On Dec. 7, the 53-year-old actress became the third original star (behind Gary Dourdan and William Petersen) to depart the long-running crime drama. All of her current costars — Ted Danson (D.B. Russel), George Eads (Nick Stokes), Jorja Fox (Sara Sidle), and Paul Guilfoyle (Capt. Jim Brass) among them — were there to appear in Helgenberger’s final scene and to bid farewell to the unofficial den mom of the franchise.
“I’m not leaving saying, ‘I gotta get out of this job,’” explains [Marg] Helgenberger the next day, while nursing a hangover (she and Fox threw back a few tequila shots after leaving work the night before). […]