Max Thieriot as Clay Spenser in SEAL Team
Credit: Getty Images

We were heartbroken when we had to say goodbye to Clay Spenser in SEAL Team Season 6. But why did Max Thieriot leave SEAL Team and what happened to his character, Clay Spenser, on the show? Keep reading to find out.

SEAL Team is Paramount Plus’ military drama series created by Benjamin Cavell. The show follows an elite unit of United States Navy SEALs called the Bravo Team, who undertake the most dangerous and life-threatening missions worldwide. The show, which was formerly on CBS for four seasons, is currently in its sixth season and was recently renewed for a seventh in January 2023, according to Variety. “We look forward to bringing ‘SEAL Team’ fans even more of the series’ poignant storylines and thrilling missions with the upcoming seventh season,” said Tanya Giles, chief programming officer of Paramount Streaming, to our sister site. The cast includes David Boreanaz, Jessica Paré, Neil Brown Jr., A. J. Buckley and Toni Trucks and formerly Max Thieriot.

Thieriot played the role of Clay Spenser, the Navy SEAL and Special Warfare Operator First Class of Bravo Team. Spenser followed in the footsteps of his father, Ash Spencer, a former member of SEAL Team 3. In Season 2, Clay was severely injured in a surprise bomb attack in Manila while trying to train Filipino SEALs. Thieriot portrayed Spenser from the very first season of SEAL Team, which premiered in September 2017, until his last appearance in Season 6, Episode 8, “Aces and Eights.”

The actor spoke with the Daily Caller in March 2019 ahead of Season 2 and explained why it’s important that the show feels authentic for everyone involved. “I think the thing is, to be honest, that’s the most important thing to us. Whether the technical aspect [of] the military tactics or the stuff that now goes on in this community or if it’s the personal life stories or the sacrifices that these men and women make … to make sure we are as authentic as we can possibly be is, by far, the most important thing,” he said in the interview. Thieriot also talked about the tactical and weapon training he and his costars received on the show to make it look realistic. “We had amazing technical advisors on set, and we still have a couple Delta guys, guys from various field teams, we have Marine Force Recon, we have guys from all different branches of the military that are on the show as producers, writers, actors, stuntmen, crew and, so, we have a lot of time rehearsing now,” he added.

Thieriot grew up in a small town in Northern California where “everybody owned guns,” which he said helped him get used to being around different kinds of weapons on the show. “I’m a country boy so I came from a small town, Northern California, where everybody owned guns. We grew up, you know, hunting and fishing. It’s obviously not the same gun movement, but I spend a lot of time around guns and have been around them since I was eight or nine years old. For me, it was kind of more learning some of the technical stuff,” he also said in the interview.

So, why did Max Thieriot leave SEAL Team after six years and what happened to Clay Spenser on the show? We’ve got the answers, below.

Why did Max Thieriot leave SEAL Team?

Max Thieriot as Clay Spenser in SEAL Team

Why did Max Thieriot leave SEAL Team? Max Thieriot left SEAL Team to focus on Fire Country, where he’s the main character and executive producer on the new CBS firefighter show. At first, the actor tried balancing both shows simultaneously, which seemed feasible as the production of SEAL Team Season 6 occurred before Fire Country.

Our sister publication Deadline reported that in May 2022 that Thieriot would star in Fire Country and return for the sixth season of SEAL Team. “It’s obviously a juggle, but thankfully, we started SEAL Team season six before we started shooting episode two of Fire Country, so I was able to work it right into the gap in between,” the actor told Deadline at a CBS virtual TCA press day in September 2022. He continued: “It’s been crazy, but life’s crazy. I got a couple of kids to throw in there and moving around up to Vancouver to shoot a TV show. But I’m young, and I can keep up. I like staying busy, so it works for me.”

But eventually, Thieriot left SEAL Team to focus solely on Fire Country. “As Fire Country kept passing each development checkmark, it got clearer and clearer that there was a real possibility that we’d be losing Max at some point,” SEAL Team Showrunner Spencer Hudnut told TV Line in November 2022. “It wasn’t until maybe even a month after Fire Country got picked up [to series] that it became clear that Max was leaving. Everyone had talked about how he could do both shows, but it was very clear that that wasn’t the case.” Read on to learn what the writers of SEAL Team decided to do with Clay Spenser’s character.

What happened to Clay Spenser on SEAL Team?

Max Thieriot as Clay Spenser in SEAL Team

What happened to Clay Spenser on SEAL Team? In the Season 5 finale of SEAL Team, Clay’s fate was unknown after his team was ambushed in a war zone (which would have been a reasonable time for the actor to step away to focus on Fire Country). Rumors about Spenser’s death in Season 5 were dismissed when Thieriot announced that he would return for Season 6.

But Clay Spenser’s time came to a tragic end in Season 6, Episode 8, when he died after being shot. In the scene, he saves Ben (Joey Pollari) after he pulled a gun on himself. While Clay is talking Ben out of taking his own life, a security guard shoots Spenser and kills him. Hudnut revealed to TV Line why they chose to kill Spenser this way: “Yes, it is shocking and it’s horrible and it’s an accident, but it was really important to me that Clay, in my mind, died a hero. He saves Ben from making a horrible decision, he saves Ben from taking his own life, and he comes full circle from the Swanny storyline in Season 2, but here he’s able to succeed.”

Fire Country airs on Fridays at 9 p.m. on CBS.

For more on Fire Country, check out our photo gallery on who’s who in the cast.