NCIS’ Showrunner May Have Just Confirmed Our Biggest Jessica Knight Fear

A custom image of Jessica Knight from NCIS


  • Jess Knight’s exit from NCIS may be set in stone, with showrunner Binder comparing it to major character departures like Gibbs and Tony.
  • Binder suggests Jess’ season 21 arc was carefully planned for a proper sendoff, indicating a firm exit rather than a cliffhanger.
  • Actress Katrina Law hints at Jess Knight’s departure, suggesting her character may be moving on to fulfill her full potential elsewhere.

An interview with NCIS co-showrunner Steven D. Binder may have confirmed changes that were set in motion for Special Agent Jessica Knight (Katrina Law) in the NCIS season 21 ending. Jess has been with the Major Case Response Team (MCRT) since season 18. She officially joined the NCIS cast for season 19, but the season 21 finale signaled that Knight may leave her current team behind. The exit arc for Jess’ character began in season 21, episode 5, “The Plan,” when Jess’ dad showed up at NCIS Headquarters.

The former NCIS Special Agent in Charge of the NCIS Far East Field Office, Feng Zhao (Russell Wong), wanted his daughter to take his position when he retired. Jess declined, but there were big opportunities for her to come in the season finale. Jess ultimately accepted the position as Chief REACT Training Officer, and it was one of Jess’ best moments in NCIS season 21. While her exit from the show hasn’t been confirmed, new comments on the matter shed light on what’s next for Jessica Knight.

Steven D. Binder’s Comments Suggest Jessica Knight’s NCIS Exit Is Real

The NCIS Co-Showrunner Compared Knight’s Season Finale Moment To Major NCIS Exits

In a June 2024 interview with TVLine, showrunner Steven D. Binder addressed the departure of Jessica Knight. Binder initially points to the franchise’s track record where “you never know” what’s going to happen, but other comments he made in the interview revealed in what terms showrunners are considering the character’s future. In the interview, Binder suggested that they had set up the perfect way for Jessica Knight to exit the show. With such heavy consideration behind Knight’s perfect exit, it makes it more difficult to believe that Knight’s season 21 finale moment was just a cliffhanger.

Binder revealed in the interview that the perfect blend of elements to see Jess off was a combination of factors, including her dream job, that she had set in motion for herself. He also suggested that flux in Jess’ relationship with Jimmy (Brian Dietzen) would lend itself to her departure, making it easier to say goodbye. The showrunner confirmed that something has been set up for Jessica Knight in the NCIS season 21 finale in the interview, and whatever it is will need to happen in NCIS season 22 early on, as viewers already anticipate what’s next for Jess.

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In her own interview with TVLine, actor Katrina Law was also asked about her character. She commented on many aspects of Knight’s departure, including the conflict it caused between Jess and Jimmy. She described the situation for Jimmy and Jess as the couple potentially being “each other’s rebounds” from the loss that they had both experienced. Law suggested that her character may have settled and isn’t living up to her “full potential.” Having made such bold claims about her character’s aspirations, it feels unlikely that Law’s character would walk back her departure now.

What It Means That Knight’s Departure Was Compared To Gibbs & Tony’s

It Means That Binder Is Equating Jessica Knight’s Season Finale Moment With A Departure

It’s significant that Binder would compare Jess’ NCIS departure to that of Gibbs and Tony leaving the NCIS series. Binder suggested that showrunners are trying to follow “the Tony DiNozzo departure,” describing a writing process where a departure is set up for a character in case they exit. It’s a process that calls into question what combination of things could pull a certain character away from MCRT. For Jess’ character, it was that she had her dream position open up, along with a change in her relationship with Jimmy, that provided an opportunity to step away.

While he kept the options open for her character, Binder made a comparison between the arc for Jess in the season finale and the departures of major characters like Tony. It suggests that Jessica Knight’s departure is indeed a departure and not just an empty cliffhanger. In the interview, Binder also alluded to characters “who just disappear like Gibbs,” referencing when Mark Harmon exited the show in season 19. Even if it was just to suggest that the future was open for Jess, comparing Jess’ season finale ending to Gibbs’ departure equates to a firm exit, signaling that’s what’s next.

The positive element of Knight’s departure, along with the exits of key MCRT members Gibbs and Tony, is that Knight’s departure arc throughout season 21 would make an outstanding sendoff for her character. Tony’s departure happens in season 13, episode 24, “Family First,” and it’s the second-highest-rated episode of NCIS of all time, putting it nearly at the top of the list of the best NCIS episodes across its 21 seasons. It suggests that when NCIS showrunners give their characters a deeper purpose when sending them off the show, it pays off for years to come.

How NCIS Season 21 Served As A Proper Sendoff For Jess’ Character

Jess Had Outstanding Moments In NCIS Season 21 That Memorialize Her Character

If Law’s character does, in fact, end up saying goodbye to the show, it would likely be at the beginning of season 22. Knight’s official departure could be initiated with an appearance by the actor. That said, Knight’s exit could simply be addressed in exposition, as has been done in the series for characters who experienced major life changes that caused them to leave the team but who, for whatever reason, couldn’t make an appearance on NCIS. If that’s the case, and Knight doesn’t appear in NCIS season 22, then NCIS season 21 already served as a proper sendoff.

NCIS season 21 was filled with memorable scenes for Jessica Knight. Knight had her best moments in season 21, comprised of a blend of action and emotion that was well-suited to the arc that could soon serve as her departure. In season 21, episode 1, “Algún Día,” Jess has a moment in the elevator with FBI Agent Rose that exemplifies what her character stands for. She stated that her loyalty wasn’t to her team or even to the badge, but to the truth. The moment could also serve as the passing of her role to the perfect Jessica Knight replacement.

Jess also experienced a moment of resolution in her most important external relationship on the show: her relationship with Jimmy. While it could just be a plot point for the couple, it’s more likely that it was the beginning of the end for Special Agent Knight, and the moment cleared her to exit the show without unresolved feelings. While many interpreted Jess’ arc at the end of NCIS season 21 as a cliffhanger that would lead to the return of her character, new details about Jessica Knight’s departure may confirm that it’s actually the end of Katrina Law’s NCIS stay.


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