NCIS and Other Similar Shows Need To Be Canceled


The network procedural format is extremely stale, and no true innovation will occur unless NCIS and all of its spin-offs are canceled.

During its peak, it was feasible to watch Law & Order 24 hours a day with just a little channel surfing. Many other properties, from NCIS to CSI, the FBI to 911, and even The Rookie, have new spin-offs these days.

To remain relevant in the face of streaming (check out the 2022 Variety ratings round-up to see how awful it is), every procedural show must be canceled.

A procedural is a show that follows a rigid structure from episode to episode; nowadays, it’s typically a police or medical drama.

While there may be an overarching storyline, such as NCIS and the Port-to-Port k1ller, CSI’s Miniature K1ller, and even Bones had Christopher Pelant for multiple seasons, it is usually only a small portion of an episode and is only relevant during Sweeps (mid-November, when ad pricing is set) and the season finale.

Most episodes begin with an introduction, followed by character moments building a secondary narrative, the bulk of solving a mystery/problem, resolution, and a closing moment concluding the secondary plot.

The long-standing success of the procedural TV formula has been a staple of network television, offering viewers a familiar and comforting experience. However, with many of these shows surpassing the 10-year mark, there is a call for cancellation to make room for fresh and innovative content.

NCIS is one of my favorite series, but I stopped watching it after Mark Harmon left. Agent Leeroy Jethro Gibbs was the rough glue that held the team together, and his departure in Season 19 would have been a fitting series ending.

Instead, Gary Cole was cast as Alden Parker, and Season 20 is currently airing while the rest of CBS’ lineup falls apart.

Extending series past their peak contributes to television stagnation, stifles creativity, and makes it difficult to attract new viewers. True Lies, an espionage procedural that debuted recently, failed to connect with both critics and the general public.

Instead of rehashing well-worn themes, the argument is made for networks to explore more creative espionage show concepts such to Homeland, 24, or the later seasons of Person of Interest.

Streaming success stories such as Succession and Billions demonstrate a move away from long seasons. They demonstrate the efficacy of modern primetime dramas by conveying compelling storylines in a brief manner.


Person of Interest, a standout procedural, evolved into a nuanced serialized story. Contrasting it with NCIS, it’s challenging to identify substantial changes since 2005.

In an era of innovative shows like Barry and The Last of Us, the question arises: Do we truly need more clichéd detective stories or weekly serial k1ller plots?

Instead of adhering to a formula that has been in place for decades, network television must embrace crisp, original storytelling. The unwillingness to try something new creates stasis, threatening the comeback of even classics like Quantum Leap.

Canceling some NCIS spin-offs is a good step, but NCIS: Sydney’s potential deviation from the formula remains uncertain. Amid the saturation of FBI, 911, Rookies, and Chicago series, there’s a call for more innovative shows like Poker Faces that break the mold, tell compact stories, and conclude.

To save network television, all procedural shows must be terminated. To stay relevant, CBS, ABC, NBC, and Fox must learn from shows like Yellowstone, Succession, Poker Face, and Reservation Dogs and Wednesday. The procedural must die in order to be saved.

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