Is 'Days of Our Lives' ending? NBC suddenly halts production, releases entire cast from contracts

One of the longest-running shows on television could soon be singing its swan song.

That's not yet confirmed, but "Days of Our Lives" fans will be alarmed to learn Tuesday that NBC has suddenly halted production on the iconic soap opera — and released every last cast member from their contracts. In other words, the actors are "free to get new jobs, but it doesn't necessarily mean the show's definitely sunk," TMZ reports, adding that the show has "NOT been canceled. Not yet."

Among the cast members affected are longtime stars like Deidre Hall, 72, who's been on the show for 40 years, and John Aniston, 86, who started his run in 1985.

The indefinite hiatus is effective immediately, and the network will reconvene in early 2020 to decide whether to resume production and bring the show back for a 56th season.

26 PHOTOS
'Days of Our Lives' Cast
See Gallery
'Days of Our Lives' Cast
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 'A Day of Days Event' -- Pictured: (l-r) Christopher Sean, Wally Kurth, Marci Miller, Billy Flynn, Galen Gering, Stephen Nichols, Olivia Rose Keegan -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 'A Day of Days Event' -- Pictured: (l-r) Billy Flynn, Marci Miller -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 'A Day of Days Event' -- Pictured: (l-r) Vincent Irizarry, Christopher Sean, Bill Hayes, Susan Seaforth Hayes, James Lastovic -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 'A Day of Days Event' -- Pictured: James Lastovic -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 'A Day of Days Event' -- Pictured: (l-r) Vincent Irizarry, Meredith Scott Lynn, James Reynolds -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 'A Day of Days Event' -- Pictured: Lauren Koslow -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 'A Day of Days Event' -- Pictured: Bryan Dattilo -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 'A Day of Days Event' -- Pictured: Suzanne Rogers -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 'A Day of Days Event' -- Pictured: (l-r) Bryan Dattilo, Galen Gering, Billy Flynn, Brandon Beemer, Jordi Vilasuso -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 'A Day of Days Event' -- Pictured: (l-r) Olivia Rose Keegan, James Lastovic -- (Photo by: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season: 51 -- Pictured: Freddie Smith as Sonny Kiriakis -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season: 51 -- Pictured: Camila Banus as Gabi Hernandez -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season: 51 -- Pictured: Billy Flynn as Chad DiMera -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season: 51 -- Pictured: Jordi Vilasuso as Dario Hernandez -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season: 51 -- Pictured: Vincent Irizarry as Deimos -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 13,000th Episode Celebration -- Pictured: (l-r) Mary Beth Evans, Stephen Nichols -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 13,000th Episode Celebration -- Pictured: 'Days of our Lives' cast and crew -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 13,000th Episode Celebration -- Pictured: (l-r) Suzanne Rogers, Kristian Alfonso, Ken Corday, Deidre Hall, Lauren Koslow -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 13,000th Episode Celebration -- Pictured: (l-r) Marci Miller, Billy Flynn, Camila Banus -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 13,000th Episode Celebration -- Pictured: (l-r) Suzanne Rogers, Kristian Alfonso, Ken Corday, Deidre Hall, Lauren Koslow -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- 13,000th Episode Celebration -- Pictured: (l-r) Kristian Alfonso, Galen Gering -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NBCUNIVERSAL UPFRONT -- '2016 NBCUniversal Upfront in New York City on Monday, May 16, 2016' -- -- Pictured: Ximena Duque, 'Days of Our Lives' on NBC -- (Photo by: Mike Coppola/NBCUniversal/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- A Day of Days Event -- Pictured: (l-r) Mary Beth Evans, Billy Flynn, Galen Gering, Suzanne Rogers, Robert Scott Wilson, Bill Hayes -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 16: Actress Ximena Duque of 'Days of Our Lives' on NBC attends the NBCUniversal 2016 Upfront on May 16, 2016 in New York, New York. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- A Day of Days Event -- Pictured: Wally Kurth -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- A Day of Days Event -- Pictured: Meredith Scott Lynn -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

TMZ also notes that it's "possible" that the cast will ultimately be invited to return but at lower salaries.

The news out of NBC comes as all networks are carefully navigating a new landscape of digital-first programming. NBC is preparing to launch its streaming service, Peacock, in 2020. A visit to NBC's current site shows that seasons 54 and 55 of "Days of Our Lives" are available in the system, but no earlier episodes. It's unclear whether past seasons of the show will be housed on Peacock.

Premiering in 1965, "Days of Our Lives" has remained a daytime television staple with more than 13,000 episodes under its belt. The cast has seen its share of losses over the years, most recently saying goodbye to John Clarke, who originated his role of Mickey Horton in the show's very first season. He appeared on the show for 39 years before leaving in 2004.

Clarke died in October 2019 at 88 years old.

8 PHOTOS
'Days of Our Lives' actor John Clarke
See Gallery
'Days of Our Lives' actor John Clarke
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season 8 -- Pictured: John Clarke as Mickey Horton c. 1972-1973 -- (Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season 28 -- Pictured: John Clarke as Mickey Horton -- Photo by: Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season 28 -- Pictured: (top l-r) Suzanne Rogers as Maggie Horton, John Clarke as Mickey Horton (bottom l-r) Frances Reid as Alice Horton, Macdonald Carey as Tom Horton -- Photo by: Gary Null/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- "Maggie Horton Pregnancy" -- Pictured: (l-r) John Clarke as Mickey Horton, Suzanne Rogers as Maggie Horton -- (Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- "Maggie Simmons [Horton] Operation" -- Pictured: (l-r) John Clarke as Mickey Horton, Patty Weaver as Trish Clayton -- (Photo by: Ron Tom/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- "Marty/Mickey Shaves Beard" --Pictured: (l-r) John Clarke as Marty Hansen/Mickey Horton, Suzanne Rogers as Maggie Simmons -- (Photo by: Frank Carroll/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- "Maggie Simmons [Horton] First Episode" -- Pictured: John Clarke as Marty Hansen/Mickey Horton -- (Photo by: Paul W. Bailey NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season 6 -- Pictured: John Clarke as Mickey Horton -- (Photo by: Frank Carroll/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story