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Castle: Behind-The-Scenes Facts Only True Fans Know

The decade of television that occurred between 2008 and 2018 was a particularly strong era for network dramas. Shows like "Nip/Tuck," "Fringe," various incarnations of "CSI" and "NCIS," "House," and "24" dominated primetime on weekdays, but the abundance of material was never overbearing. Each installment brought its own unique flair to the table, and it was no different with ABC's hit procedural drama-comedy show "Castle," which starred Nathan Fillion in the titular role of Richard Castle, a novelist and private eye.

"Castle" also featured a stellar ensemble supporting cast rounded out by Stana Katic, Jon Huertas, Susan Sullivan, Seamus Dever, and countless other terrific actors. During its run, the show secured numerous Emmy nominations, People's Choice Awards, and Teen Choice Award nominations for categories such as acting, music, hair, and makeup.

The legacy of "Castle" endures as new generations discover the show on streaming services. Though the series' end in 2016 featured some unprofessional production calls and removals of beloved characters, "Castle" remained thrilling, hilarious, and well-written all the way to the finale. Like any show with a devoted fan base and a memorable cast, "Castle" has plenty of exciting stories from behind the scenes. Here are some of the show's most interesting.

Richard Castle is the pen name of Tom Straw

Between 1986 and 1988, screenwriter Tom Straw got his start writing a handful of episodes of the NBC sitcom "Night Court," before becoming an occasional writer on "Nurse Jackie" and a regular contributor on the "Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" staff in 2006. However, in 2007, Straw published his first novel, "The Trigger Episode," about a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who becomes a member of the Hollywood paparazzi. Two years later, ABC debuted the popular crime series "Castle," starring Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle, a mystery author, police consultant, and private investigator.

In "Castle," the title character writes a book series about two private investigators, Derrick Storm and Nikki Heat, the latter of whom is based on Castle's in-show partner, Kate Beckett (Stana Katic). In real life, Castle's books exist, ranging from "Heat Wave" in 2009 to "Heat Storm" in 2017. Of course, Richard Castle isn't really an author. Instead, Straw assumed the writing duties under the television show-inspired pen name as a way of bringing Castle's persona to life off-screen.

Show leads Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic feuded

When on-screen together, Fillion and Katic are two romantically involved characters who play the "will-they-won't-they" card to an extreme before they get married in the Season 7 episode "The Time of Our Lives." Off-screen, however, Fillion and Katic could barely stand to act in scenes together. According to an exclusive Us Weekly report, an insider linked to "Castle" revealed that the showrunners made Fillion and Katic attend couples counseling together. Katic's representatives ultimately denied the allegations.

After Season 8 in 2016, Katic was not approached by production about reprising her role as Beckett. Soon after, ABC canceled the show altogether. According to an Entertainment Weekly interview in 2018, Katic explained that she was "still not clear on the thought process behind the way that it went down. It hurt and it was a harsh ending." It's unlikely that the full picture will ever be revealed about what Katic and Fillion's apparent feud entailed, but reports of Katic crying in her trailer and a source reporting to Us Weekly that she and Fillion "despise each other" aren't particularly hopeful.

The show worsened after creator Andrew Marlowe's departure

Before creating "Castle" in 2009, Andrew W. Marlowe was a scriptwriter in Hollywood. He penned the Harrison Ford starring "Air Force One" in 1997, the Arnold Schwarzenegger starring "End of Days" in 1999, and the Kevin Bacon starring "Hollow Man" in 2000. "Air Force One" was a box office smash and received a positive critical reception, while "End of Days" and "Hollow Man" both made money upon release but currently hold negative Rotten Tomatoes scores.

When Marlowe made the transition to network television, his first credit was "Castle," which he created, wrote, executive produced, and even acted in. The show became a resounding success, consistently reaching millions of viewers every season and earning praise from critics. After Season 7 concluded in 2015, however, Marlowe exited the program, along with his wife, co-writer, and co-producer, Terri Miller (per The Hollywood Reporter). After their departure, "Castle" struggled to maintain its fanbase and registered its worst season ever as measured by audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

Characters Jenny and Kevin Ryan are married in real life

It is not uncommon for co-stars to also be married. Acting partners such as David Tennant and Georgia Moffett from "Doctor Who," Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer from "True Blood," as well as Alexis Bledel and Vincent Kartheiser from "Mad Men," to name a few, were all betrothed in real life. In "Castle," Seamus Dever, who plays Detective Kevin Ryan, and Juliana Dever, who plays Jenny Ryan, were able to one-up everyone else by being a married couple both on-screen and off. They even have a daughter, Sarah Grace, in the series, who is born after Ryan and Esposito (Jon Huertas) narrowly escape death in the Season 6 episode "Under Fire."

