When TV characters leave viewers' lives, especially after a primetime stint as long as 15 years, it often revolves an actor's desire to break free and/or to take their career in new directions. Longtime NCIS star Pauley Perrette, who has just one more episode as a series regular, doesn't have any major new film or TV projects that made her choose to leave the CBS drama ahead of Season 16. Rather, the decision became clear to her through other means. In Perrette's words:

I believe in God and the universe so firmly, and it just suddenly became blindingly apparent that now was the time. After a lot of thought, I decided to announce it myself on Twitter because I didn't want it to be turned into anything 'shocking.' Abby leaving is more than a cheap TV ploy.

There are probably fans out there who had no idea that Pauley Perrette was such a spiritual and religious person, considering her character Abby Sciuto has long been one of TV's lone major goth-leaning characters. Not that Abby is into anything "evil," beyond stopping it in an official capacity. But still, it's interesting to know, at least as far as the non-business side of Perrette's motivations go, that it was her metaphorical calling to step away from the TV series she called home for a decade and a half.

Speaking to Abby's exit being Pauley Perrette's personal choice, and not due to contentious squabbling behind the scenes, is the fact that the actress was able to make the announcement herself on social media earlier this year. At a time when so many TV dramas depend on shocks and surprises to wow viewers with big characters change-ups like this, Perrette (and the show's producers, by extension) weren't trying to dupe fans in any way, and wanted to give everyone as much time and context as possible to deal with Abby's impending departure. Had Perrette's reasoning for leaving been inspired by more negative issues, it probably would have been revealed to the world in quite a different way.

As Pauley Perrette put it to TV Insider, this major NCIS event was not put together as a TV gimmick for May sweeps. (Although one has to assume that CBS really pushed for her final episodes to hit during this still-relevant television practice.) And if the actress believes that higher powers are guiding her away from her NCIS co-stars, in order to move onto greener pastures, it's hard not to be supportive.

Of course, viewers who watched Abby's hectic penultimate episode, "One Step Forward," most certainly did not come away with warm feelings about saying goodbye to Pauley Perrette in an easygoing manner. Head to the next page for some major spoilers about the episode, along with the trailer for Perrette's final NCIS installment.

In "One Step Forward," Abby and Reeves are doing some post-case celebrating when they got confronted by a mugger. And even though Abby has inspired millions of people around the planet to do great things, she only inspired ire in the criminal, causing him to pull the trigger. Reeves attempted to push Abby out of harm's way, but it doesn't seem like he was altogether successful, judging form the trailer for Pauley Perrette's final episode, "Two Steps Back." Check it out.

When it looked like Abby would be seriously hurt from this ordeal, how many fans out there immediately thought about how devastated Gibbs was going to be? For so many years, he has tried to be Abby's guardian angel in a sense, and now that she's in one of the worst situations of her life, he's clearly having some major emotional conflicts. But hey, this isn't about Gibbs. It's about saying goodbye to Abby, which had BETTER NOT mean watching her funeral.

NCIS airs Tuesday nights on CBS at 8:00 p.m. ET, with Abby's final episode airing on May 8, and the season finale hitting on May 22. Check out how Perrette has been dealing with not being on the show anymore. To see when all the other big endings will arrive, head to our TV finale rundown, and then hit up our summer premiere schedule to see all the new and returning shows that are on the way.

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