When Michael Weatherly decided to leave NCIS after 13 seasons, fans of the action police procedural were worried that more of the main cast might follow his lead since Mark Harmon, Rocky Carroll, Pauley Perrette, David McCallum, and Sean Murray’s contracts ended after last season, too. Fans can now rest peacefully, since CBS’ flagship series will air for two more seasons with the the remaining cast members.
Deadline received the exclusive news on June 24 that Murray, Perrette, McCallum, and Carroll had all signed contracts to appear in Seasons 14 and 15. NCIS star Harmon, who plays NCIS Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, and is also an executive producer of the show, signed his 2-year contract back in February.
The other remaining main cast members, Brian Dietzen and Emily Wickersham, are still on their current contracts and remain committed to the show.
The popular CBS show experienced a major shakeup with the main cast from previous seasons. Fan favorite Cote de Pablo, who played NCIS Special Agent Ziva David, left after Season 11 for unspecified reasons. While Pablo first stated that her character was not gone forever from NCIS, David’s fate seemed doomed at the end of Season 13.
Last January, CBS reported that Weatherly was leaving NCIS when the season finale ended in May. Weatherly, another fan favorite and one of the original cast members, has stated that it was his decision to leave the series and he “couldn’t have had more fun playing him [Special Agent Tony DiNozzo] over the past 13 seasons.”
Weatherly might have left one of TV’s longest-running drama series, but he’s certainly not out of a job. The actor will appear next fall in one of CBS’s new legal drama series, Bull, which is loosely based on Dr. Phil’s career as a consultant.
It was announced on June 16 That ’70s Show’s Wilmer Valderrama signed on to join Season 14 of NCIS as a series regular. The name of Valderrama’s character hasn’t been announced yet, but his character is a grounded NCIS field agent who resurfaces after disappearing from a deep undercover assignment that happened years ago.
Another female character will also be cast in the show as a series regular, but, as of June 25, CBS has made no new casting announcements. With Weatherly gone as a series regular, only Harmon, Perrette, who plays forensic specialist Abby Sciuto, and McCallum, who plays NCIS’ Chief Medical Examiner “Ducky” Mallard, remain as the original NCIS cast members that’ve been with the show since Season 1.
Murray made his first appearance in Episode 7 of the first season as Special Agent Timothy McGee, but didn’t get promoted to regular cast member into Season 2. Carroll, who plays NCIS Director Leon Vance, started off as a recurring character during Season 5, but became a part of the regular cast at the beginning of Season 6.
Brian Dietzen, who plays Assistant Medical Examiner Jimmy Palmer, was a recurring cast member for the first several seasons, before he was promoted as a regular member at Season 10. Wickersham joined the cast as NSA analyst Eleanor Bishop during Season 11.
NCIS continues to remain as the number one most watched dramas on television, even after thirteen seasons on the air. When the show, originally a spin-off from JAG, first aired, it was barely making the Top 30 in ratings, but by Season 6, the action drama became a Top 5 hit among TV shows.
When the 2015-2016 season finished, the number for average viewers was in the 20.54 million range for first-run episodes. On February 29, CBS renewed the popular drama series for two more seasons.
NCIS launched two spin-off shows in previous years: NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. Both spin-off shows received season renewals and will air this fall.
[Image via NCIS.CBS/Instagram]