In 2014, Zoe McLellan signed on to the brand new NCIS spinoff, NCIS: New Orleans as NCIS Special Agent Meredith Brody. As McLellan already had a stint on JAG under her belt, the transition to its spinoff, NCIS, seemed a natural fit.
Just two seasons later, however, it was announced that Zoe McLellan would be parting ways with NCIS. So, what happened to bring on such a sudden exit? Well, it depends who you ask.
In July of 2016, TV Line reported that McLellan’s exit was “a creative decision.” Her character, Meredith Brody, found herself in hot water in the Season 2 finale. And initially, it seemed possible that Meredith’s time with NCIS had come to a natural end.
A year later, however, Variety shared a very different story regarding Zoe McLellan’s departure from NCIS. News of a shocking nature had escaped the NCIS set. Showrunner Brad Kern, who took over in 2016, was reportedly under investigation following allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination against women, and racially charged comments.
The investigation found Kern was guilty of “insensitive” and “offensive” comments, but CBS found no evidence of harassment or discrimination. “We were aware of these allegations when they took place in 2016 and took them very seriously,” CBS explained to Variety. “Both complaints were acted upon immediately with investigations and subsequent disciplinary action.”
Allegedly, it was Kern’s decision to fire Zoe McLellan because men didn’t find her “f—able,” in his opinion. Though Zoe McLellan never confirmed or denied this allegation, many female members of the NCIS: New Orleans cast and crew shared similar stories.
Brad Kern was eventually fired amid the mounting abuse claims. Season 4 marked his third and final year with the series.
‘NCIS’ Star Zoe McLellan Describes Her Season 1 Experience
Before Brad Kern’s arrival to the NCIS: New Orleans set, Zoe McLellan seemed to enjoy her time on the show. Following the finale of Season 1, Zoe McLellan shared her positive experience with Digital Spy.
“I can’t believe it!” she said of the series’ positive reception. “I still can’t believe it. I feel like it’s such a gift to be a part of this franchise and to live in a city that I love so much. And the fact that people like it is pretty exciting.”
After expressing her excitement for Season 2 of NCIS: New Orleans, Zoe McLellan revealed one aspect of the show that took some getting used to. “It’s so fun. As actors, we get to do these really unique things,” she said of her character’s martial arts expertise. “I’d probably never do martial arts or fire a gun, handcuff the bad guys, it’s a lot of fun.”
“I don’t love the handcuffing,” she explained. “It’s actually really tricky, especially when your adrenaline is going. But I will say I’m getting more comfortable with guns. It was really terrifying to me at first. I had a moment, and I know you can see it on camera.”
“My hands would just shake and sweat because, even though we’re firing blanks, there was something just very intimidating to me about them. I guess just because you could hurt someone, and that’s scary.”