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    Special Agent in Charge Leroy Jethro Gibbs 
Played By: Mark Harmon
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/LeroyJethroGibbsNCIS_5376.png
Tony: What have you heard? That suspects would rather confess than be interrogated by him? That his steely gaze can cool a room by five degrees? That he can only be killed by a silver bullet, like a werewolf? Well, it's all true, except the silver bullet part. Might give him indigestion or heartburn, but I don't think it'd kill him. Any other questions?

Not to be confused with Ludicrous Gibbs, though he does pull some pretty crazy stunts to get the bad guys.

A former US Marine Scout Sniper, he joined what was then called the Naval Investigative Service shortly after the First Gulf War in the wake of his first wife and daughter's murders. He rose up the ranks to become the Special Agent in Charge of the Major Case Response Team, responsible for investigating Navy and Marine Corps-related crimes in and around Washington DC, and has a rather hands-on approach when it comes to maintaining discipline amongst his subordinates.

He is a master interrogator and there are very few people who are brave/stupid enough to try and resist his death glare.

Also, he is a functional mute.


  • Affectionate Gesture to the Head: Only Gibbs could turn his repeated dope slaps to DiNozzo into this.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Jack Sloane calls him "Cowboy" when she's feeling particularly playful.
  • Always Gets His Man: Highlighted in Mind Games: The serial killer featured in that episode was the boogeyman of D.C. when he was active, evading metro cops and terrorizing the female populace. When explaining the case to McGee, Tony and Paula Cassidy finished by saying "[He] only made one mistake: He killed a Petty Officer."
  • Amnesia Danger: In "Hiatus", a bomb blast knocks Gibbs back to his Marine days. He has critical information that he doesn't remember. Luckily, remembrance is just a Dope Slap away.
  • Amicable Exes: Amazingly, Gibbs has managed to retain some level of friendship with all the women who have loved and left him, even when its looks like their relationships have been so badly torpedoed its a wonder they still talk to him. Very noticeable with his first ex-wife Diane, who is witch incarnate and also Fornell's ex (a fact which Gibbs and Fornell love to drive into the ground), but even more so with ex-wife number three, who is arguably Ax-Crazy and torments him on the day of their anniversary by drunk-dialing him so much he's forced to take his phones off the hook and even drown his cell in beer. Similarly, after Diane is killed and he blames himself for her death, he keeps avoiding his old flame Hollis Mann's attempts to be there for him because he doesn't want to put her at risk.
  • Basement-Dweller: He spends most of his spare time in his basement working on various carpentry projects, usually boats. As a sign of just how messed up his personal life is, he's all but abandoned the second floor of his house, preferring to sleep on his couch, with the bedrooms being reserved for the occasional guest or if he has a female companion over.
  • Berserk Button: Messing with his coffee. Or wasting his time. Or putting up with someone's fumbling stupidity. Sometimes all three at the same time.
  • Born in the Wrong Century: Fairly consistent throughout the series. Example: he tried to get a USB drive to work by biting it.
    • He also refers to computer chips and the like with terms such as "doo-da" and "deweywhacker."
    • It's hard to keep track of how many cell phones he's destroyed during the run of the series, either because they malfunctioned or just generally annoyed him. One even wound up in a jar of paint thinner. His agents now keep plenty of spares in their desks, ready to hand to him at a moment's notice. When the stash ran out, the tech department went crazy.note 
    • When a Roomba vacuum cleaner was about to suck up some of the evidence from a crime scene, he didn't even bother picking it up or trying to turn it off. He stomped it to pieces.
  • Broken Bird: He has never fully recovered from the murder of his wife and child. Three ex-wives and dozens of girlfriends that didn't go anywhere are what remains of his love life.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: He's starting to develop this dynamic with Jacqueline "Jack" Sloane, the Navy Yard's forensic psychologist. Jack has her own demons to contend with, which is probably why she can coax him out of his dark moods — she understands his pain, and he knows she understands it. Her warmth, understanding, and lack of judgment help him open up to her when he wouldn't with anyone else.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: In a more dramatic than comedic fashion. He has some serious quirks that if not for the fact he gets the bad guys and never gives anything but his best, he wouldn't be employed. For instance, in early seasons, he once interrogated some people by talking with them in autopsy as Ducky was working on their alleged victim. It's acknowledged that except for his impatience for dealing with politics, he could be the Director.
  • Byronic Hero: He's troubled and broody, but still definitely a hero.
  • Cartwright Curse: With his first wife Shannon, Jenny Shepard, second wife Diane Sterling, and fiancée Ellen Wallace.
    • Even women he's merely attracted to aren't safe—Kate, possibly Lara Macy (their interactions in the Back Door Pilot for NCIS: Los Angeles heavily imply a prior relationship or some strong feelings at the very least), and flashbacks to his basic training days show that he had a crush on a female recruit who was killed in action before he ever got a chance to tell her how he felt. Even though it never went beyond flirtation, he clearly felt enough to be devastated by her death as well and to still remember her years later, indicating that she is the first example of this trope for him, rather than Shannon.
  • Catchphrase: "Ya think?", "What's the point, McGee?", "Yeah, Gibbs" (default phone answer), and "That's a good question, [Character]. Why don't you find me an answer?", "Grab your gear.", "Got a dead [insert military position here].", "Talk to me, Abbs.", "Is that a fact, _______?"
