Another Castle shocker. ABC has canceled veteran crime drama procedural after eight seasons. The May 16 finale will now be a series finale.

The cancelation comes after ABC sibling ABC Studios went through the trouble of maing new deals with star Nathan Fillion as well as co-stars Seamus Dever and Jon Huertas for Season 9. The show dropped a bombshell last month when co-lead Stana Katic was not asked to come back, along with fellow original cast member Tamala Jones.

The move drew big backlash from fans. Still, signs had been pointing to a renewal, possibly for a shortened, 13-episode ninth season at a reduced license fee. There was a red flag last Friday when ABC did not make a pickup by the deadline it had to make a decision on the show.

Castle already had a road map for Season 9, drawn by Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter, who joined as showrunners at the beginning of Season 8 and were expected to come back for Season 9.

Now, the show will remain about Castle and Beckett til the end, with no Castle 2.0 where Castle flies solo.

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On April 18th, the day of an all-new episode of Castle, which was conveniently titled “Backstabber,” Deadline was first to report that two longtime cast members who had been there since the first episode were not offered contract renewals. While any loss of a good character is a difficult time for a TV show, it’s an anticipated casualty of program that’s currently contemplating a ninth season. The issue, however, comes with the fact that, along with the incredible supporting actress Tamala Jones, one of the two leads, Stana Katic, will also be departing.

Continuing without what is essentially one half of a show is widely considered to be a mistake in “TV Show Theory,” and many members of the cast and crew were shocked when they learned of the news at the same time and from the same source as fans, an ABC press release, which stated that “Kate Beckett has been a beloved character on our hit series Castle for the past 8 years. 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.” What is perhaps most confusing and, ultimately, disheartening is that, according to Deadline, ABC cited “budgetary reasons” as their rationale for letting Katic and Jones go, two of the remaining female actresses on the program.

Jones was gracious as ever on Twitter, and even live-tweeted the most recent episode. Katic also released a kind statement on Facebook, saying, “Rather than 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,” before tweeting, “To the fans: thank you for your support. I love you.”

The day after the news was released to the public, Tamala Jones was interviewed by Access Hollywood, with whom she shared a few of the details of her departure, saying, “I actually found out on Friday. I got the call and I didn’t think it was going to be exposed so soon… ’cause I thought, ‘let the fans get through the season and then announce,’ but when it came out I was very much aware.”

Cast members Jon Huertas (Javier Esposito), Seamus Dever (Kevin Ryan), Susan Sullivan (Martha Rodgers), Molly C. Quinn (Alexis Castle), and Toks Olagundoye (Hayley Shipton) were all shocked, and expressed their feelings on Twitter, along with past-cast members like Penny Johnson Jerald (‘Sir’ Captain Victoria Gates, another female star who was also suddenly dropped from the show last year), and even well-known fans of the show, such as Christina Applegate and Betty Buckley. Nathan Fillion, Katic’s costar, alsocommented, saying, “Castle has been one of the greatest joys of my creative life, and I hope the show continues on for years to come. Stana has been my partner all this time, and I thank her for creating the character of Beckett who will go 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.”

But what was perhaps most heartbreaking, was the original show creators/former showrunners’ responses, the very couple who Castle and Beckett’s love story was based on, Andrew W. Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller (lovingly known as MilMar). Marlowe has since changed his Twitter bio to “Castle creator (in exile)” and wrote, “Heartbroken. There are no words. #nmc.” The pair left last season to pursue other projects and spend more time with their family, trusting that the show was in good hands, but are obviously hurt, as Miller wrote, in response to her husband’s tweet, “I second that emotion.”

When the show originally aired, Marlowe was interviewed by Denise Faye for the Writers Guild of America, West. When asked why he created Castle, Marlowe responded, “Procedurals had become about things other than character. A show like CSI specializes on the forensics. A show like Law & Order specializes in the specific procedural elements. What I was missing were the shows like Moonlighting and The Rockford Files, where character played a really big part of it. A couple weeks later you really didn’t remember the case, but you remembered the people.” The show was always about the characters and their stories, not just “the case of the week,” which the current showrunners, Terence Paul Winter and Alexi Hawley, hope to get back to, according to a statement Hawley released to Deadline in regards to season 9 plans back in January.

