Why Michael Weatherly Has An NCIS Co-Star To Thank For His Return To TV

For the first time in over a decade, TV viewers are going to sit down for a fall season that doesn't have Michael Weatherly kicking things off as NCIS special agent Tony DiNozzo. The actor will instead be at the center of his own new show, the CBS drama Bull, which has him working with Dr. Phil McGraw, the co-creator of House and the creator of In Treatment. Understandably, Weatherly was intrigued by all the big names involved, but he revealed his decision to return to TV so quickly was ultimately guided by his NCIS dad, veteran actor Robert Wagner. Here's how Weatherly put it.

You add all that stuff together, and...[it was] really a compelling, rich, challenging idea. So I took all of that information, all those different elements, and I sat down with Robert Wagner, who played my dad on NCIS, and I said, 'What do you think of this?' And he just stared at me and said, 'You have to think about this?' So it was kind of a no-brainer.

So not only do we have Robert Wagner to champion for Hart to Hart and Austin Powers' Number Two, but we can also give him our appreciation for being a voice of reason for Michael Weatherly when the actor was planning on where to take his career. Weatherly knew he wanted a change after 13 years of NCIS, but TV audiences weren't ever guaranteed to get more from him so soon after bowing out of that gig.

ncis dinozzo dad

Michael Weatherly told TV Guide that he'd initially had it in his head that he'd get some rest and relaxation after NCIS, but that there was a bigger goal in mind.

I was so comfortable with Tony DiNozzo on NCIS that...it was interesting when that seemed to have run its course. I thought maybe it's because I'm getting older and I just want to have a different experience. And NCIS wasn't the place for that. I was really just looking for a change, and I didn't know exactly what that would be. In all honesty, I didn't think it was going to be another full-order network hour drama. Simply because that schedule is punishing, and I've been doing it for the last 16 years.

If Bull hits upon the same audience numbers that NCIS does, then he'll likely be looking at another 16 years in front of the cameras. (He was on Dark Angel before joining the procedural.) You can head here to see what we thought about the new drama, which will see Weatherly as a trial scientist whose skillset includes being able to read potential jurors better than people can read words. Based in part on the real-life history of Dr. Phil, Bull hits both the worlds of legal and crime shows and also stars Freddy Rodriguez, Geneva Carr, Chris Jackson, Jaime Lee Kirchner and Annabelle Attanasio.

It won't be long before we can see Michael Weatherly finally getting into another character's mindset when Bull debuts on CBS on Tuesday, September 20, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see when NCIS' new cast members and all your other favorite shows are coming, check out our fall premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.