NCIS has been part of the CBS primetime lineup since 2003. After 18 seasons and 414 episodes, it is officially one of the longest-running dramas in television history — and it’s not over yet. CBS has renewed the series for season 19, with star Mark Harmon returning as Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
Many loyal fans have watched the procedural faithfully each week for 18 years. But it’s a totally different viewing experience seeing 18 years’ worth of television if you binge the show in its entirety. Here are 7 odd things you notice when binge-watching all 18 seasons of NCIS.
7. A main ‘NCIS’ character literally left to take a phone call and never came back
In season 14, Jennifer Esposito joined the cast of NCIS as special agent Alex Quinn. She and Duane Henry (Clayton Reeves) became part of the team after the exit of Michael Weatherly’s Anthony DiNozzo.
Despite the limited screen time and storylines, Alex became a fan favorite. But in the season 14 finale, she took a phone call from her mom, walked off the screen, and was never heard from or mentioned again.
6. They work ALL the time
NCIS agents really love their job. So much so, it’s hard to tell when they actually leave the office and go home. Fans will occasionally see Leroy in his basement working on his boat or at the diner grabbing breakfast. But other than that, it feels like these NCIS agents are at work 24/7.
5. A lot of people in the Navy and Marines are getting brutally murdered
There’s currently about half a million active-duty personnel in the US Navy and Marine Corps. And in the world of NCIS, a lot of them are getting brutally murdered. As the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, it’s their job to investigate crimes against the Navy and the Corps and all those connected to these military branches.
But when you binge-watch NCIS, it feels like these servicemen and women are disproportionately victims of vicious killers. From meat puzzles to a hotel room covered in blood and body parts to a hot tub cooking a body, Navy personnel and Marines beware!
4. The show has been on FOREVER
This one may seem obvious, but it’s extremely noticeable when binge-watching NCIS that it has been on TV for a really long time. And it is not just because it will take you months to watch all of the episodes.
The first five or six seasons were made before the switch to HD, so the quality changes significantly. When watching the pilot, it’s almost jarring just how old the episode looks. As the years go on and the budget increases, it starts to look like a completely different show.
Then there is the issue of the technology. The series begins with palm pilots, flip phones, and chunky TV and computer screens, and it stays that way for about six seasons. The flat screens and smart phones do eventually appear, but Gibbs still uses his trusty flip phone to this day.
3. The fallout between two ‘NCIS’ OG’s was painfully obvious
Even if you never heard about the behind-the-scenes drama between Harmon and Pauley Perrette (Abby Sciuto), you can tell when binge-watching NCIS that something wasn’t right. Harmon and Perrette were both NCIS OG’s. And in the first 13 seasons, their characters had a father-daughter type of relationship.
Abby worshipped Gibbs and was always rushing to tell him what she discovered in her lab. Meanwhile, Gibbs cared deeply for Abby and would always bring her Caff-Pows and kiss her on the cheek when she worked her magic.
But in season 14, something obviously changed. The two characters rarely spoke to one another. And when they did, it was via video chat. When Perrette left the show after 15 seasons, her character didn’t even tell Gibbs goodbye.
2. The different ‘NCIS’ showrunners have distinct styles
TV geeks know all about showrunners. They are the boss, and they have influence over everything from writing to props. In the history of NCIS, there has been three showrunner eras — Donald Bellisario, Gary Glasberg, and Frank Cardea/George Schenck.
Bellisario was the series creator, but he was forced out in 2007 because he didn’t get along with Harmon. For the following two seasons, the duties were given to longtime show collaborators Chas. Floyd Johnson and Shane Brennan until Glasberg joined the crew in 2009.
After Glasberg suddenly passed away in his sleep at the age of 50 in 2016, Cardea and Schenck took over. Each one of these eras are very distinct, with the episodes looking and feeling different from the previous era. As a viewer watching these episodes back-to-back-back, you can tell when a big staff change has been made.
1. ‘NCIS’ has killed off a ton of characters
During season 18, NCIS went pretty dark with the death of two characters who had been part of the show for years. But fans should not be surprised considering just how many people have been killed off of NCIS in 18 seasons.
From Caitlyn Todd (Sasha Alexander) to Director Jenny Shepard (Lauren Holly) to Clayton Reeves, no one in the cast is safe.
But that moment when Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) is revealed to actually be alive! Now that was quite the shocker. Hopefully, fans will get a #Tiva cameo in season 19. But fans will have to wait to find out.
NCIS will return to CBS for season 19 in September.
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