Fan favorite NCIS star exits series after 8 years
Following the season finale, the star made an emotional Instagram post.
Warning: Spoilers from NCIS's season 18 finale episode are discussed in this article.
NCIS closed out its 18th season in a big way — with the departure of a major character who has been a part of the show since 2013.
On Tuesday's finale episode, Emily Wickersham's Ellie Bishop left her NCIS family to embark on a top-secret undercover mission, which Wickersham confirmed in an Instagram post was indeed meant to signal the end of her time on the series.
"Hangin this hat and jacket up. What a great ride it's been," she wrote after the episode aired. "This cast, this crew, are top notch. I can't say enough kind words about this group that I've had the pleasure of working with for close to 8 years now and 172 episodes later."
Wickersham joined the cast of the long-running procedural in season 11, immediately becoming a fan-favorite. Her exit from the show follows the departure of Maria Bello's Jack Sloane and rumors that Mark Harmon's Gibbs is reducing his time on the show.
"This business is finicky and weird and consistency is a rarity. I've been lucky enough to be a part of a show where I got to show up and act and laugh and learn with wonderful people," Wickersham continued. "A moment in time I surely won't forget. Thank you CBS and NCIS for including me in a part of television history. Time goes fast. Eat it up but chew slowly."
While Wickersham's exit came as a surprise to fans, NCIS did its best to tie up the character's story. In the episode, Bishop revealed to Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) that she was the person who had leaked a confidential NSA file, outing herself so she could disguise herself as a "disgraced NCIS agent." She left Torres with an emotional kiss and the revelation that she was joining Odette (Elayn Taylor) and Ziva (Cote de Pablo) on a secret mission that she deemed "too long."
Wickersham's costar Brian Dietzen, who plays Jimmy Palmer, shared his sentiments by commenting on her post and saying, "so damn proud of you my friend. Also, I'm gonna miss the hell outta you on set. I can't wait to see what you do next. Whatever it is, I'll be there in the front row. Thank you."
Will the NCIS world see Bishop again? It certainly feels plausible, considering that the door seemed to be left open for a guest appearance or return of the character down the line. For now, fans will have to wait and see how the show will deal with the character's absence when it returns in the fall.
Representatives for CBS confirmed Wickersham's departure. "Yes, we can confirm that Emily will not be returning next season."
Yet an individual with knowledge of the situation tells EW there's always a chance she will return to the show for guest appearances.