    • Abby once boiled down Gibbs' catchphrases into a remote that played them back on cue. She, of course, affectionately gave it to Gibbs, who got a kick out of it.
  • Chest of Medals: Played With. He's badass enough to have earned numerous medals and citations to be this if he wanted but he doesn't care for medals. Tony keeps track of his accomplishments. He even gave away his Silver Star which is the second highest honour that a US serviceman can get for valour in the face of the enemy.
  • Cold Sniper: Marine sniper previous to his current employment.
  • The Comically Serious: On-the-job Gibbs has no time for anyone's BS. Ever. Off-the-job Gibbs is as mellow and affable as can be and even willing to engage in some joking around... but he still doesn't care for really stupid antics.
  • Cowboy Cop: But he always gets away with it. He's Gibbs. And "he only uses his powers for good".
  • Crazy-Prepared: As shown in the blackout, he has a kit with three polaroid cameras, Band-Aids, food, and clean socks.
  • Crusading Widower:
    • He didn't rest until he hunted down and killed the man who slaughtered his first wife and their eight-year-old daughter. Actually, he didn't rest after that either.
    • He went pretty ballistic when Jenny and Diane were killed too, despite his relationships with them having long since ended.
    • He's also determined to be involved in the investigation of his late fiancée's murder, despite how inappropriate it would be, plus the fact that he's briefly a suspect.
  • Cutting the Knot: Due to his ever-present lack of patience and no nonsense personality, Gibbs always takes the shortest path to an answer even if nobody has managed to give him one- after which Gibbs complains for the others taking too long, leading to much friction. He also does things that would be undesirable outcomes to others, like smashing stuff to stop it from malfunctioning, although sometimes this approach is infinitely more effective in a life-or-death situation.
  • Dark Secret:
    • Gibbs murdered Pedro Hernandez, the man responsible for the death of Gibbs' first wife and daughter, by sniping the killer from a dune as he drove through the badlands in a truck- something that, if revealed, would instantly spell the end of his career at NCIS and cause an enormous scandal. When Ducky remarks that the bullet ricocheted in Pedro's skull after exhuming him, Gibbs is visibly haunted- though the body of the man he killed being presented in front of him for the first time is enough to do that on its own.
  • Deadpan Snarker: More than half of what he says is pure snark.
  • Death Glare: Has one that is very effective in breaking a suspect or stopping Tony when he was being an idiot. This is his default look when his buttons are pressed.
  • Dented Iron: Severely wounded during Desert Storm (permanently damaging his eyesight). Later caught in an explosion that caused temporary memory loss. In addition, he's been shot and stabbed several times and nearly drowned once, but recovered no worse for wear. His shooting in the Season 12 finale resulted in some permanent damage, though. His knee was obliterated (necessitating replacement surgery) and he admits, in a rare show of vulnerability, that he's experiencing chronic pain.
  • Determinator: Few things will stop him from getting Justice for those harmed. He will even break some laws if need be.
  • Don't Call Me "Sir": Largely because he was enlisted, not a commissioned officer.
  • Dope Slap: Aka the "Gibbs Slap" done to all of his agents, but to Tony the most. He's even self-inflicted when he knew he was doing something he'd slap any of his agents for. The only people he never, ever slaps are Abby or Ducky.
  • Drives Like Crazy: When Gibbs needs to get to an investigation ASAP, he weaves in and out of traffic like a bat out of Hell. Kate at one point describes his driving as "Apparently Gibbs is trying to kill us." He's also the only one on the team unfazed by the motoring antics of Ziva, another crazy driver.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Though it's never stated that he's embarrassed by it, no one except his parents, residents of his hometown, or his ex-wives call him 'Leroy'.
  • Experienced Protagonist: Gibbs has been an agent for over a decade as of the pilot, and was a Marine sniper before that.
  • Facial Dialogue: Gibbs can hold entire conversations with squints, glares, smirks, and Gibbs slaps.
  • Fair Cop: Even in his 60s he's still quite attractive.
  • A Father to His Men:
    • Ziva directly calls him "the closest thing she has to a father". (Note that her father is very much alive—or, at least, he was at the time.)
    • Later, he explicitly refers to his team as his "kids."
    • For a wedding gift, he gives McGee the watch his father​ gave him on his wedding day.
  • Friend to All Children: Probably has something to do with Kelly. If there's a child involved, he will take the case very seriously. His Establishing Character Moment from "Ice Queen" saw him comforting a Cub Scout who happened upon a corpse and giving him his NCIS hat and telling him he could come visit their headquarters sometime with his friends.
  • Guile Hero: Just as guile as a Magnificent Bastard is magnificent.
  • Gut Feeling: It's legendary. Some fans consider his gut an extra character. His gut has Memetic Badass status in-universe.
  • Has a Type: Redheaded women.
  • Hates Small Talk: Functional mute, remember?
  • Heroes Want Redheads: His four past wives, and Jenny Shepard (who the two had a past relationship) are all redheads. Even Hollis Mann is a very reddish shade of strawberry blonde.
    • When Tony learns about Gibbs flirting with a suspect, his immediate response is "Is she a redhead?" She is.
    • He asks M. Allison Hart if she ever used to be a redhead, apparently bewildered by his attraction to her, given that she's a brunette.
    • There might be a Freudian Excuse for this—in "Life Before His Eyes", we see that his beloved mother was also a redhead.
