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  • Angst? What Angst?: Ziva. Though we do get shown some moments, most of the time she's surprisingly chipper considering everything that's happened to her.
  • Awesome Music:
    • The opening theme.
    • "Kangaroo Cry" by Blue October; it played during the ending montage to the episode "Faith." Between the song and the montage, it was powerful.
    • A spine-chilling use of Johnny Cash's "Ain't No Grave" in the penultimate episode of Season 7 that leads to a Cliff Hanger.
    • REM's "Everybody Hurts" in "Grace Period."
  • Black Hole Sue: Abby has shades of this at times. In some episodes she suddenly gains the ability to bend the entire team to her will just because she thinks they're wrong.
    • The most egregious example is probably in "Dog Tags", where she pretty much orders McGee to adopt the dog that bit him at the beginning of the episode. Even Gibbs has trouble refusing Abby's wishes. A later episode shows she was right. Of course.
    • This trope is best shown when she keeps bugging Ziva to make peace with her father. Said father has left her to be tortured to death even though he had more than enough resources to do something about it, ordered her to kill her own brother and spy on her friends, and tried to frame her for murder. Ziva herself has admitted that Eli is dead to her.
  • Complete Monster:
    • Kyle Boone from season 3's episode "Mind Games" was a Serial Killer who mainly targeted women. When Kyle was twelve years old, he murdered his mother and later devoted himself to starting a career in killing women. He would torture them to death, carved a heart shape in their backs, and would often take their tongues as trophies. When he was finally sentenced to be executed by the electric chair, Boone attempted to stay his execution and formulated a plan that involved setting up his lawyer Adam O'Neill as a copycat killer; Adam then kidnapped Agent Cassidy and attempted to torture her to death, though he failed. Boone was also convinced to take the families of his victims to the sites where their loved ones were disposed of. He took them all the way to a Virginia farm, only to dampen their hopes by showing that there was nothing in the barn other than the severed tongues of his victims.
    • The season 3 episode "Bait" features two goons of Colombian drug lord Carlos Mendez. Eighteen years in the past Angela Meyers testified against Mendez, and then faked her death while she was out sailing. The goons go to the high school her son Kody attended to strap a bomb to his body with the intention of drawing Angela out and killing her along with him and his classmates. This would ensure that the authorities thought that Kody was to blame while Mendez got off Scot-free.
  • Counterpart Comparison: Shown in the S2 Ep12 episode "Doppelgänger", with the team working with civilian law enforcement, which are all extremely similar to the characters.
  • Critical Research Failure: In "Anonymous was a Woman", Lieutenant Gorman mentions the presence of UN peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan, which is not true entirely since ISAF is the only international force that provides peacekeeping to help Afghan police/soldiers in securing the country.
  • Designated Hero:
    • Memetic Badass though he may be, Gibbs can definitely be seen as this, given his occasional penchant for assholish behavior, bending or even breaking the very laws he's supposed to be enforcing, and utter hypocrisy in how he interacts with agents/officers from outside the team who're working on the same case. The series has shown that he could be running NCIS, if he had more patience for the politics.
    • Anthony Dinozzo can be seen as this too, with actions that are pretty much sexual harassment towards women and his treatment of computer tech McGee which are very much like those of a bully (such as constant insults, cruel pranks, and even convincing most of the women in the NCIS headquarters McGee was gay). He also has the same lack of regard for laws and hypocrisy toward agents/officers outside the team as Gibbs. It's all but outright stated that he's being groomed as Gibbs' successor.
  • Ear Worm: It seems like such a simple little Theme Tune, but just try getting it out of your head.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: People who dislike and/or outright hate every other character on the show will still love Ducky. But hey, it is Ilya Kuryakin...
  • Evil Is Sexy: Agent "Pouty Lips" Lee.
  • Fan Dumb: There is a small, yet very vocal, segment of the fan base who continue to complain about Ziva's exit from the show and blame everyone but her actress for the departure. They somehow fail to realize that CBS practically begged Cote de Pablo to stay (and kept increasing their offers) but that, in the end, de Pablo simply wanted to move on and try different projects.
    • There are those who go onto comments sections of television news sites to say that they stopped watching the show simply because Emily Wickersham was added to the cast.
    • Some people are still bitter about Sasha Alexander leaving and Kate Todd's death and spent eight years complaining about Ziva before moving on to complain about Bishop.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • The "Gibbs Slap", McNicknames, and 'autopsy gremlin' for Palmer.
    • Alison Hart, the character played by Rena Sofer for a few episodes of season seven, was referred to by some fans as "Bitchy McLawyer."
