It’s the end of an era on NCIS. Pauley Perrette announced in October that her 15th season playing forensic specialist Abby Sciuoto would be her last, and on Tuesday night, the flagship CBS show said goodbye to the star in an emotional episode. Warning: There are spoilers ahead!

Tuesday’s episode, titled “Two Steps Back,” was part two of Perrette’s two-episode farewell, and it picked up after Clay Reeves (Duane Henry) and Abby were held at gunpoint in an alley in the previous episode. Part one ended with a fade to black and the sound of a gunshot, and the latest episode opened with the news that they had both been shot, with Clay succumbing to his injuries.

Abby was in critical condition but pulled through and woke up midway through the episode. After learning that she and Clay weren’t actually mugged, but targeted, she set out to find the shooter on her own and eventually coaxed a confession out of him. While debriefing with the team, she said that she would escort Clay’s body back to London so he could be buried next to his mom, and that she wouldn’t be returning.

“I’m not coming back. I’m leaving NCIS,” she said. “Clay died saving my life and I owe him a debt and I tend to see that through. Clay always wanted to start a charity in honor of his mom, and since he’s not here to make that happen, I will. I know you may not understand, but it’s something I have to do, not just for him, for me. It wasn’t an easy decision. You guys are my family and this is my home, but you have to go with your gut, and my gut is telling me that I have to go.”

She also left a tearjerker of a note for the head of the team, Gibbs, saying she was too chicken to say goodbye in person. “I hope you know what you mean to me, Gibbs,” it read. “Every moment, every lesson, every hug. I’m thankful for it all.”

Perrette made the decision to leave the show over a year ago. As her on-screen goodbye came to a close, though, she hinted that it might not be forever, telling Tim McGee, “It’s not goodbye for good, it’s goodbye for now.” Sniff.

Are you sad to see Abby go on NCIS? Let us know @BritandCo!

(photos via Robert Voets/CBS + Patrick McElhenney/CBS)