    • Averted with CGIS Agent Abigail Borin. Despite a genuine mutual respect and their virtually identical personalities, there's no hint of an attraction. Even the team fails to note that she's a redhead when debating the possibility of fixing the two up.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Ducky.
  • Hidden Depths: He apparently plays racquetball and wanted to be a painter when he was younger (wanting to specialize in watercolors). "Beastmaster" reveals that he likes horses (treating them with the same gentleness that he does with kids) and knows a lot about them.
  • History Repeats: Just like protagonist Harmon Rabb from parent series JAG, Gibbs possesses some form of visual impairment. However, unlike Harm, Gibbs's condition is caused by injuries and irreversible, while Harm's was just a defect that developed with age and was later corrected through laser surgery.
  • Honorary Uncle: To Fornell's daughter (who calls him Uncle Gibbs) by their mutual ex-wife. Also with Mike Franks' half-Arab granddaughter (who is also his goddaughter).
  • Hopeless with Tech: Gibbs is so bad with technology he defaults to really abusive solutions like they're the only way of fixing it. Ironically enough, 20 years ago Gibbs went undercover as a computer technician. The team finds this hilarious when they find out. (Of course, that was when MS-DOS was the standard for computers. He hasn't kept himself caught up since.)
  • Icy Blue Eyes: Not always, but employed whenever he gives a Death Glare.
  • Informed Flaw: The injury that damaged his eyesight did nothing to impair his shooting skills, including sniping a terrorist through a window from a mile away.
  • It's Personal: He has a tendency to do this. As said, anything involving children (or otherwise reminding him of Shannon and Kelly) automatically becomes this. Hurting anyone from his team also pushes him to this point. But every criminal that is disgusting enough to him can trigger this.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While he can be quite rude towards his teammates for the most part his "heart of gold" aspect far outweighs his "jerk" aspect.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: To the women in his team, especially Abby.
  • Last-Name Basis: To everyone under his direct supervision, who are basically intimidated into calling him by last name, and Leon, whom Gibbs likewise calls Director (unless they're engaging in personal conversations). The only people to break this trend are his late wife Shannon, his late father, who obviously called his son by his first name, Ducky, who prefers to use Gibbs's middle name, and late mentor Mike, who affectionately called him "Probie."
  • Layman's Terms: Does this at least once an episode, mostly to Abby, Ducky and McGee. Abby uses a lot of scientific and medical terms and takes a while to get to the meat of a conversation because she loves theatrics and retorts that she needs a big windup to get to the point or else Gibbs would be bored, Ducky has a habit of going off on tangents with reminisces, and McGee's IT jargon goes right over Gibbs' old-fashioned head.
  • The Leader: Of the Major Response Team.
  • Living Legend: He's one of the most famous agents in all of law enforcement, and many criminals have referred to him as some version of "the legendary Leeroy Jethro Gibbs."
  • Married to the Job: Particularly in early seasons. The job is pretty clearly a substitute for his late first wife and daughter, and he pursues it doggedly and near-obsessively. He expects the same of his team.
    • Unfortunately, this killed marriage number four, when he became viciously obsessed with catching a serial killer and alienated his then-wife sometime around 1995, and the marriage finally went kaput in 2001 when Gibbs was negotiating with his wife and a divorce lawyer right around the time he recruited Tony to the team. Gibbs hasn't been married for real in nearly twenty years since.
  • Memetic Badass: In-universe. Whenever The Team sets up an Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, they give him the edge.
  • Military Maverick: He has a slew of incident reports under his belt and came under investigation in later seasons.
  • Must Have Caffeine: In the form of coffee.
  • Never My Fault: Completely averted. Whenever he screws up, he takes full responsibility and never tries to pin it on his subordinates.
  • Noodle Incident: Nothing was known about his second ex-wife until halfway through season twelve. Nor that he had yet another fiancée until towards the end of season sixteen.
  • Old Soldier: Specifically, an old marine. He's well into his 60's and still going strong.
  • One True Love: His first wife, Shannon, whose death he has never managed to fully move on from. According to his first ex-wife, Diane, Gibbs still loved Shannon when they were together, and will only ever really love her for the rest of his life. Judging by the string of failed marriages and relationships he's had throughout the course of the show and prior, she's probably right.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: His daughter died along with his first wife. Unfortunately, Pedro Hernandez shot an NCIS agent driving a car they were in. When the agent was killed, the car went out of control, wiped out, and the resulting wreck killed Shannon and Kelly.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Do not endanger "his kids", especially Abby. Being older than them just means you have to fatherly fury in addition to a boss' fury.
    Abby: (telling Gibbs why she didn't tell him about an ex she got a restraining order on) "I wanted him restrained, Gibbs, not beaten to a bloody pulp."
    • He extends these tendencies in the episode "Requiem" to his deceased daughter's now grown friend Maddie. Twice he's asked if he's her father. He shrugs it off. But ultimately, it's evident he views her in the same light as the rest of his team...as family.
  • Parental Substitute: In "Bears and Cubs", Palmer calls Gibbs one of his two father-figures, with the other one being Ducky.
  • Percussive Maintenance: Among his favorite solutions for electronics that piss him off are drowning them in booze, smacking things that won't turn on until they break (he once suggested this as a way to deal with an ornery PDA), and shooting computers.
  • Perp Sweating: A master of interrogation.
  • Phrase Catcher: "On it, Boss."
