Castle, which in recent years has only taken five or six weeks off in the winter, this season will air its fall finale on Nov. 23, then not resume Season 8’s 22-episode run until early February, TVLine has learned. This marks the first time since Season 2 (its first full season) that the procedural has not aired an original in January.
Similarly, Nashville, which last winter broke for a series-high eight weeks, will take an even longer holiday this time around, though exact fall finale/return dates for the country-fried drama are not yet available.
Filling the series’ respective Monday and Wednesday time slots during the long break will be holiday programming and specials and, in some situations, limited series yet to be announced. (In May, ABC president Paul Lee indicated that Season 2 of Secrets and Lies will inhabit Nashville‘s slot.)
For Castle fans — as revealed in this exclusive TVLine Q&A — the wait for February could feel particularly long. Because in the wake of the two-part premiere’s final twist, “Things are going to constantly evolve [for Rick and Kate], and by the time we get to the end of our fall finale, which will be Episode 8, there’s another shift and change that’s incredibly dynamic,” co-showrunner Terence Paul Winter said.
With Castle and Nashville on board, every returning ABC fall drama now is following the “gap” scheduling plan that was designed to deliver more continuous stretches of original episodes (and thus temper ratings erosion) and was first braved by Once (which last winter was on hiatus for 11 weeks), Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder (10 weeks each) and S.H.I.E.L.D. (12 weeks).
In August 2013, when ABC first unveiled this scheduling plan (via Once‘s 11-episode Neverland arc, etc;), TVLine polled readers on their knee-jerk reactions. Here is what y’all said at the time; has your opinion changed?