The Reason Lauren Holly Left ‘NCIS’ Gets Explained

Lauren Holly during 2007 Monte Carlo Television Festival - NCIS Lauren Holly Photocall at Grimaldi Forum in Monte Carlo, France. (Photo by Toni Anne Barson Archive/WireImage)

Lauren Holly’s NCIS fan favorite character Jennifer Shepard has spent the whole time on the show working her way up the ladder to become Director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. But, three years after finally getting to the end line, Holly decided to leave the show. Can you say tragic?

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Spoiler Alert

Last time fans saw Shepard on the show, she was in an abandoned diner waiting for NCIS Agent Mike Franks, played by Muse Watson. Fans then heard several gunshots presuming the character was left to die. But it was later noted that the character didn’t go quietly after her replacement, Director Leon Vance (Rocky Caroll) stated that forensics from the scene showed that Shepard “put up one hell of a fight.”

Holly initially joined NCIS in season 3, replacing NCIS Director Thomas Morrow portrayed by Alan Dale. She appeared in 48 episodes up to Season 5 finale. Apparently, the reason she left was pretty simple, with several saying she left on her own terms.

In a now-deleted confession on her personal website, Holly revealed that she was able to make an appearance on NCIS thanks to co-star Mark Harmon. Harmon is best known for placing Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. She originally was set to portray Sasha Alexander, who left NCIS after season 2. But, fast forward to two years later, she was invited to join the show for a six-episode arc as the new Director of NCIS. Creators for the show later offered her a part in a future season, to which she accepted.

Why Did Lauren Holly Leave?

But, throughout her time Holly reportedly got “bored” playing Shepard for two years. But, she didn’t have any hard feelings toward the show. “I enjoyed being on the show, and began some wonderful friendships,” she stated. So basically, she wanted a new challenge. She did note that after she let show runners know she wanted to quit they wanted her to go out with a bang.

“The decision was made to kill me, and boy did they. About five different ways!,” she stated. Shepard had been diagnosed with a fatal brain tumor before she was tragically killed by assassins. Despite her leaving, she has said she hopes the series does run for a long time.

“A lot of people depend on it for their families. For that, I hope it continues forever,” she noted. “It probably will. I think of them all often.”

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