No more Tony? How can the show go on without him?
Now the only question that remains is: how should he exit?
We learned in NCIS Season 13 Episode 12 that Tony has split from Zoe. So of course that raises all kinds of opportunities.
He no longer has a girlfriend to keep him in town. And it's a given that he'll be leaving the team as well.
I mean, he's a free man. Totally free.
Well, almost free. His dad is still living near him, and you get the sense there's a dependency there.
Let's examine some of the possible exit strategies.
He hooks up with Jeanne Benoit and goes off into the sunset.
Uhhh. No. No. No. NO. She's married, and from the look of things in NCIS Season 13 Episode 8, happily so. Putting Tony and her together again would be messy.
While there may still be a lot of die-hard NCIS fans who've watched the series since we first met Jeanne in Season 4, there are too many viewers who just wouldn't be dialed in enough to make their pairing worthwhile.
He hooks up with Bishop.
Dear God, no. She's too young, for starters, and her split with Jake is too fresh. She's always seen Tony as a big brother. Getting them together would be too much like incest. Wrong on every level.
Anyway, she's still invested in the team and in her career. He's about to leave the team.
Somebody hand me a hammer so I can nail that coffin shut.
He dies in the line of duty.
This one seems plausible. Everyone who watches this show seems to love him. We may waver on Abby, Gibbs, Bishop and Vance, but almost to a person Tony is a fan favorite.
Such an ending for him would be awful. Just terrible. It's unlikely the writers would choose that kind of exit for him, unless they were planning to retire the show completely.
Never say never though, right? I mean look what happened to Sloan (a.k.a. McSteamy) on Grey's Anatomy Season 9 Episode 1.
He finds another job in a more exciting department, like the NSA.
Tony has always been leadership material (when the writers weren't making him act the complete frat boy and clown).
We've seen his stern, no-nonsense action-oriented side, a side that has been continually stifled by Gibbs' dismissive and often condescending attitude toward him.
Maybe now's the time for him to spread his wings and take on the mantle of leadership – of a different team, at a different office.
Ziva comes back.
This is a strong possibility. Their relationship – and its ending – changed him completely. I don't think we've seen Tony moon so much over someone the way he did her.
She could show up at the bullpen looking for help, perhaps in pursuit of a criminal who's made his way to America. And then Tony, unwilling to let her go out of his life again, could pursue her as never before.
She would hesitate, saying that her home is in Israel (or Morocco, or some other place that isn't the United States). This time he would be ready to sacrifice everything just to be with her.
And like that, he'd quit his job and go off with her.
These are just some of the possible ways Tony could leave the show.
But this isn't about that, so much as: what should be the manner of his exit?
The answer to this question is yours to figure out.
Please vote in the poll below, and be sure to add your comments!
How should Tony leave NCIS?
Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter.