Magnum P.I. Has Been Canceled Again

Magnum P.I. has been canceled at NBC, after it was already canceled by CBS.

By Sean Thiessen | Published

It seems Thomas Magnum has solved his last mystery. Variety reported that the Magnum, P.I. reboot series will end after it airs the remaining five episodes of its fifth season. The abrupt cancellation is the result of several factors, including the ongoing WGA writers’ strike and the threat of a SAG-AFTRA strike commencing after the union’s contract expires on June 30.

Magnum, P.I. originally aired in 1980. The series followed Thomas Magnum, played by a dashing young Tom Selleck, a laid-back private investigator who solved cases from his guest house on the luxurious Robin’s Nest estate in Oahu, Hawaii. The series ran for eight acclaimed seasons on CBS. 

In 2018, CBS rebooted Magnum, P.I., casting actor Jay Hernandez in the lead role. This time, Magnum was imagined as an ex-Navy SEAL who used his military skills as a P.I. after returning from Afghanistan.

A rights dispute led to the cancellation of Magnum, P.I. after its fourth season, but the show was revived by NBC. The series was picked up for fifth and sixth seasons, but now the network has doubled back to end the show sooner than expected.

Deals with the cast of Magnum, P.I. are set to expire at the end of June. To continue into Season 6, NBC would have to extend those deals without knowing when production on the show could resume.

Tom Selleck as the original Magnum

Because of the writers’ strike, many television shows have already been put on indefinite hold. NBC has opted not to add Magnum, P.I. to that list.

The Writers Guild of America writers’ strike has raged on for more than 50 days with no clear end in sight. The cancellation of Magnum, P.I. is just the latest lasting consequence of the WGA strike as pressure mounts on both sides of the fight.

Adding to the heat for studios is the Screen Actors Guild’s strike authorization vote. When SAG’s contract with Hollywood’s major studios, unified as the AMPTP, ends on June 30, actors could go on strike and shut down any movie or show that has managed to continue production without writers.

Such a move would likely expedite the resolution of contract disputes between the AMPTP and two of Hollywood’s biggest and most powerful labor unions. Magnum, P.I., however, is one of the unfortunate casualties of such dramatic negotiating tactics.

The cast of the Magnum P.I. reboot

Magnum, P.I. had a healthy run, airing 92 episodes over the course of five seasons. Audiences gave the series an average rating of 86 percent on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Those numbers don’t quite match the original Magnum, P.I., which covered 158 episodes over eight seasons, averaging 94 percent audience approval on Rotten Tomatoes.

Critics met the Magnum, P.I. reboot with mixed reviews, but the show carried on. Now the series has been struck down for the second time, and a clear path to revival has not yet presented itself. A quick resolution to the Hollywood labor dispute could change the fate of the show’s sixth season, but given the circumstances, such a fix does not seem likely.

The cast of Magnum, P.I. is free to go on vacation, but you probably won’t catch them in Hawaii.