Originally a spin-off of the naval law series “JAG,” c****e drama “NCIS” has now outlasted its hit parent show, and has been on the air continuously since 2003. The series has also produced three spin-off shows of its own, with “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” and “NCIS: Hawai’i” delivering viewers variations on the well-loved formula. Along with shows like “Law & Order: SVU” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” the original stands as one of the longest-running live-action primetime series still on the air.
Despite the departure of most of the original cast over the years, including former series lead Mark Harmon exiting “NCIS” in 2021, the CBS procedural is still going strong in the ratings. Even after nearly two decades on air, the show was the top scripted network series during the 2021-2022 television season based on seven-day averages, according to The Hollywood Reporter. People just love the high-octane drama of the cases on “NCIS,” mixed with the easy camaraderie and banter of the main characters.
However, while many fans have stuck with the series through thick and thin, even some diehard viewers don’t think they’ll shed too many tears when “NCIS” airs a proper finale. Here’s why.
Reddit fans wonder if NCIS has outstayed its welcome
On the r/NCIS subreddit, a since-deleted account began a post with the headline: “Am I alone in thinking the original NCIS has run it’s course?” The writer went on to describe themselves as a superfan who has never missed an episode and knows the characters and their stories intimately. That’s why the latest season of the series, which sees longtime lead character Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmons) exit the show just a few episodes in, just didn’t feel the same to them. “This season feels like a brand new show,” they wrote. “I doubt the current cast and writers can pull off sucking me into a new world, with the anti-Gibbs as a boss …” The anti-Gibbs in question is, of course, the significantly more personable new NCIS Supervisory Special Agent Alden Parker (Gary Cole).
Many viewers seemed to agree. Commenter u/Jlx_27 wrote, “NCIS is on it’s last legs,” while r/oylaura admitted, “I find I’m watching more out of habit and because there’s not a whole lot else on.” And u/HatTrkPatrk posed the theory that with almost all of the original cast members now gone, “NCIS” as fans knew it is no more. While some fans, like u/sparkplug_23, felt that the series had actually improved in quality with Season 19, most of those replying to the thread seemed in agreement that the things that had kept them attached to the show were already gone. Ultimately, it seems to depend on how much one cares about the new cast members and characters now on “NCIS.”
NCIS doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon
Despite some fans being comfortable with the idea of the series coming to an end, CBS has given the go-ahead for a 20th season of “NCIS,” which will premiere in fall 2022. The reality is that with or without Harmon, the show is still massively popular, and it makes good financial sense for the network if “NCIS” continues to make new episodes.
And even though much of the old guard has retired, “NCIS” showrunner Steven D. Binder told Parade that the series is still about the characters, saying, “Anyone who watches the show knows that it’s really about the people on the show.” Binder also suggested future episodes will focus on the personal lives of the NCIS team members.
It helps that Harmon’s exit from the series doesn’t appear to be permanent. He’s still an executive producer, and Binder said in a statement published in The Hollywood Reporter, “So regarding the future of Gibbs, as long-time fans of the show may have noticed over the years … never count Leroy Jethro Gibbs out.” It’s possible then that Harmon could return as Gibbs on future seasons of “NCIS,” even if it’s only for one or two episodes. Whether that would re-energize longtime fans of the series remains to be seen.