As a TV journalist, I hate this time of the year.

I’ve even given it a name — Bloodbath Week. It’s that special 5-7 days just before Upfronts when all my favorite shows get canceled at the same time. This year the unforgivable cancelation axe took a swing at procedural crime drama NCIS: Hawaii from CBS.

You know the show, right? It’s the one with the strongly written female leads, forward-thinking storylines, and representation our family in the LGBTQIA+ and AAPI communities felt they could finally get behind. Yeah. That’s the one.

These “Upfronts” generally take place some time between April and May, depending on how the TV season has gone. This year, most shows were delayed, withheld, or truncated as a consequence of the writers’ and actors’ strike for better pay and conditions. This series of presentations target advertisers, agencies, and the press with shiny demos of all the new programming for the upcoming TV year. But of course, before the new shows can make their shiny debuts, the low-rated, expensive, elderly, and otherwise under-performing shows must be consigned to the scrap heap. Quickly. And without fanfare.

Pictured: Tori Anderson as Kate Whistler and Yasmine Al-Bustami as Lucy Tara. CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Another reason I hate this time of year is that Networks rarely announce cancelations, unless it’s a warm and fuzzy “Hey come watch our final season!” announcement. Instead cancelation news comes via persistent press outlets who uncover the fact certain actors have been released from their contracts. I can’t help but acknowledge that despite their official happy Twitter, Instagram and TikTok accounts, each filled with the smiling faces of cast and crew, and replete with messages of support, inclusion, and gratitude to their fans, those very same people are often the last to know there is no next season.

As a TV critic my job is to comment or at least note these cancelations, but at the same time get to work on promoting the next big thing. Inevitably, the following happens:

TVPulse: Your favorite show has been canceled.

Fans: We know! We are boycotting this Network.

TVPulse: Hey, this Network has a new show you might be inter….

Fans: You can’t be serious right now.

May is also the month of the inevitable SOSC — the Save Our Show Campaign. Every year for the last 12 years, whether working for ChevronOne, or ScreenSpy Magazine, or here on TVPulse Mag, I have been invited to join or spotlight a campaign to save a particular show. I rarely get involved. I’ve seen it all before. They don’t work. Only money talks. Networks don’t really care about fans. I am jaded. I am tired. Did I mention I hate this time of the year?

This year though, the cancelation of NCIS: Hawaii hit different.

Pictured: Tori Anderson as Kate Whistler and Jason Antoon as Ernie Malik. Photo: Karen Neal/CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The show has consistently been our best performer here on the site over the years. (Meaning that articles, photos, spoilers, and news about the show garner more views than the same content from other shows. A gallery of photos from a single episode of NCIS: Hawaii typically garners 20,000 views here.) The fan base is also active online. (Shoutout to those who contacted me faithfully every week to let me know the last batch of photos from this week’s episode were finally out, and that now would be a good time for me to get off my ass and get them out. I will forever love you guys.)

But it wasn’t just the great fans, and the great traction that made us sit up and take notice this time around. On paper, NCIS: Hawaii seems like just another extension of the NCIS franchise. It isn’t though. The series was the first to mark a departure from its male-led and male-centric predecessors, including the Mark Harmon-starring NCIS, the Chris O’Donnell-starring NCIS: Los Angeles, and the Scott Bakula-starring NCIS: New Orleans. Love those guys and all, but as a woman I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to see other women center stage on TV. It’s 2024, and I can’t believe I have to even say that.

Set in beautiful Hawaii, stories centered on the Naval Criminal Investigative Service on the island. A strong cast led by Vanessa Lachey, Tori Anderson, Yasmine Al-Bustami, and NCIS guest star Katrina Law, gave fans something original, fresh, and out of the box.

Pictured: Katrina Law as Jessica Knight and Vanessa Lachey as Jane Tennant. Photo: Robert Voets/CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Photo: Robert Voets/CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

When the show decided to portray a healthy lesbian relationship (and by that we mean one in which one character doesn’t suddenly disappear after a half season by death, departure, or divorce when the Network feels they’ve done their bit for inclusion) between characters Kate Whistler (Anderson) and Lucy Tara (Al-Bustami), nicknamed “Kacy” the show’s official social media channels (along with our own) received messages of approval from the LGBTQIA+ and AAPI communities. Some comments we received from around the world came from fans who told us how important that onscreen bond was to them especially since open expressions of their gender and sexuality would endanger their lives.

NCIS: Hawaii was canceled on April 26th, a day internationally recognized as Lesbian Visibility Day. Series star Vanessa Lachey shared via Instagram Story she was “Gutted, confused, blindsided,” by the news.

Pictured: Tori Anderson as Kate Whistler and Yasmine Al-Bustami as Lucy Tara. CBS ©2022 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Highest quality screengrab available.

Since then, fans have taken to social media, starting an X (formerly Twitter) page @SaveNCISHawaii as an organizing hub. This group of fans are organizing watch parties, a petition, trending tags on X, and more as they come together to urge CBS to reverse their decision.

“We believe saving NCIS: Hawaiʻi is essential because of the representation it provides the LGBTQIA+ and AAPI communities, and of women in positions of power,” the group told TVPulse Magazine in a statement.

“One specifically impactful thing about NCIS: Hawaiʻi is the relationship between characters Kate Whistler (Tori Anderson) and Lucy Tara (Yasmine Al-Bustami), nicknamed “Kacy”. We are asking fans of the show to tell us why it matters to them through an online form we’ve set up. It is a rare example of a healthy lesbian relationship that is portrayed prominently on primetime television.”

Pictured: Vanessa Lachey as Special Agent in Charge Jane Tennant. Photo: Karen Neal/CBS

But what about the viewing figures? How bad were they that CBS was forced to pull the plug on its most culturally impactful series in years? The answer is not as bad as you might think.

In Season 3, NCIS: Hawai’i averaged 7.8 million total viewers and a 0.5 demo rating (with Live+7 playback data), up 4% in viewers when compared to Season 2.

Out of the 14 drama series that CBS has aired this TV season, it ranks No. 6 in total audience (behind Tracker, NCIS, FBI, Blue Bloods and The Equalizer) and eighth in the demo. The latest NCIS franchise extension, NCIS: Sydney, which fares more poorly in ratings, has already been renewed for season 2.

Data Source:

Deadline previously reported that although the show is expensive to produce, efforts to extend its life via a massive budget cut, among other concessions, were unsuccessful.

NCIS: Hawaii makes dubious history the first NCIS franchise show not to receive a proper planned farewell. As I write, CBS plans a Michael Weatherly-starring NCIS spin-off for Paramount+, and a young Leroy Jethro Gibbs themed series, NCIS: Origins, starring Austin Powell for later this year. A return to form for CBS, and for homogeny, but one that that leaves NCIS: Hawaii fans gutted, confused, and blindsided, and our cultural landscape a little more barren as a result.

Did I mention I hate this time of the year?