NCIS: Hawaii Season 3’s Cliffhanger, Explained


Contains spoilers for the “NCIS: Hawai’i” series finale

There’s nothing harder for TV lovers to cope with than a series that manages to take an early and unexpected bow. “NCIS: Hawai’i” took a risk in concluding its season with an open-ended cliffhanger. Unfortunately, now that the drama’s been canceled, viewers are never going to find out how things pan out for Jane Tennant (Vanessa Lachey) and the rest of the crew.

“Divided We Conquer” showed “NCIS: Los Angeles” vet Sam Hana (LL Cool J) in the aftermath of his elite team being exposed Compound Z, a deadly bioweapon, with the event leaving Sam in a critical state. The team is immediately on the hunt for Dr. Analisa Cruz (Rachel Marsh), the compound’s creator and an anti-American rabble-rouser. With half the team in Serbia and some of it in Hawaii, it takes a joint effort to bring in Cruz, get the antidote, and save Sam’s life.

Everything works out well, with the team ultimately saving Sam’s life. He’s getting ready to return to Los Angeles, and everyone unites to give him a farewell party. Later, Jane goes home to an empty house and sees Maggie Shaw (Julie White) waiting for her. “No, Janey. Julie [Jane’s daughter] isn’t here. And you’re probably going to need a drink for what’s coming next…” Maggie says. The episode then fades to black.

Unfortunately, the audience will never find out what sort of challenge Jane’s been given. Perhaps someday, Jane and her team might be worked into another branch of the “NCIS” family, but until then, viewers will have to wonder what happens next. In any event, they showed up in droves to lend their support the show’s last outing.

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NCIS: Hawai’i bowed out on top


According to TVLine, the “NCIS: Hawai’i” series finale drew 5.41 million viewers. That’s the second-best audience the show’s had this season, only outflanked by the season premiere. It’s the first time it’s hit a 0.4 in the last six episodes. Since ratings were a factor cited in the cancellation of the show, alongside cost per episode and the hope of keeping the schedule fresh, that means the drama definitely leaves the airwaves on a high note.

While it appears that the drama is too expensive to make it a Paramount+ offering and slots are too thin on the ground after the SAG-AFTRA strike gummed up the 2023-2024 season, it’s hard to deny that “NCIS: Hawai’i” has grown a solid following that may or may not end up following its defacto replacement, “NCIS: Origins,” which is all about the earlier adventures of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and won’t feature Mark Harmon as his iconic character. Time will tell if CBS has made a wise investment or tossed the baby out with the bathwater. In the meantime, for curious fans wanting to learn more about why such a popular series received the axe, they can read Looper’s coverage on why “NCIS: Hawai’i” was canceled.


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