‘NCIS’: Has Bishop Declined As a Character?

For those who hate to see the actors on their favorite shows move on to other places and parts, there may be a big disappointment coming where Eleanor Raye “Ellie” Bishop (Emily Wickersham) is concerned. Bishop joined the show in Season 11, and is an analyst described as a “reclusive data freak.” It became evident to fans that Bishop was not there to take the place of Ziva, the much-loved, exciting agent. It was Bishop, however, who found the letter that proved Ziva (Cote de Pablo) was still alive. 

So why has Bishop begun to take the back seat on the series? When written into the series, she was playing a woman who has unique abilities, especially in the area of data analysis. But the storyline seemed not to take advantage of this provocative capability, and, instead, turned Bishop into “another interesting probie.” 

What’s going on at ‘NCIS’?

Emily Wickersham
Emily Wickersham as Bishop on NCIS | Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images

This hit series lost the character, Abby (Pauley Perrette), the world seemed to stop turning. Abby was the proverbial glue of the show, and her exit stunned and saddened fans. The only characters from the original cast are David McCallum’s Ducky, Mark Harmon’s Gibbs, and Sean Murray’s McGee.

Ducky may be ready to retire from the NCIS team; Gibbs, the main character and a producer of the show is probably staying put, and since McGee received a gift (making him one of the company’s prospects), from Splendifida, a fictional tech company,  during season 16, he may be looking to move on, as well. Still, Sean Murray has been billed in the show right up there with Harmon, McCallum, and Perrette, as far as the most episodes.

Additionally, the character Kasie (Diona Reasonover) and Nick (Wilmer Valderrama) look ready to take on more significant roles.

Will Bishop be coming back to ‘NCIS’?

Some fans say it will be difficult to “build on” Bishop’s character. But even in some recent dialog on the show, Bishop says on the show:

People are afraid to talk about her (Ziva) in front of me because they think I’ll never measure up. That’s not even the part that gets me. The part that gets me is that I feel cheated – like there are things I could’ve learned from her that I couldn’t get from anyone else.

So Bishop acknowledges that she is no Ziva, but many fans are still not giving Ellie much of a chance. Some say Wickersham was hired to fill the place of de Pablo, but the thing is, nobody falls in love with a substitute. When a series runs as long as NCIS has, and, of necessity, has a turnover in the cast, the show’s audience is going to react. In the case of Bishop, it seems:

  • The timing was off for adding a character to “replace” Ziva.
  • The Ellie Bishop character needed more development when introduced into the show.
  • Fans were already disgruntled by having Abby replaced.

Will Ziva’s return replace Bishop?

On the other hand, Ziva did return to the show at the end of Season 16. She appeared coming down the steps to Gibbs’ basement and warned the director of impending danger. Fans went crazy and are hoping this means Ziva is returning to the show. Here’s how Ziva’s return may benefit Wickersham’s character, Bishop: If de Pablo’s character comes back, the pressure for Bishop to fill Ziva’s shoes will lessen.

Now, perhaps, Bishop will have her chance to develop an intriguing backstory, along with future adventures, both of which make a character more compelling and engaging. It’s in the writers’ hands now. Maybe Wickersham can find a place in fans’ hearts as she learns and emulates the beloved Ziva.