The cr1me drama “NCIS,” which began as a spin-off of the naval law series “JAG,” has now outlasted its hit parent show and has been on the air continuously since 2003. The series has also spawned three spin-off shows, “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “NCIS: New Orleans,” and “NCIS: Hawai’i,” all of which offer viewers variations on the well-loved formula. The original, along with “Law & Order: SVU” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” is one of the longest-running live-action primetime series still on the air.
Despite the departure of the majority of the original cast over the years, including former series lead Mark Harmon, who will leave “NCIS” in 2021, the CBS procedural remains popular in the ratings. According to The Hollywood Reporter, even after nearly two decades on the air, the show was the top scripted network series during the 2021-2022 television season based on seven-day averages. People adore the high-octane drama of “NCIS” cases, combined with the main characters’ easy camaraderie and banter.
While many fans have stuck with the show through thick and thin, even some diehard fans don’t expect to cry too much when “NCIS” airs a proper finale. This is why.
Fans on Reddit wonder if NCIS has outstayed its welcome.
A since-deleted account began a post on the r/NCIS subreddit with the headline: “Am I alone in thinking the original NCIS has run its course?” The writer went on to describe themselves as a superfan who has never missed an episode and is intimately familiar with the characters and their stories. That’s why the show’s latest season, which sees longtime lead character Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmons) leave after only a few episodes, didn’t feel the same to them.
They wrote, “This season feels like a brand new show.” “I doubt the current cast and writers can drag me into a new world with the anti-Gibbs as a boss…” The anti-Gibbs in question is, of course, the much friendlier new NCIS Supervisory Special Agent Alden Parker (Gary Cole).
Many viewers appeared to concur. “NCIS is on its last legs,” wrote commenter ‘u/Jlx 27’, 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’ proposed that with almost all of the original cast members gone, “NCIS” as fans knew it is no longer a thing. While some fans, such as u/sparkplug 23, felt that the series had actually improved in quality with Season 19, the majority of those who responded to the thread seemed to agree that the things that had kept them hooked on the show had already vanished. Finally, it appears to come down to how much one cares about the new cast members and characters on “NCIS.”
NCIS does not appear to be ending anytime soon.
Despite some fans’ comfort with the idea of the series ending, CBS has approved a 20th season of “NCIS,” which will premiere in the fall of 2022. The reality is that the show is still massively popular, with or without Harmon, and it makes good financial sense for the network if “NCIS” continues to produce new episodes.
“NCIS” showrunner Steven D. Binder told Parade that the series is still about the characters, even though much of the old guard has retired, saying, “Anyone who watches the show knows that it’s really about the people on the show.” Binder also hinted that future episodes will focus on the NCIS team members’ personal lives.
It helps that Harmon’s departure from the series appears to be temporary. “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,” Binder said in a statement published in The Hollywood Reporter. Harmon could then reprise his role as Gibbs on future seasons of “NCIS,” even if only for one or two episodes. It remains to be seen whether this will re-energize long-time fans of the series.
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