Why Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo Left NCIS

Dedicated viewers of the long-running hit CBS procedural NCIS were saddened by season 13’s departure of Michael Weatherly, who played Tony DiNozzo since the beginning. Weatherly’s DiNozzo worked as one of the top-ranking agents under boss Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) on the Major Case Response Team and proved to be an integral part of NCIS‘ success. DiNozzo wasn’t always a character that was easy to like, but he was quite good at his job and developed as a person over the course of NCIS‘ long run. DiNozzo grew especially close to fellow agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), with the two crossing the line from professional to personal partners. Sadly for fans though, Weatherly’s tenure on NCIS came to a swift stop in 2015 with the 13th season.

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As major a character as Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo was on NCIS, any long-running show is likely to experience some cast upheaval over time. By the time Weatherly took his leave from NCIS after season 13. Ziva, DiNozzo’s love interest, had already left the cast, breaking up a couple fans had come to love. One of the factors in Weatherly’s decision that DiNozzo should leave the series was the loss of the dynamic between Tony and Ziva. Weatherly missed the onscreen chemistry between the two characters and working with de Pablo. Beyond that, Weatherly had grown a bit bored with playing his NCIS role after 13 years and found himself itching to pursue other projects. When discussing the decision (via TV Insider), Weatherly likened the feeling to staying at a party too long.

RELATED: Why Pauley Perrette’s Abby Sciuto Left NCIS After Season 15


Michael Weatherly Left To Star In Bull

When Michael Weatherly opted to leave the series, a plausible reason was written that satisfied a lot of fans. Tony DiNozzo left NCIS when learning that he and Ziva had a daughter together, and he left to help raise her. Michael Weatherly hasn’t been inactive since leaving NCIS, and it’s hard to judge his departure too harshly despite how much NCIS fans adored DiNozzo. To those on the outside looking in, it may seem hard to sympathize with someone growing tired of starring on a hit TV show, such as Mark Harmon did ahead of NCIS season 19.

Yet, Weatherly is far from the first actor to get sick of playing the same character over the course of a long franchise, and he won’t be the last. Weatherly certainly was not kidding about wanting to do something new, though, as he very quickly moved on to play the lead in CBS’ hit legal drama Bull.

Bull came to an end after a six-season run, and for now, it’s unclear what Weatherly’s plans are for his next major gig. Naturally, many NCIS watchers would love for Weatherly to return to the show as Tony DiNozzo, even if only for a guest appearance. If he elects to do so, the door is wide open, as canonically, “Tiva” are still together and living with their daughter in Paris, and Ziva made her NCIS return during season 17. Considering his hectic schedule as the star of Bull, it’s likely Weatherly will take some time to relax for a while before stepping back into the NCIS world.

NCIS Showrunner Steven D. Binder Is Keen For A Tony DiNozzo Return

Now that Bull is over and done with, many NCIS fans are hoping that Michael Weatherly will make a comeback on the show — and showrunner Steven D. Binder certainly wouldn’t mind. While the actor has yet to speak on the subject, showrunner Binder has made comments that he’d be more than happy for DiNozzo to make a return. In an interview with TVLine, Binder made positive remarks about the actor, but surmised that after his run on Bull, he might be taking a well-deserved vacation. When asked whether Michael Weatherly would return to NCIS, Binder had this to say,

“Wouldn’t that be great? When [Michael] left NCIS, he said to me, ‘I am never going to do network television again.’ He had just had some kids, and the hours are so long… but then this Bull thing landed in his lap, and again he was working like a fiend. So I suspect — forgetting Tony DiNozzo for a minute — that Michael Weatherly is on vacation.”

So, while this definitely isn’t a confirmation that Weatherly will return, it is hopeful that NCIS showrunner Seven D. Binder is optimistic about the idea of him coming back. A Tony DiNozzo return would always require both the actor and the studio to be on board. It’s relieving to many fans that, if Binder’s comments are anything to go by, the CBS half of the equation is enthusiastic about the prospect.

RELATED: Why David McCallum’s Ducky Hardly Appears In Later Seasons Of NCIS

Michael Weatherly Had A Controversial Career Pre-NCIS

Long before he played Tony DiNozzo on NCIS, Michael Weatherly started acting professionally on television in 1991. He moved from one-episode sitcom stints to arcs on soap operas and dramas before NCIS made him a household name. His very first TV series role, however, is an uncredited one on a now controversial family sitcom.

Michael Weatherly appeared as the roommate of Theo Huxtable (Malcolm-Jamal Warner) on an episode of The Cosby Show. In the episode “Theo’s Final Final” Theo and his friends were busy preparing for a big party after their final exams. That’s where Weatherly appeared, putting up party supplies and interacting with Theo’s other friends.

At the time, Weatherly’s spot on the show wouldn’t have been controversial, and in fact, his role itself isn’t. The controversy stems from the fact that the family sitcom is always going to be associated with Bill Cosby who has since been accused of sexual assault by dozens of women. Some of his accusers are guest stars in The Cosby Show. The series is forever linked to the allegations against Bill Cosby.

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