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NCIS gave fans memorable characters they’ll remember forever — but many of those fan favorites are known for their deaths. The show’s creators recently discussed the characters, actors, and storylines they worked with over the years. And they discussed one “shocking” death that came after the actor complained of long hours on set.

‘NCIS’ creators said actor Sasha Alexander didn’t want to work long, grueling hours

NCIS creators discussed the death of Sasha Alexander’s character, Caitlin Todd. Alexander appeared in the first two seasons of the series, but she was shot in the head in the season 2 finale by Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ archnemesis Ari Haswari.

Peter Golden, the former head of CBS casting, spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about Alexander. “We were only able to make a deal with Sasha for two seasons,” he said. “She decided she wanted to move on to other things, and that left a gaping hole because she was an important part of the show.”

Executive producer Charles Floyd Johnson explained more about the situation. He said that Alexander felt overworked on set.

“In year two, Sasha went to Don [Bellisario] and said, ‘I love this show, but I just can’t work this hard,'” Johnson stated. “We were doing long hours. I don’t think she wanted to leave the show — she just wanted a lighter workload.”

‘NCIS’ co-creator Don Bellisario pitched Caitlin Todd’s death

'NCIS' actors David McCallum, Pauley Perrette, Michael Weatherly, and Sasha Alexander laughing and talking together at a panel
Actors David McCallum, Pauley Perrette, Michael Weatherly, and Sasha Alexander | Mathew Imaging/FilmMagic

This ‘NCIS’ Actor Was ‘Very Unhappy’ To Be Killed Off, Creators Said

NCIS co-creator Don Bellisario had the idea to kill Sasha Alexander’s character, Caitlin Todd. “He went, ‘Well, what if we kill her off?’ Everybody goes, ‘What?'” Charles Floyd Johnson continued to The Hollywood Reporter. “And he went to her and told her, ‘Good news — your workload is going to be lighter. But you’re going to die.’ It was the very last minute or two of the show — the shot through the head. That’s always been one of the more shocking things on the internet of endings that you don’t see coming.”

In another interview with the Chicago Tribune, Bellisario confirmed that Alexander couldn’t hack it. “Sasha came in … with tears in her eyes,” he said, according to Newsweek. “She said, ‘I just can’t work this hard. We work very long hours.’ And Sasha just didn’t feel she was physically up to that kind of time and commitment.”

NCIS executive producer Mark Horowitz said Alexander’s character’s death was the first secret they ever kept from the audience. “Also, we actually shot an alternate ending. Even my wife didn’t know,” he stated. “We were watching the show, and [Caitlin] got shot, and she just jumped out of her chair.”

Sasha Alexander once said acting in Hollywood was a lot different than what she anticipated

NCIS star Sasha Alexander once discussed how she had different expectations of the Hollywood experience as an actor.

“I think that I’d hoped that it would be a little more like it was when I did drama in 7th grade when it was extremely collaborative between people,” she said in an interview, according to Outsider. “And that you got to work together, and you all got to create things that you loved and do things you felt comfortable doing.”

She also said she had to deal with “big egos” in the business who were only driven by money. Alexander had friends in Hollywood who quit the business altogether.

“And it’s a very grueling job,” she continued. “I’ve been very fortunate that I got to work in a business where most of my friends quit along the way. And I’ve been in a position to be able to pick and choose what I want to do and what I don’t want to do. But it’s not like that for everyone.”

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