Is This ‘NCIS’ Show In Danger of Getting Canceled?

Each of the NCIS television franchises centers on different teams of Naval professionals that specialize in murder investigations and crime scene examinations. The original show has been running since 2003 and is based on a Washington D.C. squad. The popularity of the original NCIS has spawned 2 spin-offsNCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. 

Mark Harmon
Mark Harmon plays Agent Gibbs on NCIS. | Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

While NCIS: Los Angeles will be back for the eleventh season, fans of NCIS: New Orleans may be surprised to learn the show’s sixth season isn’t doing so hot. NCIS: New Orleans had its lowest premiere in show history at 6.47 million viewers, dropping from the season 5 premiere viewership of 8.97 million. What might be the reasons for this unexpected drop in ratings and could the show be in danger of getting canceled by next season?

Fans are fearful of an ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ cancellation

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NCIS: New Orleansleading star is crime team leader Scott Bakula. Of course, you remember him from the hit television series Quantum Leap, which aired for a successful five seasons from March 1989 through May 1993.

Maybe one of the most gut-inspiring parts of the show is just how much drama Bakula’s character, Dwayne Pride, has been through. Personal enemies set on revenge, combating the massive, Apollyon spy network, and trying to recover from being drugged and poisoned — these are just a few of the plot twists expected in season 6. 

But, these season-opening plot twists didn’t stem the downward tide for a television demographics that is critical for a show to on-air for another season. The 18-49-year-old audience for NCIS: New Orleans during the season premiere was rated at 0.7 out of 1.0.

All in all, this is the show’s lowest ratings for a season opener since it broke out from the pack. There was already some worry the show wouldn’t be back for Season 6. Unless the show’s producers and writers come up with new angles to keep its audience happy, NCIS: New Orleans may be in danger of getting canceled.

Will a season 6 setting change help ‘NCIS: New Orleans’?

Will the New Orleans-based show find better ratings with a move to another city — say, New York City? A larger city would provide more criminal solving opportunities.

After last season, we saw Pride’s area of responsibility expand as Special Agent-in-Charge of the entire Southeast Field Office. This opened the door to chasing criminals well into Florida, Georgia, South and Central America, and the Caribbean.

Changes are headed towards ‘NCIS: New Orleans’

Other plot shifts that may work to boost viewer ratings include focusing more closely on the character’s family life.

At the end of last season, we were introduced to Pride’s mother and half-brother. As Pride’s mother struggles with mental illness, and Pride himself is suffering from nightmares and insomnia that has left him with lingering hallucinations, fans are left to wonder what other plot twists are in the works.

Typically, when television shows need a rating boost, the producers and writers will resort to a combination of tactics to increase anxiety about what may soon happen, or excitement surrounding one of the cast member’s fate. Other ways prime time shows try to boost ratings include:

  • Feature special guests or the entry of an unexpected character
  • Shoot a cliffhanger episode with a shocking revelation
  • Create a tie-in to another show or another location
  • Jump the Shark with an advertised, can’t miss moment!

The main reason — but not the only reason — a television show gets terminated by the networks is persistent, plummeting, Nielsen ratings. Even the best shows, in the wrong time slot, may not pull the amount of viewership needed to stay afloat for another season.

But, there have been times in history when it was the fans of a television show that prevented their favorite from being axed. Fan campaigns have saved the FOX series ‘Friday Night Lights’ and ‘Star Trek: The Original Series.’ And the show ‘Roswell’ survived 3 extra seasons of low ratings simply due to a massive fan campaign.