NCIS: New Orleans Has Been Canceled, But Why?

NCIS: NEW ORLEANS SEASON 4” by ETRG-Torrent is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

On May 23rd, the last ever episode of “NCIS: New Orleans” will air on television. Perhaps it’s already aired by the time you read this, and you’re tearfully looking for information about when the eighth season will begin. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but there isn’t going to be one. “NCIS: New Orleans” was quietly cancelled in February this year. There was a lot going on in America (and the rest of the world) in February, so the announcement mostly went unnoticed at the time, but the decision has been made, and there’s no going back on it. Seven seasons is all that fans of the shows are going to get, so the finale will presumably wrap up all the dangling plot threads in a neat little bow. We hope it did the series and the characters justice. The big question we want to have answered is “why?”

“NCIS: New Orleans” has been a hit show ever since the first season aired in 2014. At its peak, it regularly attracted audiences of between thirteen and fourteen million people. Viewing habits have changed dramatically since the first two or three seasons, though. Fewer people than ever before are watching television “live,” with the majority preferring to use catch up or DVR services to skip the live broadcast and watch later at their own convenience. That’s had a detrimental effect on the show’s overnight viewing figures, just as it’s had a detrimental effect on the overnight viewing figures of almost everything except major live sports. Even this season, overnight figures for “NCIS: New Orleans” has held steady at around five million, with several million more watching on catch-up. Although that sounds like a significant drop, those figures are still considered healthy in the 2020s. The drop alone doesn’t explain the show’s cancellation – especially when the “NCIS” parent show’s audience is down to around nine million on average. 

There’s also plenty of external evidence to suggest that people are still interested in the show. Past episodes of “NCIS: New Orleans” are popular on streaming services both in the USA and further afield. The show is popular in both the UK and Australia. “NCIS: Los Angeles” is still on-air and has recently been renewed for a thirteenth season despite not performing any better in terms of ratings than “NCIS: New Orleans.” An online slots game based on the “NCIS” universe recently went live on Rose Slots NZ and other slots’ websites. The latter fact is proof that people are willing to spend money on products that are tangentially linked to “NCIS” even when the show isn’t on air. If people are willing to play “NCIS” online slots, they’re presumably still willing to watch the show. Instead, it seems the official online slots game is the only place we’re going to be able to see the characters from now on. 

While CBS hasn’t officially commented on the reasons for the cancellation, it might be the case that it had nothing to do with the network at all. Instead, this might be all about the show’s executive producers. Christopher Silber and Jan Nash have worked on the show since its inception but have recently been re-assigned to a new “NCIS” show based in Hawaii. It’s possible that the rest of the production team decided it was impossible to continue without them, so it made more sense to bring things to an end now. If that’s true, it’s a kick in the teeth for fans that “NCIS: New Orleans” is being cancelled to pave the way for “NCIS: Hawaii” to be born. 

Another possibility is that Scott Bakula might have decided that the time is right for him to stop playing Agent Dwayne Pride. Bakula is 66 years old and so is rapidly approaching the point where it would no longer be believable for his character to be a serving agent. He’s already commented on the impending end of the show, noting that he would “miss the music and the phenomenal city,” but was grateful for all the friends he’d made during his many years on the show. Bakula might want to entertain other job options and work on other projects. It’s difficult to see how “NCIS: New Orleans” could function without Bakula’s character, so that’s another possible factor in it coming to an end. 

“NCIS: NEW ORLEANS” by bridgevillepennsylvania is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Perhaps the real explanation is that the show’s story has been told in full. No matter what else might have been happening with the plot, one of the central stories that underpinned “NCIS: New Orleans” was Christopher Lasalle’s search for his brother Clade. That came to an end in dramatic fashion after Lasalle came across the badly burned remains of his long-lost brother. As if that weren’t enough, the agent was shot in the process and later passed away in hospital, bringing one of the show’s most important narratives to a devastatingly sad end. It broke the hearts of viewers at the time the episode aired, and some never forgave the writers for choosing to go in that direction with the story. 

We could continue to speculate here, but the truth is we don’t know why the show has been cancelled, and we’ll probably never know unless CBS decides to put out another statement on the matter. They’re probably not going to do that. It could very well be about ratings. It might be down to the departure of the executive producers. Maybe Bakula told the producers that he wanted to leave, and perhaps the writers are devoid of inspiration. In all probability, it’s probably a combination of two or more of those elements. We suppose it doesn’t really matter now. What does matter is that the show is coming to a permanent end after seven (mostly) glorious seasons, and the tale of “NCIS: New Orleans” is told. It’s a shame that we won’t see our beautiful city highlighted as the setting for this television show anymore, but we’re sure another major show will come and shoot in New Orleans soon. Farewell, “NCIS: New Orleans” – it’s been a wild ride! 

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