Well, you guys, it happened. On Tuesday night, the night NCIS fans have been dreading, actor Pauley Perrette’s final episode aired after weeks of suspenseful buildup. Thankfully, her character, Abby Sciuto, was given a happier send-off during her final episode, “Two Steps Back,” than some might have feared, but that didn’t make it any less emotional.
It was always going to be tough saying goodbye to Perrette and, by extension, Abby. She’d originated this character on NCIS when it premiered in 2003 and had built up a loving fan base over the years. There’s been a lot of commentary from Perrette about this exit, including how worried she was for the fans, and rightfully so.
Warning: Spoilers ahead.
The good news is Abby didn’t die, but rather left NCIS to fulfill a promise to her recently deceased colleague, Clayton Reeves (played by actor Duane Henry). Clayton was killed in a targeted attack meant for Abby, and at the conclusion of the episode, she announced to her NCIS team (minus Gibbs) that she was going to escort Clayton’s body back to London so he could be buried next to his mother. Then, when asked when she’d come back to work, Abby made it clear that she wasn’t.
“I’m not coming back. I’m leaving NCIS,” she told them, going on to explain what she planned to do post-NCIS. “Clay died saving my life, and I owe him a debt and I intend to see it through. Clay always wanted to start a charity in honor of his mom. Since he’s not here to make that happen, I will. You may not understand, but it’s something that I have to do, not just for him, but for me.”
As if that weren’t bittersweet enough, Perrette also posted goodbye tweets with videos, photos and sweet notes on Tuesday night while the episode was on air. In one tweet, she posted a photo from what could have been her last day on set. In full Abby costume, Perrette takes her final bow.
— Pauley Perrette (@PauleyP) May 9, 2018
Perrette also retweeted a video from the NCIS Twitter account. It featured the actor sending love to all her fans who supported her and cheered her on over the years. At one point, she detailed what she’s learned from those dedicated fans.
— NCIS (@NCIS_CBS) May 9, 2018
“What I’ve learned is just such an incredible love and support,” Perrette says. “Abby fans are incredible, they really are the best. I can’t imagine a fan group being any better than that. They really make me smile.”
And to add even more of an emotional wallop to Perrette’s send-off, her former NCIS costar, Michael Weatherly, was posting on social media about how ready (or not ready) he was to actually watch her final episode. On Instagram on Tuesday afternoon, he posted a video of him looking directly into camera and reminding followers that Perrette’s final episode was later that day. But it’s the video’s caption that’s the real tearjerker: “I will be watching #abby tonight on #ncis and telling my kids, ‘…it’s ok. It’s ok.’ Big kiss!”
Only Perrette knows what the future holds for her after her time on NCIS since she hasn’t really revealed to her followers what her next steps will actually be. All we know is that we already miss her on NCIS, and we wouldn’t say no to an Abby spinoff — if Perrette were into it.