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NCIS feuds: fallouts and firings that have seen stars leave show

There have been several dramas behind the scenes of the show NCIS 


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Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
January 31, 2023
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NCIS was first released way back in 2023, and inevitably there has been plenty of behind-the-scenes surrounding one of the US’ most popular series of all time. So what has happened between cast and crew in the show’s 20-year history? Find out here… 

Pauley Perrette and Mark Harmon 

Pauley was said to have left the show due to a fallout with Mark - and has since confirmed that she would never return to the series as she was "afraid" of him. It emerged that back in 2016 Mark's dog - who had often been on the set of the show - bit a member of the crew, who then reportedly required 15 stitches. Pauley asked for the dog not to be allowed on set again, but Mark wasn’t given the request by crew members. 

WATCH: Pauley Perrette reunites with NCIS co-stars

In a series of tweets, Pauley alluded to the situation, writing: "I’ve been supporting anti-bullying programs forever. But now I KNOW because it was ME! If its school or work, that you're required to go to?

"It's horrifying. I left. Multiple Physical Assaults. I REALLY get it now. Stay safe. Nothing is worth your safety. Tell someone."

Mark has yet to speak about the situation. 

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pauley mark lab© Photo: Getty Images

Pauley has opened up about her fallout with Mark

Mark Harmon and Michael Weatherly 

Although they eventually got along, Michael revealed that he and Mark didn’t see eye-to-eye when he joined the series as Tony DiNozzo. He previously told The Futon Critic: "Mark Harmon and I were on different poles. I was Antarctica, he was the North Pole and we were just looking down there going, 'What is up with your polarity? What’s going on? The water goes down the drain the other way for me.’"

michael weatherly mark© Photo: Getty Images

The pair eventually became close 

He continued: "And he was confused by my presence right from the get-go. When CNN Showbiz Today or one of those things asked what was the best part about doing the pilot when we were doing the upfronts, I said, 'I got a rubber gun and I got a fake badge.' And Harmon looked at me like, 'That is your CNN answer?' [Laughs.] And I was like a little kid who had one too many bowls of Count Chocula." 

Cote de Pablo and show bosses

Viewers loved Cote’s character Ziva, but the star quit the show in 2013 over unhappiness at her character's future. She explained: "Unfortunately because of political things and scripts not being good enough, I chose not to [return to NCIS]. Look, I love this character! I worked for eight years crafting Ziva and when I felt like the character wasn't being treated with the respect she deserved.

ncis ziva© Photo: Getty Images

Cote left over unhappiness at her storyline

"They were going to send [Ziva] back to Israel and make her an unfortunate, miserable woman. I didn't think it was fair. I told them until someone can write something really fantastic for Ziva I won't come back."

David McCallum and Cote de Pablo

Following Cote’s exit, David McCallum spoke publicly about Cote’s decision to quit the series - and he wasn’t best pleased about it. He told Digital Spy: "It was frustration and anger that someone should just walk out on us. I just don't understand how a leading lady in a show that's worldwide, who ostensibly wants to have a career as an actress, suddenly walks away from such a gem and just vanishes a couple of days before we start production."

cote de pablo david© Photo: Getty Images

David openly criticised Cote's decision

Pauley Perrette and Cote de Pablo

Fans thought Pauley may have hinted at a fallout with Cote after the star left the show. While taking part in the 2013 Summer TCA press tour, Pauley wished Cote well, telling E! News: "We love her. She's our friend. She had a personal decision to make. No one wanted her to leave. There was no drama." However, fans pointed out that Pauley wore a T-shirt that read: "I [heart] my job" on the press tour, and speculated that it was 'shading' Cote’s decision to quit. 

pauley parrette love my job© Photo: Getty Images

Fans thought Pauley made a statement with her T-shirt following Cote's exit

Mark Harmon and Donald P. Bellisario

The creator of NCIS reportedly left working on the show due to ongoing tensions with Mark, which were centred around the work conditions and long filming days. Speaking about their feud Donald once explained: "I asked Mark to reshoot a scene. He redid it exactly the same way he did it the first time and never spoke to me again. I do wish it hadn’t ended the way it did." 

MORE: Where are the stars who left NCIS now?

MORE: 5 shows to watch if you can't get enough of NCIS

David McCallum previously opened up about the situation, telling Digital Spy: "After a couple of years, we got to the point where we were getting scripts late from [Bellisario]. There was a little problem between Mark Harmon — who was representing the cast and crew — and Don, so CBS decided that Don would leave us." 

mark donald© Photo: Getty Images

Donald quit the show following tensions with Mark

Mark also once alluded to the situation, saying: "If we’re working 14-hour days now instead of the 17- or 18-hour days that we were doing, it doesn’t mean we’re working any less hard. We’re just more organized… This has become a very well-oiled machine. I don’t wish to go head-to-head with Bellisario in the press… He knows why he left." 

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