  • The Quiet One: Remarkably reticent for the lead character of a TV show. There are entire scenes where he doesn't say a word but is clearly in control and directing the conversation through facial expressions alone. See Harpo Does Something Funny, above, as to why.
  • Right Behind Me: Tends to evoke this reaction from his agents. Season 13 reveals he's made a habit out of eavesdropping on the skylight reverberations in the main office, which lets him pop in on their conversations already informed.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • His reaction to Ari murdering Kate was to kill the bastard and stop at nothing less than that. Eventually, he decided killing him was less satisfying than watching him be killed and allowed Ziva to take him out.
    • Gibbs blatantly committed an act of cold-blooded murder by taking out Pedro Hernandez. Then, he left behind his spent shell casing as a message to those who were close to him. Gibbs paid a steep price for that crime much later, and he deeply regrets what he's done, and how badly it hurt Abby when she found out about it.
    • When Sergei Mishnev murders Diane, Gibbs proceeds to shoot several of his mooks and dishes out a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Sergei himself — which only ends when one more mook shows up and KO's Gibbs from behind.
    • Abby herself being severely wounded on the onset of leaving the NCIS teams, and Clayton being killed protecting her. Gibbs is past devastated and angry, simply broken and forlorn. This is not the typical reaction he has when a loved one gets hurt. This one sent him over the edge... and God knows what fury is coming afterward. He destroys a door trying to go after the hitman who shot them, but doesn't get to unload on him because the man has been killed for failing to take out his target and so the mastermind can make a clean escape by getting rid of his loose ends. In trying to pinpoint the mastermind, Gibbs goes off to interrogate Alejandro and coldly and menacingly threatens to kill him if he finds any connection to the hit on his team. The team later discovers the culprit is, Robert King, who has escaped prison. Gibbs' restrained anger finally surfaces when Robert King is captured again, and he lets Abby pay him back by screwing with his head and making him think he's been poisoned, allowing revenge to be served cold again as King panics and the other agents surround him once again. But then King pushes his buttons when he taunts Gibbs that he'll be back. Gibbs doesn't even humor him with conversation and knocks the shit out of him on the spot.
  • Rule #1:
    • "Never let suspects stay together," or maybe it's "Never screw over your partner." There's a lot more "Gibbs Rules". The ones shown tend to be consistent: Never let suspects stay together, Never go anywhere without a knife, Never involve lawyers, Never get personally involved, Never screw over your partner. Rule 44 was sent to Mike Franks to get him away from his house before he was attacked. We only see 15 out of 51 rules for the most part.
    • Tony mentions that any situation that requires Gibbs to invoke any rule in the 40s is serious business. The forties are emergency rules, and Abby reacts to them with strong distress when she hears they are in play, because it almost always means Gibbs is knee-deep in a life-threatening situation.
    • There were originally 50 rules, but Shannon snuck an additional one in prior to her death. Rule 51: "Sometimes, you're wrong."
    • The list of 51 expanded with the years after Shannon and Kelly's demise, and the true number may be poking near the hundreds.
  • Semper Fi: And Gibbs always remembers it.
    "There's no such thing as 'ex-Marine'."
  • Sergeant Rock: Gibbs is a retired gunnery sergeant but still displays characteristics associated with the trope; He's stern but treats his men with respect and is willing to die for them. In turn, his men return the favor.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Gibbs can be cold and ruthless with his team, especially when they're working on dangerous cases, and they know better than to push him, but for all his standoffishness, he genuinely cares about his team and always goes into Papa Wolf mode whenever any of them are in danger.
  • Sympathetic Murder Backstory: He killed the killer of his first wife and daughter.
  • Team Dad: To most of his agentsnote , but especially to Abby, she's more or less the Daddy's Girl of the NCIS family.
  • Technologically Blind Elders: It's a Running Gag that he doesn't know how the digital gadgets work.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Took a little longer than most but he had one.
  • Terse Talker: Outside of the interrogation room, Gibbs's sentences generally don't exceed ten words. Very much enforced, and the result of a lot of bottled lamentations. Gibbs is a man of few words, and once the man enters the room, he makes everyone present knock off their idle chatter and give him clear and simple information. Occasionally, he will speak at length, but only very rarely- or when in the presence of a family member or someone he grew up with. This is because Mark Harmon didn't care for a lot of the lines Gibbs was given and started paring them down, causing the writers to start hedge-trimming his dialogue.
  • Ultimate Job Security: The man is a maverick and doesn't have the patience to play nice when it would be prudent to do so, but he gets results, meaning that his job is safe.
    • Vance and Gibbs become friends of a sort, and Vance knows that Gibbs has the unaltered copy of Vance's personnel file - even if he's never opened it. Yet. Gibbs has yet again armor-plated his job security in adamantium.
    • When Gibbs "retired" at the end of season 3, it later was revealed that Director Shepard had "neglected" to file his retirement. His job security is so great he can't quit even if he wants to!
    • It has been implied on occasion that before Vance, and possibly even during Vance's tenure, Gibbs would be Director if he ever decided he wanted the job; the sheer havoc he could cause if denied means only a fool would try to stop him. It has been implied more than once that Gibbs knows how to deal with politics and how to act as a proper Director. He just doesn't care to do so. The one time Gibbs acted as Director while Jenny was away, we found out he doesn't have the patience for the politics.
      Director Shepard: Jethro's a great field agent, a great team leader, and he deals more efficiently with difficult politicians than I do.
