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NCIS’ Kate Actor Explains Why She Really Left After Just 2 Seasons

NCIS’ Kate Actor Explains Why She Really Left After Just 2 Seasons


  • Sasha Alexander clarifies the real reason she left
    , citing the gruesome filming schedule that led her to exit as Kate Todd.
  • Alexander’s exit as Kate on
    led to the introduction of Ziva David, shaping the show’s future dynamics and love story.
  • Kate’s death had a lasting impact on
    , paving the way for new character dynamics and storylines in the long-running series.

Sasha Alexander explains why she decided to exit NCIS as Caitlin Todd after two seasons. While Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ team was already established when they first appeared in JAG, the events of the police procedural were kickstarted by the introduction of Kate. Originally working with the Secret Service, she was booted from her job after she came clean about sleeping with a co-worker. This case was recently revisited in NCIS‘ 1000th episode. Despite the tragedy, it led to her joining the Major Case Response Team (MCRT), where she served for just a couple of years.

Alexander’s departure was unexpected, especially since Kate was brutally murdered in the NCIS season 2 finale. The actor opened up about her decision to walk away from the police procedural in her appearance in a new episode of the Off Duty: An NCIS Rewatch podcast hosted by Michael Weatherly and Cote de Pablo. Alexander said:

Yeah, it did. It did [no work/life balance]. I mean I think before NCIS, the shows that I did somehow had more of a balance like they were either true ensembles. But if in this particular case, I mean normally, if you’re like one or two, like Rizolli and Isles, I worked all the time, but there were moments where we could throw the ball back and forth to each other. NCIS, Mark, Michael, and I, and you later were on every single scene.

How Kate’s Death Changed NCIS Forever

Kate’s Death Was The Launching Point For Big NCIS Plots

NCIS is used to losing cast members, which is the norm for long-running TV shows. That said, Kate’s death was arguably the most impactful on the show. Aside from being brutal, especially with the way her assassination at Ari’s hand played out, it also led to a series of changes that defined NCIS‘ next decade. Admittedly, it’s impossible to know how exactly NCIS would be different if Alexander stayed on as Kate. However, the biggest change would be the show not bringing in Cote de Pablo’s Ziva David as her replacement.

As Ari’s half-sister, Ziva was initially recruited as a Mossad liaison officer who was supposed to deal with her rogue brother. Ultimately, however, she became an official member of MCRT after she realized the atrocious crimes that he had committed. If Gibbs’ original team hadn’t lost Kate, NCIS wouldn’t have had any reason to introduce a new female agent. Ziva’s non-existence would have resulted in the erasure of perhaps the most prominent love story in the police procedural, something that will be further explored in the upcoming spinoff NCIS: Tony and Ziva.

Eventually, Alexander went on to star in another procedural, which she mentioned in the podcast. She was the co-headliner of Rizzoli & Isles, but despite being a title character, the actor revealed that the workload was much lighter than NCIS. Because of Kate’s death, it’s quite tricky for Alexander to reprise her role in the CBS franchise, but it isn’t impossible, considering her previous post-mortem appearance. Perhaps NCIS season 22 can revisit Kate’s death, which could lead to the actor’s return to the long-running series.


NCIS Project Highlights Kate Todd’s Biggest Missed Opportunity 19 Years After Her Death

Sasha Alexander left the show 19 years ago and an NCIS-connected project highlights the biggest missed opportunity because Kate Todd died.

Should NCIS Bring Back Alexander’s Kate Todd?

The Options For Kate’s Return Are Limited But It Can Be Done

Sasha Alexander as Kate Todd facing another woman in the NCIS bullpen on NCIS

Since his retirement, the team has been trying to move forward from Gibbs’ legacy and focus on the current team that the police procedural has. Gibbs’ NCIS erasure is inevitable, especially if the show continues for another couple of decades. However, while the series is able to explore aspects of the first 10–12 years of the series with Tony and Ziva’s spinoff, it has always felt like more could have been done with Kate. NCIS can be creative and revisit that while moving forward, which it has previously proven that it is capable of.

Alexander’s interactions with Weatherly and de Pablo clearly show no sign of animosity between her and the
franchise, so this may not be difficult to pull off.

CBS cannot rewrite history and bring Alexander back as Kate full-time, but it can delve into her life before the NCIS pilot. Considering Timothy McGee and Jimmy Palmer have experience working with her, the current MCRT may be interested in a possible case that involves her legacy. NCIS can also bring back her sister, who was recently referenced in the franchise’s 1000th episode. Alexander’s interactions with Weatherly and de Pablo clearly show no sign of animosity between her and the NCIS franchise, so this may not be difficult to pull off.

Should NCIS Have Just Recast Kate When Alexander Left?

Kate Could Have Stayed With MCRT If NCIS Recast The Character

Recasting characters is no longer out of the ordinary. Considering Kate’s position as NCIS‘ original female lead, CBS may have considered simply swapping Alexander with another actor when she decided to leave the series after just two years. In any case, she hadn’t been on the series for long, so it would be easier to execute the change as compared to someone who had been with the project for more seasons. It’s uncertain if that was ever in the discussions when Alexander chose to exit, but in hindsight, that isn’t the best option to move forward.

Kate’s death actually helped catapult NCIS to another level of popularity.

For starters, NCIS still wasn’t in the position to make these kinds of changes at that point. When Alexander left, the procedural had yet to establish itself as the juggernaut series that it now is. Recasting could have resulted in a backlash that may have ended its run. Secondly, Kate’s death actually helped catapult NCIS to another level of popularity. As Weatherly mentioned, people checked them out during the summer break through re-runs, considering the major cliffhanger. By the time they returned for season 3, more viewers were tuning in.


season 22 will premiere as part of CBS’ 2024-2025 fall schedule.

Source: Off Duty: An NCIS Rewatch

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