_Spoilers below for NCIS' penultimate Season 15 episode, "Two Steps Back," so be sure to watch before reading on. _
NCIS fans were very aware that longtime series vet Pauley Perrette was saying goodbye this season, and that the most recent episode was her final farewell. There was some major worry that she would be killed off, which thankfully didn't happen. But what viewers may not have immediately expected is for Abby Sciuto's final episode to confirm the death of another main character, Agent Clayton Reeves. Actor Duane Henry, who'd only been on the show for two full seasons, says his exit was due in part to the character's meandering storyline following the death of former showrunner Gary Glasberg. In his words:
I love the show and I love being a part of it --- it was a life changer, a game changer for me, and something I'll take with me forever and ever. But I have idle thumbs. . . . Obviously there are a lot of characters in a lot of the stories, [so] you have to have a lot of patience with this type of gig, and I felt like I wanted to be doing way more. I want to be out there hitting it, like every young actor does. I guess the universe sort of got wind of that. So toward the start of the year...I sat down with the producers, and we were just talking about the character. Gary [Glasberg] was obviously 'my guy' --- from my first audition, he and Jimmy Whitmore did that point-and-click and 'You're going to be a star, kid.' Clayton was Gary's brainchild, he created this character. So when Gary passed, I was feeling a bit of panic in people's faces. I could tell that they were not really sure [what the future held]. I kind of got my bearings together and thought, 'What's going to happen now with the character?' I live in a world called You Never Know, so I'm always prepared for everything.
Duane Henry joined NCIS as a guest star in Season 13, with Clayton Reeves brought in to shoulder some of the loss when longtime star Michael Weatherly made his own headline-making exit at the end of that season. And it sounds like Gary Glasberg was a major force in getting the U.K. actor involved in the CBS drama, with veteran NCIS director Jimmy Whitmore also oozing positive vibes in the early days. But once Glasberg died in 2016, Henry clearly felt like the rest of the creative team wasn't entirely sure where to take Reeves' story. At least, in a way that made the actor feel as if he was getting enough action, so to speak.
In the end, it sounds like a conversation with producers led everyone to the point where it was agreed that Clayton Reeves should and would make an exit from NCIS. And it was quite the impactful exit, with Reeves taking the bulk of a mugger's gunfire in the previous episode, which also put Abby in hospital. (It was only after his death that it was explained how that deadly incident tied back to a Season 6 case.) And once Abby came to realize that Reeves died protecting her, she made the decision to accompany his body back to London and to leave the NCIS in order to start up a charity for homeless women.
To be sure, Duane Henry's exit from NCIS was an amicable one, and wasn't mired in strife or conflict. The actor is proud and overjoyed about his time on one of TV's biggest primetime hits. And when TVLine asked how he felt about Agent Reeves going out like he did, here's how he responded:
Oh, my gosh, are you crazy? This is TV history at its finest. I have had the best exit, I think, for a show in America for somebody who's not from here. You can't ask for a better exit. Like, come on, man. And obviously Pauley Perrette, she's my angel, you know. I was homeless, and she took me in before I found anywhere to live. She got wind I was "couch surfing" so she's the one who reached out, took me in and put me in one of her houses. So to be wrapping up with her was incredible, a dream come true for anyone.
Just in case NCIS fans needed yet another reason to think that Pauley Perrette is the best, the way she helped out Duane Henry in his time of need should do the trick. And it also adds a lovely full-circle cycle to the actor's time on the show. They'll both definitely be missed.
Though Reeves is dead and Abby is gone, NCIS still has two more episodes left in Season 15, so get ready to see how the team reacts to the leftover void. NCIS airs Tuesday nights on CBS at 8:00 p.m. ET. Head to our summer premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows will be around when the network drama is on its seasonal hiatus.
NCIS star Mark Harmon has spoken out about how NCIS is dealing with the loss of Abby, saying this...