Season 20 of CBS’ NCIS might check in on a fan-favorite character who hasn’t been heard from since their abrupt send-off.
The antepenultimate episode of Season 15, which aired back in May 2018, set the stage for original cast member Pauley Perrette’s exit by way of a seemingly random street mugging in which the assailant put multiple bullets into MI6 agent Clayton Reeves and critically wounded NCIS Chief Forensic Scientist Abby Sciuto in the process. Reeves’ injuries were immediately fatal, while Perrette’s hospitalized character clung to life.
At the end of that episode, Abby — having learned that Reeves’ died a hero in the course of protecting her — committed herself to following in his footsteps by shepherding a charity for homeless women. She then accompanied Reeves’ body back to his London home before embarking on this new chapter in her life, after sharing heartfelt good-byes with everyone on the team, including a semi-conspicuous ASL farewell to “Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs!”
Viewers have heard nothing about Abby in the years since, though that may be remedied in Season 20, which kicks off Monday, Sept, 19 at 9/8c.
During a Fall Preview Q&A with TVLine, showrunner Steven D. Binder spoke of how after Mark Harmon’s exit last October, TV’s most watched drama has on occasion evoked Gibbs — a la “the Leroy Jethro Gibbs College Scholarship Fund,” or when offshoot NCIS: Hawaii deftly revealed his role in steering Jane Tennant’s career.
“We are always thinking about ways to involve [Gibbs] in a way that doesn’t ‘rip off the scab’ and doesn’t ruin what I thought was the only fitting send-off for this guy,” Binder said, alluding to “Boss” settling down in Alaska.
“I want to start doing that with Abby’s character as well. I’d like to start feeling her [presence] a little more,” the showrunner shared. “I thought we were a little remiss in not [doing that sooner], but there are so many moving parts…. But she is still out there fighting the good fight and watching us, and she is a part of us and we’re a part of her.”
Binder did not specify if any such plan would involve an on-camera encore from former cast member Perrette.
In June 2019, a year after her NCIS exit, Perrette tweeted, “NO I AM NOT COMING BACK! EVER!,” before alluding to an October 2016 incident where Harmon’s dog allegedly bit a crew member. In August 2019, CBS entertainment chief Kelly Kahl told TVLine that Perrette “did come to us a couple years ago with a workplace concern. We immediately investigated it and we resolved it to everyone’s satisfaction.”
In March 2019, Perrette had been cast in the CBS sitcom Broke, which would premiere a year later and last only one season. “We are very happy to have her on the air again with us,” Kahl told TVLine, “and I don’t think she would be back with us if she had huge concerns.”