7 NCIS Characters Missing From The 1000th Episode We Still Hope Return One Day

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There are some characters who didn’t appear in the NCIS 1000th episode who will hopefully return to the franchise someday. Now airing NCIS season 21, the mothership NCIS recently celebrated the franchise’s 1000th episode between the original series and its spinoffs. Although the episode referenced original NCIS characters like former NCIS Special Agent Caitlin Todd (Sasha Alexander) and former NCIS Director Thomas Morrow (Alan Dale), and featured former FBI agent Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano), the episode left out some noteworthy characters, a few of whom will definitely be making a comeback.

When fan-favorite characters depart from the NCIS universe, it’s hard to see them go. The franchise has a way of bringing its best characters back, however, with guest appearances and by incorporating them into other shows. For that reason, there are some characters that, although they didn’t appear in the NCIS 1000th Episode, there is still hope for their return. With some major NCIS spinoffs in the works, some characters’ futures in the NCIS universe are set. Still, the fate of some of the franchise’s most elusive characters remain a mystery yet.

7. Pauley Perrette’s Abby Sciuto

Abby looking at her computer monitor while two detectives watch from behind in NCIS

Pauley Perrette’s Abby Sciuto did not return for the NCIS 1000th episode, and her character received no screen time in archival footage. This snub could be interpreted as a major disrespect to Gibbs’ inaugural team, since Abby’s lab work helped crack the original NCIS pilot case on which the 1000th episode was based. Since Abby was involved in the original case referenced in NCIS’ 1000th episode, she could have returned to help the team, although her character’s return warrants a bigger, more incorporated storyline.

Although Sciuto didn’t appear in the 1000th episode, CBS addressed Pauley Perrette’s potential return in a recent interview, saying Perrette is always welcome in the NCIS franchise. Since Abby is one of the characters of the original NCIS team iteration, the possibility of her return is highly anticipated, especially since her other core MCRT members Tony DiNozzo, Ziva David, and Leroy Jethro Gibbs will all be appearing in upcoming spinoffs. However, it’s worth noting that since Perrette left NCIS after season 15, she has made it clear she has no plans to return.

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6. Cote de Pablo’s Ziva David

Gibbs, Ziva, and Tony stand in a line in black NCIS gear

NCIS anticipates Ziva David’s return to the original NCIS franchise now that a Tony & Ziva spinoff is in the works, but it didn’t happen in the franchise’s 1000th episode. Although Ziva didn’t return in the 1000th episode, viewers haven’t forgotten that Michael Weatherly teased Ziva’s NCIS return, which could still be slated for season 21. The NCIS franchise is known for doing backdoor pilots, and so Ziva could return to the flagship NCIS for the finale, or the episodes leading up to it, to launch de Pablo and Weatherly’s new Paramount+ show.

With exciting things to expect from Tony & Ziva’s spinoff, viewers don’t have to hope for the return of Ziva David, because her return to the NCIS universe is certain. Although de Pablo hasn’t been featured in NCIS since season 17, she remains one of the MCRT’s most beloved core members and her return to the series is highly anticipated. What’s certain about Ziva’s return to NCIS is that the spinoff, tentatively titled NCIS: Europe, will feature Ziva and Tony on the run from an unknown threat in Europe with their daughter Tali David-DiNozzo.

5. Emily Wickersham’s Eleanor Bishop

Eleanor Bishop and Leroy Gibbs in NCIS office

Emily Wickersham’s Eleanor “Ellie” Bishop is a former NSA analyst and NCIS Special Agent. Wickersham’s Ellie Bishop was on the show for nearly a decade, from NCIS season 11 to season 18, before departing in 2021. With Eleanor Bishop’s exit still fresh in viewers’ minds, her character could easily be woven back into the storyline. Eleanor was featured in archival footage in the NCIS 1000th Episode, and a larger comeback for her character is possible. As with any main character who left NCIS, it would be great to see Bishop return.

Wickersham never cited a reason for leaving NCIS, but the departure seemed good-natured and that would make her comeback relatively uncomplicated. Her character left for unspecified reasons in season 18, but it was announced later that she was pregnant. Likewise, Emily Wickersham welcomed a son with her partner shortly after she left the show, leaving both her and her character with more time to dedicate to their families. Once Bishop gets her feet as a new mom, maybe she could return to the show. Then again, it would be refreshing to see an NCIS agent prioritize family.

