Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Fans Are Noticing This Trend In NCIS, And They Are Not Happy About It

Though it now has the better part of 18 seasons under its belt, NCIS is still causing controversy amongst fans. This time, people on Reddit are complaining about a trend they've been seeing more often on the show recently: the gratuitous death of its female characters.

It's happened several times in the recent past. In season 18, episode 9, "Winter Chill," recurring character Emily Fornell (Juliette Angelo) was killed off, in an event that one Twitter user called "unexpected and uncalled for." The episode finds Gibbs' (Mark Harmon) friend Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano) deciding to move to Costa Rica now that his daughter Emily (Juliette Angelo) is safe from the drugs she had overdosed on. However, at the end of the episode, Emily relapses and overdoses again. Her father rushes her to the ER, but she doesn't make it. 

This followed a revelation in the seventh episode of episode 18, "The First Day," in which audiences learn that Dr. Jimmy Palmer's (Brian Dietzen) wife Breena (Michelle Pierce) had died off-screen. While the series doesn't reveal the cause directly, the implication is that she'd succumbed to COVID-19.

NCIS is no stranger to death when it comes to its regular characters, starting with the devastating death of Sasha Alexander's character Kate Todd in the final episodes of season 2, considered by many to be one of the most intense deaths in the series' history. However, fans have noted the high number of casualties in season 18 in particular — and another difference between this and previous deaths. As TV Insider puts it, "For the most part, in the past, the agents had someone they could go after to bring to justice. This season, that's not the case." The things that have taken these female characters away cannot be soothed through revenge or action. And not only is the season not over yet, this all came as Jack Sloane (Mario Bello) also exited the show — a circumstance that fans have known about for some time, but which finally happened in season 18' 18th episode, "True Believer."

Differing opinions on NCIS' many character deaths

In a recent post titled "Seriously?", Reddit user u/youngclarky asked, "Is anyone else getting bored of NCIS doing the same thing, killing off women?" Some fans agreed, saying that the show is past its prime. "Doing this just a few episodes after killing of Palmer's wife offscreen, plus Sloan leaving, makes the whole thing just seem stupid, like the entire show is collapsing," one wrote.

Later, the original poster clarified their opinion in response to a snarky comment, saying, "There [are] still men that [are] killed off, it's just that most of the women's deaths were unnecessary."

On the flip side, others pointed out while the deaths in NCIS might have seemed unnecessary, that didn't mean that actors didn't have good reason to leave, or that writers didn't have good reason to kill them off. For example, Breena's death was designed to jerk the team into the reality of the pandemic without the loss of a major character. As Dr. Jimmy Palmer actor Brian Dietzen told Entertainment Tonight, "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."

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case with Juliette Angelo, who had been starring on NCIS since she was 13, although her character's death does also seem a result of storyline considerations. Angelo said in an Instagram Story that she found out about her character's death at the same time as fans — via text. "Lots of emotions about this. Just wanted to pop by in the midst of my social media break and say thanks for all the love these past years," she posted (via The Daily Express).

Still, NCIS is well-known for not allowing happy, stable relationships of any kind to flourish. In a 2016 interview with CBS (via Showbiz Cheatsheet), Abby Sciuto actress Pauley Perrette said, "[There are] relationship problems with the characters of NCIS. No one can ever get it right." So, as long as the show is on the air, fans can probably expect more tear-jerking moments involving all kinds of characters.