- In "Psych Out" Gibbs periodically spars with the head of Psychological Warfare. Halfway through the episode, Gibbs shows up unexplainedly at her kid's middle school (which is classified info, since her kid is her one weakness). He then smiles without saying a word, while the U.S. secretary of mind games proceeds to completely lose her shit. EPIC.
- In "Once a Hero," Agent Lee—previously known mostly for sneaking off to have trysts with geeky assistant ME Jimmy Palmer—goes undercover to help the team bust a slave trader who kidnaps Chinese girls and pimps them out. She keeps her cool, even when the trader uncovers her bug, and when the rest of the team bursts in, she does her part by ruthlessly and efficiently beating down The Dragon and taking his gun. Magnificent.
- Gibbs at the end of "Once a Hero":
Lee: (translating from the criminal's Chinese) The bum tried to be a hero.
Gibbs: (to the criminal) Bryan Wright. Sergeant Bryan Wright. Bronze Star, Purple Heart, United States Marine Corps. He was a hero!
- In Season 2's Chained, McGee, after being repeatedly harassed by the Deputy Secretary of State, verbally slaps her down and basically hangs up on her. The three people operating the video link in the room applaud.
- Making the scene slightly more awesome for McGee is the fact that one of the three people there, and the first to start applauding, is played by Don S. Davis—General Hammond of Stargate SG-1.
- McGee gets another one when he stands up to a prison full of (female) convicts in "Caged":
"I've never hit a woman before, but you come at me with that thing and I will drop you!"
- In yet another episode, McGee is tasked with interrogating a Jerk Jock. He comes into the interrogation room and banters with the suspect about how it's easy to pick on nerds and geeks, and the jock laughs and tells McGee about some of his exploits. Then McGee coldly smiles and says that he was one of those nerds in high school, and now he has a badge, a gun, and the paperwork expertise to make the jock's life very, very unpleasant. The look on the suspect's face is priceless.
- In "Ex-File", the DIA (Defence Intelligence Agency) sends a tech over to oversee Abby in her investigation of the victim's laptop; said victim having been a member of the DIA. The tech turns out to only be there to erase all the evidence, which makes Abby very angry. She asks twice for permission to kick the ever loving crap out of the guy, before getting her wish on the third try. Best part of this: the guy tries to make a deal with Gibbs. Gibbs responds with "... Abby." Abby then punches him in the face. Abby 1, Bad guy nil.
- Palmer himself gets one in the season five episode "About Face". After spending most of the episode in a deep funk over not being able to identify a man who surprised him at a crime scene and shot at him, when he finally does remember enough for the team to roll out to make the collar, he follows them to the scene only to be ordered by Gibbs to stay in the car. When he happens to catch sight of the shooter about to drive away, he takes off his glasses, floors his car, lets out a berserker yell and rams the gunman's truck, stopping him long enough for the team to get there and make the arrest. When Gibbs asks him what the hell he thought he was doing, he replies (somewhat dazedly) that he did ''not'' leave the car. Gibbs even pays him a characteristically oblique compliment for his atypical BadAssery.
- In "Iced", the team determines that a Marine was murdered as part of a hood's plot to take over leadership of a gang, but can't put together enough proof to go to court. Gibbs essentially says "No. We're not losing another one," and brings the guy in anyhow, and while Ziva, McGee, and Tony each take turns interrogating him, Gibbs brings in several other members of the gang, taking them through the evidence they've collected and explaining how the guy they thought was relaying orders from their leader had actually murdered the leader and three of his lieutenants by using the Marine as bait, concluding by pointing out that he'll never get a conviction. Then he collects the perp from the interrogation room and drives him back to his gang's hangout. Cut to the next morning and a news report about the perp's body being found in a dumpster, killed gang execution-style. Gibbs walks by and asks the team, "What are you all lookin' at?"
- Any scene with Gibbs and Tobias Fornell drips of awesome. "And people say we're bastards?" "Only because they know us."
- Ducky facing down the Deputy Director of Mossad and throwing him off.
Bodnar: Excuse me. And whose grandfather would you be?
Ducky: Well that depends...who's your grandmother?
- Ziva's first scene. She walks into the NCIS bullpen to find Tony fantasizing about their recently departed teammate, Kate. She sizes up the situation, and with a few well-placed questions manages to knock Tony completely off his game. He never quite recovers.
