It's official, NCIS: Hawaii was the most-watched canceled series of the year

NCIS: Hawai’i Season 3 Key Art ©2024 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
NCIS: Hawai’i Season 3 Key Art ©2024 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

May is set to tip into June, and with the new month rolling in, the dust is beginning to settle as cancellation season comes to a close. Rarely though is this a joyous time for Network TV lovers as some of us head into summer without the comforting knowledge that all of our favorite scripted dramas (and comedies!) will be returning in the fall or the midseason.

For fans of NCIS: Hawaii, broadcast's off-season is going to sting, mainly because, as the season ending numbers roll in, it's become clearer, how big of a mistake CBS made canceling one of their most popular shows. Yes, yes, we all know at this point it was because of budget constraints. The series films in Hawai'i, it's expensive, the network needed to make room for new shows, and Paramount Global is in the process of being sold.

All of the above information has been shared again and again, but it doesn't change the fact that, according to TVLine's reporting, NCIS: Hawaii ranks #8 for most watched returning dramas across broadcast. With 7.8 million viewers, it beat out Fire Country (#9, 7.3M) and FBI: Most Wanted (#10, 7.2M)--both of which have been renewed and, in Fire Country's case, the franchise is expanding with the addition of Sheriff Country coming in 2025.

NCIS: Hawaii also leads the pack of most-watched canceled series in the 2023-2024 TV year, only Blue Bloods (8.4M)--which was given a final season and doesn't end until December 2024--beats its viewership. The top 5 on this list are primarily CBS shows--So Help Me Todd (6.2M), CSI: Vegas (6.1M)--with The Good Doctor (5M) being the sole entry from another network.

It can't be stressed enough that CBS has an embarrassment of riches. As such, cuts were made. But, what's been particularly grating about NCIS: Hawaii's cancellation is that issues that have nothing to do with performance in the ratings are what caused the axe to swing. The procedural wasn't a veteran, since it was only going to have three full seasons under its belt. Even with the expense of the show, it wasn't suffering from the same weight that say a series entering its seventh year would. Or, with Blue Bloods as an example, contending with budget cuts just to make another season happen.

Though, it should be mentioned, that the cast and crew were willing to take on major budget cuts in order to secure a fourth and final season. Instead, the series was saddled with a cliffhanger ending that opened the door for a big storyline that we won't get to see unfold. Another concern was that NCIS: Hawaii wouldn't reach the global success and be a huge moneymaker like its predecessors, hence the cord being cut...prematurely, to be honest.

Now, in the show's place, NCIS: Origins which will have to prove itself and may not reach the heights of Hawaii because fans of the franchise will be starting from scratch once again with a new entry. Yes, there's some familiar ground because the show follows a young Gibbs but a play toward the past could backfire especially if it messes with the lore already established about the agent's life and work.

While it's true that audiences what "new" and "fresh," a prequel doesn't necessarily provide that since we're still in the same pool with characters they know and love, they're just younger. And certainly, fans of a program that still had gas in the tank and had proven itself aren't going to take that argument as an acceptable reason for its cancellation.

It's too early to say NCIS: Hawaii's cancellation is going to be one CBS regrets but it's not a move that's sat well with the show's viewers especially in the face of S.W.A.T. being saved not once but twice, and based on TVLine's reporting, the cop drama didn't perform as well as Hawaii either. The procedural deserved a befitting send-off as did its cast, crew, and fans. And it's unfortunate that didn't happen despite the series hitting the marks that it was supposed to hit.

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