It’s not your average cop procedural show — NCIS is known by its fans for spending almost as much time developing their main characters as they do in solving the crime of the week. Perhaps that’s why it hurts so much when they kill one off. And let’s face it — they’ve killed off a lot of people.
That’s not all that surprising considering the CBS show has been on the air for 16 seasons. But not all deaths are equal and while some have hurt less (that horrible Ari deserved to die for killing Kate — right?!), here are the top five character deaths on NCIS that just gutted us!
5. Special Agent Paula Cassidy (Jessica Steen)
Agent Cassidy enjoyed fun and flirty banter with very special agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly). She could really make him think, and we appreciated her for that. When her team was blown up by a suicide bomber, our hearts hurt for her but when she sacrificed herself to save everyone, we cried for what could have been.
4. Clayton Reeves (Duane Henry)
Fans were fascinated by the former MI-6 agent with a rather tragic past that included alcoholism as well as losing his parents at such a young age. Clay became someone to root for, who needed to find happiness but instead he was a casualty to help usher beloved Abby (Pauley Perrette) off the show. He could have been so much more.
3. Diane Sterling (Melinda McGraw)
Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and BFF Fornell (Joe Spano) had talked for years about the devil of an ex-wife they shared. So when McGraw debuted, she not only lived up to the hype, but her episodes were can’t-miss. She owned that show every time she appeared on it. So when she was killed — we were left thinking NCIS shot themselves in the foot.
2. Former Special Agent Mike Franks (Muse Watson)
Gibbs was Mike’s probie and it’s been fun to learn along the way that so many things that made Gibbs cool were things he learned from Mike. Perhaps it became too clear that having Mike around made Gibbs seem less cool — so cough, cough, Mike was dying and then quickly murdered by the Port-to-Port killer. Not cool, NCIS. Not cool.
1. Director Jenny Shepard (Lauren Holly)
Jenny was strong, driven, and incredibly flawed — but that made her fascinating. She had smoking hot chemistry with Gibbs but the show dropped that and after three seasons, gave her a fatal disease, branded her a killer (of The Frog), and had her die to protect Gibbs (but failed at that too). NCIS should have done so much better by her.