Why 'Magnum P.I.' Was Canceled at CBS

Thomas Magnum closed his last case on Thursday when CBS, in a shocking move, canceled its Magnum P.I. reboot after four seasons. Canceled alongside several other shows at the network, news of Magnum P.I.'s abrupt end was perhaps most surprising, as it came just weeks after series lead Jay Hernandez told TVLine that the show was "golden" and fans "could bank on" a Season 5 renewal, Hernandez citing the show's "great" numbers and the fact that "it travels well internationally." Magnum P.I.'s cancellation left many viewers wondering why exactly CBS decided to pass on a fifth season, and it appears to be due to a trio of matters, including ratings.

While Hernandez was right that the show did put out some impressive numbers – it averaged 7.4 million total weekly viewers and a 0.7 demo rating this season, down slightly from Season 3 – and ranked No. 9 in total audience and tied for 10th in the demo among CBS' 14 dramas aired this TV season, Magnum P.I. faltered elsewhere, specifically in the key 18-49 age demographic. In that demo, key to advertisers, Magnum, P.I. averaged approximately 5 million viewers, ranking it 13th among CBS' 21 scripted series and putting it among fellow canceled shows United States of Al and B Positive. Per Newsweek, "canceling a show that does relatively badly in the demo sends the message that CBS respects its advertisers."

However, more than just that, Deadline reported that hour-long bubble series faced more pressure amid the strength of CBS' crop of drama pilots this season. CBS' pilot lineup, announced hours after Magnum P.I.'s cancellation, includes Fire County, a series about a newly promoted police captain of an impoverished neighborhood titled East New York, and So Help Me Todd, which is set to follow a P.I. forced to work for his attorney mother.

Ultimately, however, the cancellation was reportedly "a business decision," according to Deadline, which noted that CBS and Universal Television had been in talks over how much the former was willing to pay the latter to license the show. Deadline noted that "lower overall linear ratings have been pushing down on what networks are willing to spend on shows."


Magnum P.I. stars Hernandez in the titular role. The cast also includes Perdita Weeks as Juliet Higgins, Zachary Knighton as Orville "Rick" Wright, Stephen Hill as Theodore "TC" Calvin, Tim Kang as Det. Gordon Katsumoto, and Amy Hill as Teuila "Kumu" Tuileta. The series' upcoming May 6 Season 4 finale will not serve as a series finale.