CBS’s long-running hit drama NCIS continues its tradition of cast changes as Maria Bello is set to depart at the end of her three-year contract in Season 18, as reported by Deadline.

Bello joined the series in Season 15, portraying forensic psychologist Jacqueline “Jack” Sloane. Originally, she was slated to exit at the end of Season 17, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting production, she owes the series additional episodes. This extension allows the writers and producers the opportunity to carefully plan Jack’s departure.

During her time on the show, Jack’s storyline unfolded as she was reunited with her long-lost daughter, Faith Tolliver, a doctor at a Navy hospital. Initially resistant to any connection with her birth mother, Faith’s return sought medical information and the identity of her biological father during fertility treatments, leading to a tentative reconciliation. Jack leaving NCIS to be closer to her daughter emerges as a potential storyline for her exit.

Season 18 of NCIS is also marked by the anticipated 400th episode. Originally intended for Season 17, the milestone episode will be kept in its planned sequence when the show returns. Showrunner Frank Cardea shared with Parade.com that, assuming a smooth production restart and actor availability, the 400th episode will likely be the first to be filmed. Following that, two other scripts are in preparation, providing flexibility in determining the episode order for the beginning of the new season.

The show’s ability to shoot episodes out of order allows for strategic planning, offering viewers an engaging start to Season 18. The exact nature of Maria Bello’s departure and Jack Sloane’s exit will be unveiled when the season kicks off.

By chrysos