While Beckett and Castle were often entangled in their "will-they-won't-they" arc across all eight seasons, the Ryans provided a long-lasting foundation of consistency throughout the series. "Castle" was not immune to its highs and lows, having a string of critics' scores on Rotten Tomatoes ranging from middling all the way to a perfect score. However, one of the show's most consistent and brightest parts was always Jenny and Kevin's relationship with each other. Their eventual parenthood to Sarah Grace just helped to solidify their bond and make them an even more important pillar of the show.

Popular characters weren't set to appear in the hypothetical Season 9

After a subpar Season 8 that saw viewership reach an all-time low, whether or not ABC would renew "Castle" for a Season 9 loomed over the heads of its showrunners (per Deadline). Along with Stana Katic being fired from the show if it were to continue, Penny Johnson Jerald, who plays Captain Victoria Gates, and Tamala Jones, who plays Lanie Parish, were also not invited back for the hypothetical ninth season (per The Hollywood Reporter). Even though the show was nixed after Season 8, the way production severed its ties with some of its most-beloved cast members left a sour taste in its viewers' mouths.

Upon learning that her character would not be returning, Johnson Jerald tweeted her sorrow. She wrote, "To my 'Castle' fans around the world, as of late yesterday I am surprised and saddened to learn that I will no longer be a part of the 'Castle' family. Thank you all for your support and love." Jones' axing was actually announced before Season 8 ended, much to her dismay. "I thought, 'Let the fans get through the season and then announce.' But when it came out I was very much aware," she said in an interview with Access Hollywood in 2016.

There is no doubt that Katic, Johnson Jerald, and Jones' departures would have cast a dark shadow on Season 9 had it been made. The three women were integral parts of the show, and the showrunners' decision to write out their characters before ABC canceled "Castle" remains a low point in the show's history.

Cast members found out about characters' departures online

While Tamala Jones heard rumblings of her character's potential axing before Season 8 even finished, the news of it broke over social media before the actress received official confirmation. That situation became a trend, as the rest of the cast had not been informed by production that their co-stars would not be returning for Season 9 if it were to happen.

Jon Huertas, who played Esposito, had signed on to return in Season 9 but did not learn of the departures of Jones, Katic, and Johnson Jerald until it made waves on social media. The actor even confirmed it himself. "What else is sad???!!!! That I have to find this out online!!! This is my family! Why couldn't someone have told me #InADifferentWay?!" he wrote on Twitter. Despite Huertas' clear frustrations, it's unclear whether or not the production's handling of cast firings played any role in the show's quick demise. It appears, though, that a rift between the showrunners, network, and cast could have been imminent had they proceeded with Season 9.

Marlowe disavowed Season 8

Andrew W. Marlowe's departure after Season 7 draws no immediate links to the decline in quality the final season of "Castle" saw. However, Marlowe couldn't keep his opinions locked away once the story he created took a divisive detour in Season 8.

In 2016, Marlowe tweeted, what appears to be his disapproval of how the final season of "Castle" carried on, which included Beckett electing to take a break from her relationship with Castle. The couple spends most of the final season separated, which goes against the vision Marlowe had started seven years prior. "Heartbroken. There are no words. #nmc," he tweeted. Fans have inferred that "nmc" stood for "Not My 'Castle,'" but Marlowe has never confirmed one way or another.

Though "Castle" ends with Castle and Beckett depicted in a happily-ever-after scenario, producers filmed a different ending, which featured the couple still separated but in a cliffhanger that left both of their fates up in the air, according to Entertainment Weekly. With a bunch of puzzling cast cuts and mundane storylines hanging in the balance, perhaps the show's cancellation was warranted.

Comparisons were drawn between the relationships on Castle and Bones

Whenever network television employs similarly structured productions across different channels, comparisons between protagonists are inevitable, "Castle" found itself with a cast romance drawing similarities to another procedural drama. On Fox, the show "Bones" featured a protagonist couple, Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and Booth (David Boreanaz), reminiscent of Castle and Beckett, due to them being crime-solving co-workers with a budding love.

What "Bones" did that "Castle" failed to do was give their protagonists' romance space to grow after marriage. The build-up was worth it on the former, as Brennan and Booth would marry in season nine and have three more seasons to capitalize on their togetherness and become even more layered as characters than they already were. In "Castle," however, Castle and Beckett's marriage was on the rocks by the series' end. 

This dissolution was likely in part due to Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic's ongoing strife behind the scenes. Beyond that, though, a show built on the back of its two main characters and their shared romance is unlikely to survive once those ties are severed in some way.

