In April 2020, the long-running CBS crime drama NCIS wrapped up its 17th season. After all these years, the cast is still headed by Mark Harmon as Special Agent Gibbs, and the 17th season saw appearances from classic characters like Ziva David and Jimmy Palmer, played by Cote de Pablo and Brian Dietzen, respectively.
Obviously, the NCIS team that we first met in 2003 has changed quite a bit over the years. Other than Mark Harmon, David McCallum is the only series regular who’s been around since the very beginning. He plays Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, as you probably know.
But few former NCIS characters are missed as much as Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo. People just loved tuning in to watch his antics every week.
So it’s no surprise that many fans were downright disappointed when he left the show at the end of season 13. His departure left us with two burning questions: One: Why did Weatherly decide to hang up his badge after 13 seasons? And, two: Will Tony DiNozzo ever make another appearance on NCIS?
It’s hard to say. Remember what happened in the season 13 finale? Tony was mourning the alleged death of Ziva, with whom he’d always enjoyed a loving but complicated relationship. After Ziva’s supposed death, Tony learns that she’d given birth to their child…a secret she decided to keep from Tony to avoid complicating their lives. Talk about an emotional burden.
Though Tony is understandably shocked by this news, he takes to fatherhood quickly. By the end of the episode, Ziva’s alleged killer has been taken down by the team, and Tony has made a really tough decision: He’s going to step away from NCIS to raise his daughter and rebuild his life. Of course, everyone is devastated by his departure, but they certainly understand his reasoning. It’s one of the most emotional send-offs in the history of the series.
But why did Weatherly step away from NCIS after such a long run? Ultimately, he left for the same reason that many people leave their jobs: After 13 years, he felt it was time to move on. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he said he was burned out by the show’s taxing schedule. As to how Tony’s story wrapped up, Weatherly said,
“It really felt like a circle that had gone all the way around and I really felt happy with the resolution of character and my time on the show.”
Weatherly left the show on good terms with the cast and crew, and he quickly landed a role on another CBS series. While he was preparing his departure from NCIS, it was announced that he would be the lead of a new primetime drama, Bull. The show was somehow inspired by the life and times of the decidedly uninspiring Doctor Phil. It finds Weatherly playing a psychologist, Dr. Jason Bull, the head of a jury consulting firm. Keep watching the video to see the real reason Michael Weatherly left NCIS after 13 seasons.
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