CBS’ ‘NCIS’ is a police procedural drama that follows the lives of special agents working at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Created by Donald P. Bellisario and Don McGill, the military drama is one of the longest-running scripted shows on television, boasting 19 seasons since its premiere on September 23, 2003. Fans of the show are greatly attached to its myriad of characters. Michael Weatherly’s Senior Field Agent Anthony DiNozzo frequently ranks amongst fan favorites.
Thus, it’s unsurprising that many were utterly dismayed when Weatherly decided to leave the show after season 13, saying goodbye to his brilliant and flirtatious character DiNozzo. But why did Weatherly leave the series in the first place? Here’s everything you need to know about his departure.
Why Did Michael Weatherly Leave NCIS?
Michael Weatherly’s Anthony “Tony” DiNozzo first appears in the backdoor pilot episode of ‘NCIS.’ DiNozzo’s character is a Senior Field Agent with the Major Case Response Team (MCRT). His easygoing and charismatic attitude clicked with fans, although many criticized his chauvinistic nature. Over the seasons, the former police detective becomes more mature and respectful, valuing his relationship with women.
DiNozzo’s undercover assignments across seasons provide the much-needed thrill and entertainment. His romance with Cote de Pablo’s Special Agent Ziva David greatly contributes to the positive changes in his personality. Appreciated by fans for his goofy charm and comic relief, DiNozzo is a regular part of the show until season 13 episode 24 — the season finale titled ‘Family First.’
After DiNozzo’s former partner David presumably dies in mortar fire, he finds out that he has a daughter with her named Tali. He then decides to quit NCIS in order to raise her and take care of her. Through this plotline, the showrunners managed to create a believable exit for Weatherly’s DiNozzo. But why did Weatherly exit in the first place? Was it simply a plot necessity? Was it something personal?
DiNozzo is a wonderful, quixotic character & I couldn't have had more fun playing him over the past 13 seasons pic.twitter.com/GR7YSsmsKJ
— Michael Weatherly (@M_Weatherly) January 5, 2016
It seems that Weatherly had gotten as much as he could out of his character of DiNozzo over 13 seasons of the show and needed some creative change in his career. On the show ‘LIVE with Kelly’ in 2016, Weatherly revealed that his departure was connected to his decision to explore other opportunities — a conclusion that he took forever to reach because of how much fun he had working with the team of ‘NCIS.’
However, Weatherly continued to be involved with CBS as part of his development deal. He went on to star as the protagonist Dr. Jason Bull in CBS’ ‘Bull.’ First premiered in 2016, the trial science procedural is loosely based on the life of Phil McGraw of ‘Dr. Phil’ fame. “It came about at the right time. I was burnt out by NCIS, and I was ready for a new challenge. Sometimes change is as good as a rest,” said Weatherly, talking about ‘Bull’ at the 2016 Television Critics Association summer press tour. We can only imagine the toll filming 305 ‘NCIS’ episodes over the course of 13 years must have taken!
Weatherly claimed that he felt satisfied with the resolution of DiNozzo’s character on ‘NCIS’ and left the show on good terms. Despite de Pablo’s Ziva David making guest appearances in season 17 — having faked her death to protect her family — Weatherly’s DiNozzo does not return to the show. However, season 17 episode 11 does let us know that David and DiNozzo are all set to return to family life in Paris with their daughter Tali. Fans of the show certainly don’t mind accepting this happy ending for “Very Special Agent” DiNozzo, even if it means a goodbye from the series.
Where is Michael Weatherly Now?
Weatherly, 53, seems to be doing well both personally and professionally. He continues to garner rave reviews for his portrayal of Dr. Bull on ‘Bull,’ which is currently in its sixth season. He frequently shares updates of the legal drama on his social media, often with a comical twist. Additionally, he also publicly reminisces his time on ‘NCIS,’ with fans getting excited every time he posts a throwback picture.
— Michael Weatherly (@M_Weatherly) October 10, 2021
It seems that Weatherly misses DiNozzo just like we do! But like all good things, DiNozzo’s time on ‘NCIS’ had to come to an end. However, Weatherly is doing extremely well with ‘Bull,’ so it’s good that the actor has solid opportunities to wield his talent.
— Michael Weatherly (@M_Weatherly) September 30, 2021
Weatherly also seems to be living a happy family life with his wife, Bojana Janković Weatherly, an internal and integrative medicine physician. The New York-based couple has two children, Olivia Weatherly and Liam Weatherly. Fortunately, fans continue to enjoy the actor’s onscreen presence through ‘Bull.’ Although it has not been discussed formally, it remains to be seen if Weatherly will make a guest appearance on ‘NCIS.’