV are disposable—even stars of their own TV shows.
In some of those cases, the actors involved had commitments to other shows, and in the case of Ricky Whittle and Nicole Beharie, there were issues behind the scenes. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Katic had similar issues working on Castle, and she and Fillion reportedly clashed.
Some fans are already predicting death for Beckett. It’s not the only option to write out a character, but any other kind of exit would be tricky for the show to pull off given the romantic ties of its leads.
What does that mean for the season 8 finale, which airs May 16? Fans will see Castle and Beckett’s lives in jeopardy in an episode that ends on a cliffhanger.
“There’s stuff up in the air, so we are trying to leave it in a very dynamic way which leaves open the possibility that maybe the show won’t come back in the same form next season—although, again, we really hope that it does,” co-showrunner Alexi Hawley told TV Line last week, confirming a scene to end the series that would air only in the event that Castle won’t return next season.
If Castle were to return next season, it would have to win fans over once again—and without some of the characters who got them hooked in the first place.
Michelle Jaworski is a staff writer and the resident Game of Thrones expert at the Daily Dot. She covers entertainment, geek culture, and pop culture and has brought her knowledge to conventions like Con of Thrones. She is based in New Jersey.