- Tony has his own CMofA in the pre-credits teaser of the season five episode "Requiem". Seeing Gibbs drive a car off a dock and into the water to escape gunfire from two mooks, Tony charges the gunmen head-on, shooting them both without missing a beat and then tossing his pistol aside to dive in after the car, then hauls Gibbs and a civilian up and out of the water.
- This tops his previous Crowning Moment in season three's "Under Covers," when the team rushed to his rescue only to find that he'd already kicked the ever-living hell out of the mook who was about to shoot him, despite being tied to a chair.
- "I didn't say it was a perfect plan."
- In 9x15, the people who dress up as superheroes and fulfill the role of a Neighborhood Watch are pretty nerdy. That doesn't invalidate the fact that they put themselves in danger constantly in order to keep crime down and can actually be pretty badass. In what may be one of the most Awesome Moments awarded to a one-episode character, thin, extremely nerdy-looking Clarence Tobett One Hit KOs the murderer with an Offhand Backhand.
- Abby in "Bloodbath". "And don't look up my skirt!" TAZE
- And later in that episode, Abby and Gibbs both get one simply by Gibbs turning off a light, revealing to Abby's stalker ex-boyfriend that, contrary to what he believes, she is not watching his interrogation, shattering his illusions that she reciprocates his obsession with her.
- One for Ducky: "Release the captives, Mr. Palmer!" in Halloween episode "Witch Hunt". The "captives" referred to are a pair of masked teenagers dressed as ninja who'd made them late to the crime scene by egging the forensics van. Ducky had gone after them, subdued them and locked them in the back of the van. Once Jimmy lets them out, Ducky marches up, hands them paper towels and cleaning liquid, and tells them to get to work cleaning their mess. Everything is clean and the teens are gone before Ducky gets back. The icing on the cake is Ducky's commentary after setting them to work.
Ducky: Nothing that impressive. After all, it's not like they were real ninjas...
- Everything the team does in the episode "Call of Silence" (S2E7) concerning Ernest Yost, culminating in Gibbs in the interrogation room with him, triggering a flashback so that they can prove him innocent of murder, and let him keep his Medal of Honor.
- In the season 5 finale, the team's new boss actually understanding McGee's Techno Babble. "So, actually, you haven't done anything!"
- Also, Jenny dying in pretty much the most awesome fashion not involving an explosion. She takes, what, four guys with her?
- Another for Jenny: In Hiatus part 1, she manages to get into the ICU to visit Gibbs by calling then Secretary-of-State Condoleezza Rice. What tops it all off is this:
Calling the president's not gonna work. Jenny:
The president? Now that
would be overkill. [...] Condi
- Moments after that, a completely distraught Abby walks up to the nurse and nearly has a nervous breakdown, begging to see Gibbs and showing her a driver's license as ID, babbling that she looks different from her photo but that's her, honest, and the exasperated nurse just waves her through.
- "Frame-Up": Tony is a murder suspect. In his cell, he interrogates himself, including amateur psychoanalysis. Also a Moment of Awesome for Michael Weatherly, who acts the hell out of the whole scene.
- Arguably topped by Gibbs, who watches silently, and when DiNozzo doubts himself, gives DiNozzo his patented Gibbs Slap to return him to reality.
- In the same episode, Abby goes on a monologue that "I know that forensics was just testing me. And I will rise up, and I will find the man who did this to Tony and I will crucify him!!!" Cue her assistant turning away very slowly in fear. Mostly because he was the man that did it.
- And she did what she said she was going to do!
- "See No Evil".
McGee: This is the FBI, Grayson. Come out with your hands in the air. You didn't think you'd get away with this?
Perp: I know the FBI's SOPnote . I want a cell phone and a negotiator. Now!
: We're not the FBI, dirtbag!
- In "Legend", in order to plant a hidden camera in an auto shop, LA NCIS agent Kenzie pulls her cute little sports car over, finds a piece of pipe on the sidewalk, and bashes in a headlight. When this attracts the attention of a number of nearby thugs, she backs them down by pulling her gun, and gets back into the car to drive it to the shop where she manages to fast-talk the owner into taking it in, giving her the few seconds she needs to duck inside as well and plant the camera.
