Dedicated viewers of the long-running hit CBS procedural were saddened by season 13's departure of Michael Weatherly, who played Tony DiNozzo since the beginning. Weatherly's DiNozzo worked as one of the top-ranking agents under boss Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) on the Major Case Response Team and proved to be an integral part of ' success. DiNozzo wasn't always a character that was easy to like, but he was quite good at his job and developed as a person over the course of ' long run. DiNozzo grew especially close to fellow agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo), with the two crossing the line from professional to personal partners. Sadly for fans though, Weatherly's tenure on came to a swift stop in 2015 with the 13th season.
As major a character as Michael Weatherly's Tony DiNozzo was on , any long-running show is likely to experience some cast upheaval over time. By the time Weatherly took his leave from after season 13. Ziva, DiNozzo's love interest, had already left the cast, breaking up a couple fans had come to love. One of the factors in Weatherly's decision that DiNozzo should leave the series was the loss of the dynamic between Tony and Ziva. Weatherly missed the onscreen chemistry between the two characters and working with de Pablo. Beyond that, Weatherly had grown a bit bored with playing his role after 13 years and found himself itching to pursue other projects. When discussing the decision (via ), Weatherly likened the feeling to staying at a party too long.
When Michael Weatherly opted to leave the series, a plausible reason was written that satisfied a lot of fans. Tony DiNozzo left when learning that he and Ziva had a daughter together, and he left to help raise her. Michael Weatherly hasn't been inactive since leaving and it's hard to judge his departure too harshly despite how much fans adored DiNozzo. To those on the outside looking in, it may seem hard to sympathize with someone growing tired of starring on a hit TV show, such as .
Yet, Weatherly is far from the first actor to get sick of playing the same character over the course of a long franchise, and he won't be the last. Weatherly certainly was not kidding about wanting to do something new, though, as he very quickly moved on to play the lead in CBS' hit legal drama .
came to an end after a six-season run, and for now, it's unclear what Weatherly's plans are for his next major gig. Naturally, many watchers would love for Weatherly to return to the show as Tony DiNozzo, even if only for a guest appearance. If he elects to do so, the door is wide open, as canonically, "Tiva" are still together and living with their daughter in Paris, and . Considering his hectic schedule as the star of , it's likely Weatherly will take some time to relax for a while before stepping back into the world.
Now that is over and done with, many fans are hoping that Michael Weatherly will make a comeback on the show — and showrunner Steven D. Binder certainly wouldn't mind. While the actor has yet to speak on the subject, showrunner Binder has made comments that he'd be more than happy for DiNozzo to make a return. In an interview with , Binder made positive remarks about the actor, but surmised that after his run on , he might be taking a well-deserved vacation. When asked whether , Binder had this to say,
So, while this definitely isn't a confirmation that Weatherly will return, it is hopeful that showrunner Seven D. Binder is optimistic about the idea of him coming back. A Tony DiNozzo return would always require both the actor and the studio to be on board. It's relieving to many fans that, if Binder's comments are anything to go by, the CBS half of the equation is enthusiastic about the prospect.