NCIS has lost a number of cast members during its 18-season run. Two of the most notable are Sasha Alexander (Caitlin Todd) and Pauley Perrette (Abby Sciuto). Both actors were OGs who were part of the series premiere in 2003. But they left NCIS years apart, and for two very different reasons.
‘NCIS’ shocked fans in the season 2 finale
NCIS fans first met Agent Todd in the series premiere when she was a Secret Service agent. By the end of the episode, Gibbs (Mark Harmon) had made her an offer to be part of his NCIS team. She quickly became a fan favorite, thanks to her flirtatious banter with Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo.
But during the second season finale, NCIS shocked fans when they suddenly killed off the character. Alexander had a six-season contract, and fans expected Kate to be around for a long time. But in a sudden turn of events, Ari (Rudolf Martin) assassinated her from a neighboring rooftop when they were taking on a terrorist cell.
Sasha Alexander asked to be let out of her contract
Behind-the-scenes, Alexander was having some major issues. When she left NCIS, the official line was that she wanted to move onto other projects. But according to then-showrunner Donald P. Bellisario, Alexander found the workload to be too much for her to handle.
“Sasha came in… with tears in her eyes, she said, ‘I just can’t work this hard,” Bellisario told The Chicago Tribune. “We work very long hours, and Sasha just didn’t feel she was physically up to that kind of time and commitment.”
The ‘NCIS’ alum doesn’t regret her decision
Alexander later confirmed with TV Guide in 2012 that she found the workload on NCIS to be difficult. She said that people don’t realize that a network show makes 24 episodes a year. She explained that “it’s hardcore” because it takes 10 months a year, 17 hours a day to shoot a full season.
“I really firmly believe in my heart that I would not be where I am today — happily married, with two kids, doing things creatively that I want — if I had stayed,” Alexander said. “I didn’t want to wake up and be in my forties and go, ‘Oh, my gosh!’ But people don’t understand.”
Pauley Perrette made some nasty accusations on Twitter
More than a decade later — at the end of season 15 — Perrette’s Abby Sciuto made her final appearance. But she didn’t go quietly. After announcing her exit from NCIS, Perrette went on a Twitter tirade and made some nasty accusations.
In May 2018, she tweeted about “multiple physical assaults” on set, implying this was the reason she left the show. A couple of years earlier, things had turned icy between her and Harmon after his dog bit a crew member.
“I refused to go low, that’s why I’ve never told publicly what happened,” Perrette wrote in a now-deleted tweet. “But there are tabloid articles out there that are telling total lies about me. If you believe them? Please leave me alone. You clearly don’t know me. (Sorry guys, had to be said).”
The ‘NCIS’ vet claims she’s ‘terrified’ of Mark Harmon
In a second tweet Perrette wrote, “Maybe I’m wrong for not ‘spilling the beans.’ Telling the story, THE TRUTH. I feel I have to protect my crew, jobs and so many people. But at what cost? I don’t know. Just know, I’m trying to do the right thing, but maybe silence isn’t the right thing about crime. I’m… Just… ?”
In 2019, a fan asked Perrette if she would ever return to NCIS. She made it clear that wasn’t going to happen. She also claimed to be terrified of Harmon.
“NO I AM NOT COMING BACK! EVER! (Please stop asking?) I am terrified of Harmon and him attacking me. I have nightmares about it,” Perrette wrote.
NCIS airs Tuesdays on CBS.