For 15 years, actress Pauley Perrette was a fixture on the small screen as NCIS’s feisty goth, Abby Sciuto. Until her departure from the show in 2018, she appeared on every single episode of the CBS crime drama. But just a couple of years after she left, the 53-year-old New Orleans native decided to quit acting altogether and announced her retirement. So where is Pauley Perrette now? And why did she decide to leave Hollywood behind? We have the answers for you.
Pauley Perrette Is Best Known For Playing Abby Sciuto On ‘NCIS’
Currently in its 18th season, NCIS has been a smash hit since first hitting the airwaves back in 2003. Along with Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, and Sean Murray, Pauley Perrette was one of the show’s original cast members, appearing in the pilot and every episode thereafter for 15 seasons.
Perrette played quirky forensic scientist Abby Sciuto, who was truly a one-of-a-kind character. While her style of dress was alternative-goth, her personality was the opposite of dark and moody. “With Abby, “[NCIS creator Don Bellisario] wanted to take an alternative-style person with tattoos and make her someone who is happy, totally put together and successful,” Perrette said of Abby in an interview with BuddyTV back in 2007. “All the script said about her was: black hair, caffeinated and smart… She’s completely unaware that anybody thinks she looks weird. She thinks she looks pretty and never calls herself anything other than happy.”
During her many years on the show, Perrette often spoke in interviews about how much she loved and respected the character of Abby Sciuto, which is probably why she played her so long. “I’m the biggest Abby Sciuto fan on planet Earth,” she said in a 2011 interview with the Blade. “I mean, I didn’t invent her. I just have the honor of playing her. She fascinates me.”
Why Pauley Perrette Left ‘NCIS’ In 2018
Unfortunately, a time came when Perrette’s love for Abby Sciuto was no longer enough to keep her working on the show. Reportedly, the catalyst for her departure was a 2016 dispute she had with co-star and executive producer Mark Harmon over a dog bite.
As the story goes, Harmon continued to bring his dog to work despite the fact that the animal had (reportedly) bitten a crew member badly enough to require stitches. This frightened many cast and crew members, so Perrette confronted Harmon about having his pooch on the set—and the chat did not go well. Sources say the confrontation caused a permanent rift in the actors’ relationship, to the extent that the pair never acted together in a scene again.
When Perrette exited the show two years later, she stoked the flames of the dog bite rumors by tweeting: “NO I AM NOT COMING BACK! EVER! (Please stop asking?)” Perrette wrote. “I am terrified of Harmon and him attacking me. I have nightmares about it.”
She added: “You think I didn’t expect blowback? 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.”
Unsurprisingly, the tweets caused quite an uproar. CBS even issued a statement regarding the incident, saying: “Pauley Perrette had a terrific run on N.C.I.S. 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.”
Though Perrette never clarified her statement about Harmon, it’s clear something awful went down on the NCIS set. In 2020, she tweeted about how toxic the NCIS set was, writing: “And there are things SO RACIST and SO MISOGYNISTIC and SO HOMOPHOBIC and cruel that were said on set at that show that I have never spoken of because the language is SO HURTFUL. And y’all wondered why I quit? Those producers are still there. All of them. Including HIM.”
Many speculated the “him” Perrette was referring to was Harmon, though we don’t know for sure. Either way, it sounds like Perrette’s last few years on NCIS were anything but harmonious.
She Starred In ‘Broke’ During 2020
Perrette returned to TV in April 2020 on a sitcom called Broke. Also starring Jaime Camil, Natasha Leggero, Izzy Diaz, and Antonio Raul Corbo, the show was about a single mom (played by Perrette) who takes in her once-wealthy sister and in-laws.
While the show wasn’t a success—only 13 episodes were aired and it was canceled after just one season—Perrette says making the sitcom was one of the best things to happen to her, especially after everything she went through on the NCIS set. The actress tweeted: “This show restored my faith in people, in this industry. SO GRATEFUL I worked with this cast & crew Best people I’ve EVER worked with. Healed me. Changed me. Made me whole. So Blessed.”
She Officially Announced Her Retirement From Acting In October 2020
Despite having a good experience on the set of Broke, Perrette ultimately decided to call it quits as an actor—much to the chagrin of her many fans. The former actress broke the news in July of last year, tweeting: “I’m HAPPILY RETIRED! Finally! Woot! All I ever wanted!”
She also noted that she had originally planned to retire after leaving NCIS, but decided she couldn’t pass up the part on Broke. “Actually I retired after NCIS but BROKE was important, beautiful. I did my last dance & am proud of it! Everyone that knows me knew I was retiring right after. I’m proud of my work. I love you guys! I AM FREE!!! (To be the tiny little simple human I am!)”
A couple of months later, in an excited tweet about switching up her look, Perrette reiterated her retirement announcement.
“Does ANYONE KNOW if there’s a legal and safe way to get a freaking #tattoo and #piercing in #LosAngeles now?” she wrote. “I’m finally (after over 4 decades!!!) not under contract to a studio or a record company or a modeling agency and can do WHATEVER I WANT! I WANT new tattoos & piercings!”
Perrette then gleefully reasserted her status as a former actress. “I finally and happily retired! And this is what I was looking forward to!!! My rules in life now are “if my #rescuedogs don’t care, it’s cool! I only answer to God and animals and plants now. WOOT!!!”
What Is Pauley Perrette Doing Now?
The former Abby Sciuto is clearly enjoying her life in retirement and frequently checks in with her fans via her Twitter feed. She spends tons of time with her rescue dogs and recently showed off a cool, tie-dye hairdo.