Former NCIS megastar Pauley Perrette Says She's “Terrified” of Mark Harmon

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Pauley Perrette and Mark Harmon in a scene from *NCIS*.

Pauley Perrette and Mark Harmon in a scene from NCIS.

From Sportsphoto/Alamy.

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Former NCIS Star Pauley Perrette Says She's “Terrified” of Mark Harmon

About Pauley
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The circumstances surrounding Pauley Perrette’s exit from NCIS just got even murkier. Last spring the actress gave an emotional farewell performance after 15 seasons as the goth lab-lurker Abby Sciuto—but fans were puzzled to see that Perrette and Mark Harmon’s character, Gibbs, did not occupy the same space during their final goodbye. Instead, Abby left her surrogate father figure a note and watched from the street as he read it—a setup that resembled Archie Panjabi’s departure from another CBS show, The Good Wife, after a very public feud with costar Julianna Margulies.

Days after her departure, Perrette fired off a series of vague tweets in which she implied she’d left the procedural after “multiple physical assaults.” That in turn reminded fans that years before, things had turned icy between her and Harmon, apparently due to a dog bite on set. Now Perrette is requesting that fans stop asking when she might return to the series, saying she has nightmares about Harmon attacking her.

Former NCIS Star Pauley Perrette Says She's “Terrified” of Mark Harmon

On Friday, Perrette tweeted, “NO I AM NOT COMING BACK! EVER! (Please stop asking?) I am terrified of Harmon and him attacking me. I have nightmares about it. I have a new show that is SAFE AND HAPPY! You’ll love it! #HappyPlace Love y’all!” (Perrette will now star on another CBS series, Broke, with costar Jaime Camil.)

In a now-deleted tweet, Perrette reportedly added, “You think I didn’t expect blow back? You got me wrong. THIS happened To my crew member and I fought like hell to keep it from happening again! To protect my crew! And then I was physically assaulted for saying NO!?and I lost my job.”

Perrette first announced her impending departure from NCIS in 2017, saying that she’d made the decision to leave the previous year. “I hope everyone will love and enjoy EVERYTHING ABBY not only for the rest of this season but for everything she has given all of us for 16 years,” Perrette wrote at the time. “All the love, all the laughter, all the inspiration…I love her as much as you do.” When she left the series the next year, her character shared emotional farewells with all her loved ones—except Gibbs.

So why did the show not depict Abby and Gibbs saying goodbye face-to-face? That’s where things get complicated and deeply confusing. Days after her final episode, Perrette posted a series of tweets in which she seemed to be deliberating whether to fully explain the decision.

“I refused to go low, that’s why I’ve never told publicly what happened,” Perrette wrote at the time. “But there are tabloid articles out there that are telling total lies about me. If you believe them? Please leave me alone. You clearly don’t know me. (Sorry guys, had to be said).” A day later she added, “Maybe I’m wrong for not ‘spilling the beans.’ Telling the story, THE TRUTH. I feel I have to protect my crew, jobs and so many people. But at what cost? I don’t know. Just know, I’m trying to do the right thing, but maybe silence isn’t the right thing about crime. I’m… Just… ?”

“There is a ‘machine’ keeping me silent, and feeding FALSE stories about me,” she continued. “A very rich, very powerful publicity ‘machine’. No morals, no obligation to truth, and I’m just left here, reading the lies, trying to protect my crew. Trying to remain calm. He did it.” Perrette ended that stream of tweets with one final thought: “I’ve been supporting ant[i]-bullying programs forever. But now I KNOW because it was ME! If it’s school or work, that you’re required to go to? It’s horrifying. I left. Multiple Physical Assaults. I REALLY get it now. Stay safe. Nothing is worth your safety. Tell someone.”

Following Perrette’s tweets, CBS released its own statement: “Pauley Perrette had a terrific run on NCIS and we are all going to miss her. Over a year ago, Pauley came to us with a workplace concern. We took the matter seriously and worked with her to find a resolution. We are committed to a safe work environment on all our shows.” After that, Perrette added: “I want to thank my studio and network CBS They have always been so good to me and always had my back.”

It’s unclear who Perrette meant when she said “He did it.” Or what, specifically, she was accusing an unspecified man of doing. But the imbroglio did resurface a previously reported story from 2016, in which Harmon brought his dog to set, where the pooch allegedly bit a crew member. After the incident, Harmon allegedly continued to bring the dog to set—a claim his attorney disputed—which allegedly made some of the show’s cast and crew uncomfortable. Perrette’s status as a fan favorite reportedly empowered her to speak out about the dog; it was that conflict that allegedly soured her relationship with Harmon, and led the two to shoot on different days to avoid contact with one another. That said, a source at the time told the Wrap that Perrette had already decided to leave the show before the dog-biting incident occurred.

Which brings us back to the central question in all of this: What on earth really happened on the NCIS set, and why did Perrette really leave? Given Perrette’s continued, if sporadic, comments on the subject, it seems possible we could hear more about this in the future—but for now it remains one of TV’s most puzzling mysteries.

Representatives for CBS and Harmon did not immediately respond to V.F.’s requests for comment.

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