When Lucas Black’s Christopher LaSalle character stepped in front of those bullets to save an innocent woman’s life, eventually dying of his wounds, NCIS: New Orleans fans were shocked. They’d spent more than five seasons with the beloved NCIS special agent and felt the show didn’t have as much to offer in his absence.
Only a handful of network TV shows have managed to navigate the exit of a beloved character. The Office carried on for two seasons after Steve Carell’s Michael Scott left. Law & Order: SVU continues to this day despite Chris Meloni’s departure more than a decade ago. There are more examples out there, but the fact of the matter is when someone central leaves, a series generally suffers for it.
Of course, NCIS: New Orleans still had Scott Bakula playing the team’s fearless leader Dwayne Pride. But without Lucas Black, things simply weren’t the same. And please don’t take this as an attack on the NCIS spinoff. The show was highly successful and well-liked—a seven-season run is impressive for any series, let alone a follow-up title to a larger franchise.
Let’s look at it this way. Do you think Law & Order: SVU would be in the middle of its 23rd season if Mariska Hargitay left her Olivia Benson character behind in 2011? How about the flagship of the NCIS franchise. Would the show still be around if Mark Harmon had enough of Leroy Gibbs after seven seasons?
It’s hard to answer these questions with any certainty. But we can be confident in the fact that viewership would suffer. And that’s exactly what happened to NCIS: New Orleans after Lucas Black left. The series only continued for a little more than a season after his departure.
‘NCIS: New Orleans’ Fans Cite Lucas Black’s Exit as the Moment the Show Was Doomed
Now, we’re not going to claim that Lucas Black leaving was the sole reason for NCIS: New Orleans wrapping up after seven seasons. But based on the widespread fan response, it was definitely a major contributing factor.
In 2019, Black shared a video on Twitter, thanking his fans for all of their support over the years. He called his time with the show an “amazing experience” while fans struggled to come to terms with his decision.
I can’t believe you are gone from NCIS. Your character made the show. I don’t want to watch without you on it. I was really thrown for a loop. Lucas Black aka LaSalle you are going to be GREATLY missed. NCIS NOLA will not be the same. Best wishes to you and Roll Tide!!— Tammy Sue (@ts4bama13) November 7, 2019
Elsewhere on social media, NCIS: New Orleans fans echoed the same sentiments, writing things like, “The show seemed to lose its way after Lucas Black left” on Reddit.