4. Michael Weatherly’s Anthony “Tony” DiNozzo

Tony and Ziva stand alert in front of a bar in NCIS

Although Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo appeared in archival footage, he did not return for the NCIS 1000th Episode. However, the former MCRT Senior Field Agent did make an appearance earlier this season for the first time since DiNozzo’s departure after NCIS season 13. Michael Weatherly recently appeared in season 21, episode 2, “The Stories We Leave Behind,” which paid tribute to Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard and saw the return of DiNozzo to comfort his grieving friend Dr. Jimmy Palmer, played by Brian Dietzen, who was one of Ducky’s closest friends.

Anthony DiNozzo’s appearance in the Ducky tribute episode did more than just see the return of a beloved core MCRT character, it set up the Tony & Ziva spinoff that will see Weatherly reprise the role of Tony in the near future. As with the return of DiNozzo’s wife and former teammate, Ziva David, viewers no longer need hope for the return of Tony DiNozzo. The character’s return is now evident in the NCIS universe. Although Michael Weatherly will return to his original role, Tony will face changes in the NCIS universe, offering viewers a new side to his well-known character.

3. Maria Bello’s Jacqueline Sloane

Jacqueline Sloane and Leroy Gibbs in NCIS lab

Maria Bello’s Jacqueline Sloane was a charismatic character who had a good relationship with her team, and the actor’s uncomplicated departure from the series leaves a clear path for her return. After her departure from the show, the character resigned from her position as NCIS’ Forensic Psychologist and moved to Afghanistan to continue the work started by her close friend. Jack Sloane was featured in NCIS seasons 15, 16, 17, and 18, giving viewers a familiarity with her character. Jacqueline was featured in archival footage in the 1000th episode, but her return would be even better.

A path back into the franchise for Bello’s Sloane could be reaching a conclusion or resolution with her work in Afghanistan and returning to Washington, or seeking the team’s help in some way. Sloane’s character provided profiles on the criminals they were following, filling a fascinating role and adding a layer of depth to the show that saw elements of psychology brought into the mix of intel. The reason Bello left NCIS was simple: her contract expired, and she opted not to renew it. A guest appearance could be a way to get Bello back into the show.

2. David McCallum’s Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard

Ducky and Dr. Jimmy in NCIS

Although a tribute was paid to Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard in NCIS season 21, episode 2, the character was absent from archival footage featured in the 1000th episode. Like with Perrette’s Sciuto, excluding this major character from the 1000th episode could be interpreted as a snub, because Ducky’s autopsy helped Gibbs solve the inaugural NCIS case that is referenced in the 1000th episode. Although the character does not appear in the episode, it does not reflect his importance to the NCIS universe.

Viewers would love to see the return of Dr. Mallard, but the actor who played Dr. Mallard, David McCallum, passed away at 90. Ducky appeared in the pilot episode of NCIS as an original member of MCRT, and he was the only original character remaining on the show. Although McCallum had scaled back his role in the series, with Ducky transitioning from medical examiner to historian, the character had appeared on the show for 20 consecutive seasons. If only in spirit, Ducky will continue to return to the NCIS universe in the stories he left behind.

1. Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs

Mark Harmon as Gibbs reaching into his jacket pocket with police tape behind him in NCIS

There is no return more anticipated in the NCIS universe than that of Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs. The former main character’s return is the most anticipated of the series for good reason, since the franchise launched with Harmon’s original MCRT and saw Gibbs as the face of the show for nearly two decades. Although it was natural for viewers to hope for the return of Gibbs after Mark Harmon’s NCIS exit, the former NCIS Special Agent in Charge did not appear in the franchise’s 1000th episode. Harmon has not returned to the mothership since his departure.

Fortunately, Mark Harmon’s future NCIS return is evident. Harmon did not reprise his role as the iconic Leroy Jethro Gibbs on the flagship NCIS, but he will return to contribute to a new NCIS spinoff series that will expand on the character’s past. While not returning as Gibbs on the screen, which makes sense since the series will explore his younger days, Harmon will return to executive produce and narrate the series. Although nothing would compare to seeing Gibbs in action again, it will be evocative of the original series to hear Harmon voice the story of Gibbs.

Although the NCIS franchise’s main characters have reasons for leaving, the expansive nature of the franchise leaves room for their return. For some characters, like de Pablo’s Ziva, Weatherly’s DiNozzo, and Harmon’s Gibbs, the return of fan-favorite characters is inevitable. The NCIS 1000th Episode missed an opportunity to include some of its most valuable characters, but their eventual return is an exciting possibility.

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