- At the end of the episode where unrepentant Serial Killer Kyle Boone tries to get the best of Gibbs and receive a stay of execution, Boone is being led away, laughing tauntingly about Gibbs' apparent failure to find a kidnapped agent. Not only do Team Gibbs reveal to Boone that his plan failed, his accomplice was killed, and he is still on schedule to be executed, but the crowning moment comes with Gibbs' goodbye to the killer:
- Ziva has been framed for murder, the FBI are hunting her, and she has to take the real killer alive or she'll never able to clear herself. She tracks the guy down, only to find out the person who hired him killed him just before she arrived. She lets herself appear to get beaten in a fight so that the Iranian agent responsible will villain monologue and give away to Ziva her identity and who she works for and why they did it. She tells her it was easier than she thought to get her to talk, beats the crap out of her. Then she pulls up her shirt, takes off the recording device taped to her abdomen, and announces, "I'm not just a killer any more, I'm an investigator!" to the rest of Team Gibbs after they arrive. This is the climax of her gradually learning how to be an investigator over the course of the last year. Huge character moment and totally awesome.
- Gibbs, in Season Two's "The Bone Yard", pulls a successful plan on not only a bunch of mobsters, but on the FBI and his own team, which involves him holding the mob boss's son hostage in exchange for the identity of the mobsters' mole in the FBI. Gibbs brings the actual mole as backup, and proceeds to briar patch the mob boss into killing his own mole. To cap it all off, the episode ends with Gibbs and Fornell walking out of the elevator to the astonished looks of the NCIS team—Gibbs faked Fornell's death.
- In the season 7 premiere, Tony is captured by terrorists, goes through a rough interrogation under the effects of a truth serum, swearing his captor will die. After telling the terrorists all about his team in NCIS, he makes this remark vis-a-vis a True Lies reference:
Tony: You have thirty seconds to live, Salim.
Salim: You're still bound! You're lying!
Tony: I can't lie, and I didn't say I was gonna be the one to kill you. Remember when I told you my boss was a sniper?
- The whole episode is one giant Moment of Awesome for Tony, starting off with "I'm here to kill ya" all the way through the end.
- It's a actually the culmination of a series of Moment of Awesome for Tony starting with surviving hand to hand combat with and subsequently killing Ziva's Boyfriend, a Mossad assassin (which gets subverted when Ducky discovers he was drunk), after almost singlehandedly discovering the real reasons of his presence in the US and then managing to trick the director of Mossad, Ziva's father, into revealing critical information while the director was interrogating him, all live on camera for his daughter to see.
- And of course, Gibbs sniping two armed terrorists from a cliff a half-mile away through a sand-covered window into a basement, then a third at close range just for good measure.
- Not to mention the fact that he gives no useful information to Saleem, while pissing him off.
- In Season 9's episode "Engaged: Part 2", Tony interrogates an Isreali Extremist, alone. No jokes, no jabs, just... plain, stone-cold determination that would impress Gibbs to the extreme.
- In another episode, when a Mossad officer comes to bring Ziva back to Israel, Gibbs yells at him to tell Eli David that she's off limits.
- Gibbs taking out the Big Bad before they can even raise their gun in "Dead Man Talking".
Gibbs: His name was Chris Pacci. He was a friend.
- The end of one episode involving an obsessed stalker that doesn't know the new identity of his old girlfriend, so he's been killing women that look like her. After he's found out he holds a gun pointed at Gibbs, who couldn't get his own gun up in time. He repeatedly yells at Gibbs to drop his gun. Gibbs tosses it at him, distracting him long enough to tackle him. The guy manages to throw him off and starts running, but Gibbs calmly picks up his rifle and shoots the guy in the butt, bringing him down. Then as he walks over to the guy, he calmly slings his rifle over his shoulder, smiling a bit.
- Ari takes control of autopsy. One of the things that Ducky says to him is, "I can't wait to weigh your liver." That threat was just so creative and fantastic, and it was delivered is such a terrifying voice.
- In a later episode, when Ari has Gerald call Ducky to ask a favor (i.e., arrange a meeting), Ducky almost casually offers him a free autopsy. Again it's the tone and delivery that makes it awesome.
