The daughter of FBI agent Tobias Fornell (Joe Spano), Emily Fornell (Juliette Angelo), had been a recurring character since Season 4, and fans had become used to watching the character grow up and be part of storylines. So watching Emily die in the Season 18 episode “Winter Chill” after dealing with drug addiction for some time may have simply been too much for some viewers. It’s especially rough because things seemed to be looking up both for Tobias and the show after so much darkness, only for the FBI agent to lose his daughter.
One viewer tweeted their unhappiness with the development, writing, “FIRST BREENA DIES AND NOW EMILY FORNELL!?!?” Another Twitter user agreed, observing that “NCIS” had seemingly been focusing on killing off female characters. Laura Hurley of CinemaBlend argued in more detail that “On the whole, however, this was just an emotional blow that NCIS didn’t need to deliver at this point in Season 18.” She also recommended that the series’ writers could have “[added] one or two episodes before killing off Emily” to soften the blow.
Luckily for the ratings, the show still hasn’t killed off Gibbs, which, based on fan response, would likely be what marks the end of “NCIS.”