Why Tom Selleck Has 'Vowed' To Never Call His Famous Series Magnum P.I.

 Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum on Magnum P.I.
Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum on Magnum P.I.

Tom Selleck may be preparing for the end of Blue Bloods on the 2024 TV schedule, but the actor is looking back at his time on another series. Before Jay Hernandez took up the Thomas Magnum mantle, Selleck donned his legendary mustache as the private investigator in the ‘80s. Even though Magnum P.I. is still big today, with both the original series and the reboot, Selleck has vowed to never call the series its actual name.

Magnum P.I. ran for eight seasons (162 episodes) from 1980 to 1988. Selleck looked back at his time on the series with Esquire, including when he first landed the drama. However, he admitted he hated the show’s title, and noted that he will always shorten it when he talks about it. He has a good reason, though, and I can’t say I blame him:

Bellisario called me and said, ‘The studio wants to change the title. They want to call it Magnum P.I.’ I said, ‘That’s a horrible title.’ I had been in Hawaii for a while during the actors’ strike at the time, and PI is a derogatory term for a Philippine islander. I have vowed to never call it that. The show’s called Magnum.

Of course, while P.I., in this case, does stand for private investigator, it can be taken out of context or have a different meaning, as the actor pointed out.

While the show’s title is still very much Magnum P.I., it is frequently shortened to Magnum, and it works either way. It is nice that Selleck was very mindful of the usage of the abbreviation, and even though the title never changed, he seems very adamant about only saying Magnum until the end of time.

It does make me wonder why the show was never officially changed to Magnum, especially after Tom Selleck revealed how much he didn’t like it. It’s possible that it was just too late, or executives thought that Magnum P.I. flowed better than just the character's last name. Whatever the case, that didn’t seem to hinder Selleck’s decision to do the show, which is a good thing, because who knows how it would have turned out had he not portrayed the famous private investigator with that iconic mustache.

Meanwhile, the Magnum P.I. reboot officially ended earlier this year, much to fans’ dismay, and the 79-year-old actor never appeared on the reboot. Showrunner Eric Guggenheim admitted to TVLine that they had thought about it and thrown the idea around, but they never thought it was actually possible. Since Selleck was busy with Blue Bloods and Magnum filmed in Hawaii, it would have been hard to make it work, unfortunately.

Magnum P.I. will always be an iconic show, whether you refer to it by its full title or just Magnum. Tom Selleck may no longer be Thomas Magnum, but it seems like he still holds the show very near and dear to his heart, especially since it was once the “lucky” part of his career before Blue Bloods.