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NCIS is still a dominant force in primetime with its return to CBS for Season 18, but the show is losing a member of the team before the end of the shortened season. Maria Bello is departing NCIS after just three seasons on the hit drama. That said, Bello appeared in the Season 18 premiere, and Jack hasn't bowed out of the action just yet. Season 18 got off to a bizarre start and might only get weirder until it catches up with the present, and what that means for Jack remains to be seen.

For now, let's dive into why NCIS is losing Maria Bello's Jack at all and what it means moving forward.

Why Is Maria Bello Leaving NCIS?

Maria Bello's departure is coming with the completion of her original contract with NCIS, which was for three years that would have encompassed Seasons 15-17. Season 17 of course came to a premature end, cutting NCIS off ahead of its milestone 400th episode and definitely not giving Jack any kind of sendoff. Newsweek reports that Bello is also in preproduction on The Woman King, a film that will be Bello's first as a movie writer and producer, so it's possible that Bello intends to pursue new projects after ending her time on NCIS.

When Is Maria Bello Leaving NCIS?

Maria Bello is slated to appear in eight episodes of NCIS Season 18 so that Jack will get a proper sendoff. Jack appeared in the Season 18 premiere and has a part to play in the 400th episode, which leaves six more episodes. With NCIS' reduced episode count for Season 18, Bello will actually be featured in half of the season. That said, it's not clear if Bello's eight episodes will be consecutive, or spread throughout the season. Her departure doesn't bode well for that potential romance with Gibbs, but at least her time isn't done yet.

What Is Maria Bello Doing Next?

Although Maria Bello hasn't announced her next acting role following the end of her time as Jack on NCIS, her career is taking her in some new directions moving forward. The Woman King will mark her debut as feature film writer and producer, and the project (originally slated to star Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong'o) was announced back in early 2018 before landing an exciting director back in July. The project is seemingly moving forward, and may require more of Bello's attention than she could give as a regular on one of broadcast television's biggest shows.

For now, NCIS fans can look forward to six more appearances from Maria Bello as Jack following the 400th episode on November 24. The NCIS team intends to give her a "worthy" ending, but viewers won't find out what that is until 2021. For now, new episodes of NCIS air on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. For more of what's on the way in the new year, be sure to check out our 2021 winter and spring premiere schedule.

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