Dedicated viewers of long-running hit CBS procedural NCIS were saddened by season 13’s departure of Michael Weatherly, who played Tony DiNozzo since the beginning. Weatherly’s DiNozzo worked as one of the top-ranking agents under boss Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) on the Major Case Response Team and proved to be an integral part of NCIS‘ success. DiNozzo wasn’t always a character that was easy to like, but he was quite good at his job and developed as a person over the course of NCIS‘ long run. DiNozzo grew especially close to fellow agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), with the two crossing the line from professional to personal partners. Sadly for fans though, Weatherly’s tenure on NCIS came to a swift stop in 2015 with the 13th season.
As major a character as Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo was on NCIS, any long-running show is likely to experience some cast upheaval over time. By the time Weatherly took his leave from NCIS after season 13. Ziva, DiNozzo’s love interest, had already left the cast, breaking up a couple fans had come to love. Losing the dynamic between Tony and Ziva was a big reason Weatherly opted to exit, as he missed the onscreen chemistry between the two characters and working with de Pablo. Beyond that, Weatherly had grown a bit bored with playing his NCIS role after 13 years and found himself itching to pursue other projects. When discussing the decision (via TV Insider), Weatherly likened the feeling to staying at a party too long. Here’s the full story of why Michael Weatherly left NCIS, what he did next, and whether Tony DiNozzo could return.
Michael Weatherly Left To Star In Bull
Michael Weatherly hasn’t been inactive since leaving NCIS, and it’s hard to judge his departure too harshly despite how much NCIS fans adored DiNozzo. To those on the outside looking in, it may seem hard to sympathize with someone growing tired of starring on a hit TV show, such as Mark Harmon did ahead of NCIS season 19. Yet, Weatherly is far from the first actor to get sick of playing the same character over the course of a long franchise, and he won’t be the last. Weatherly certainly was not kidding about wanting to do something new, though, as he very quickly moved on to play the lead in CBS’ hit legal drama Bull.
Bull only recently came to an end after a six-season run, and for now, it’s unclear what Weatherly’s plans are for his next major gig. Naturally, many NCIS watchers would love for Weatherly to return to the show as Tony DiNozzo, even if only for a guest appearance. If he elects to do so, the door is wide open, as canonically, “Tiva” are still together and living with their daughter in Paris, and Ziva made her NCIS return during season 17. Considering his hectic schedule as the star of Bull, it’s likely Weatherly will take some time to relax for a while before stepping back into the NCIS world.
NCIS Showrunner Steven D. Binder Is Keen For A Tony DiNozzo Return
Now that Bull is over and done with, many NCIS fans are hoping that Weatherly will make a comeback on the show in his titular role — and showrunner Steven D. Binder certainly wouldn’t mind. The 20th season of NCIS is up and coming, and audiences are eagerly awaiting a response from Weatherly about a possible return as Tony DiNozzo. While the actor has yet to speak on the subject, showrunner Binder has made comments that he’d be more than happy for DiNozzo to make a return. In an interview with TVLine, Binder made positive remarks about the actor, but surmised that after his run on Bull, he might be taking a well-deserved vacation. When asked whether Weatherly would return, Binder had this to say,
“Wouldn’t that be great? When [Michael] left NCIS, he said to me, ‘I am never going to do network television again.’ He had just had some kids, and the hours are so long… but then this Bull thing landed in his lap, and again he was working like a fiend. So I suspect — forgetting Tony DiNozzo for a minute — that Michael Weatherly is on vacation.”
So, while this definitely isn’t a confirmation that Weatherly will return, it is hopeful that NCIS showrunner Seven D. Binder is optimistic about the idea of him coming back. A Tony DiNozzo return would always require both the actor and the studio to be on board. It’s relieving to many fans that, if Binder’s comments are anything to go by, the CBS half of the equation is enthusiastic about the prospect.