‘NCIS’ Alum Michael Weatherly Explained His ‘Key’ to Leaving Show with Grace

by Samantha Whidden

He was one of the most iconic castmates on the CBS hit series NCIS, but with his departure from the show in 2016, Michael Weatherly revealed how he left the set with grace. 

Following his NCIS departure, Michael Weatherly talks to TVLine about the options he had for leaving the series.“I will reveal that there was one particular line of story that I was made aware of that actually completely changed – disappeared really – and became something else,” Michael states. He then says he knew that the production team was playing with “stuff” all the way along. 

Weatherly then shares his key to leaving the NCIS set was to make sure the production had enough time to do whatever they greatly thought was going to service the series best.

“I love Tony DiNozzo, but more importantly, I love NCIS. So that’s always a priority. His departure has to serve that primarily.”

Michael Weatherly Talks Reaction to Leaving NCIS 

Also during his interview with TVLine, Michael Weatherly discusses his reaction to leaving NCIS. “I’m a big believer that there are things you can control and things you cannot control, so that was outside the sphere of control as far as I was concerned,” he explains. Weatherly then says he really enjoyed his “whole ride” on the series, but he wanted to leave it up to the creative team to do what they wanted to do with his character.”

Michael then proclaims that DiNozzo couldn’t be in the No. 2 slot on Gibbs’ NCIS team forever and that’s really what felt constrained” to him.

“McGee is looking at [DiNozzo] and saying, ‘When you get out of here I want to be No. 2,’ and Gibbs is looking at him like, ‘You’re kind of hanging around. Have you got things you want to do?’”

Weatherly also explains that despite the constraint feeling, he will always appreciate the “gift” of the job. But the hardest part of the experience was thinking it was his time to leave.

“You can never predict those things – that’ like me trying to tell you the weather three-and-a-half weeks from now.”

Michael Weatherly Moves On From ‘NCIS’ to ‘Bull’

Months after his departure from NCIS, Michael Weatherly joined the CBS legal drama series Bull as the main character, Dr. Jason Bull. 

Weatherly describes what it was like to go from being second in command to first. In an interview with USA Today, he states, “It’s been very illuminating and given me a great deal of insight and regards for what Mark Harmon was doing all those years [on NCIS].”

Michael then adds that while he was on NCIS he was doing a little as “Steve Martin” in every episode as a way to keep it “very fresh” for him.

“But being the central character – I think I found this in season one – you have to limit the range of stuff that you’re doing. Otherwise, you just look like a crazy person.”

Bull is set to premiere its sixth season on October 7, 2021.