Why Did Sasha Alexander Leave NCIS?

Sasha Alexander played Special Agent Caitlin Todd on NCIS, but it was her decision to leave the show after Season 2. Here’s why she wanted out.

As of Season 20 of NCIS, only one character — Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard (David McCallum) — remains from the procedural’s original cast. However, McCallum has had a minimal role since Season 19, and another original cast member, Mark Harmon, left the show that season. Harmon’s exit wasn’t the first to shake up the series, though; Sasha Alexander departed NCIS after only 49 episodes as Special Agent Caitlin “Kate” Todd.
As one of the longest-running television shows of all time, it makes sense that NCIS has seen its share of cast turnover. However, the trend started early, because Alexander was the first original cast member to exit the show after just two seasons. Here’s who she played and why Kate left NCIS.
Who Was Caitlin ‘Kate’ Todd on NCIS?

Played by Sasha Alexander, Caitlin “Kate” Todd was introduced during NCIS’ first episode “Yankee White,” when she was still a member of the President’s Secret Service detail. During the episode, the Naval officer tasked with carrying the “nuclear football” mysteriously d***d while aboard Air Force One. Although some people thought the death was from natural causes, Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Tony DiNozzo found otherwise. They enlisted the help of Caitlin Todd and uncovered a plot to assassinate the President.

Gibbs liked what he saw from Kate and offered her a job before the episode was over. It wasn’t long after that Kate quit her job after disobeying fraternization rules and joined NCIS. She became the junior member of Gibbs’ team and a popular part of the series. Kate’s more conservative attitude contrasted with Tony’s often-forthcoming personality, which made for nice comedic effect. However, they easily found common ground when picking on the new “probie,” Timothy McGee. When Kate was k***d by Ari Haswari in the finale of Season 2, it hit everyone hard because they had become quite close with her.
Why Did Sasha Alexander Leave NCIS?

Kate was not ki***d off because the NCIS writers wanted her gone, nor was it because fans disliked her. It was Sasha Alexander’s decision to leave the show on her own terms, because of the grueling commitment that NCIS demanded. In a 2012 interview with TV Guide, Alexander explained her reasoning. “People don’t realize that on a network show, you make 24 episodes a year — that’s 10 and a half months a year, 17 hours a day. It’s hardcore,” she shared.

That would be difficult for anyone, and even Mark Harmon spoke about the taxing schedule the show has to keep. In a 2017 interview with The Talk, Harmon said that the “first day [of filming] was 21 hours.” The schedule has been slimmed down since then, but it’s still difficult — explaining why Harmon also eventually left the series and Gibbs was replaced by Gary Cole’s Alden Parker.

Sasha Alexander simply got off the train before Harmon did, and she doesn’t regret her decision to leave the show. In the same TV Guide interview, she said, “I really firmly believe in my heart that I would not be where I am today — happily married, with two kids, doing things creatively that I want — if I had stayed.” So while it was difficult to see Kate killed off in such a dramatic way, it seems like Alexander made the best decision for herself.

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