Why Michael Weatherly Would Be Foolish to Return to ‘NCIS’

Michael Weatherly starred in NCIS as Tony DiNozzo from 2003 until 2016. Playing the quick-tongued agent – often adolescent in disposition – seemed an effortless exercise for the actor. It was as if Weatherly was trying on an old, suitably worn shoe, for size. He quickly found his way to viewers’ hearts and has been intimately tied to the role ever since.

Michael Weatherly
Michael Weatherly | Photo by Timothy Kuratek/CBS via Getty Images

From DiNozzo’s mentor-mentee relationship with Agent Gibbs to the slow-boiling – sometimes passionate, other times lighthearted – romance with David, he was an integral part of the show. Following Michael Weatherly’s departure, 2 million people (on average) stopped watching the primetime procedural.

Now that Cote de Pablo has returned to her career-catalyzing role, fans are hoping  Michael Weatherly will do the same; however, given Michael Weatherly’s current state of affairs in the biz, such a decision may not be his wisest move. And, if Weatherly wishes to place the future of his career before his desire for a heartfelt reunion, we likely won’t see him return to NCIS.

Michael Weatherly’s return to ‘NCIS’ would mark his return to “number two”

Michael Weatherly currently leads a successful primetime procedural on CBS, Bull. Bull’s ratings have remained steady across three seasons, and the show was recently renewed for a fourth. Thus, Weatherly likely has a few years left in the leading role. While Weatherly was the secondhand man in NCIS, he’s the guy in charge in Bull; he is the face of the series. 

Transitioning back to a role, in which he functions as “number two,” would not be wise for the actor – especially since he has proven he can carry a show by himself. Weatherly used the star power NCIS granted to land Bull, and his celebrity alone was enough to draw in a devout and loyal fanbase (thus far). While some of his co-stars may be recognizable, Weatherly is the household name among them. 

When Cote de Pablo left NCIS, she went on to star in The Dovekeepers and The 33; however, both projects were critically panned, and she failed to make a memorable impact in a role outside the former Mossad Agent.

Pablo’s return to NCIS, thus, makes a bit more sense when considering both actors’ career post-departure. Michael Weatherly put his NCIS success to good use – landing another hit show, going on to boast a widespread audience, and proving to the public (and casting directors alike) that his name holds value in the industry. 

Returning to ‘NCIS’ could send the wrong message; Weatherly needs to experiment

Returning to NCIS for a brief cameo would most likely be considered thoughtful and sweet. However, returning for anything more could come off as desperate. With a career seemingly on the up and up, going back to a former role is a risk-averse move that could damage the actor’s potential for future TV or film roles. Hollywood favors the brave.

Following Bull – or when the show is not shooting – Michael Weatherly should experiment with characters disparate from the two comedic guys he is most famous for portraying. Many have claimed that Michael Weatherly would make a great James Bond – an older version that would pay homage to the interpretations of yesteryear.

With the crowd he’s capable of drawing, his name may find its way to the credits of a major motion picture soon. That is if he takes the right steps to get to that point. What are the right next actions? He needs to try some new characters on for size in smaller, independent films. 

Weatherly should take on roles that frighten or challenge him. And, he may need to prove he’s capable of such roles when less is at risk (when less money is on the table). Going back to NCIS would not be Weatherly’s “right” move, for it shows a hesitance to step outside his comfort zone. Even if Weatherly and Pablo landed a spin-off series, they would return to characters people recognize and adore them for; meaning, they would be walking straight into future typecasting.