In one of the final interviews the couple gave before leaving the show, Marlowe said, in response to questions about a “Beckett-less” Castle, “I think for us that’s off the table. For us we’ve been telling a love story for the last seven years.”

Miller noted, in the same interview, “I think that would be a huge betrayal of our fans.”

Ratings back their sentiments. Twice this season, the Castle showrunners have experimented with “Beckett-less” episodes, both receiving low ratings in viewership and fan reception. In “Backstabber,” the preliminary ratings in the 18–49 demographic, only about 0.99 million people tuned in, one of the lowest ratings in the eight season history of the series. This is a glaring reminder that fans would rather watch Castle without Castle than Castle with no Beckett. That’s not to say that people don’t love Fillion, but Katic has proven to be the heart of the show. Castle began with a bored crime novelist who found inspiration in an NYPD homicide detective, and has followed that take for the past seven years. To pretend now that the “Caskett” love story is anything other than the linchpin of the series is a grave misunderstanding.

That’s not to say that people don’t love Fillion, but Katic has proven to be the heart of the show.

“There is a universal truth we all have to face whether we want to or not,” writes Alexis Castle, Rick’s daughter and Kate’s now step-daughter, in her graduation speech during the season four finale, the episode where “Caskett” finally consummates their relationship, and arguably one of the greatest “get together” moments in “will-they-won’t-they” television history, stating that “everything eventually ends… The last day of summer, the final chapter of a great book, parting ways with a close friend.” This rings true with the ultimate episode in any epic TV series, “leaves fall, we close the book, you say goodbye,” and power down the TV at 11 pm on a Monday night one last time. And this is all ok. But when a TV show reaches its organic ending (in Castle’s case, many believe that the season seven finale, and the original creators’ final episode, was the ending the series deserved), it should be finished, not dragged out into something that barely looks like the original program. While fans need to respect actors wanting to leave the show (in this case, it’s rumored that Katic and Jones didn’t have much say, based on how they were informed and the reasoning behind their departure), they have a right to be upset (within reason) when showrunners and networks don’t know when to let the show, and the viewers, rest.

This is true for many shows among the “Big Five networks” (ABC, NBC, The CW, CBS, and FOX) and a lot of viewers have been equating the current Castle situation to Shonda Rhimes killing off Derek Shepherd, Meredith Grey’s husband, on Grey’s Anatomy. In Grey’s case, the viewership pretty much sustained, even though the show was reborn into a more female driven program in season 12. A lot of people seem to think that the same can be said for Castle’s future, even bringing up that the “title characters” of each show will still be there, justifying the cast shakeups. However, this is not why fans, and TV lovers in general, are so upset. Kate Beckett was more than the title character’s “love interest” and greater than just the “strong woman” trope, which is often written with misguided, but good intentions, as women are inherently strong. Beckett was tough and fragile, heartbroken and in love, and still trying to figure out how those two things could coexist. She was her own woman, her own person, and, in the words of Rick Castle, one of “the most remarkable, maddening, challenging, frustrating” characters to ever grace primetime television.

The Blacklist’s Elizabeth Keen was another incredible character who recently fell victim to a similar fate. Megan Boone, the actress who plays Keen, just had a baby, and is either simply on maternity leave, or asked to permanently leave the show to spend more time with her daughter. Either case is totally understandable, and people should respect her choices, including the showrunners. The issue comes with the fact that Keen either died in childbirth or has faked her death in childbirth (fans are going with the latter), following months of show creators slowly tearing down the complex character that they’d worked so hard to create by diminishing her to a love triangle. The final episode promos leading up to her supposed death all centered around Liz’s love life, asking questions like “which man will she choose?” and “what does this [other female character] mean for Liz?” Keen’s “death” has proven to be fuel for a James Spader-centered slew of episodes (which will undoubtably be action-packed and heart-wrenching, but for the wrong reasons) and, most alarmingly, the kickoff to a Tom Keen (her essentially abusive “husband”) The Blacklist styled spinoff, starring the incredible Famke Jannsen (X-Men and, currently, How To Get Away With Murder).

