Michael Weatherly Leaving NCIS: Will There Be Tears? Is Tony the Only Exit? And More Burning Qs Answered

NCIS Weatherly Leaving DiNozzo

Michael Weatherly‘s send-off from NCIS, the show he has called home for 13 years, promises to be a “emotional roller coaster” when the season finale rolls around on May 17.

Thus far, we know that the original cast member’s final episode is titled “Family First” and it revolves around the just-launched manhunt for Jacob Scott, the MI-6 black sheep who is targeting NCIS agents past and present, former director Tom Morrow (played by Alan Dale) being his first victim.

As part of our May Sweeps/Finale Preview Q&A, TVLine invited NCIS showrunner Gary Glasberg to field some burning questions about the swan song he has in store for Weatherly/DiNozzo.

HOW WILL DINOZZO BE WRITTEN OUT? | Tony will need to make some difficult decisions in the finale, capping an arc in which he has been prompted to reconsider his arguably sad status quo. “It’s something that we’ve been kind of hinting at throughout the whole season,” says Glasberg. “We established early on there were choices that Tony was going to be making as he’s looking at his career… He’s going to find himself at a bit of a crossroads, with some significant issues to deal with.”

WILL ANY FAMILIAR FACES RETURN FOR THE BIG GOODBYE? | Robert Wagner, as DiNozzo Sr., is among the confirmed encores for what Glasberg describes as “a lot of reflection and a lot of soaking in what Tony DiNozzo was to the show for many years. Expect to see a significant guest cast, and expect to really reflect on what Michael Weatherly has meant to NCIS.”

DID WEATHERLY’S CBS PILOT IMPACT HIS SEND-OFF? | Two months after announcing his NCIS exit, Weatherly booked the lead role on Bull, a CBS pilot loosely based on Phil McGraw’s early days as a prolific trial consultant. So understandably, he at one point needed to duck out to film that. “He’s super-prominent in some parts [of Season 13’s final stretch] and lighter in others,” Glasberg acknowledged. “At the end of the day, it didn’t affect things much at all.”

WILL THE NCIS FAITHFUL SHED TEARS? | And might Gibbs be among them? “People should absolutely be planning on some really serious, heart-wrenching moments. There’ll be tissues involved,” Glasberg attests. “I’m very proud of the emotional resonance of what this is,  even in terms of what we’re filming right now in the finale.” The EP promises meaningful exchanges between DiNozzo and each of his fellow team members, including “an amazing moment with Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon) that really resulted in something that I didn’t see coming.”

IS DINOZZO NOT THE ONLY EXIT? | After all, NCIS on May 10 is introducing two new characters — 24 alum Sarah Clarke’s FBI agent, and Duane Henry’s MI-6 operative — both of whom have the potential to become series regulars next season. To those questioning the uneven “math,” Glasberg says, “I really wouldn’t read into that. These are two actors and two characters that we were intrigued by and interested in working with, and we’ll have to see where it goes. But no, it wasn’t about subtracting in one pool and adding to another.”

MIGHT DINOZZO BE (GASP) KILLED OFF? | Hey, we had to ask! “I would just say that he’s prominent all the way through this final episode,” Glasberg responded, adding: “I want people to understand that Tony DiNozzo will always be a part of this family — but they should also prepare for an emotional roller coaster.”

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