Why Former ‘NCIS’ Star Michael Weatherly Was a Shoo-In for ‘Bull’

Before Michael Weatherly became Dr. Jason Bull — taking on a leading role in his very own CBS original — he portrayed Agent Gibbs’ second-in-command in the worldwide phenomenon NCIS. Before NCIS, Weatherly appeared in a handful of Fox network flops — shows that never entirely made it off the ground (including Significant Others and Girls Club). 

Michael Weatherly Bull
Pictured: Michael Weatherly as Dr. Jason Bull Image | CBS via Getty Images

NCIS turned Weatherly into a household name. And, for over a decade, fans watched Weatherly’s Agent DiNozzo transform. They watched his slow-boiling romance with Ziva David come to fruition. They watched his mentor-mentee dynamic with Gibbs became something more equal — representative of the mutual respect between the two. Yet, the fame he gained while on the show was not the only reason CBS chose him to lead Bull. He brought certain qualities to the table that Jason Bull demanded. 

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Why showrunner Mark Goffman wanted Michael Weatherly for ‘Bull’ 

During his NCIS run, Weatherly revealed some of his greatest performance attributes. Notably, his ability to effortlessly transition from goofball one-liners to empathetic scenes requiring warmth and a strong presence. Goffman noted: 

When Michael Weatherly announced he was leaving NCIS, we knew he was perfect for the role — a unique combination of comedy, warmth, physicality and feral intelligence along with a bruising candor. Plus, my mom loves him.

Goffman / CinemaBlend

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As soon as Weatherly left NCIS, Bull fell in the actor’s lap. And, though the new character boasts certain similarities with DiNozzo, his leadership style and disposition contrast just enough with DiNozzo for the character to feel fresh. 

Is Michael Weatherly’s ‘Bull’ a successful show? 

Bull’s premiere season left much to be desired. Season 1 currently boasts a 22% critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes, as critics and viewers alike condemned the show’s reliance on legal drama cliches. While Weatherly’s performance was deemed worthy of a little praise, he couldn’t save the show from its lack of narrative ingenuity. 

The series had a few issues to work out, and it’s managed to snag several more seasons. Bull started in 2016, and the show remains on the air with no signs of cancellation at the moment. Though it may not be the best legal drama, the show has managed to overcome some of its initial drawbacks, relying on likable characters to fuel its success.

Though Cote de Pablo’s Ziva David recently returned to NCIS, Weatherly is quite busy with Bull. And, as long as the show continues to pump out episode after episode and season after season, it’s unlikely that Weatherly’s busy schedule will permit a cameo. Not to mention, evidence has begun to suggest that a “Tiva” reunion simply isn’t in the cards with recent reports suggesting de Pablo will not return for season 18.