Beckett and Keen are just the latest casualties in the poor handling of female characters. TV and network executives need to stop knocking off female characters as plot points to further define a man’s character arc. Even if it was Katic’s choice to leave (although it doesn’t seem to have been), Kate Beckett’s epic character should be suspended in time, not regressed into something two-dimensional and, ultimately, made into a stepping stone.

While budget cuts are rarely the actual reason behind an actor or actress’ departure, it’s embarrassing to think that a television network would be okay with people believing that they cut out two of the main female actresses on a show because they suddenly couldn’t afford them. What’s even more humiliating is the way in which they deal with the womens’ characters, taking away?—?in the case of Kate Beckett?—?seven years of character growth and completely negating the version of herself that she fought so hard to be, so that they can justify her leaving her husband to join the CIA or to go into WPP or whatever out of character vision TPTB (The Powers That Be) have created to justify her exit in just a few short weeks, should season 9 actually happen, and propel the show to an unrecognizable incarnation of itself. In the extraordinary words of Kate Beckett, “What you destroyed today was worth a hell of a lot more than money.”

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After eight years, Stana Katic better known to viewers as Detective Kate Beckett is leaving “Castle.” ABC announced this week that Nathan Fillion’s TV wife will be departing the detective drama after Season 8. While her departure from the popular series is heartbreaking to fans and a huge loss to the network, Katic can look forward to a busy year ahead.

According to her IMDB page, Katic has completed filming three new movies slated for 2016 while on break from “Castle.” One of her projects is “Sister Cities,” an independent drama based on a play by Colette Freedman. Katic will star alongside “The Good Wife” alumni Jess Weixler, “Pretty Little Liars” actress Troian Belisario and “Gossip Girl” regular Michelle Trachtenberg.

According to Variety, “Sister Cities” revolves around four estranged sisters who reunite after losing their mother to what they believe is a suicide. Each sister is named after an American city, as different and far apart from each other as sisters. Amy Smart, Alfred Molina, Kathy Baker and Tom Everett Scott complete the cast. Sean Hanish serves as the producer and director.

Meanwhile,”Lost in Florence” (or “The Tourist”) is about an American who, after getting his heart broken, flies to Florence and get involved in a dangerous sport. Katic plays the role of Anna, a supporting character. [Watch the trailer below.]

In “The Rendezvous,” Katic goes back to solving mysteries as Rachel Rozman. The film is based on a novel by Sarah Isaias about a “mis-matched” couple that goes on to an adventure to search for the “Dead Sea Scroll” said to be hidden in the ancient city of Petra.

Moreover, Katic’s fans should not be too disappointed about her departure from “Castle” because the actress will not be straying away from television despite her blooming and increasingly busy movie career. She revealed to ET Canadathat she is developing a new television series for cable, but she refused to divulge further information because, as she quipped, she will probably be in trouble for talking about the project. With all these lined up, Stana Katic does not really need Rick Castle anymore.

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This is very disappointing news to hear. But while I am sad for the character of Kate Beckett and how the writers destroyed her character and story this season, I am excited to see the possibilities this opens up for Stana as an actress. She deserved better from ABC, but I know she will go on to greater things. Whatever comes next, I know we’ll be there supporting her!

EXCLUSIVE: Caskett no more. I have learned that ABC is planning a ninth season of the venerable crime procedural without one of its two stars, female lead Stana Katic, who plays Detective Kate Beckett to Nathan Fillion’s writer-turned-PI RickCastle. It is the main part of a major shakeup on the series, which also includes the departure of fellow original cast member Tamala Jones. Fillion has been in negotiations to return to Castle, which I hear is eyeing a shortened, likely 13-episode, ninth season, at a reduced license fee.

I hear the decision for Katic not to return was made by ABC and ABC Studios. Both Fillion and Katic last spring inked one-year contracts, which are up at the end of the current eighth season. While the studio started making overtures to Fillion for a new deal months ago and has been in on- and off- talks with him since the beginning of the year, I hear Katic was never approached to re-up her contract and was not offered an opportunity to continue on the show. Instead, I hear she, as well as Jones, were informed late last week that for budgetary reasons, they won’t be asked to come back for Season 9.

