For 20 years, NCIS has captured the hearts of viewers across the globe. While the show’s case-of-the-week format has kept viewers entertained, it’s the show’s beloved characters that have kept them coming back season after season for the last 20 seasons.
Over the years, there have been many amazing characters to join the NCIS family; however, there is no denying the show’s success all began with the original NCIS cast members who helped win over viewers during the early seasons. Without those original cast members, there’s no telling whether the show would have gone the distance as it was those initial characters who helped make the series into the amazing show it has become today.
While there are many long-time players still on the show, the original cast members gradually began departing the show to pursue new opportunities. Through their departures, NCIS welcomed fresh faces, ensuring the series’ continued success and ability to keep audiences engaged but fans still to this day think about the original cast members and what led to their exits.
When did the original NCIS cast members leave? Below, we break down when each of the five key original cast members exited the series.
When did Mark Harmon leave NCIS? (When did Gibbs leave NCIS?)
Mark Harmon originated the role of Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the backdoor pilot for NCIS which aired during JAG. He would go on to appear in countless episodes as Gibbs before finally leaving the show in 2021. While Harmon is credited for many season 19 episodes, his final appearance as Gibbs came in season 19, episode 4, “Great Wide Open.”
If ranked by screen appearances, then Harmon places third all-time among NCIS cast members with 435 episodes (plus 4 episodes of NCIS: New Orleans and 2 episodes of JAG). The actor still remains involved with the show as an executive producer.
When did Sasha Alexander leave NCIS? (When did Kate leave NCIS?)
While Sasha Alexander might not have been part of the backdoor pilot for the show, she was one of the original members of the original NCIS cast! Alexander originated the role of Special Agent Caitlin “Kate” Todd” in the series premiere of NCIS back in 2003 and was a key member of the cast during the early season.
Alexander officially left the show early in season 3, exiting in season 3, episode 2, “Kill Ari (Part 2)” a two-part premiere event that saw her character killed off the show in what was the show’s first shocking death. In total, the actress appeared in 50 episodes.
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When did Michael Weatherly leave NCIS? (When did Tony leave NCIS?)
Fans met Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo in the backdoor pilot for NCIS, which aired during JAG‘s eighth season and made the jump over to the flagship series when NCIS was launched. He was a fan favorite across the early seasons of the show, and was a staple through the first 12 seasons.
Michael Weatherly exited the show following the season 12 finale. His final appearance came in season 12, episode 24, “Family First”, and then the actor went on to star in the series Bull. The actor notched an impressive 306 appearances during his time on NCIS, which places him pretty high among living cast members.
When did Pauley Perrette leave NCIS? (When did Abby leave NCIS?)
It’s hard to believe it’s been five years since we last saw forensic scientist Abby Sciuto on our screens. Pauley Perrette left CBS’s long-running crime drama NCIS in 2018, last appearing on the show in season 15, episode 22, “Two Steps Back.” This brought an end to Perrette’s 15-year run in the role which she originated in the JAG backdoor pilot and played for more than 350 episodes on CBS’s hit drama.
When did David McCallum leave NCIS? (When did Ducky leave NCIS?)
Technically speaking, David McCallum never left NCIS. McCallum last appeared as a series regular on the show’s fifteenth season, but he continued to make cameos up through the latest season. Sadly, the veteran actor died in September, meaning that his character, Donald Mallard will not be appearing in season 21. McCallum is the current record holder for most NCIS appearances with 457.
When did Sean Murray join the NCIS cast?
Although many consider Sean Murray to be an original cast member, many forget that Murray did not actually join NCIS until several episodes into the show’s first season. Murray made his debut as Special Agent Timothy McGee in the seventh episode of season 1, “Sub Rosa.”
After making his debut in season 1, episode 7, Murray would make eight additional appearances across the show’s first season before becoming a series regular in season 2. He’s second all time with 442 appearances, though he will break David McCallum’s record in 2024.
When did Brian Dietzan join the NCIS cast?
Jimmy Palmer has been a core member of the NCIS family since the early days, which is why it might be surprising to learn that Brian Dietzan didn’t join the cast until the very end of season 1. Dietzan made his debut in the role of Jimmy Palmer in season 1, episode 21, “Split Decision.” He has since gone on to appear in over 350 episodes of the show and is one of the few season 1 cast members still on the show.
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