'NCIS': All The Signs Season 17 Will Be The Last For Maria Bello

During its first 16 seasons, the CBS procedural NCIS has seen many of its cast members come and go. Cote de Pablo (Ziva) famously left after Season 11 before she reappeared in the last scene of the Season 16 finale, and both Michael Weatherly (Anthony DiNozzo) and Pauley Perrette (Abby Sciuto) left the series after Season 13 and 15, respectively. Now, rumor has it that the upcoming Season 17 could be the last for Maria Bello (Dr. Jacqueline Sloane).

Athree-season contract

According to The Express, Bello joined the NCIS cast in 2017 after signing a three-season contract, which would make Season 17 her last unless she negotiates an extension. Bello has not revealed her plans, but it appears she would have the same option as Wilder Valderrama (Nick Torres) who initially signed on for Seasons 14 and 15, but extended his deal for two more years.

As fans know, de Pablo will be returning forthe Season 17 premiere, and Bello said that she hopes she gets the chance towork with her.

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“I’m hoping I get some scenes with her (dePablo) next season,” said Bello. “I’ve never met her, I never got to work withher. So hopefully this next season she’ll be coming back and we’ll find outwhat happens with Ziva.”

Bello says that producers told the cast acouple of weeks before they shot the season finale that Ziva would return.However, they “were under lock and key” and couldn’t say anything, and theydidn’t even have the last page of the script.

Onequal footing

Bello, 52, says she joined the cast of NCIS because the character of Jack Sloane was in a “position of power and respect,” and she was “on equal footing with Gibbs (Mark Harmon).” Bello explained that she liked the fact that she didn’t work for him, and he didn’t work for her.

Instead, the two characters are colleagues whorespect each other, and during her first two seasons their relationship hasdeepened, and they have become better friends. Bello says she loves the energybetween Gibbs and Sloan, and “you can tell they really deeply care about eachother, but they really want to bang each other.”

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Bello says there is no doubt that there is atension between the characters, but she wouldn’t reveal if Gibbs and Sloane taketheir relationship to the next level during Season 17. Bello did, however,admit that working with Harmon is a lot of fun and they “have a ball” together.

Neverdate a coworker

Number 12 in Gibbs’ list of rules is “neverdate a coworker,” but he might just break his own rule this season. Sloane andGibbs’ combative, hostile relationship has turned into a friendship over thepast two seasons, and it is possible that in Season 17 it will turn intosomething more.

Harmon has said that Bello was a “terrific”addition to the cast, and “she’s not just a great actress. She wants to be withus. That says a lot.”  However, he hasn’tsaid anything about the Season 17 storyline for the two characters because noone is saying anything in the wake of Ziva’s shocking return.

What’s ahead for ‘NCIS’ in Season 17

Everyone in the cast and crew is keeping quietabout the upcoming season, which means fans are sharing their own ideas aboutwhat could happen between Sloane and Gibbs.

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The NCIS senior special agent could resign andgive Gibbs a chance to make his move without breaking his rule. But,considering that both Bello and Harmon love working together so much – and fanswant to see where this relationship goes – news of a contract extension forBello could be coming sooner rather than later.

Season 17 of NCIS premieres September 24th on CBS.

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