Katic would not comment on the circumstances surrounding her exit. When asked about the departure, she told Deadline, “Rather then 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. Thank you to the fans.”

Since Castle has not been renewed, ABC would not comment on any plans for the length of the potential Season 9 but confirmed to Deadline that Katic and Jones won’t be part of it.

“Kate Beckett has been a beloved character on our hit series Castle for the past 8 years. We are grateful for Stana Katic’s talent and dedication to the series and we hope to continue our relationship,” ABC said in a statement to Deadline. “Tamala Jones has also been an integral part of the series and we are grateful she was a part of Castle.

Jones played the whip-smart medical examiner Lanie Parish who was Beckett’s close friend and confidante. “I’ve had so much fun playing the wonderful and unfiltered Lanie over the past eight seasons,” Jones said in a statement to Deadline. “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!”

None of the other Castle cast members besides Fillion have been given an indication about their future on the show.

While the series is called Castle, Beckett’s character has been as prominent on the show, which evolved into a two-lead Moonlighting-style comedic drama.Castle creator Andrew Marlowe had always called the Castle/Beckett relationship central to the concept of the series.

Marlowe left Castle at the end of last season when Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter were named new showrunners. The two were handed the difficult task of shepherding the eighth season with the future of the series and its stars up in the air. Amid that uncertainty, the show filmed two different endings for the upcoming Season 8 finale, including a cliffhanger one in which I hear both Castle and Beckett’s lives are left hanging in the balance.

“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,” Hawley told TVLine over the weekend.’

Long-running series like Castle are expensive, and with ratings inevitably slipping, implementing cost reductions is not uncommon though those rarely affect the stars of a show. While Castle‘s ratings are down vs. last season, the crime series has been a reliable performer, posting a 1.1 adults 18-49 Live+same rating for the last six airings and getting close to tying its season high of 1.2 last Monday with a 1.14 rating. The show’s DVR gains have been solid, with the April 4 episode growing 55% to a 1.7 L+3 demo rating.

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ABC’s Castle is definitely one of the most underrated shows on television. It has been running for six years and just entered its eighth season, yet has never received a single Emmy nomination for anything other than music, hair and makeup. This makes sense, seeing as most viewers were Nathan Fillion fans who followed him from Firefly. Castle definitely has a cult following. And while those who don’t watch the show are missing out on something great, what makes it even more unfair is that they’re missing out on some of the greatest and most underrated female characters on TV right now.

Let’s start with the main character, Kate Beckett, played by Stana Katic (who is a superhero herself, but that’s another article). Kate is one of the youngest women to ever become a detective for the NYPD. She’s beautiful, smart and good at what she does. The best part about her, however, is not her accomplishments, but how human she is. Kate isn’t a character that will make women viewers feel inferior because they’re not as good as she is. Just because she seems perfect doesn’t mean she is. Kate has taken a bullet to the chest and stayed alive yet suffered from PTSD for months afterwards. Kate has literally sewn herself together after being shot yet reacted like a coward to the events following it. She is a person with strengths and flaws and that’s what makes her such a good role model.

My favorite part about Kate has to do with something brought up many times throughout the series: her high heels. Kate has chased down criminals in six inch heels and never stumbled. This is so important because there’s a stereotype that says that a woman cannot be sexy and smart. Masculine characteristics are favored over feminine ones, whether portrayed by a woman or a man. Kate wearing heels steps on (pun intended) the idea that if a female shows femininity in any way, she is inferior and weak. Kate’s heels are a part of what makes her strong, they don’t take away from it.

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Childhood demons are chasing Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). While she can certainly run, the newly appointed captain can’t hide from her past in Castle’s season-eight opener, “XY.”

Good changes are underway at the start of Monday’s hour. Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) and Beckett are celebrating her big promotion and Castle is pleasantly surprised to find Alexis (Molly Quinn) has not only remodeled his P.I. office, but also successfully taken on some cases of her own. However, things quickly turn dark when Beckett goes missing.