      Captain Todd Gelfand: Then why isn't he the...
      Director Shepard: He shoots them.
  • Tsundere: Type A. He's usually harsh and imperious but has a softer side.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: invoked The team has had discussions pitting Gibbs vs. the likes of The Terminator, Godzilla, Mothra, and himself. They tend to give the edge to Gibbs.
  • The Unapologetic: As per Rule #6: "Never say you're sorry. It's a sign of weakness."
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Has this vibe with Vance. Despite their animosity, there is a sincere mutual respect—and mutual tragedy of having their wives murdered. Indeed, their friendship develops because of this—Vance seeks his advice, knowing that Gibbs knows exactly what he's going through.
    • With Jack Sloane, the Navy Yard's forensic psychologist. He avoids discussing his emotions as a matter of course, whereas her entire job is to get people to discuss theirs; this unsurprisingly leads to them butting heads on a fairly regular basis. But as an Army veteran and former prisoner-of-war and longtime NCIS agent, she understands him in ways very few people ever will, and he is often seen turning to her when he's troubled because he knows she'll always tell him exactly what she thinks and won't break his confidence with anyone.
  • Working with the Ex:
    • Once had to deal with one of his ex-wives, his ex-lover, and his current lover at the same time. All he could do was awkwardly stand there as the three women took pot shots at him.
    • Diane, the ex-wife he shares with Fornell, has become a recurring character. Most of Diane's venom is directed at Fornell, though, so Gibbs is free to silently snark as they argue. Any episode that features Diane is titled "Devil's Tri-". Until the events of Season 12, where Diane is murdered.
  • Your Cheating Heart: That's why he broke up with ex number two- she committed adultery. And why he burnt yet another boat made for his intended sweetheart.
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    Senior Special Agent Timothy "Tim" McGee 
Played By: Sean Murray
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/TimothyMcGeeNCIS_8580.png
Abby: I love it when you talk geek!
McGee: I love it that you love it.

A tech genius who graduated from college as a teenager. McGee was the MCRT's long-suffering probationary agent who eventually grew in confidence to become a seasoned investigator. He is also a fairly successful author who's written a series of novels based on his coworkers (to their intense displeasure). As an MIT alumni, he is often the one responsible for much of the technical work in solving cases at NCIS, but sometimes forgets others around him don't come from the same background and can't make heads or tails of technological lingo.

While a "Probie", he used to be the butt of Tony DiNozzo's every joke. Eventually, he became an official agent, then later took over Tony's status and desk as Senior Special Agent when he left in Season 13. McGee is currently married to Delilah Fielding, whom he met in Season 10 while in need of a good fellow computer hacker. In Season 15, he becomes the proud father of Johnny and Morgan McGee.


  • 10-Minute Retirement: Between seasons 10 and 11 to get the case against Gibbs dismissed.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Suffers from all of Tony's Mc-names and being called "Probie." The second name goes away when he becomes an official agent, unless someone reminds Tony to Poke the Poodle.
  • Affectionate Nickname: He's originally addressed as "Probie" by Tony as an epithet, but it morphs into something friendlier and even somewhat affectionate as Tim gains more experience and starts standing up for himself. Tim learns to accept it when he learns that Gibbs is still called "Probie" by people who knew him from his Probie days 20 years ago, and that it eventually becomes a reminder of the mentor-mentee relationship some agents share.
  • Badass Beard: You'll see this in effect from the start of Season 15. After being stuck in captivity for several months, Tim's clean-shaven face became unkempt. After escaping captivity, he got a few compliments on how dignified the beard made him and decided he was keeping it as a souvenir of his experience. It also marks the completion of his character evolution from timid probie to seasoned badass.
  • Bash Brothers: In Season 14, he and Torres were often teamed up.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He is the kindest and most polite secret agent you will ever come across, but do something that pisses him off and you will regret it. He has the tech savviness, book smarts, gun skill and combat skill to make the rest of your life miserable if he really wants to.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Don't let the husky size and geek-personality fool you, he is a skilled interrogator, hacker, and an excellent shot.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Will do some irrational things to protect his college-age sister, some of which have jeopardized his career once.
  • Butt-Monkey: In early seasons, he is often made fun of by Tony.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: In the episode where Tim reunites with his Glory Hound of a father, he rages at his dad for putting his job above the affections of his own family.
  • Catchphrase: "On it, boss." He hates it when he ends up using this for Tony, knowing he will never let him live it down. However, with Tony's departure, it seems to be an affectionate keepsake of his friend as opposed to just another Borrowed Catchphrase.
  • Clear My Name: In "Probie" he was charged with killing another cop.
  • Cool Car: Had one in high school, much to the surprise of Tony. He shares in lamenting the car's demise when McGee told him of its fate.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In later seasons.
  • Disappeared Dad: His estranged and divorced father appears, then dies in season 12, and had not been a major part of his life since before the show started.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: His middle name is Farragut. This was first mentioned halfway through season 13.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: He is particularly ashamed when his colleagues call him "Elf Lord" (his online gaming name).
  • Fair Cop: Sean Murray as Agent McGee would seem to be the only one to avert this, but then he lost a good amount of weight entering Season 7, and now we can include him.
  • Fake Guest Star: In season 1, he only shows up for a few episodes because he was a probie agent at Norfolk. He doesn't officially join the team until season 2.