Nathan Fillion read with over 120 actresses before creators settled on Stana Katic

Shows and films written with specific actors in mind for their lead roles often face a make-it or break-it hurdle in casting co-stars. In many ways, the character of Kate Beckett was as essential to the successes of "Castle" as Richard Castle himself. So, after putting Nathan Fillion in the titular role, Andrew W. Marlowe and company then sought out his co-star and on-screen love interest.

Marlowe told "The Hollywood Reporter" that Katic, and over 120 other actresses, read with Fillion before he and the rest of the producers decided on her for the role. However, Marlowe remembered, "when Stana walked in and they started saying the words, it became more electric. We had our fingers crossed that we had captured lightning in a bottle." 

It's hard to imagine anyone else in the role of Beckett, and Katic's on-screen chemistry with Fillion, especially in the early seasons, before their off-screen feud drove a wedge between them, was immaculate, warm, and the heart of "Castle" altogether. Much like how irreplaceable Emily Deschanel and David Boreanaz were in "Bones," a "Castle" without Katic and Fillion together on-screen would not have succeeded. It's easy to predict that, had Season 9 moved forward without Katic, fans would have not reacted kindly.

Stephen King connections

Stephen King's imprint can be found all across Hollywood, in both film and television. His books and stories continue to be adapted for the silver screen, and the horror author's mark is visible across "Castle" as well. Though it's unconfirmed if it was intentional or not, King and Richard Castle both have surnames named after chess pieces. Richard Castle is also a pen name for Tom Shaw, who wrote the real-life adaptations of Castle's on-air novels. Coincidentally, King wrote under a pen name, Richard Bachman, on-and-off between 1977 and 2007.

The most explicit reference to King comes in the Season 8 episode "The Blame Game." Castle is abducted when he is lured to a fake meeting with the horror author. In that episode, Castle has to open a cryptic, which reads "Salvation lies within" on it. That quote is a line from "The Shawshank Redemption," Frank Darabont's adaptation of King's novella "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption."

Firefly references

Before he became Richard Castle in 2009, Nathan Fillion won the hearts of millions as Malcolm Reynolds, a space cowboy and captain of a ship called Serenity, in the beloved, cult-favorite Fox series "Firefly" in 2002. The series has a legacy as one of the best single-season TV shows of all time and Fillion has even revived a tongue-in-cheek version of Reynolds for 10 episodes of Netflix's "Big Mouth" series.

Though "Castle" and "Firefly" are very different shows, the former pays multiple tributes to the latter, as Redditors have studiously documented. In Castle's home viewers can find "Firefly" props everywhere, Castle dressed as a space cowboy for Halloween one year, and catchphrases from the cult hit, like "special hell" and "I was aiming for the head" have been featured in episodes of "Castle." Still, the most explicit and noticeable homage to "Firefly" came when a spa in the series was named Serenity. "Firefly" remains Fillion's most-adored performance, but "Castle" is what made him a household name.

Only Nathan Fillion, Jon Huertas, and Seamus Dever appear in all 173 episodes

Dramas like "Grey's Anatomy" have ushered in a revolving door of ensemble casts over the years. As the shows continue production and their season counts rise, actors come and go. In "Castle," however, the show maintained a strong, consistent roster of actors and actresses throughout its eight-season run. Major characters rarely left and supporting roles earned the space to add depth to their arcs.

Still, only three actors were featured in all 173 episodes of "Castle" from 2009 to 2016. Of course, as the title character,  Fillion's inclusion on that list comes as no surprise. However, supporting actors Jon Huertas, who plays Esposito, and Seamus Dever, who plays Detective Ryan, also appear in every episode. Though Stana Katic, Susan Sullivan, Molly C. Quinn, and Tamala Jones are all credited on 173 episodes, the actresses did not actually appear in every entry. Across its eight years, despite the narrative's ups and downs and the show's shifting critic scores, "Castle" always kept its key players in the game.

Rick Castle's name origins

Castle's name is one of great distinction. Even if you're unfamiliar with "Castle," Fillion made his character one that avoided being pigeonholed into only the show's fandom, much like he did with Mal in "Firefly." However, Castle wasn't born Richard Castle. Before he was a best-selling author or a consultant to the 12th Precinct, Castle was known as Richard Rodgers, the son of actress Martha Rodgers and a CIA agent known only as Jackson Hunt.

While there was never a full explanation as to why he changed his name, the switch is acknowledged at least once. In the Season 3 episode "He's Dead, She's Dead," Kate expresses some confusion when Castle reminds her that his middle name is Alexander — which she always thought was Edgar. Castle explains, "No, I changed my middle name to Edgar for Edgar Allen Poe back when I changed my last name to Castle. My given name is Richard Alexander Rodgers."