Castle, Esposito (Jon Huertas), Ryan (Seamus Dever) and the team quickly notice Beckett’s absence. Their search leads them straight to security specialist Hayley Shipman (Toks Olagundoye), who luckily turns out to be more friend than foe. Hayley’s out-of-the-box way of thinking comes in handy as she joins the search for Beckett. Surprisingly, all leads point to incarcerated former Sen. William Bracken (Jack Coleman), aka the man who had Beckett’s mother killed.

Castle pays Bracken a jailhouse visit, during which Bracken tells Castle regardless of where his wife is, she is never going to be happy just being Mrs. Castle. Even though Beckett seems as if she’s got it all together, it would be impossible to push away her 16-year obsession with putting Bracken away for his crime.

Surveillance footage reveals Beckett and a low-level analyst for the Attorney General’s office named Vikram Singh (Sunkrish Bala) stealing insulin from an ambulance. It turns out that Beckett was in on the whole shebang. Why would Beckett be keeping her friends and family in the dark? What is she hiding? As it turns out, Beckett is being chased by two teams of highly dangerous people, one of which captures and tortures Castle. Beckett makes a brief appearance, going full superwoman to save her husband, but offers no explanation as to what’s happening before fleeing the scene.

At the episode’s end, the remaining team at large is closing in on Beckett, leaving so many questions unanswered. What’s to come in part two of the season-eight premiere and is it the season of Beckett? The Hollywood Reporter got some answers about what’s in store from showrunners Terence Paul Winter and Alexi Hawley.

Last season dealt with Castle and his demons. This season opens up with Beckett confronting hers. Is this season going to be more Beckett-centered or was that just a one-episode thing?

Hawley: Ultimately this season will be balanced. The one thing that stood out to us when we started was this idea that you have this character whose mother was murdered when she was 19 — who spent 16 years of her life hunting that killer and then ultimately put him behind bars. Can you turn that kind of obsession off? After Bracken was arrested in season six, Beckett went off to become just a happily married cop who works hard and all that kind of stuff, but we didn’t really believe that that had been turned off. That door had just been forced closed and so we blow that door open in the beginning of this season. She’s got to come face-to-face with the idea that this is behind her, but it’s not. It’s part of her personality. Castle also has to come face-to- face with who his wife is and there’s a little bit of a search for identity.

At the end of the first part of the premiere, things aren’t looking good for Beckett. What can you say about how the second part is going to unfold?

Hawley: The way we broke down these two stories was dictated by Stana doing a movie and we didn’t have access to her at the beginning of the first episode. We came up with this idea of a little bit of a he said/she said. The first episode sets the story in motion where Beckett is a little bit of a ghost and you don’t know exactly what’s going on. We keep unraveling things. There are surprises. Then the second episode will actually go back and tell you the story from her point of view.

Winter: We fill in those blanks. All those questions are still outstanding in the first one. Castle and Alexis are perplexed about what is really going on with Beckett. All those things will be answered. By the end of the second episode we will launch into where we are going for the rest of the season.

Hawley: Then starting in episode three we start telling the stand-alone stories. We start having some fun cases.

Winter: Then later in the first half of the season we touch upon those questions that were launched in the first episode. We will be going back and re-interrupting and they will help us spin out the storytelling throughout the season.

What can you say about what’s going to be happening with Espo and Ryan this season?

Winter: They’re going through a bit of growing pains because Capt. Gates has been promoted and now Beckett has been promoted to captain. So the question they are asking themselves when we begin the season like you saw in the first episode is: “When is it going to be our turn?” What we do for the first six or seven episodes is we go on this journey with a lot of ups and downs of them trying to figure out how do they advance in the NYPD. That raises some fun tension between them. There are some complications, but it’s fun.

Hawley: Those guys are great and they are so sort of one mind. So what’s a lot of fun is to throw an obstacle in their way and see what happens.

Castle airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC. What did you think of the premiere?

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There wasn’t an official photoshoot for Season 8, but ABC used photos from a previous season to make the new poster. I don’t think it looks too bad, but I would have preferred new photos! I also think TV Line is trying to stir up some drama with this article where there isn’t any, but for now this is all we’ve got. 😉 Check out the full size HERE.

