After 15 seasons and 350+ episodes, Pauley Perrette has left NCIS at the top of her game. Tuesday’s episode, entitled “Two Steps Back,” was her final appearance as a regular cast member and garnered the show’s highest ratings for the season, 14.79 million viewers.
Her character Abby’s survival from a pierced artery in the previous episode’s cliffhanger was emotional, to say the least, with Gibbs (Mark Harmon) standing over Abby’s comatose body saying, “I know I let you down, Abs. I said that I would always keep you safe.”
Perrette’s last episode may not be her last ever, as Abby recovered and her shooter was brought to justice. Then Abby announced that she was leaving the NCIS to fulfill the wishes of MI-6 officer Clayton Reeves, who died trying to save her.
Feeling a debt to him, Abby said that he wanted to create a charity in honor of his mom but now he couldn’t, so she would do it for him: “It’s something I have to do, and not just for him, but for me.” Fans will have to keep watching to see if she makes a guest appearance in the future.
After Perrette’s departure, NCIS will have only four of the original cast members remaining: Mark Harmon, David McCallum, Sean Murray and Brian Dietzen.
Mark Harmon told Entertainment Tonight that the show would honor her memory and the love the audience has for her character. Perrette’s leaving opens up new opportunities for them to rejuvenate, grow and adjust. “That’s part of life,” said Harmon.
Perrette’s NCIS character Abby Sciuto summed up the parting of ways in her final episode by saying, “You have to go with your gut, and my gut is telling me I have to go.”
The fan favorite goth forensic scientist helped Perrette become the “most-liked female primetime star on TV,” as determined by the Q Scores Company. With a score of 44, she more than doubles the average female star’s Q score (21) on primetime TV. The public’s love for Pauley will just have to live on in reruns.
Perrette shut down rumors last year that she was leaving NCIS because of a dispute with her producers, and denied that she is starting her own skin care line, noting that some scammers have been selling products by using her name.
In 2017, Perrette spoke to Erin Moriarty of 48 Hours for a special on stalking. As a stalking victim herself for over 10 years, she is working to improve stalking laws to better protect victims, pointing out that today’s stalking laws, written before the internet existed, are outdated. “I have a seven-point deal on what needs to be changed immediately and the first point is no Internet mentions,” she said.
In her personal life, Perrette says she enjoys time with her dogs and going to church. She has been divorced once and engaged two other times. When asked about her love life on the CBS Sunday Morning Show, she replied, “Nope. Tried it. Not for me. Not at all.” Realizing that she didn’t need a partner in life was very freeing for her. “I do whatever I want. And I think that is rad!”
Born in Alabama, Pauley Perrette was headed toward a life of crimefighting before she became an actor. She began a master’s degree in criminology at Valdosta State University in Georgia before moving to New York City and attempting to finish her degree at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
She was putting herself through school by bartending when she heard how much money a young actress had made shooting a commercial ($3,000) and realized a career change was in order.
Perrette started in commercials with an ad for Sprint and then played a DJ in the 2000 rock ‘n’ roll movie Almost Famous. Within three years, she’d landed the role of Abby in NCIS with her black bangs and goth look.
Understanding the influence her character Abby has had, Perrette recently announced that she is establishing two scholarships, including one for female students majoring in criminal justice at Valdosta State University.
“If young people via this scholarship actually go and become more little Abbys out there, then she literally does live forever and so does her influence,” Perrette said.
She is also establishing a scholarship for underrepresented students majoring in forensic science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.