- While investigating the murder of an ROTC officer on a college campus, Gibbs realizes that the commanding officer of the course is the killer. The guy surprises him and a fight ensues while Kate and Tony try to break inside the room, which Gibbs locked at the start of the interrogation. We see Gibbs on the floor with the killer holding his hands on Gibbs's head, ready to twist his head. By the time Kate and Tony break the lock by shooting it out, Gibbs has knocked the guy out.
- Gibbs in 7x09, "Child's Play", when he asks the savant girl the episode has revolved around to calculate the odds that Ziva will miss a shot at the bad guy...who's holding a gun to the girl's head. She calmly works it out at 97.6%. Gibbs gives the bad guy one more chance to surrender. He doesn't. Big mistake.
- In 7x22, "Borderland," Abby's presenting at a law enforcement symposium in Mexico. One woman insults her fashion sense by asking her who told her that the Day of the Dead was in May. Abby retaliates by providing very detailed facts about the woman based solely on observing her, leaving said woman speechless.
- Score one for Jackson Gibbs in the season eight premiere. Confronted by the Mexican drug lord who's been seeking revenge against his boy, what does he do? Fires off a round with his Winchester, gets her to leave his shop, and retreats to said shop's storm cellar before the bitch and her cronies attempt to gun him down.
You're just like your son. Jackson:
No ma'am... He's just like me. (fires a warning shot out the window as Paloma reaches for her pistol)
- Same episode. Gibbs needs to resolve the whole Reynosa mess without giving up the evidence report that says he's a murderer, and needs to keep his team, father AND mentor safe. He nails both siblings, by having one murder the other, in a well-constructed Gambit Roulette / Batman Gambit.
- Score one for Anthony DiNozzo, Sr., in "Broken Arrow". Ziva gets a hand in kicking two killers' asses with the help of Tony's father (played by 80-year-old Robert Wagner). He takes down one of them WITH ONE PUNCH (Ziva needs a punch and a kick to drop the other). Old men really kick ass on NCIS.
- In Enemies Domestic, a rogue ex-NCIS veteran who'd been setting Leon up to die since 1991 comes to the man's sick bed and tries to get him overdosed with morphine. Out of the blue the rogue's face changes, from smug grin to Oh Shit. The camera pans out, revealing that Vance has stabbed his chest with the switchblade Gibbs gave him.
- Gibbs gets an assist on this since he anticipated that Vance would need it.
- Rule #9: Never go anywhere without a knife.
- The show as a whole earns some kind of awesome-ness award for the fact that the big mid-season event in Season 7 was not some big plot event or game changer but just seeing Gibbs' living room.
- Ducky gets one in the Season 4 episode "Dead and Unburied", where he manages to catch the murderer by spotting a quick facial expression, then unraveling his entire motivation and plan.
- Tony turning Obfuscating Stupidity into a Moment of Awesome when he gets Eli David to admit to something he really doesn't want to admit to, while TONY is the one being interrogated. The Oh Crap! look on Eli's face, coupled with the very subtle-but-still-there "did I just see that?" on Vance's face just cements the awesome.
- A victim of the week got one in "Witch Hunt". Her daughter had been kidnapped, and one of the kidnappers had remained with her, posing as her sister. The instant she gets word that her daughter is safe, she turns on her 'sister' and knocks her to the ground, telling Gibbs and the team the truth. Then she kicks the kidnapper again. And again.
- Tony and McGee interrogate a prisoner and use Christmas cookies as a lie detector. The guy is a tough Russian criminal so they know he will not easily give up any information. In the interrogation room they offer him some cookies a coworker baked. While he is eating the cookies, they start asking him simple questions and watch his reactions. When he hesitates after one question they use this as an opening and start asking more serious questions about the case. When they reveal to the guy that they know who really hired him, he chokes on a cookie. Frustrated the guy takes the remaining cookies and smashes them on the table. He is so angry that he reveals what his partners are up to.
- In "Kill Screen", Gibbs stops a computer mainframe from breaking through the Pentagon's firewalls and wiping out every military computer on the grid...by shooting it. When the computer comes back on, Gibbs shoots it in the monitor to finish it off.
- In "Housekeeping", Gibbs, Ziva and McGee pursue ex-Green Beret Casey Stratton all the way into an ambush set up by FBI agents.