Pop your corn if you’ve got some, because ABC has released the key art for Castle Season 8.

Check it out below, then read on for more:

The poster features stars/producers Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic positioned as close together as can be. But short of any photo concept or even a tagline, we’re left with little to glean from the visual, save for Kate’s playful — yet unreturned? — glance at the hubs.

Could Castle for some reason not be on board with Beckett’s big career move? Or could a different external influence be at play? Katic after all did hint in a recent interview that there the two-part season opener features an “event” that will spark storyline “shifts” for much of the season.

Asked to elaborate on Katic’s quote, new co-showrunner Alexi Hawley told TVLine that although Kate has put the mystery of her mother Johanna’s murder behind her, “that part of her DNA is still there. So, she needs to deal with that in a way that impacts their relationship.”

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There’s a new boss over at the 12th Precinct: Captain Kate Beckett.

After acing her captain’s exam at the close of Castle’s seventh season, Beckett (Stana Katic) faced a tough career decision when approached to run for State Senate. But she’s definitively made up her mind when the show returns for season 8.

“What’s exciting about that dynamic is that she’s not going to be a traditional captain who is in the office,” executive producer Terence Winter tells EW. “She’s boots on the ground. She’s still Beckett. She’s going to be handling cases and she’s going to be involved in the interrogation.”

But being the new boss does have its drawbacks, especially when it comes to playing by the rules.  “What’s exciting is that now she’s a supervisor, which brings a new dynamic with her, Esposito [Jon Huertas] and Ryan [Seamus Dever],” Winter continues. “There’s some fun conflict also with Castle [Nathan Fillion].”

The position will also provide the writers with a wealth of new story avenues for Beckett outside her professional life, says EP Alexi Hawley. “Since she doesn’t have to be boots on the ground in every aspect of the case, it also gives us opportunities with her to open up her character a little bit more and to take her down some other roads,” he says.

With Beckett taking on this new role, Castle will find himself working more with Hayley Shipton — whose character name has been changed from Vargas — played by new series regular Toks Olagundoye. “She’s an independent investigator who comes in,” Hawley says. “What’s great about her is Castle has been investigating cases police adjacent, so it’s always about doing things the way the police would. She doesn’t do things that way, so it’s that fun dynamic of we break in rather than getting a warrant. There’s definitely an energy about her that is a lot of fun.”

Despite the new position, Beckett’s future as a senator is not completely off the table. “There’s a pin in it,” Hawley says. “At first blush, we didn’t quite know how to tell those stories in a way that would be satisfying given the way our show works.” Adds Winter: “But there might be a future in politics for Beckett somewhere down the line.”

Castle returns Monday, Sept. 21 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.

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CASTLE season 8 will be making some changes to the established team dynamic.

While the season 7 finale had Beckett’s career options up in the air, new co-showrunner Alexi Hawley confirmed that Beckett will indeed be getting promoted when the ABC drama returns this fall.

“At the end of the day, she’s become the captain,” Hawley teased. “But she’s going to be a much more hands-on captain than we’ve seen. She’s still going to be involved in solving cases. What’s great is it changes her relationship with the boys…she’s their boss now. There’s some fun to be had there. We just thought it was a great way to shake things up. Going into season 8 of a show, you need to be able to do that.”

With Beckett’s promotion, she will fill the space that was once occupied by Captain Gates. And while Penny Johnson Jerald (Gates) is off the show as a series regular, Hawley and co-showrunner Terence Paul Winter indicated they’d be open to her returning for a guest spot if the timing could be worked out.

“We’re not saying never,” Hawley said. “In our universe, [Gates has] been promoted. She works at 1 Police Plaza now, she’s the deputy chief. So she has a great career. If we have the opportunity to use her in a way that’s meaningful to the story, absolutely [we’ll do it].”

“And, of course, [it’ll depend on] if Penny is available, because she’s so good,” Winter said. “[It was] a very tough decision, but ultimately one we had to make, creatively.”

