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NCIS stars Michael Weatherly and Pauley Perrette were both known for their quick humor in the long-running action thriller. But their characters being so funny didn’t always stem from the show’s script. Rather, it was just something they both agreed the show needed.

How Pauley Perrette and Michael Weatherly injected humor into ‘NCIS’

Michael Weatherly and Pauley Perrette posing alongside Mark Harmon.
Pauley Perrette, Michael Weatherly, Mark Harmon | John Heller/WireImage

NCIS could be an action heavy program full of stakes and drama. But the series was often able to balance out its darker subject matter with humor. Weatherly and Perrette played a huge part in making sure the show didn’t take itself too seriously. 

“Mark and I can create something — just a look between the characters, or some funny physical thing,” Perrette once told TV Guide (via Live Journal). “My job is to take all these long lines and not only memorize and spit them out, but do it 100 times faster, because she’s a caffeine addict. And make it funny. Michael Weatherly [Tony] and I pinky-shook, when the show was starting, that we’d make every episode as funny as possible. That’s what’s so fun, figuring out how to get the comedy into the drama.”

Why Michael Weatherly felt Pauley Perrette was the most important person on the show

Weatherly held Perrette in high regard, not just for what she brought to the show, but also for what she did behind the scenes. The Bulls star was enamored by Perrette’s passion for charity, and the type of personality she brought to a NCIS set. Despite all the actors Harmon worked with on the show, it was truly unlike working with the veteran.

“She’s just kind of moving through a space and time that the rest of us [do not]. I’m amazed at her energy,” Weatherly once told Assignment X. “Pauley Perrette – I mean, how many conversations does she have a week with kids? Every episode, maybe three or four? To be maybe the most important person on the show, and to be there for that little amount of time, it means that she’s so impactful. I think she has extraordinary presence. She’s vibrant.”

She also highlighted Perrette’s outspoken nature, which was very similar to her character Abby’s.

“She is the next thought she’s having,” he continued. “So there’s no calculated bulls*** with Pauley. Some people would call it crazy. I would say it’s the most engaged a person on our show, without question. I think Pauley is an extraordinary lady. That’s not to say that Mark doesn’t do his charities, and David McCallum is extraordinarily involved with a lot of different military things. But I think Pauley really rises head and shoulders above everyone in the amount of work that she does across the board, whether it’s animal rights or women’s rights or whatever, she’s a real signal to everybody.”

How Michael Weatherly felt about Pauley Perrette leaving the show


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Perrette would decide to part ways with NCIS in season 15. It may have come as a surprise to some fans at the time. But the show’s executive producers knew that Perrette was gearing up to leave the show. They made sure to give her character a proper sendoff to honor the actor’s work.

“We’ve known for some time this would be Pauley’s final season on NCIS and have been working toward a special send-off,” the producers once said according to Yahoo. “From day one, she has brought incredible passion and specificity to the role. Abby is a character that inspires millions of fans around the world, and all of us at NCIS are appreciative of Pauley for portraying her.”

Weatherly was especially saddened by his co-star’s departure. But he hoped that Perrette would return to the series someday. Given her controversies with the show, however, that might be very unlikely.

“I know that Pauley Perrette will be back in some capacity,” Weatherly said in a 2018 interview with People. “I’m just saying. And I think that she’s gonna be — I think everyone misses her already, and she’ll be back and funnier than ever. She’s a fierce lady and one of my favorite people on the planet.”