How Pauley Perrette's Final NCIS Episode Did In The Ratings

It's not likely that anyone on NCIS, or anyone watching at home, was actively celebrating Pauley Perrette leaving the drama after 15 seasons, since she's long been a most beloved cast member. But now that her final episode has aired -- taking another member of the lead cast with it -- there actually is a reason for all involved to be in good spirits. The CBS drama earned its highest viewership in over a year, and it tied for a season-high in the key age demographic. Definitely something nice for the actress to bow out on.

NCIS' "Two Steps Back" had a whopping 14.79 million people saying goodbye to Abby, and it's only the third episode of the season to net an audience higher than 14 million in Live+Same Day stats. In fact, it's the biggest total Tuesday night audience that NCIS has seen since Season 14's "A Many Splendored Thing," which had 14.87 million pairs of eyes locked in. NCIS hasn't exactly been having ratings problems, considering Roseanne, with 10.19 million viewers, is its only real time slot competitor competitor.

For other comparisons, The Voice's latest earned 7.2 million, Lethal Weapon's controversy-fueled season finale had 3.1 million viewers, while The CW's The Flash was at the bottom with 1.72 million. Fun fact: Pauley Perrette's penultimate episode, "One Step Forward," was only watched by 12.35 million people, so some folks must have been confused to see where things started off.

With such a killer viewership total, the demo rating had to be good, right? Right. NCIS managed to match its own season high of a 1.6 rating for adults 18-49 years old, according to TV By the Numbers. The show achieved that rating with its season premiere, "House Divided," which cleared up the Season 14 cliffhanger in which Gibbs and McGee had gone missing. Understandably, NCIS fans love tuning in the most whenever the drama is at its highest.

The news wasn't just good for NCIS, either. Former star Michael Weatherly's sophomore drama Bull rode high on that lead-in audience, with 11.8 million people tuning in, which is its own biggest viewership total this season. Bull also tied its 1.3 demo rating high for the season, but the drama has hit that mark several times already in Season 2.

Spoilers follow for anyone who hasn't yet watched Pauley Perrette's final episode. After last week's episode ended with Abby thought to be knocking on death's door -- and with Duane Henry's Agent Reeves having already gone through that door -- but "Two Steps Back" thankfully kept her survival intact. But while she remained in the land of the living, she didn't remain part of the NCIS team, as Reeves' heroism inspired her to start up a charity to help homeless women. But only after having the warmest goodbyes possible, of course.

It will be very interesting to see how the rest of the season does in Pauley Perrette's absence. I can't imagine droves of viewers will stop watching, but we'll be keeping an eye out to see how things compare.

NCIS still has two episodes to go to wrap up Season 15, and they'll air on each of the next Tuesday nights on CBS at 8:00 p.m. ET. Check out how Perrette's co-stars and more reacted to her final episode, and To see what new and returning shows will be popping up around then, head to our summer premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.