  • First-Name Basis: But ends up being called "Tim" a lot more as of Season 14.
  • Formerly Fat: Before around Season 6, McGee is noticeably a bit rubbery in the face and slightly heavyset. Then he slims down dramatically and the excess blubber around his face goes away and the skin clings more closely to his facial musculature, making him look a lot older and wiser. This also marks his Character Development. Tony later remarks he preferred Tim more when he was fatter because he was easier to tease.
  • Friend to All Children: An early mission involving The Team being bodyguards to a military woman and her family showed Kate and Tony struggling to get along with said client's children, while McGee just played ORPG with the son and things ran very smoothly (much to Tony's dismay). He also bonds fairly well with Henry, the 14-year-old who's being targeted for witnessing a drug-related stabbing in "Homefront" due to the two of them being Military Brats.
  • Friends with Benefits: Surprisingly, for all the ribbing he takes from his coworkers and especially Tony that he has never gotten anybody in the sack, McGee has lost his virginity and has been seen to have had a girl sleep over at his place wearing his MIT t-shirt.
  • Happily Married: Married Delilah Fielding at the end of Season 14.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • A tech head, hacker and best selling author.
    • He loves the outdoors and has various skills from the scouts, including tracking abilities.
  • Hollywood Nerd: He plays role-playing games online, prompting the others to occasionally call him "Elf Lord." Somewhat justified in that his online character is named "Elflord".
  • Idiot Ball:
    • When his sister showed up to his apartment obviously drugged, in a stupor saying she killed someone, and covered in blood, the seasoned investigator grabs this with a dose of Big Brother Instinct as he doesn't take her to NCIS or even the hospital. He lets her shower and by the time she does get her blood tested, the drugs had metabolized. The Director calls him out on this, hoping it would trick him into resigning.
    • Averted to some degree in that episode when in justifying his actions to Gibbs that he knows how it looks and because of that he couldn't trust anyone, even Gibbs. Gibbs accepts the apology even though he has a beef with people showing weakness by apologizing.
  • In-Series Nickname: Gets a new one nearly once-per episode, almost always recived as a variant of his last name, with 'gee' being replaced by an insult or something pertaining to his personality. However, the moniker 'Elf Lord' has stuck around quite consistently, and even Gibbs has used it.
  • Intimate Marks: In season 1 he gets a tattoo on his butt to impress Abby. Later it's revealed that it's the word "Mom".
  • I Want My Jet Pack: In S7 Ep11, McGee outs himself as a jetpack, no, rocket belt expert nerd, to the point where he has made a short film detailing their history and credited it to his authorial pseudonym. He does get to sort-of fulfill his dream by remote-controlling a prototype jetpack being used by a killer to escape, although that, pretty much, amounts to him flying a drone with a person inside.
  • Last-Name Basis: Almost always referred to as "McGee".
  • The Lancer: Tony's departure means that McGee is now Gibbs' Number Two.
  • Like Brother and Sister: With Ziva whom he treats like a barely older twin sister, also a Big Brother Mentor to Ellie. Also Abby after both recieved some Character Development. He also treats Tony like an annoying older brother.
  • Loser Has Your Back: Plays this role once or twice in early seasons, but he's no longer enough of a loser to pull it off.
  • Military Brat: His father was an Admiral in the Navy.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: He's a successful author of novels inspired by his workplace and coworkers, which he writes under the Significant Anagram "Thom E. Gemcity."
  • Mr. Fixit: "Special Agent Goodwrench," season two, episode four.
  • Mystery Writer Detective: McGee is a special agent, who wrote a best selling novel... that he would have preferred his coworkers never found out about. Later on, he was able to use his fame to get into a club that other undercover agents couldn't get in to.
  • Name McAdjective: Tony gives him a lot of Mc-nicknames to work with.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Well, his wife Delilah certainly thinks so. At one point they have an argument in a private code developed from binary shorthand!
  • Not So Above It All: After years of protesting against Tony's treatment of him, McGee's just as eager to break in Ziva and Bishop when they join the team as probies. However, he continually insists that the way he treats probies is nowhere near as bad as how Tony treated him.
  • Number Two: Ever since Tony left. Symbolized by Tony calling McGee "Very Special Agent."
  • Official Couple: With Delilah Fielding, who's now his wife.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: He and Abby dated once early in the series, and they've had a Will They or Won't They? that ended with "won't", but they still get along fairly well. Enough for her to be his Best Woman at his wedding.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Starting season 2.
  • Properly Paranoid: McGee never tells anyone where he works. He'll give out cell numbers, pages, etc, but he never mentions NCIS. Which is how he knows, when his new girlfriend shows up to pick him up after work, that she's not who she says she is. Overlaps with I Never Said It Was Poison.
  • Real Name as an Alias: His pseudonym as a writer is just an anagram of his full name.
  • Recurring Character: In season 1.
  • The Reliable One: McGee is often called on by the others to help out with technical or difficult favors outside of the job, such as helping Ducky create a collage for his mentor or getting clearance for a young boy to contact his mother through MTAC.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Not his own, but Ziva's, against Bodnar.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Savvy Guy to Abby's Energetic Girl.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive Guy to Tony's Manly Man.
  • Significant Anagram: His pseudonym as a novelist is Thom E. Gemcity, an anagram of his full name.
