Maria Bello is reportedly leaving CBS' long-running drama NCIS after three years on the show as Jacqueline "Jack" Sloane, the team's forensic psychologist. The former ER star joined the series in Season 15 and is slated to appear in eight episodes of the upcoming Season 18 to wrap up Jack's story. Her decision to leave the show comes as she signed with the Gersh Agency for representation, Deadline reported Friday.
Jack first appeared in "Skeleton Crew," the fourth episode of Season 15, and signed a three-year contract. There had been a "will-they, won't-they" relationship between Jack and Mark Harmon's Leroy Jethro Gibbs, but it sounds like their relationship is not taking a romantic twist. Executive producer Frank Cardea previously told TV Insider that Gibbs will have to "work on with himself before he’s ready to work on a relationship."
The story of Jack's personal life involved a tricky relationship with her daughter, Faith Tolliver (Kate Hamilton), who she gave up for adoption. Jack and Faith recently opened up to each other, with Jack revealing that Faith's father sexually assaulted her. Bello has appeared in 65 episodes so far.
Bello is a two-time Golden Globe nominee for her roles in the films A History of Violence and The Cooler. Her other TV credits include Amazon's Billy Bob Thornton series Goliath, Fox's Touch, NBC's Prime Suspect, ER, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
NCIS' 17th season was originally going to end with the show's landmark 400th episode, but production was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. The season ended with only 20 episodes and production was halted just before the filming of episode 21 was set to start. "Episode No. 399 was just two days away from the start of production," Cardea told TVLine in April. "All of the prep work was completed, sets were built, the guest cast was set as were locations. No. 400 was set to shoot next, and we will probably still shoot it as 400 and air as 400."
Cardella said CBS was planning a "big party" for the NCIS team. He teased a "very interesting script" by co-showrunner Steven D. Binder, and said the episode would show how Gibbs met Ducky (David McCallum). The series is the second-longest-running primetime scripted drama on air, behind NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which will start its 22nd season in the fall. NCIS is also the mothership series of its own franchise, with NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans also returning in this season.