Why Did Eleanor Bishop Leave NCIS? Emily Wickersham’s Exit Came as a Huge Shock

We can’t believe it’s been two seasons since we last saw Eleanor “Ellie” Bishop on NCIS. After Emily Wickersham’s surprise exit at the end of season 18, we all want to know: Why did Eleanor Bishop leave NCIS after seven successful seasons? Read on to find out.
NCIS is CBS’s long-running c****e drama that follows the special agents at the Naval Cr****l Investigative Service in Washington, D.C., who investigate cr***s connected to Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Following the success of NCIS, CBS picked up three spin-off series: NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans and NCIS: Hawaiʻi in 2009, 2014 and 2021, respectively. The show is currently in its 20th season and was recently renewed by CBS for season 21, according to our sister site Deadline.

Wickersham has played NCIS Special Agent Eleanor “Ellie” Bishop since season 11, episode 9, which aired in 2013. Bishop first served as a NCIS liaison officer and NCIS Probationary Agent before becoming a senior field agent and special agent in charge of the Major Case Response Team.

In an interview with The Chic Spy in June 2015, Wickersham explained how she first landed the role of Ellie Bishop. “My manager and agents set me up for an audition for the role of Bishop. I auditioned, was called back and then actually acted out some of the scenes with [Mark Harmon] and other cast members,” she told the website. “I remember getting the call that I got the part; it was pretty incredible. Then it was a matter of keeping the job.” As for what Wickersham thinks about her character on NCIS, she adds: “I admire her a lot. She’s a very hard working, driven person, who thrives on figuring things out and putting her all into everything that she sets out to do.”

So, why did Eleanor Bishop leave NCIS? Here’s why the actress departed the popular crime drama and how her character was written off the show.
Why did Eleanor Bishop leave NCIS?

Why did Eleanor Bishop leave NCIS? Wickersham didn’t give an official reason for leaving the NCIS at the time of her departure. The actress decided to step away on her own rather than at the hands of the writers or producers. Wickersham announced her exit in an Instagram post in May 2021. “I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a show where I got to show up and act and laugh and learn with wonderful people,” the actress said. “A moment in time I surely won’t forget. Thank you CBS and NCIS for including me in a part of television history.” CBS’s official network Instagram left Wickersham a heartfelt comment to her post: “Thanks for making history with us…Our one and only Ellie Bishop.”

Read Wickersham’s full Instagram statement, below:

“Hangin this hat and jacket up. What a great ride it’s been. This cast, this crew, are top notch. I can’t say enough kind words about this group that I’ve had the pleasure of working with for close to 8 years now and 172 episodes later. This business is finicky and weird and consistency is a rarity. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a show where I got to show up and act and laugh and learn with wonderful people. A moment in time I surely won’t forget. Thank you CBS and NCIS for including me in a part of television history. Time goes fast. Eat it up but chew slowly. #ncis #cbs.”

Two months after Wickersham’s exit, she revealed on Instagram that she was pregnant with her firstborn. Wickersham’s pregnancy could have also contributed to her decision to leave the show at the conclusion of season 18.

How was Eleanor Bishop written off NCIS?

How was Eleanor Bishop written off NCIS? In the season 18 finale, “Rule 91,” we discover that Bishop leaked a confidential NSA file a while ago. Then, it’s revealed that ex-CIA instructor Odette Malone (Elayn J. Taylor), who is training Ellie, had intentionally planted the file so that Bishop could go on an undercover mission alongside Odette. Bishop was subsequently fired from NCIS, but the vague storyline left room for Ellie to return one day. CBS or Wickersham have not said anything about a potential return by Ellie, but you can never say never in television (we’ve seen plenty of stars reprise their roles across primetime).

Wickersham is not the only series regular to exit NCIS over the years. Mark Harmon, who played Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, left NCIS after 19 seasons in August 2022. Maria Bello, who portrayed Forensic Psychologist Jack Sloane, also exited in season 18 alongside Wickersham.

NCIS airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. on CBS.

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