“NCIS”, the popular police procedural by CBS focused on the men and women of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, was renewed for its 16th season last April prior to the eve of its season 15 finale. Confirmation of the renewal for “NCIS” season 16 was confirmed with star Mark Harmon signing a new deal with CBS for another season with the show.

As much as “NCIS” enjoys high ratings and international popularity, it’s limited renewal to only one further season has made fans speculate on the impending end of the show.

The foreboding message that a limited season renewal order implies is further complicated by the fact that “NCIS” has been hit by the departure of much of the long-running main cast. Pauley Perrette, who played Abby Sciuto, was the latest of the original cast members to leave the show in season 15.

Of the original cast since season 1, only Mark Harmon and David McCallum are left to continue with “NCIS” season 16. Even so, David McCallum, who plays Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, will be appearing in season 16 for a limited schedule to be able to spend more time with his family, as he mentions on his own personal social media page.

While the signs may point to “NCIS” season 16 being the series’ swan song, it would not be as tragic as most fans would find themselves expecting. “NCIS” has spawned spin-off series such as “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “NCIS: New Orleans”, and multiple television movies that would put the broadcast history of other popular television shows to shame.

There is no definite date yet for when “NCIS” season 16 will premiere in 2018. But fans can still hope that the months leading up to it won’t be filled by heartbreak about the shortening lifespan of the show.