  • Techno Babble: He had a serious problem with this in the earlier seasons, much to Gibbs' exasperation. It gradually died down in later seasons, and is now non-existent.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Between seasons six and seven. Big time. Most exemplified in the episode "Need To Know" when he was giving the young Special Agent Dorneget tips onto how he could possibly join the Major Case Squad as well as some of Gibbs' rules.note 
    • The extra levels in badass arguably started with the sixth season episode "Caged", where he has to solve a murder case in a women's prison on his own. Compare the phone calls he has with a car mechanic at the start and at the end of the episode.
    • In terms of character, in the first three seasons, he's the fat, wet-behind-the-ears put-upon probie who bumbles around and people treat like a gullible and clumsy child. In the next three seasons, he's gotten fitter and his probie status is lifted, so he becomes a fully-fledged agent of NCIS and finally starts repaying most of the ribbing he got from Tony because now they are equals and he can't belittle him anymore. By Season 14, McGee is now the senior special agent on the team and no longer the target of anyone's insults (because Kate, Tony, and Ziva, his teasers, are no longer present), his face has gone from looking all wide-eyed and flabby to incredibly sharpened and aged with some deep furrows in his forehead and cheeks. And, as mentioned above, the Badass Beard he starts sporting as of Season 15 don't hurt none either.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Occasionally; in one Season Fourteen episode, he and Torres were interrogating a perp, doing the classic Good Cop/Bad Cop. The guy assumed Torres was the bad cop, but he wasn't — McGee was. Cue twisted arm and face slammed into the table.
  • Undying Loyalty: McGee has a tendency to pick up the Idiot Ball and run with it when people he's loyal to are in trouble. He's risked his job for his sister's sake, and despite being newly married to Delilah with a child on the way, left the safety of the chopper at the end of Season 14 to help Gibbs, which got him stranded in Paraguay.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Tony, behaving much like a pair of squabbling brothers at times.
  • Wham Episode: Ziva is not hunting Bodnar on her own. McGee has been helping her track Bodnar's movements. The scene in which Tony finds out what they're doing is played like he caught them sleeping together.
  • Will They or Won't They?: As noted above with Abby, although McGee says outright in Season 12 that they never will because he failed to pass a Secret Test of Character Abby gives to all the men she dates. And because he later ends up marrying Delilah Fielding.

    Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James "Jimmy" Palmer 
Played By: Brian Dietzen
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/JimmyPalmerNCIS_9421.png
"Is it just me or does anyone else wonder how they get IUDs in there? (Beat) That probably sounded a lot more inappropriate than I meant."

Ducky's protégé, taking the place of Gerald Jackson after he had been injured too severely to continue work at NCIS, who also acts as a Ducky-expy to Tony's Gibbs whenever Tony is in charge of a case. He is always eager to help the team any way he can, even if his skills are more or less exclusive to the morgue. However, Jimmy's also a gawky nimrod with a spectacular knack for saying the wrong thing. He's married to a woman named Breena and they have a daughter named Victoria.


  • Action Survivor: He works out in a gym but he isn't combat proficient.
  • Adorkable: Possibly the single dorkiest character seen on the show. This only makes him cuter.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Because of his Lurch-like presence and incredibly gawky demeanor, Tony likes to call him the "Autopsy Gremlin".
  • Butt-Monkey: If there's a chance for a character to be insulted or put-upon in any given episode, there's at least a 75% chance it'll be Palmer. McGee occupies another 20%, while the remaining 5% is a wildcard usually filled by Tony.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: The drinks served at his Stag Party are all watered down, but he still gets hammered.
  • The Consigliere: It's revealed in one episode that whenever Tony is left in charge of a case, he secretly has meetings with Palmer to help point him in the right direction whenever Tony feels that he's lost on what to do next.
  • Creepy Mortician: Downplayed, but working with dead bodies has given him a rather macabre sense of humor. It's probably not a coincidence that he winds up married to an actual mortician — but Breena averts the trope completely by being a bubbly blonde sweetheart.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Is very intelligent and a good assistant to Ducky, but has problems with self-confidence.
  • Deadpan Snarker: While his attempts at humor usually fall flat, even Palmer gets his moments. For example, when he's brought to the cold storage of a ship at sea to examine a murder victim:
    Chief Petty Officer: Jones's body, it's gone!
    Palmer: This'll complicate the autopsy.
  • Disappeared Dad: "Bears and Cubs" reveals that Palmer's dad died when he was ten years old, and it's implied he was abusive.
  • Exact Words: He uses this on Gibbs, pointing out that he technically stayed in the car as he was ordered.
  • Fake Guest Star: Might as well be a Trope Codifier. Dietzen was credited as a recurring guest star for the first 5 seasons and as "Also Starring" from season 6 onwards. He was even on the cover art for the Season 8 DVD and was featured in articles alongside the main cast but he wasn't promoted to the opening titles until Season 10.
  • Fetish: He apparently has a thing for footwear.
  • Happily Married: To Breena as of Season 10. They later have a daughter named Victoria.
  • Heroic BSoD: He gets this after Diane, Gibbs' and Fornell's ex-wife, dies.
    Ducky: Right, on three. One, two—
    Palmer: No.
    Ducky: I beg your pardon?
    Palmer: No. I don't want to.
    Ducky: You don't want to what, Mr. Palmer?