- Special Agent Courtney Krieger. She and Ziva are dropping off an "innocent" delivery boy and get the call to stop and bring him back. The guy steals Courtney's gun and starts shooting at Ziva. Courtney, previously a petite, shy, somewhat clumsy greenhorn, then proceeds to surprise-attack him from behind, disarm him, and slam his face into the car repeatedly until he stops fighting.
- Mike Franks goes out the only way he ever could or should.
- In "Boxed In", when Tony and Ziva are trapped in the shipping crate and are surrounded by gun-toting smugglers, Ziva yells for them to speak up, drawing one of them closer to the opening. She shoots him in the foot through a small crevice in the door. Great aim and just awesome in general.
- In "Newborn King", Palmer finally snaps at his cynical, disrespectful father-in-law.
Palmer: (to Tony and Tim) Good luck.
Palmer: ...Why in the world would you say it like that?
Palmer: How the hell would you know? They're trained agents!
Palmer: You might not respect me, or what it is we do here, but you have got to respect the fact that these people, my people, are risking their lives.
Slater: Well, if you're gonna put it like that...
Palmer: There's no other way to put it. Until you can figure that out, we're not going anywhere. Sit down, and shut up.
- In "Murder 2.0", the murderer had made Gibbs into his nemesis, the one he had to "defeat". As it continues, they manage to learn the identity of the fourth victim was someone who they had briefly met and the friend of the roommate of the first victim, who was the killer. Turns out the "victim" was the actual murderer, planning to use the NCIS team, specifically Gibbs, to be the weapon killing the real fourth victim. That is pretty clever, but Gibbs figures out the camera, which always shows the victim, isn't aimed at him but at the girl believed to be the murderer. At the end, the murderer is giggling about how they'll be famous because of this. Everyone would know their name, but not Gibbs'. So what does NCIS do? They withhold the killer's identity (claiming national security over a terrorist suspect) so that they would go down as a nobody forever, only known by their handle, and Gibbs ends up the one well-known, at least in NCIS. And in the end, Gibbs doesn't even attend the ceremony to award him a medal. The fact that he's humble enough to not take that award is what truly tops this crowning moment.
- Ziva and Tony have an important subject at a safehouse apartment. They know that two assassins are on their way up. While Tony takes the subject into a back bedroom, Ziva calmly plants herself in the middle of the living room, takes up a gun in each hand, and points each at two doors, both on separate walls entirely, leading in from the hallway. Outside, the two assassins take up positions in front of each door and, at a silent count, burst in, guns at the ready. They don't even have time to be surprised that Ziva's already opening fire on them before they're dead.
- Doubling the awesome, she is on the phone to Gibbs at the time—she tells him to wait a moment, sets the phone down, dispatches the assassins, then calmly picks up the phone and tells him the problem was dealt with.
- Another one for Tony and Gibbs; in the episode "Bait" (S3/E18), Gibbs ever so calmly leaves his gun behind outside the classroom one student is holding several others hostage and goes inside—and stays there. Now, we all know Gibbs is badass, so this doesn't come as much of a surprise (even if it is awesome). He does, however, leave Tony in charge (namely by calling him "Boss"), showing that while Ziva and Jenny don't have faith in him, Gibbs does. Tony proceeds to do almost all the right things, even when Ziva snaps at him "not being Gibbs", figuring out a clever way to tell Gibbs the student's mother is dead and in general being a good leader.
- What makes this even better however is the fact that when the team finally find the truth, Gibbs and DiNozzo are the ones to bust the real threat in a surprise attack. Gibbs makes a smart remark. Cue DiNozzo's shit-eating grin. Awesome.
- "Canary". Cyberterrorist Ajay Khan (Vik Sahay) is arrested by the team, all in disguise—McGee as a maintenance man, Gibbs pretending to be homeless, and Ziva acting like a bimbo, while Tony hides in the dumpster and awaits his chance to spring out and cuff Khan from behind.
- Then they put him on a plane and tell him he's going to Gitmo, where people he's worked with before are being kept. Still he doesn't talk—until a sudden security breach causes the cell doors to unlock, and a bunch of Arabic-speaking men jump out, shoot Tony in the leg, and then proceed to bang repeatedly on Khan's cell door. When Khan finally gives in and tells Tony and Ziva what they need to hear, it's finally revealed that the whole thing was just a really, really elaborate ruse faked with the help of the IT guy who's into improv comedy. Genre Savvy viewers might have picked up on that early on, but the scene feels so real...
