Why Jennifer Esposito Left NCIS

After starring in just one season of NCIS, it was reported in 2017 that Jennifer Esposito would leave the long-running CBS series. The actress was already well-known to genre fans from her popular role in another CBS c***e drama, Blue Bloods, on which she played Detective Jackie Curatola. However, she also left that series early, before being cast in NCIS as Special Agent Alex Quinn.

So why did Esposito bow out of another popular show — and why do it so quickly? How was Alex Quinn’s story resolved on NCIS when it ended so early? Here’s what fans need to know about Quinn, and the circumstances behind Esposito’s departure from NCIS when she seemed like a great fit.

Who Was Alex Quinn on NCIS?

Agents Quinn and McGee on NCIS
Special Agent Alexandra “Alex” Quinn was introduced in the NCIS Season 14 premiere, “Rogue.” She had left the field to become a trainer at the Law Enforcement Training Center, but was brought back into the fold by Mark Harmon’s Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, in another example of his legacy of caring about others. Gibbs convinced Quinn to join his team, and she was involved in numerous Season 14 storylines, with a big emphasis on the character’s tragic backstory.

In Season 14, Episode 5, “Philly,” it was revealed that Quinn’s former partner was killed on a stakeout in Philadelphia, and that resulted in her stepping back from field operations. Quinn felt guilt over her partner’s death for many years, because he only left the car during the stakeout to give her privacy while she was on the phone to her fiancé. While on another case in Philadelphia, she visited his widow and now 13-year-old son to try and make amends.

During the NCIS Season 14 finale, “Rendezvous,” Quinn received a phone call from her mother, Marie, although the audience wasn’t privy to what the call was about. By the Season 15 premiere, Quinn in gone. The only explanation provided is that she left to care for her mother, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Why Did Jennifer Esposito Leave NCIS?

Quinn looking at Gibbs on NCIS
According to Deadline, NCIS producers were behind the departure of Jennifer Esposito’s departure, contending “the show plans to go in a new creative direction” that didn’t involve Alex Quinn. Esposito confirmed that in a subsequent tweet, stating that Quinn was never intended as a long-term character: “Was not meant to be there long but happy I was,” she tweeted. “Met some great new friends!”

Like any long-running series, NCIS has said goodbye to several characters, including Agent Gibbs, who exited the during Season 19, and was replaced by Gary Cole as Special Agent Alden Parker. However, Esposito’s story is notable because of her character’s short tenure — she’s the only series regular to leave after just one season — and the relative lack of explanation, or fanfare, over her departure.

Currently in its 20th season, NCIS returns on Jan. 2 with an NCIS crossover event.

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