In recent years, no television franchise has spread wider than NCIS. The franchise, revolving around the special agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, all started with a backdoor pilot on the military drama JAG back in 2003. The series ran slightly above the radar for the first six years, but come year seven, it was the most-watched scripted drama TV, and was recently declared the most-watched show in the world.
But this season, the series, along with its two spin-offs, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans, are experiencing some major changes. Will these changes be for better or for worse? We'll have to see in September when the shows return to air. In the meantime, here's five major changes coming to your favorite procedurals this fall.
1. Special Agent DiNozzo Bids Farewell
Season 14 of NCIS will go down in history as the first not to feature Michael Weatherly as the self-proclaimed Very Special Agent Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo. The charming, quick-witted fan favorite was written out as Weatherly decided that his character had "stayed at the party too long," and was ready for some life-changes.
Despite the original cast member's exit from the series in that tear-jerking finale, (titled Family First) fans will still be able to get their weekly dose of Weatherly in the upcoming CBS drama Bull, which conveniently airs right after NCIS on Tuesday nights. Naturally, Weatherly's antics will be missed on the NCIS mothership, and his shoes will be hard to fill.
2. Expansions In The Squad Room?
Michael Weatherly's exit seems to have sparked an even bigger change than NCIS fans ever anticipated. It seems that the upcoming season will see a larger NCIS team than viewers are accustomed to, as the "gang-four" setup of field agents has recruited three new agents to fill the void left by DiNozzo. Wilmer Valderramma, Duane Henry, and Jennifer Esposito are slated to appear as series regulars this fall.
Valderramma's character, Nick Torres, is set to be a game-changer, an undercover agent who dove too deep and is set to butt heads with series lead Leroy Jethro Gibbs. (Mark Harmon) Henry was introduced at the end of last season as Clayton Reeves, an MI6 officer who aided the team in the hunt for a rogue British spy. Esposito's character, Alex Quinn has been described as a former agent who became an instructor, but will be drawn back into the field by Gibbs.
We'll see how these new additions compare to our well-developed fan faves and see who makes the cut and gets to stay.
3. New Management On The LA Set
At the end of this last season, Shane Brennan, the man who made NCIS TV's Number One drama and left to manage his own creation, NCIS: Los Angeles, is officially stepping down as the latter series's showrunner. While Brennan will move on to other projects, the best-known of which is a TV adaptation of the Expendables film series, longtime staff writer R. Scott Gemill will be taking on the Executive Producer's duties.
Gemill has already teased a number of upcoming storylines for the vastly anticipated eighth season, including further strides into Callen's mysterious past, a foreseen engagement for Kensi and Deeks, and major life and career changing decisions for the characters we've grown to love in the last eight years.
4. Agent Brody Leaves New Orleans
As the third season premiere reaches fruition, actress Zoe McLellan, who portrayed Special Agent Meredith Brody in the first two seasons of NCIS: New Orleans, has announced that she will not be appearing in Season 3. This marks the first cast departure for the series thus far, as they only expanded their main cast in Season 2.
Official reasons for McLellan's exit have not yet been touched upon, though many speculate the actress had planned on leaving since the divorce and custody battle she experienced around the time of the show's initial debut. Brody's exit was conveniently timed in terms of the series's plot, as the agent was compromised in the Season 2 finale and had been described in early episodes as "running from her past," consistently moving to different field offices around the country.
5. Vanessa Ferlito Hits The Big Easy
As Brody exits stage right, a new character is added to the third season of NCIS: New Orleans in the form of an FBI agent played by Vanessa Ferlito. Ferlito is no stranger to the police procedural, having previously starred on CSI: New York and more recently, Graceland, in which she also played an agent from the Bureau.
Ferlito's character has been described as "sexy, tough and acerbic," as well as a "by-the-book bureaucrat." This new kid in town is expected to put herself at odds with the dedicated, yet fun-loving agents of the New Orleans field office. Rumors have it that her character's arch is a result of certain characters' questionable actions regarding the presence of a mole at the end of last season.