Pauley Perrette actually has a few real tattoos that didn’t require any special makeup for her character, but the creative team apparently decided Abby needed even more. That included the iconic spider web tattoo she has on her neck featured in pretty much all of her episodes. That one required application before every shoot, and as Perrette claimed years ago, she wanted to get rid of it immediately.
In a behind-the-scenes featurette for the “NCIS” Season 5 DVD, Perrette explains, “I keep trying to get the writers to write an episode where Abby gets her neck tattoo removed, but it’s no go. So, I guess we’re going to have to keep on doing this. But pretty much every day when we get to this point, I go, ‘I hate that tattoo,’ and my [makeup artist] says, ‘I know.’ But I do it because it’s my job. I mean, it’s cute; it just doesn’t feel nice.” The stickiness of the tattoo combined with the choker Abby tended to wear was reportedly not the nicest sensation in the world, but Perrette powered through.
Later in the video, she estimates that they had probably applied that tattoo at least 600 times over the years. Seeing as how she had to continue wearing it for 10 more seasons after the crew filmed that featurette, it likely had to go on thousands of more times. Fortunately, she didn’t have to apply any fake tattoos for her most recent stint on the short-lived sitcom, “Broke,” but going forward, we’d guess she’d never want to see a spider web again for as long as she lives.