NCIS has become a staple of CBS programming over the past fourteen TV seasons, and it's difficult to imagine the show without Pauley Perrette fighting crime and solving mysteries as forensic specialist Abby Sciuto. Abby is one of only two actors to appear in every episode so far, and she's even crossed over to NCIS spinoffs NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans to help agents outside of Washington, D.C. According to Perrette, Abby has been helpful to folks outside of the show as well. She said this about Abby's influence in the real world:
I hear from kids, teachers, parents, grandparents and relatives daily, from all over the world. I am constantly told how my character has been an incredible influence. Abby has led young girls to want to pursue math and science degrees and, in general, to just be awesome. This became apparent from the very beginning of my playing Abby. I have received probably millions of letters, tweets and messages expressing what a profound influence Abby has had on people's lives. It's really incredible. Abby is a fictional television character, but what she represents is a new era in the expectations and potential for young girls and women everywhere.
Pauley Perrette has actually been playing Abby Sciuto since the 2003 episode of JAG that served as a backdoor pilot for NCIS. She was a main cast member when NCIS premiered in September 2003, and the rest is history as she has become an essential part of the ensemble. Abby is most recognizable for her gothic style of dress, but her significance to NCIS has never been about her look. Her skills and knowledge in the fields of science, mathematics, and forensics have made her instrumental in solving many of the biggest mysteries in the fourteen seasons of the series to date. Pauley Perrette's reveal that she has gotten feedback about Abby motivating viewers to pursue science is proof that the character's abilities have set a wonderful example.
The actress went on in her TV Insider letter to explain another way that Abby has been a positive influence on viewers, saying this:
Abby has also had an interesting effect on bridging a generational gap. An older generation that may have been apprehensive about young people with tattoos, or an alternative style of dress, fell in love with Abby, and it has erased some prejudice. Now that young person they see at the store, whom they may have judged or even feared, just might be a brilliant forensic scientist and an awesome kid who goes to church and bowls with nuns.
CBS' audience tends to skew toward older viewers, so Pauley Perrette's thoughts on Abby's sense of style making a difference with older generations makes a lot of sense. A lot of the viewers who tuned in to the JAG spinoff in 2003 may not have expected to see a surprisingly perky young woman in goth dress dazzling her superiors with her intellect. Abby went against every stereotype about people with her look, and those who dress like her may have gained more societal acceptance from NCIS viewers who grew to love Abby.
Luckily, Abby doesn't seem to be going anywhere any time soon. Pauley Perrette hasn't given any indications that she wants to be the next cast member to leave, and none of the newcomers have rendered her character obsolete. NCIS has already been renewed through Season 15; hopefully we can count on Abby at least to that point.
You can catch Pauley Perrette as Abby Sciuto on NCIS on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET. Check out our midseason TV premiere schedule to see what else you'll be able to watch in 2017.