    • Tony used Mcnickname when referring to something he said NOT being one.
  • Foe Yay:
    • Between Kate and Ari in the first two seasons, even acknowledged by the other characters.
    • Arguably, Tony and Trent Kort, the CIA agent who tried to kill him once.
    • Gibbs and M. Allison Hart.
    • With bonus Les Yay in "The Curse". A female suspect (Melora Hardin) smiles at Kate and says "Come on home with me, honey." Kate does.
    • Vance and that North Korean spy. Ducky explicitly explained how to her Vance is the closest thing to a lover she's had.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Early jokes about "why Gibbs has three ex-wives" seem a lot less funny when the real reason becomes clear.
  • Gotta Ship Em All: Gibbs, Tony, Ziva, McGee, Kate, Abby, and, to a lesser extent, Jenny, are each shipped with all the others by fans. The Ziva/Kate ship is particularly jarring, considering Ziva didn't even come on the show until after Kate had died. This leaves only Ducky, Palmer, and Vance who aren't commonly shipped with anyone (though you do occasionally see Ducky/Gibbs or Palmer/someone), perhaps because Ducky is about thirty-five years older than almost everyone else, Palmer doesn't have a substantial amount of interaction with anyone other than Ducky, and Vance was married until very recently.
  • Ho Yay:
    • In earlier seasons Gibbs and Tony have their moments.
    • McGee and Tony get in many awkward situations.
    • Tony and crook-of-the-week Jeffrey White in the episode "Chained." (Technically doesn't qualify as Foe Yay, since Jeffrey didn't know they were enemies until the last five minutes.)
  • Jerk Sue: Gibbs and Abby (to some extent) are the biggest examples of this trope. With Gibbs, the way he treats his team and others just reeks of or is borderline assholish/abusive behavior. He also occasionally breaks the law. Yet he's loved and worshiped; he's just teasingly/lovingly referred to by said characters as a bastard and his law-breaking ways are deemed as necessary. Abby on the other hand, is seen as sweet and kind and treated as the team's beloved little sister, even when she's bullying McGee to adopt the same dog that almost mauled him to death or pester Ziva into forgiving her father who was emotionally negligent at best, emotionally abusive and extremely callous at worst.
  • Jumping the Shark: It seems like NCIS is at risk of having done this in the season 11 opener. The Will They or Won't They? game between Tony and Ziva had been suffering from The Chris Carter Effect as of season 7, and Cote de Pablo's (supposedly) unexpected departure a week before production caught the writers with their pants down, as they had no real timeline to resolve some of the longest-running Unresolved Sexual Tension on television. The resulting premiere was an Author's Saving Throw to the fandom, in the form of a Relationship Upgrade for Tony and Ziva, which many fans viewed as an Ass Pull.
  • Like You Would Really Do It:
    • In one episode, Gibbs is "shot" as part of a sting. In the season 5 finale, killing Jenny Shepard offscreen. Subverted, as they darn well would. She takes four baddies with her, though. And the serial killer's plan to get himself shot and ruin Gibbs' fails. Badly. "Requiem" opens with Gibbs having apparently drowned.
    • Like you would really blow up Tony and his old flame with an RPG. Your Target Is In Another Safe House.
    • Like you would really blow up Gibbs, Abby, Tony, Ziva AND McGee, and give Ducky a heart attack at the news. Yep, that's the season nine cliffhanger note ...
    • Like you would really kill Tony and Ziva off in a car crash 3 episodes before the end of season 10.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Ari starts off as one of these (shooting Gerald and managing to escape), then does a Heel-Face Turn when he saves Presidents Bush and Sharon, then turns into a Complete Monster in his final appearance when he murders Kate and tries to kill Abby.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Ari shoots Kate and tries to shoot Abby to deliberately cause Gibbs grief, despite the fact that he could have easily shot Gibbs instead at the time and Gibbs was a more tactically valuable target.
    • It's strongly implied that Eli David ordered the missile strike that killed Ari's mother, in order to "harden" him into a better killer. Keep in mind that Ari was a child at the time, and Eli was his father. If that wasn't enough, he orders his daughter Ziva to kill Ari, her half-brother, after Ari proves to be disloyal.
  • More Popular Spin-off: NCIS has far outstripped its parent show JAG, to the point that many viewers haven't even heard of the latter.
  • Narm:
    • The climax of the Christmas Episode Newborn King. A pregnant Marine is giving birth while Ziva holds off the mercenaries who are trying to kidnap the baby...but all dialogue and sound effects are muted, with the soundtrack playing "Silent Night." Painfully overdone.