- "Detour", also known as Ducky and Jimmy's Crowning Episode of Awesome: To escape from the woman holding them hostage and forcing them to autopsy a dead Navy officer they were supposed to be taking back to NCIS, Ducky and Jimmy create an IED out of surgical gauze, rubber gloves inflated with methane gas from the corpse's stomach and a lit cigarette all stuffed in the cabin's camp stove.
- Then, after they escape into the woods, Ducky pretends to separate from Jimmy in order to draw out the surviving mook so that Jimmy can shoot him. It doesn't kill the mook, but it puts him down long enough for Gibbs and the team to move in.
- And then, for an encore, the woman got away with a key to the storage location for where the dead Navy officer hid some stolen documents, or so she thinks. Gibbs arrests her while she's looking for the documents in Palmer's gym locker.
- Ziva's fight with Ilan Bodnar, who Killed Her Father. Two Badass Israelis who have every reason to hate each other in an incredibly destructive fistfight, culminating with Ziva throwing Ilan to his death. She may have mellowed considerably but god help you if you piss Mrs Former Mossad Assassin off, as she shows, she's still a lethal combatant.
- In "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot," there's an intruder in autopsy. He knocks Ducky aside and Palmer struggles with him. Then Ducky brains the intruder with a scale, knocking him out.
- In "Devil's Triad" Emily Fornell is kidnapped, and not only quickly describes the vehicle she's in during the "Prove I have your daughter" call to Agent Fornell, she plants a Bluetooth-equipped watch on her kidnapper so that he can be tracked after he's gone on the run. She's thirteen.
Emily: Oh, he didn't get away. My last name is Fornell afterall.
- In "Anonymous Was A Womann" Gibbs, with an assist from McGee faces down an angry mob of religious zealots in Afghanistan who want to burn a woman's shelter, mostly just using the power of his Death Glare.
- Ducky is cornered by a killer, and all he has to defend himself with is a scalpel. Ducky makes a feeble, ineffective swipe, that barely makes a small cut on the killer's sleeve. The killer mocks him, and then collapses. Ducky informs him that he'd just nicked an artery, and if he wants Ducky to save him before he bleeds out, he'd better spill everything he knows.
- In the episode Semper Fortis a Navy Hospital Corpsman is detained by police for aiding in saving the lives of two passengers in a hit and run crash. Despite being medically trained, she is not considered to be a certified EMT; they even point out the Double Standard in that the Army and Air Force medics are both certified EMTs but not Naval. Even though she was going to be breaking the law, she still stopped to help them live. Gibbs and co make it their mission to help get the charges dropped, in Gibbs words: "...we're going after the law itself." The best part, they succeeded. The NHC is given community service rather than jail time, she is credited as a hero by the families of the crash victims, the survivors of the crash, and she is urged to go to medical school to gain her EMT status.
- Bishop calling Gibbs out over the fact that he's been going easy on her since she joined the team (which he had been, blaming his methods for the loss of Kate and Ziva), and asking him to treat and train her the same way he does Tony and McGee.
- 'Cabin Fever' is full of Awesome Moments, with the episode revolving around Fornell struggling with his grief, and Gibbs getting far too close to the Mishnev case. After a visit from Emily Fornell, where she laments how bad her father has gone; coupled with Tobias forcing himself into the case of the week, Vance has no choice but to go over Fornell's head to his FBI counterpart. Gibbs gives him an alternate choice, culminating in Fornell getting revenge on Mishnev for killing Diane. Bonus points for Gibbs pulling an absolutely epic Magnificent Bastard in the process.
- McGee and Delilah are taken hostage by a terrorist. McGee tries to save the day and fails, causing Delilah to chew him out about ruining her plan. When asked what it was, she simply pulls a knife out of her boot and stabs the terrorist. Please note that Delilah is paralyzed from the waist down and was out of her wheelchair at the time.
- Dorneget's Dying Moment of Awesome in The Lost Boys, where he singlehandedly saves countless lives from a terrorist attack in Cairo at the cost of his own and only a few casualties. Bonus points for him taking a few levels in badass in the interim between appearances and becoming a full agent; not to mention heading the Cyber investigation, being the liaison between agencies on said op and gaining Gibbs' respect.
- Tony's Pre-Mortem One-Liner to Daniel Budd: