‘NCIS: Hawai’i’ Canceled By CBS: Franchise’s First Female-Led Series Ending After 3 Seasons

It came down to the wire, but NCIS: Hawai’i ultimately didn’t make the cut for next season at CBS. The news comes days before the network is set to announce its fall schedule on May 2 and before the Season 3 finale of Hawai’i is scheduled to air on May 6. According to sources, the episode was not meant to be a series finale and includes a tease for what was to come but fans won’t be left reeling by a major cliffhanger.

The cancellation is not a complete shocker since, as Deadline has been reporting, NCIS: Hawai’i was on the bubble. Still, the outcome is surprising since an effort was made to extend the well performing drama’s run for at least an abbreviated fourth and final season, with producers agreeing to a massive budget cut and open to other concessions in order to keep the show going.

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Hawai’i, the first series in the NCIS franchise with a female lead, Vanessa Lachey, is now the first series in the franchise not to get a proper sendoff after a brief run compared to its predecessors NCIS, renewed for a 22nd season, NCIS: Los Angeles (14 seasons) and NCIS: New Orleans (7). It is unclear whether series producer CBS Studios would shop the drama but there are no obvious buyers, with Paramount+ already stocked up with two NCIS original series, Sydney and the Tony and Ziva spinoff.

Attracting sizable viewership on a linear network is quite a challenge, so it is not common these days for a network to let go of the #12 most watched non-sports program on broadcast that averages 7.8 million linear viewers (most current) and 10M in Live+35 multi-platform viewing.

That is what CBS is doing with the cancellation of NCIS: Hawai’i, which added some star power and NCIS continuity this season with NCIS: Los Angeles‘ LL Cool J who has been in every episode.

It comes on the heels of Top 25 series So Help Me Todd and CSI: Vegas getting the axe last Friday. As I noted in the CBS Renewal Status Report earlier this month, the network was going to have to make some painful cancellation decisions, getting rid of shows other networks would’ve been happy to renew.

RELATED: CBS Renewal Status Report: ‘The Equalizer’, ‘NCIS: Hawai’i’, ‘Elsbeth’, ‘CSI: Vegas’ & ‘So Help Me Todd’

NCIS: Hawai’i, as well as So Help Me Todd and CSI: Vegas, ultimately became a casualty of a strong schedule, a cost-management drive and overall uncertainty at the parent company Paramount Global, which is in the process of being sold.

Even before CBS’ lineup, delayed by the strikes, launched with the Super Bowl, the network already had committed to five new scripted series for next season, dramas Matlock, Watson and NCIS: Origins and comedies Poppa’s House and a Young Sheldon spinoff, with renewal conversations on NCIS: Sydney also well underway.

Then CBS’ originals returned, exceeding expectations, with the network claiming the top 16 most watched shows of its premiere week and 14 of the top 20 non-sports programs overall this midseason in Nielsen most current linear viewership.

With no obvious weaklings, Blue Bloods getting a final run next season and S.W.A.T. surprisingly uncanceled, the network had to cut deep in purging its slate to make room for the additions.

Just a year ago, a renewal for Hawai’i would’ve been a no-brainer: it’s part of a storied franchise with solid rating and crossover potential with the mothership series that yielded big ratings in January 2023. But now, CBS already has three other NCIS series already locked for next season: the original series, Sydney, returning for a second season, and the upcoming Young Gibbs prequel NCIS: Origins. There is also the Tony & Ziva NCIS spinoff series greenlighted by Paramount+, making for a crowded NCIS field.

With strong multi-platform performance, as NCIS: Hawai’i ranked above several CBS dramas that have been renewed, including FBI: Most Wanted, FBI: International and S.W.A.T., it likely came down to money.

Even with the proposed budget cuts, NCIS: Hawai’i was still going to be expensive. Its long-term prospects were unclear — whether it would become a big global hit and moneymaker like its franchise predecessors. With CBS’ parent company focused on its short-term balance sheet as it prepares to sell, a corporate decision was made not to take a chance and find out.

In NCIS: Hawai’i, Special Agent in Charge of NCIS Pearl Harbor Jane Tennant (Lachey) and her team balance duty to family and country, investigating high-stakes crimes involving military personnel, national security and the mysteries of the island itself.

Alex Tarrant, Noah Mills, Jason Antoon, Yasmine Al-Bustami, Tori Anderson and Kian Talan also star. Matt Bosack, Jan Nash, Christopher Silber and Larry Teng served as executive producers.

In a recent Deadline interview, CBS Studios President David Stapf spoke about how “wholly unique” Hawai’i is while also being part of the franchise as the first NCIS series with a female lead, Lachey, and with its Hawai’i locale. “We were just coming off Hawaii Five-0, a very successful show,” he said of the spinoff’s origins. “People love that setting, it plays well over the globe.”

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