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Why Pauley Perrette Was Never The Same After NCIS

One of the longest running multi-show television franchises has been making significant waves of late. A trifecta of events has occurred in the last month regarding CBS' NCIS series. A fan-favorite character was killed off in the March 10 NCIS episode, and the network announced Wednesday that actress Katrina Law (Arrow, Hawaii Five-0) is joining the cast in a recurring role. A few weeks ago, as reported by Deadline, CBS announced the cancellation of a second franchise spinoff NCIS: New Orleans (the current seventh season will be its last), but also announced it's developing another spinoff, NCIS: Hawaii.

Shake-ups and ups-and-downs are bound to happen with something that's around long enough — the original NCIS premiered nearly two decades ago, in 2003. The first spin-off, NCIS: Los Angeles, is also more than a decade old (it premiered in 2009), and NCIS: New Orleans has existed for the better part of the last ten years, having premiered in 2014. What's also not surprising to see with longtime franchises is drama between cast members behind the scenes, and in that department NCIS' cup runneth over.

Even as the NCIS franchise charges ahead with building upon its legacy, the show is marred by one prominent example of such behind-the-scenes drama: star Pauley Perrette's 2018 exit from NCIS. After playing quirky lab technician Abby Sciuto for 15 seasons (from the show's start), Perrette gave her last performance in the role in the season 15 finale episode "Date with Destiny." After the episode aired, Perrette posted several vague tweets hinting that the reason she left was not so pleasant — implying she'd experienced "multiple physical assaults."

About a year later, Perrette became more vocal about her beef with the show, posting more things on social media. Here's why Pauley Perrette left NCIS, and why she was never the same after her experience on the show.

Pauley Perrette left NCIS because of star Mark Harmon

On June 7, 2019, Perrette tweeted she would never return to NCIS because she was "terrified" of NCIS' leading man Mark Harmon attacking her. "I have nightmares about it," wrote Perrette. According to Decider, she added but then deleted a tweet, saying, "THIS happened To my crew member and I fought like hell to keep it from happening again! To protect my crew! And then I was physically assaulted for saying NO!?and I lost my job."

This was considered a reference to a reported 2016 issue. Per The Wrap, allegedly Mark Harmon brought his dog to the set, and it bit a crew member. Supposedly, Harmon continued bringing the dog around, and Perrette spoke up about it, thus, souring her relationship with Harmon. Some reports say she was planning on leaving before the incident, but along with the dog incident references, Perrette claimed in posts she was being silenced, lied about, bullied, and assaulted.

It appeared none of her messages were directed at CBS, though. After CBS released a statement in which they praised Perrette and asserted a commitment to a safe work environment, Perrette praised the network. That enhances the idea that Perrette's problem was with a specific person. She and Harmon didn't appear in scenes together toward the end of her tenure, despite their characters having a close father-daughter-like relationship.

Moving on from NCIS helped Pauley Perrette 'heal'

It's unclear how or whether what happened on NCIS still affects Perrette, as she hasn't mentioned the issue(s) since 2019 — even declining to discuss the topic in a recent interview — but it certainly took its toll on the actress initially. One way it didn't change her: It didn't ruin her love for acting. She returned to television last year — for CBS, no less — starring in the comedy, Broke. Perrette played Jackie, a single mother who unexpectedly takes in the wayward trio of her estranged sister, her sister's husband, and his assistant. The show was canceled, but Perrette seemed to take the news in stride, saying Broke "healed" her. 

While it's sad to think that an old beef with Mark Harmon will likely prevent Perrette from ever returning to NCIS, if leaving an unhealthy work environment and finding a more positive experience on another show has helped Perrette heal and restore her passion for acting, then that's what's important. Fans may be disappointed by the unlikelihood of an Abby Sciuto reunion — though never say never in Hollywood — but at least they have plenty of other places they can see Perrette perform. Her character Jackie appears in all 13 episodes of Broke, which viewers can stream for $1.99 per episode in all the usual locations. 

Although she doesn't have any known projects currently in development or production, we'll be keeping an eye out for whatever Pauley Perrette does next.