Why Did Every Major Character Left NCIS..?


NCIS is one of television’s longest-running shows, approaching its 20th season. Many characters have left the show over the years.

NCIS has a long history, but why did Abby leave the show, along with a slew of other fan favorites? NCIS, as one of television’s longest-running shows, has seen a lot of turnover in its team of special agents. Though some fan favorites appear on NCIS on occasion, other departures have been much more permanent. While the majority of departures from the show were amicable, there were a few that were not. NCIS has been a CBS staple since its debut in 2003.

NCIS’s cast and characters are a big part of why the show has become one of the most popular on television. As it enters its 21st season, it remains one of the most-watched scripted television series in history, attracting millions of viewers each season. NCIS began as a spin-off of the hit show JAG and has since launched several successful spin-offs based across the United States. While NCIS’s many plots and twists have kept fans entertained for nearly two decades, it is the characters who provide the show’s true heart. But why did Abby leave NCIS, and what about the other cast members who left?

Sasha Alexander – Caitlin Todd

Caitlin Todd left NCIS because she didn’t have the stamina to keep going. Todd (Sasha Alexander) was one of the NCIS team’s first special agents. She was an expert psychological profiler who was frequently surprised by NCIS’ blatant disregard for the rules as a former Secret Service Agent on board Air Force One. Todd’s departure from NCIS at the end of season 2 was one of the most sh0cking in the show’s history, as she was shot in the head in front of her team by Mossad double-agent and series antagonist Ari Haswari.

Despite being signed on for a six-season contract, Alexander left the series as a regular character at the end of NCIS season 2. Donald Bellisario, the show’s then-showrunner, claimed Alexander lacked the stamina to meet the filming demands of a 24-episode season, which Alexander told TV Guide lasted “10 1/2 months a year, 17 hours a day.” Alexander says she doesn’t regret leaving the hit show because she wouldn’t have the family or creative freedom she has now if she had stayed.

Cote De Pablo – Ziva David


Ziva David left NCIS because she felt her character was no longer being written well. Special Agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), an Israeli Mossad officer, was brought in to replace the recently deceased Agent Todd. Beginning as a Liason Officer, David eventually resigned from Mossad to join DiNozzo and McGee on the NCIS team full-time. Ziva’s romance with fellow agent Tony was one of the series’ best, culminating in the couple welcoming their daughter, Tali David-DiNozzo.

When her colleagues returned to their positions after the entire team resigned from NCIS in order to protect their team leader in NCIS season 1, David chose to return to her home country of Israel. Though viewers — and her team members — were led to believe that David was k1lled in an att4ck on her farmhouse in season 13, it was later revealed that she had staged her d3ath in order to go deep undercover and eliminate the cr1m1nals who had att4cked her and her family. Ziva was able to retire to Paris in NCIS with her love and daughter after the threat was eliminated.

Cote de Pablo played Ziva David on NCIS for a long time, and leaving the show was not an easy decision for her. Despite being offered more money to stay, de Pablo chose to protect David’s reputation. de Pablo ultimately cited that the scripts were no longer good enough for her character, revealing in a 2016 Q&A that her character “wasn’t being treated with the respect she deserved,” and that she told the show “until someone can write something really fantastic for Ziva I won’t come back”.

Michael Weatherly – Tony DiNozzo


Tony left NCIS because he was bored with the show. Tony DiNozzo was a pivotal member of the NCIS team. Very Special Agent Tony DiNozzo, who worked alongside Gibbs from the beginning, was known for his charm, wit, and playboy behavior. When it seemed like nothing could destabilize DiNozzo’s position, love triumphed. DiNozzo initially left to care for his daughter following Ziva’s “d3ath,” but his story did not end there. DiNozzo was ready to settle down and raise their daughter in Paris after tracking Ziva down during her supposed d3ath.

Michael Weatherly was a mainstay on NCIS for 13 seasons, and after that long run, the actor was simply burned out on the show. After so many demanding seasons, Weatherly told the Hollywood Reporter that he was “ready for a new challenge.” He also missed the on-screen chemistry between his character and Ziva David, who had left the show.

