Michael Weatherly departs ultra-successful CBS show 'NCIS'

Weatherly's final episode of the CBS drama aired Tuesday evening. 'NCIS' has become one of TV's most successful ratings performers.

Katy Winn/Invision/AP
Michael Weatherly arrives at the CBS Television Studios Summer Soiree at The London Hotel in Los Angeles in 2014.

"NCIS" actor Michael Weatherly departed the long-running, high-rated CBS show after a final appearance on Tuesday, leaving the program he has starred in since its debut in 2003.  

(Spoilers for the newest episode of "NCIS" follow…) 

In the newest installment of the CBS program, Weatherly's character Special Agent Tony DiNozzo, one of a group of people working for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, was told that love interest Ziva (played by Coté de Pablo) had died. Tony then meets his and Ziva's daughter for the first time. 

Tony later tells his boss, Leroy Gibbs (Mark Harmon), "I'm everything to that little girl now… I'm done now."

Weatherly's final episode was also the season finale for the thirteenth season of the CBS drama. 

"NCIS" has become one of broadcast TV's highest-rated shows, with the program ranking at number three on the list of broadcast TV's highest-rated shows for total viewers for the 2014-2015 TV season. (Spin-off "NCIS: New Orleans" was close behind it at number four.) 

The program is much more popular with older viewers, however. When TV programs are ranked according to viewers 18-49, a demographic which advertisers often look at, the show doesn't come in on the list until number 25. 

"One perpetually overlooked show topped [programs such as 'The Voice,' 'Scandal,' and 'American Idol'] last week with an audience of more than 17 million," Jason Lynch of The Atlantic noted that at the beginning of 2014: "NCIS."

Yet showrunner and executive producer Gary Glasberg feels that these other programs attract more media coverage than "NCIS." "As much as I would love for our cast and crew to get some attention, at the end of the day it just doesn't seem to be in the cards," Mr. Glasberg told The Atlantic. 

Meanwhile, Neil Genzlinger of the New York Times noted that the ratings for "NCIS" are "a number that many of the most-talked-about shows can only fantasize about, an anomaly in a landscape that is increasingly fractured and full of shows aimed at one relatively narrow demographic or another… Consistency and engaging characters have kept it there."

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