    • Abby's "crucify him!" speech.
    • The infamous "2 idiots, 1 keyboard" scene.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize:
    • In the episode "Dead Reckoning," an international crime lord is played by some guy you've probably never heard of before. Meanwhile, the timid accountant who turns informer against him is played by Emmy Award winner Christian Clemenson. If you guessed just by reading that sentence that Clemenson is, in fact, The Man Behind the Man, you win a cookie.
    • The episode "A Weak Link" had guests Adam Baldwin, Julie Benz and Doug Savant. Subverted - None of them did it, it was a suicide.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The second-to-last episode of Season 4 has a patient at Jeanne's hospital who died from a heroin bag rupturing inside him - he was a drug mule. His junkie sister and her boyfriend (who ran the drug op in the first place) show up to get the drugs before they're found. Near the end of the episode, the girl snorts heroin FROM HER DEAD BROTHERS INTESTINE. Drugs mess you up, kids.
    • In "Oil&Water" Agent Borin gives an extremely unnerving and graphic description of what it's like to be blown up.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The video game wasn't very well received. For starters only one voice actor from the actual show was in it, it was near impossible to lose, simple plots, poor visuals, etc.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Averted with Ziva, as she is far more popular and liked than Kate. Viewers who often get introduced into the show from the third season on often don't know who Kate is until they either stumble across an episode where she's mentioned or view one of the first two seasons later on.
    • Played straight with Eleanor "Ellie" Bishop as replacement of Ziva.
      • Ellie does have her fans, however, especially among neuro-atypical people who identify with her quirks.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Director Vance wasn't well liked until it was revealed there's more to him than meets the eye, and he very likely isn't Vance at all.
  • Squick:
    • In one episode, a woman and her son with a vendetta against Ducky kidnap him, strap him to an autopsy table, and try to kill him by bleeding him out through a huge needle in his neck.
    • Don't forget when Gibbs find the husband-wife toe-eating team.
    • The Cold Opening of "Murder 2.0". A woman turns on her shower, her husband puts on mood music, Bra Hits Floor, blood starts spurting from the shower head.
    • "Angel of Death". A drug dealer and his addict girlfriend try to retrieve the body of a mule, who had the package burst inside him. While the stand-off happens, the addict gets on the table and begins snorting straight out of the opened corpse. Bonus Squick for the corpse in question being her brother!
    • The exploding bodies in the crypts in "Skeletons."
    • Some of the dead bodies, before and/or during the autopsy scenes, obviously count. Those makeup artists have no shortage of fake blood and guts.
  • Special Effects Failure: The show started using some extremely cheap looking CGI in lieu of practical effects in later seasons. Watch the car's transformation in this scene.
  • Stoic Woobie: Gibbs, Ziva.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • The flashback of Gibbs' family in "Requiem", and his memories of them in "Hiatus".
    • The ending of the season 4 episode "Iceman", where even though Mike Frank's son (which he didn't know he had until a couple of years ago) is dead and he's lost so much, he managed to save his daughter-in-law and his granddaughter.
    • Abby's confrontation with Gibbs in the S7 episode "Borderland" after the cold case she worked on in Mexico turned out to be the man who murdered Gibbs' family and Gibbs subsequently killed.
    • The whole episode "Friends and Lovers".
    • "Grace Period", the whole damn thing.
    • "Better Angels": Jack Gibbs needs his son to meet Walter, the pilot who saved his life in World War II, before he (Walter) dies. The reason? Walter was German (Jack: "I thought I mentioned that" Gibbs: "NO" Jack: "Well, it's not important" Gibbs (who wanted to find Walter with US military records): "It kind of IS") and now that he's dying he's haunted by all the people he killed "for ideas that weren't his". Jack wants Walter to know he's a good man and his son is the proof: If Walter hadn't rescued Jack, his son wouldn't have been born and we all know that Gibbs is a very, very good man (and now Gibbs knows too).
      • That a German pilot would save an enemy in trouble is old news to Cracked readers.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Rivkin. Being told to leave the country thrice, and doesn't get the message. Resisting arrest doesn't make it better.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Eli David. Every so often the writers make him look like he is misunderstood, that he is some sort of a ultra-dedicated patriot, and therefore Ziva should try to make amends with him. All these ring hollow, however, because Ziva herself has once explicitly stated that, after abandoning her to death in Somalia, for all intents and purposes, Eli is dead to her.
  • The Woobie: Various characters have been this at times. Tony sometimes skirts into Jerkass Woobie territory.

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