Pauley Perrette – Abby Sciuto


Abby Sciuto left NCIS because she couldn’t work with Mark Harmon any longer. Despite the fact that she was not a field agent, Sciuto was adored by both her team and the audience. As the eccentric, goth forensic specialist, Sciuto’s keen eye couldn’t miss anything — as long as there was enough Caf-Pow to keep her going. Abby always got the job done, even if her methods weren’t always conventional. Sciuto left NCIS after 15 seasons to start a charity in memory of her friend Clayton Reeves, who d1ed saving her life.

Despite the close relationship between Abby and Gibbs on NCIS, Pauley Perrette and Mark Harmon had a falling out after Harmon’s dog att4cked a crew member on set. When Harmon allegedly continued to bring the dog on set, their feud became so heated that they shot on separate days and the script was written to avoid having them on screen at the same time. Perrette eventually left the show, claiming on Twitter that she was “terrified of Harmon” and had nightmares about him att4cking her. Though fans hoped she would return, Perrette made it abundantly clear in her tweet that she would not.

Maria Bello – Jacqueline Sloane

Jacqueline Sloane left NCIS because she refused to renew her contract with the show. The team’s operational psychologist and profiler was Dr. Jacqueline “Jack” Sloane (Maria Bello), a former Lieutenant in the United States Army. The NCIS senior special agent had a close relationship with team leader Jethro Gibbs, to the point where the team would frequently mock the pair by implying a romance between them. Sloane had hoped to retire to a peaceful life in Costa Rica, but she ultimately decided to return to Afghanistan and continue the work of a murd3red friend.

Maria Bello’s exit from the show is another that appears to be amicable. The actress simply decided not to renew her contract after three years, though she has never stated why. In a 2020 Instagram post, Bello expressed her love and gratitude for the cast and crew, saying she has “never worked with a kinder, more generous group of people.”

Emily Wickersham – Eleanor Bishop


Eleanor Bishop left NCIS for reasons that remain unknown to this day. In NCIS season 11, Special Agent Eleanor Bishop (Emily Wickersham) joined the team, filling Ziva’s role. Bishop was an incredibly capable and quick-witted member of the NCIS Major Case Response Team as a former NSA member. Bishop eventually left the series after nearly a decade with the team when it was discovered that she had previously leaked an NSA document. This was later revealed to be a ruse to get Bishop to join an undercover operation after leaving NCIS in “disgrace.”

Though Wickersham never stated why he left NCIS, it appears that his departure was amicable and in good spirits. Wickersham announced her departure from the show in a 2021 Instagram post, thanking the cast and crew for the opportunity. Wickersham has not appeared in any projects since leaving NCIS, but she and her partner welcomed a son shortly after her departure.

Mark Harmon – Leroy Jethro Gibbs


Gibbs left NCIS because he decided to leave the show. Agent Jethro Gibbs appeared to be a permanent fixture on the NCIS Major Case Response Team as team members rotated out. Taking no nonsense from his agents, Gibbs ran his team like a well-oiled machine, enforcing a set of his own rules while ensuring they always got their man in the end. While it appeared that Gibbs would continue to lead his team indefinitely, he made the unexpected decision to retire to Alaska in 2021, where he finally found peace.

Mark Harmon is leaving NCIS after 18 years on the show — at least in an acting capacity. Harmon will remain an executive producer on the show, working behind the scenes rather than in front of the camera. Gibbs’ return to the screen is not entirely ruled out, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet. Nonetheless, a sizable contingent of NCIS fans is looking forward to his return.

Who Is Still on NCIS?

The majority of the original NCIS cast did not return for the upcoming 21st season, with the exception of one cast member who is still on the show, albeit in a limited capacity. Donald “Ducky” Mallard was introduced as the Chief Medical Examiner in the NCIS pilot episode and quickly became a fan favorite. Some of his memorable quirks include conversing in depth with the d3ad while performing autopsies, an occurrence frequently interrupted by Gibbs, and a vast collection of colorful bow ties. His eccentricities aren’t the only aspects of his personality. Ducky was given his own backstory and character arc, including his time with the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Aside from his associations with the CIA and alleged war cr1mes, Ducky (played by David McCallum) retired from his role as Medical Examiner in NCIS season 15, but he still appears on the show in a limited capacity. Following the conclusion of NCIS season 16, it was revealed that McCallum would only appear in a limited capacity in order to spend more time with his family. It’s possible that the actor’s age of 89 has something to do with it. McCallum has appeared in 443 episodes of NCIS and continues to appear in the show to this day.

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