The change in leadership won’t be the only thing impacting the dynamic of the 12th precinct: “There will definitely be some changes,” Hawley teased when questioned about how much viewers would see of Ryan’s personal life this season.

“Wonderful changes,” Winter added.

And though fans haven’t seen much of Ryan’s wife and child in a while, Hawley allowed “it’s possible” the change would be related to a new baby for the Ryan family.

“It’s very possible,” Winter teased.

“I think that possibility combined with Beckett moving on up it infuses [Ryan and Esposito] with ‘What are we doing with our careers?’” Hawley said. “Which I think will be fun, will add some conflict between the two of them in a great way.”

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Not long into Castle‘s Season 8 premiere, viewers will learn what Kate Beckett decided about her career, having been courted to run for the New York state senate just as she passed the NYPD captain’s exam.

But if you can’t wait another seven weeks, the ABC drama’s new showrunners are here to resolve that small mystery. By sharing that — spoiler alert! — you may now address Rick’s missus as Captain Kate Beckett.

“At the end of the day, we came into this season wanting to shake things up,” new co-showrunner Alexi Hawley told TVLine at ABC’s Television Critics Association press tour party. “The show has been doing a great job with what’s its been doing, but now we’ve been given an opportunity to really sort of add some energy into it” — in part by putting Beckett (played by Stana Katic) in the captain’s office, but also by introducing both a new series regular (The Neighbors‘ Toks Olagundoye, as security specialist Hayley Vargas) and a recurring player (The Walking Dead’sSunkrish Bala, as tech analyst Vikram Singh).

Terence Paul Winter, Castle‘s other new showrunner, said that having Beckett run for office is “something we absolutely considered, and it’s not like it’s off the table.” But for the foreseeable future, it is. Because in deciding Beckett’s career path, “What we realized is that the best way to tell Castle‘s stories is to have  Castle investigating twisty, fun cases. And the best way to do that is to keep Beckett in the precinct.”

That said, promoting Beckett to captain means dialing down her time spent working cases firsthand, alongside Rick on the streets of New York City. And that could threaten to “shake things up” for a couple whose bond was born of the writer/muse relationship.

“The important thing to say about [Rick and Kate] is that the show has always been and will always be about their love affair,” Hawley attests. “But we’re looking to add some drama to it, some spark to it. We’re going to have fun. It’s going to be emotional at times, it will be romantic…. It will be everything.”

Castle Season 8 premieres Monday, Sept. 21 at 10/c.

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It’s back to work day for Castle star Stana Katic, who today begins filming Season 8 of the popular ABC series. It was a busy three-month hiatus for Katic, during which she shot two indie movies, The Rendezvous and Sister Cities, and got married. In addition to playing the female lead opposite Nathan Fillion, Katic has added a new role on Castle as part of her new contract: a producer. In her first interview since signing on for Season 8, Katic talks about the decision to return, provides a glimpse at next season that promises to shake things up under new showrunners Alexi Hawley and Terence Paul Winter, addresses her future on the show and what she would like to do next.

It was a nail-biting few weeks forCastle fans last spring when the contracts of both Fillion and Katic expired. By mid-April,Fillion, who plays Rick Castle, had agreed to a new deal, but Katic’s new pact did not close until hours before ABC was to announce its 2015-2016 schedule in May. Behind the scenes, things weren’t as dramatic, Katic says. “For me it wasn’t necessarily down to the wire,” she says. “I didn’t really start speaking about that until after we had wrapped the (7th) season. A lot of the discussions were happening while I was filming The Rendezvous, so I let my reps handle. It went rather quickly in the end.”

For Katic, signing on for Season 8 was way more than a business decision. “Part of my thought process making the decision whether to do another season was creatively, what would that would look like,” she said. Factoring into the consideration was the fact that Castle creator Andrew Marlowe was leaving the series after Season 7. “He was part of making this character (Kate Beckett) what she’s become, and he has been part of this dialogue about how to create a strong female heroine,” Katic said.

When Hawley and Winter — both experienced Castle writer-producers — were named as new showrunners, “I started to feel the character would be safe in the next chapter of Castle. I felt confident that they knew the story, the character — Terence has been on the show since Day 1, and some of the most interesting episodes for my character were penned by Alexi — and while they are eager to shake things up and aim at telling challenging stories, they would also protect the integrity of the character.”

