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NCIS fans react as beloved character heartbroken by Covid-19 death

Warning! Spoilers ahead for NCIS season 18

ncis covid death
Eve Crosbie
TV & Film Writer
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Season 18 of NCIS continued on Tuesday night following a two-week break – and it proved to be an emotional watch for viewers at home.

MORE: The original storyline for NCIS' Jimmy Palmer might surprise you

In the episode, the show tackled the devastating effects of the ongoing global health crisis for the first time as it was revealed that medic Jimmy Palmer's wife, Breena, had died after contracting COVID-19.

Instead of focusing on Breena's battle with the deadly virus the episode instead skipped ahead a few months to show how Jimmy (Brian Dietzen) was coping as a single dad, following the loss.

WATCH: NCIS star Mark Harmon opens up about his favourite memories on set

The episode, understandably, came as a shock to NCIS fans who quickly took to social media to comment on the surprising storyline. One fan tweeted: "Hands down, tonight's episode of @NCIS_CBS had to be the most emotional one of the last couple of seasons. Jimmy is such a great and loveable guy. How could the writers go and turn his life upside down like that? @BrianDietzen gave the performance of a lifetime. #NCIS."

Another wrote: "Just finished watching NCIS last episode. Feeling heartbroken about Jimmy and Breena. They were such a sweet couple."

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However, while most viewers were left heartbroken for Jimmy, others expressed their confusion over the off-screen death. "I'm sorry, did I miss something?? When did Jimmy's wife Breena die?! WHY AM I SO CONFUSED?!" someone else wrote, while another questioned: "Did I miss an episode where Breena passes away? Or is #NCIS gonna cover that?"

Brian Dietzen Michelle Pierce NCIS

Jimmy's wife died off-screen after in a pandemic-inspired storyline

Actress Michelle Pierce hasn’t reprised her recurring role as Jimmy’s wife since 2015. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight about the emotional storyline, Brian revealed that the writing team behind the show were keen to incorporate the sad reality of the pandemic into the series without losing a core NCIS team member.

"The producers let me know that [they wanted] the advent of COVID to hit our team," he said.

"And yet, we don't want to lose a team member. So the prospect of having Jimmy lose his wife, the most optimistic team member lose someone, came to the table and they thought it would be a great storytelling mechanic -- albeit very, very sad. So they went ahead with it. I was notified ahead of time and prepared for it, I suppose, emotionally."

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