NCIS has had its share of losses over the years. In particular, Season 15 saw Pauley Perrette's Abby making a planned exit, while Duane Henry's Reeves had a more untimely one. Season 16 could feature yet another character leaving the show as well. Luckily, it doesn't seem as though the latest clues point to any characters leaving in a body bag, but rather due to an angry boss looking to possibly clean house.

Season 16 will feature a storyline that puts the current lineup of NCIS in jeopardy, bringing in a Secretary of Defense that has an ax to grind. TVLine reports that the high-ranking government official will supposedly catch wind of Gibbs' and the team having defied his wishes, which results in some or all of the agents breaking the law.

The SecDef's investigation will apparently be similar to things that have happened on NCIS: Los Angeles as well as NCIS: New Orleans. Fans will remember a couple of internal investigations being put forth on the L.A.-based spinoff, and Dwayne Pride's team faced its own investigation in Season 3.

Of course, television crime teams being put under a microscope for taking things a step too far isn't necessarily a new trope. Additionally, real-life internal investigations don't always end in someone getting fired. So while it's entirely possible that the Defense Secretary's arrival could put some pressure on the NCIS team while jeopardizing some future promotions, the D.C. squad could very well escape this situation with the full lineup intact.

NCIS fans can hope for the best, anyway, since losing anyone else at this point would get in the way of the current dynamic. NCIS wouldn't feel like NCIS without Gibbs, so Mark Harmon's character is indubitably safe. Then again, long-running cast members like Pauley Perrette have exited the series on their own accords, albeit under different circumstances unrelated to the show's storylines. So nothing is impossible.

One would imagine that if anyone is leaving NCIS, temporarily or permanently, it's probably going to be the character most responsible for breaking the law during the operation. Of course, there's always the possibility that another character will assume responsibility for the other's error to take the heat and protect the more guilty party in question. There's plenty of members of the team willing to stick out their necks for a case, or for one another, but who would risk termination?

Vance's situation is also still unfolding in Season 16. With suspicions still seemingly out about his loyalties post-kidnapping, The director could find himself fighting to convince the Secretary of Defense that he has only the best interests of the team on his mind. Whether or not that's the case remains to be seen, since Season 16 of NCIS still has quite a few episodes to get through before the season is up.

Character exits on NCIS are a way of life at this point, and are not at all uncommon taking the entire run into consideration. Many of the show's characters have exited over the years, with new actors stepping in to fill the voids. NCIS has also been known to bring characters back after a bit, so if the series does take someone off the crime procedural in Season 16, there are no guarantees that agents will be gone for good.

NCIS airs on CBS on Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET. For a look at what else is happening on television in the coming months, be sure to head over to our handy fall premiere guide and find a new show to binge.

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