‘NCIS’: The Most Dramatic Reasons Actors Have Left the Show

When a strong majority of the women who work on a TV drama leave under mysterious circumstances, you begin to wonder what kind of atmosphere they’re working under. Despite the immense popularity and longevity of CBS’s NCIS, they’ve had four prominent actresses from the show leave abruptly due to sometimes unsaid frustrations.

Cote de Pablo
Cote de Pablo is returning to NCIS after her departure|Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

One of those, Cote de Pablo, is now thought to return as Ziva David, yet she initially left because she didn’t think her character was respected. She wasn’t the only one who left with a question mark.

This isn’t to say it’s been all the women who’ve left. Take a minute to see why they moved on from NCISand what might be behind some of the strangest departures.

Sasha Alexander left ‘NCIS’ first without much initial explanation

Remember Caitlyn Todd, the NCIS special agent who was later replaced by Ziva David? Played by Sasha Alexander, Kate Todd was also popular in the show’s first two seasons.

Despite this popularity, Alexander left abruptly without telling the media much about why. According to her at the time, she wanted to be let out of her contract to pursue other acting opportunities. Many media pundits looked at this as a stand-in response for wanting more money. Some speculated she could be having a conflict with one or more of her fellow actors.

Considering NCIS has long been a show geared toward alpha males, we wonder what the environment has been like working on the show for the women. Part of this might be answerable based on something Pauley Perrette said recently about Mark Harmon.

Whatever the real reason was behind Alexander’s departure from NCIS, she did agree to come back for some flashback guest appearances. She can’t come back in any form now since Caitlyn Todd was killed at the end of the second season.

Pauley Perrette departed ‘NCIS’ peacefully, but now says she fears Mark Harmon

The Abby Sciuto character was arguably one of the smartest women characters on TV. She defied all conventions of what a woman was supposed to look like. Thanks to Pauley Perrette’s performance, she made Abby a classic character for 15 seasons before leaving NCIS a couple of years ago.

After 15 years, it wasn’t much of a surprise why an actress would want to move on to new acting horizons. Then again, she said just days after leaving the role that she experienced a physical assault on the set at some point in time.

Perrette said more recently she’s “terrified” of Mark Harmon without elaborating as to why. Some have contended it related to Perrette being attacked by Harmon’s dog on the set. Others insinuate something else more serious happened she won’t say.

Whatever the truth is, it’s a tad disturbing coming to the realization the NCIS environment hasn’t been entirely peaceful for many of the women cast.

Other cast members who’ve departed ‘NCIS’

Lauren Holly is another actress who left NCIS after playing director Penny Shepard between the third and fifth seasons. A few rumors have floated around Holly also left due to Harmon, but it’s never been backed up with evidence.

As we all know, Michael Weatherly is the only prominent male cast member to leave after 13 seasons. He would later face his own sexual harassment accusations on Bull. Since he went on to star in the latter popular CBS crime drama, the chances are small he’ll come back to play Tony DiNozzo, despite his romantic interest, Ziva, now returning.

With Cote de Pablo back as Ziva David, we’re maybe seeing reparations being done to a once toxic environment to the prominent women on the show. We can’t help but think de Pablo worked closely with the writing team to finally give a woman in the cast the respect they deserve.

If this is the last season for the show, there’s probably no fitter way to wrap things up.