Fans of CBS’s hit series NCIS were left in tears over Pauley Perrette’s Season 15 exit, and she’s just the latest in a long line of stars who have come and gone, leaving many viewers wondering… who’s next?

Nearly five years ago in 2013, fan favorite Cote de Pablo left the show when her character, Ziva David, returned to her native Israel. Though not an original cast member — de Pablo joined NCIS in 2005 — the character certainly made an impact during her time there. Fans were particularly fond of the relationship between her and Michael Weatherly’s character, Tony DiNozzo.

Michael Weatherly as DiNozzo and Cote de Pablo as Ziva in NCIS. (Richard Foreman/CBS)

The actress’ exit rocked the show’s fan base and it’s been a bumpy ride ever since, as Michael Weatherly followed suit two years ago in May 2016. His character left to care for his daughter with Ziva, after de Pablo’s character was said to have been killed in Israel. These smooth but sullen departures seem small in comparison to how Weatherly’s fellow original cast member, Pauley Perrette, left the show.

Each of these characters received relatively hopeful storylines, and weren’t killed off by the writers — de Pablo’s character’s death happened off-screen years after her exit from the show. Whereas some of the newer cast members have met untimely ends amid their exits from the popular procedural.
For example, Duane Henry’s Reeves was killed in the Season 15 finale when a mugger held him and Abby at gun point. Both characters were shot, but Henry’s character left the show because he died, while Abby left to honor his character’s memory.

So who will be next? There are a few potential options based on previous departures, but those aren’t the only factors to take into consideration. You have to keep in mind the length of time these characters have been on the show and what predicaments their characters are currently in after the Season 15 finale.


Pauley Perrette as Abby and Duane Henry as Reeves in NCIS. (Eddy Chen/CBS)

Based on this history, the characters that could be in danger of leaving are: Rocky Carroll’s Vance, David McCallum’s Ducky, Mark Harmon’s Gibbs, and Sean Murray’s McGee. None of these actors have hinted at leaving the show anytime soon, but that’s not to say they won’t.

Viewers last saw Vance being held hostage on a plane by a terrorist who goes by the name Nigel Hakim (Pej Vahdat) or “The Monster.” It was a definite cliffhanger, and Vance’s longevity isn’t guaranteed, so could they kill him off? He seems most likely out of anyone to exit the show first. Then again, these characters are no strangers to escaping deadly situations.

Ducky, on the other hand, could very well exit stage left under the guise of retirement — Mallard is no spring chicken. Meanwhile, Gibbs and McGee don’t seem to be going anywhere, thanks to their fan following and importance to the fabric of the show.

Out of the original cast, McCallum, Harmon, and Murray are the only remaining stars from the show’s first season in 2003 — Weatherly and Perrette were the other members of that core cast.

So who will live to see another day? Are your favorite characters living on borrowed time?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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