‘The Rookie’: How Nathan Fillion Paid Tribute to His Old Crime Drama

by Allison Hambrick

The Rookie’s Nathan Fillion hilariously laid his star-making show Castle to rest in a photo on his Instagram. In the picture, Fillion, in costume as John Nolan, places a rose in front of a grave with the name “Castle” engraved on it. The photo is, presumably, photoshopped.

“Rest In Peace, buddy,” Fillion captioned his post. “There can be only one.” In his trademark way, the actor used his sense of humor to give fans a laugh.

Since 2018, Fillion has starred on The Rookie. The series follows John Nolan, a 40-something with no law enforcement experience, who decides to become a cop. It’s a hybrid of comedy and procedural that mostly works because of a dynamic leading actor. The Rookie has been largely well-received and is one of ABC’s best-performing shows.

Prior to The Rookie, Fillion starred in another ABC dramedy, Castle. He played the role of Richard Castle, a best-selling mystery novelist who acts as a consultant to Detective Kate Beckett. The two solve unusual murder mysteries together. Castle was also a highly popular show, more so among fans than critics.

While it is a bit morbid, Fillion’s tribute to Castle is fitting with his sense of humor. More importantly, it gets across a clear message: Fillion has moved on and perhaps fans should too. The Rookie is Fillion’s new focus, and who could blame him? The premise of the series is tailored to his comedic sensibilities.

The Real Officer Behind The Rookie

One thing fans may not realize about The Rookie is that John Nolan is based on a real-life officer. William Norcross was in his 40s when he decided to pick up and move to California to become a cop. He had no attachments as a single, childless adult, and so he decided to act.

“[Law enforcement] was something I had always thought about in the back of my mind.” explained Norcross. “Then, all of the sudden, I wake up and I’m 40-something years old and I figured if I was ever going to make a change, that now was the time to do it.”

Age may have been a concern to some people, but Norcross didn’t let it bother him. He sought out options for someone of his age to start anew and stumbled on a lucky break.

“The LAPD has no age limit, as long as you can pass the requirements,” Norcross continued. “I saw they had expedited testing where you can cram a couple of months of testing into one week. And that’s how it started.”

Additionally, the officer acts as a producer on The Rookie. Even so, Norcross is “happy with [his] day job.”

“I came out here to be a police officer and that’s what I’m here for,” he stated.