After taking a day to move offices from his previous job as co-showrunner of The Following, Hawley, along with Winter and the Castle writing staff, went on a writers retreat where they hashed out a bible for Season 8. How will Hawley and Winter shake things up?

“There are a lot of shifts” planned, Katic said, noting that is excited about Hawley and Winter’s ideas while being coy about next season’s storyline and the resolution of Season 7 finale cliffhanger, which saw Beckett left pondering an offer to run for the New York State Senate. Still, she revealed some information about the opening two episodes and beyond.

Katic called Episodes 1 and 2 of Season 8 “brother and sister.” Each reflects Castle and Beckett’s perspective on “an event that shifts the entire season into a higher velocity” and “is part of what will set everything up for the next 20 episodes.”

Here are more clues about Season 8. “Part of the exciting thing about this season is the way Alexi and Terence have envisioned the cosmic version of why the two characters (Castle and Beckett) have come together, how did these roads combine. It delves into the mythology of Rick’s disappearance and memory loss as well as into what inspired Beckett to become a cop in the first place.”

Will Season 8 be Katic’s last on Castle? It is too early to discuss that, according to Katic. “I don’t know what is going to happen with Castle and its future as we are at the beginning of what this season is going to be.” But she was quick to point out that “as an actor, if we can tell many stories and have a creatively fulfilling experience, we love to jump and explore a character.”

Katic, who has won two People’s Choice Awards for Castle, also is looking to expand beyond acting to directing as well as “finding great projects and helping to put them together.” She calls that a natural progression for actors, especially women, noting that many actresses who have won an Oscar have done so with movies that they had helped develop and produce. “It’s about finding great pieces and stories that I can be part of” that may or may not be starring vehicles, Katic said.

Katic is starting work on Castle a week into production so she could wrap production on her second hiatus movie, Sister Cities with Alfred Molina and Jackie Weaver, which she just did over the weekend, and thanked ABC for graciously letting her carve time out for the film, which tells the story of four estranged sisters who reunite to mourn after their mother’s alleged suicide.

While Sister Cities was shot in LA, action adventure The Rendezvous, in which Katic plays the female lead opposite Homeland‘s Raza Jaffrey, was a completely different experience. It was filmed in Jordan and marked Katic’s first trip to the Middle East. “It was unique and amazing,” Katic said about the shoot that had to deal with traveling through the desert in 50° C heat (112° F), holding the camera for camel crossing or redoing a take interrupted by a call to prayer. Because Jordan’s economy is not as strong as America’s, the local film industry has to make do with less. “People try to make films happen with a bit more ingenuity, and there is something very charming about people’s generosity and desire to make it happen,” Katic said.

In addition to the two movies and the wedding, Katic took time this summer to work on her ATP foundation, which promotes alternative travel. She spent time meeting with people from Google, Metro as well as the White House discussing the issue that she is very passionate about. “I think this project is part of next chapter of what our planet will look like as within the next 10-20 years 70% of the planet’s population will live in cities,” she said. Katic is trying to set an example — making the commitment to travel by public transport or bike at least once a week.

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CASTLE’s leading lady will officially be a part of season 8: Stana Katic (Beckett) has signed a deal to return for next year, ABC has confirmed. (Nathan Fillion (Castle) signed on for season 8 last month.)

Last night’s season finale featured Beckett at a crossroads as she had to decide whether she’d pursue becoming a captain or going down the path of a political career. By the end of the hour, she was undecided, so viewers will get some resolution to that story.

The upcoming season will feature some behind-the-scenes changes, however. As previously reported, current showrunner David Amann is stepping down, with long-time CASTLE writer Terence Paul Winter and former CASTLE writer/current THE FOLLOWING co-showrunner Alexi Hawley taking over as co-showrunners. Additionally, CASTLE creator Andrew Marlowe and executive producer Terri Edda Miller confirmed on Twitter that they’re leaving the series. (Marlowe and Miller co-wrote last night’s excellent finale.)

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