It Looks Like [SPOILER] Is Leaving 'NCIS' and How Much More Can We Take?

Gina Vaynshteyn - Author

Mar. 9 2021, Updated 10:37 p.m. ET

Fornell NCIS
Source: CBS

Warning: NCIS spoilers ahead!

If you watched NCIS tonight and are wondering if Tobias Fornell (played by Joe Spano) is leaving the show, you're not the only one. In the episode, Fornell tells Gibbs that he wants to move to Costa Rica — which is what Dr. Jack Sloane (Maria Bello) wanted, and lo and behold, Jack was written off NCIS. It seems like Fornell wants to retire, move on, and relax a bit. He thinks it would be a good move for him and his daughter Emily, who Fornell says is on board. 

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But as we now know, Emily overdoses and dies — which is a huge, devastating blow to Fornell. They had finally gotten to a good place in their relationship, and things seemed to be looking up. But in a shocking twist, Emily relapses and succumbs to her addiction. Worst of all, Emily died alone in the hospital because Fornell wasn't allowed inside, and that's just too much.

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So, what exactly is happening now? Is Fornell still being set up to leave NCIS?

Is Fornell leaving 'NCIS'?

It's tricky to say whether or not Fornell is leaving NCIS (no announcements have been made about Joe Spano exiting the show) since he's not a series regular. He can leave and come back, and the network doesn't really have to explain it. Joe also doesn't have active social media accounts, so we don't have any updates to work off of. With Emily dying, this could pose as a reason for Fornell to stay and work through his loss and trauma. 

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Plus, according to Joe Spano's IMDb page, he doesn't have any other projects lined up. It's possible that we may not see him for a few episodes — or even a few seasons. Or he may be slowly written off. Anything is possible, but we do hope that the show depicts Fornell's grieving process, because to drop a death like that and not flesh it out seems like bad storytelling.

NCIS fans are mourning Emily, with Twitter users expressing just how sad and uncalled for this death was.

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"I totally wanted to give Fornell a hug," someone tweeted.

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"My heart breaks for Fornell," another wrote.

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"Damn, NCIS. You got me with this episode. Wow. This one hurts. Poor Fornell and Gibbs. Tears," one person shared.

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Fans found the poem by Merritt Malloy that Vance read out loud. It really was super fitting for the moment, even if we were bawling our eyes out. 

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Joe Spano has been in countless TV shows, many times playing smaller characters. This includes The Mentalist, Providence, Batman Beyond, and more. His role as Fornell on NCIS has actually been his longest (he's been on the show since 2003). We have faith that he'll stay on, but you never really know, do you?

Watch new episodes of NCIS every Tuesday at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.

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