NCIS pulled out all the stops for its season 18 finale, and fans were left in total shock at the revelation that Agent Ellie Bishop had more than a few secrets that she had been keeping from her teammates.
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The episode saw the character, played by Emily Wickersham, head off on a secretive undercover mission, but it wasn't made clear whether we would see her back at NCIS HQ when the series returns to screens with season 19 in the fall.
But now, taking to Instagram, Emily has confirmed that she is officially bowing out of the series for good after eight years on the CBS drama.
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"Hangin this hat and jacket up. What a great ride it's been, [sic]" she wrote alongside a series of black-and-white photos of herself and her colleagues on set.
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"This cast, this crew, are top notch. I can't say enough kind words about this group that I've had the pleasure of working with for close to eight years now and 172 episodes later."
Emily continued: "This business is finicky and weird and consistency is a rarity. I've been lucky enough to be a part of a show where I got to show up and act and laugh and learn with wonderful people. A moment in time I surely won't forget. Thank you CBS and NCIS for including me in a part of television history. Time goes fast. Eat it up but chew slowly."
It remains unclear why exactly she has chosen to depart the series, but given the fact that the door has been left open for her return in the future, it seems that she's leaving on good terms. It's safe to assume that the 37-year-old actress was just ready to move on from the series and explore other opportunities after spending nearly a decade in the same role.
Emily has confirmed she will not be back for season 19
She was first brought into the cast of the hugely popular procedural back in 2013 in the season 11 episode Gut Check. At the time, she was only set to appear in three episodes but was quickly promoted to a series regular after impressing audiences.
Meanwhile, it seems possible that Katrina Law, who was introduced as REACT agent Jessica Knight in the penultimate episode of season 18, could take up Ellie's place on the team. In a similar way to Emily, the former Hawaii Five-0 star has only been cast in a recurring role but a positive reaction from fans could see her made permanent.
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Elsewhere in the season finale, the team's absentee leader Leroy Jethro Gibbs survived an assassination attempt. After his boat was blown up, viewers saw his seemingly lifeless body float to the top of the water before it was revealed that he was actually fine, and he swam away to safety.
Given that insiders have suggested that Mark Harmon is set to have a reduced involvement in the new season, him spending much of the season in hiding from those who wish him dead could well explain that.
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