Michael Weatherly visiting NCIS: Los Angeles

‘NCIS’: Michael Weatherly To Depart At End Of Season 13

It’s true – NCIS season 14 (assuming the series is renewed, and let’s face it, it would be absolutely shocking if it’s not) is going to look mighty different because one of the original cast members (Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, David McCallum, and Pauley Perrette), one of the four around since the JAG episodes that launched the series, is leaving.

The news first broke because of an interview David McCallum gave to the U.K.’s Vulture Hound, in which he revealed that NCIS season 13 is the last for Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo (and it’s apparently news that shouldn’t be so new).

“DiNozzo, played by Michael Weatherly, we’ve told people a long time ago, is leaving at the end of the season. So the writers have to decide what to do when one of the four members of the original cast leaves.”

The good news is he followed that statement by saying that he plans to stick around as Ducky at least through NCIS season 14, so don’t worry, you won’t have to plan on saying goodbye to another beloved character just yet. And as the actor pointed out, that’s also a good thing storyline-wise; Palmer may have been by Ducky’s side for years now, but he’s not quite ready to take over – and who would want to lose out on how well McCallum and Brian Dietzen play off of one another just yet?

Now, TVLine has confirmed the departure and has a statement from CBS about Michael Weatherly leaving NCIS.

“After 13 years on NCIS, Michael Weatherly is leaving the show at the end of this season. He is a valued part of the CBS family, and the immense charm and talent he brings to the screen as ‘Very’ Special Agent Tony DiNozzo has helped make NCIS what it is today – the No. 1 drama in the world.”

Weatherly himself has also spoken out about the departure, via Twitter, featuring photos from the NCIS set, of him at DiNozzo’s desk and with Pauley Perrette. “DiNozzo is a wonderful, quixotic character & I couldn’t have had more fun playing him over the past 13 seasons,” he began, following it up with “Les Moonves & CBS gave me the opportunity of a lifetime” and finally, “I will miss the amazing crew & cast, who are like family to me, & to the fans all over the world – THANK YOU, it’s been a fantastic ride!”

Of course, Weatherly’s departure lends itself to the question of how they’ll write out DiNozzo. Could he finally get his own team? Will he decide it’s time to move on from NCIS? (Remember, before joining NCIS, he had a tendency to move on after a couple of years, given his history in Peoria, Philadelphia, and Baltimore.)

This means that things are going to have to change in NCIS season 14, since, assuming everyone else returns, the team is going to be down one – and down a significant member, as DiNozzo is the Senior Field Agent. Looking at the remaining team members, McGee is going to be the most senior agent since it’ll just be him and Bishop. Will they bring in an agent from another team – perhaps on assignment elsewhere – or perhaps someone who has been on the series before? TVLine had previously reported that there are going to be two new series regulars for NCIS season 14, “a pair of fresh, young faces,” but that seems to suggest something closer to a probie than someone who can be a senior agent on the team. In that case, McGee would easily have the seniority.

NCIS season 13 airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS. How do you think Tony is going to leave the team?

[Image via CBS]