    Palmer: I don't want to know how much her liver weighs. I don't want to catalog her scars. (Gibbs enters autopsy) Most of all, I don't want to cut open another friend. I think I've had my limit. (walks away)
    Ducky: I don't remember the moment I reached my limit, but I do remember never being the same.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • He trained as a medical examiner and is presumably being groomed to replace Ducky in the future, but he also demonstrates significant knowledge of criminal activity when he acts as Tony's secret consigliere.
    • The episode Keep Going reveals that he took and failed the ME exam twice, and passed on the third try. This means that he could be an official ME on par with Ducky outside the Navy Yard— but since he respects Team Gibbs' dynamic so much, he chose to stay.
  • In-Series Nickname: the numerous Memetic Mutation 'Autopsy Gremlin' that he received from DiNozzo.
  • Loose Lips: Coupled with his chronic foot-in-mouth syndrome, Palmer is often the person to blunder a secret the fastest, sometimes without even knowing it was a secret. For instance, Palmer inadvertently clued Tony in on a private detective's name that Ziva and McGee were desperately trying to withhold from him because they knew he'd find it to be a goldmine for wisecracks and they'd never hear the end of it. Cue Palmer catching him in the office late at night and accidentally spilling the beans...
  • Loved I Not Honor More: He tells his love that while he loves her more than anything, his True Companions were in trouble and he needed to go and help them, even if it meant moving the wedding up to a sooner date (within the hour) and then come back for the honeymoon. She completely understands.
  • My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: His story about spending time in France features a downplayed example: He was trying to tell some French friends of his how his mother used to hunt squirrels when he was a child, but he mixed up the French word for "squirrel" with the word for "shark". ("écureuil" and "requin").
    Ducky: (chuckling) "How they must have imagined your strange homeland with your shark-hunting mother."
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Agent Lee thought so and so does his wife, Breena.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Every episode if not more than once per episode. See the character quote above. Clearly Jimmy has never heard the adage that "closed mouths gather no feet". It usually leads straight into Digging Himself Deeper. For example, Quinn was feeling very awkward after she had a sex dream about Gibbs so he tried to comfort her by revealing that he had pretty much the same dream ("He knocks on the desk and asks 'Do you know what kind of wood this is' and things get wild!") with a bit too much enthusiasm.
  • Passing Judgment: Often on the receiving end. Jimmy's unbelievably terrible with his choice of words. He usually says just one thing that turns out to be highly irreverent and gets a really dirty stare from Gibbs or an appalled look from Ducky, sometimes both at the same time.
  • Person as Verb: In a Call-Back, an NSA agent is mentioned as having "pulled a Palmer" in an 11th season episode.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Introduced in season one, appeared in roughly half the episodes per season from then on, got an "Also Starring" credit as of season six, FINALLY into the opening credits in season ten.
  • Rank Up: Passed the Medical Examiner's examination at some point in season 14 and didn't tell the others because he didn't want to leave the team. With Ducky on sabbatical, Palmer is (temporarily, at least) in charge of Autopsy. This becomes permanent after Ducky decides to step down from the Chief Medical Examiner role permanently.
  • Recurring Character: Starting after "Bete Noir", when Ducky is forced to hire a new assistant to replace Gerald as he goes through months of excruciating rehab. Eventually, Palmer sticks as a main cast member.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Palmer has no actual firearms training so it almost results in I Just Shot Marvin in the Face with Ducky in the season 10 episode "Detour". Ducky, whose military training may be decades old, is smart enough to carefully push the gun away from his face and avoid being accidentally shot.
  • Retirony: Subverted. One moment, Jimmy's talking with Agent Barrett about his recent engagement. Seconds later, the Port-to-Port Killer is loose and violently kidnapping Jimmy and Barrett. However, Gibbs saves the day, and Jimmy ends up surviving the episode with only a few scratches.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Happens to him a lot, and when he tries to explain, he just looks worse.
  • Too Kinky to Torture:
    • When he helps Abby solve a problem, Gibbs gives Abby a peck on the cheek and Jimmy a Gibbs slap. He looks just as pleased at this as Abby. Though that might have been because the slap meant that Gibbs considered him part of the team.
    • In an earlier episode, Ducky mentions that his attempts to emulate the "Gibbs' Slap" on Palmer were ineffective, as he seemed to enjoy it.
    • Palmer himself lampshades this after Gibbs slaps him in "Scope".
    Palmer: "Every time he does that, I feel special."
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: He's hardly ugly, but Jimmy definitely qualifies as "geekily adorable", whereas his wife Breena is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous.
  • The Watson: To Ducky's Holmes.

    Special Agent Eleanor "Ellie" Bishop 
Played By: Emily Wickersham
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ncis-bishop_6492.jpg
"I wrote it my third day at the NSA. It was a Wednesday morning, I'd just finished a box of Coco Pebbles."

An NSA analyst brought to joint duty with NCIS. Gibbs says that he wants to keep Bishop around after she helps the team solve a case involving high level security leaks, which she predicted in a paper years ago. Now officially the newest Probie on Team Gibbs.


  • Action Girl: Having had three older brothers, Bishop is fairly adept at grappling with opponents who are much larger than her. On the other hand, she has little experience with gunfights and hasn't done well in those she participated in so farnote .
  • Affectionate Nickname: She inherits the title of "Probie", although Tony calls her that with none of the venom he used when McGee was the junior member of the team.
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: Inverted. She's a lot more personable and easygoing compared to her notoriously stern and snarky predecessors.
  • Awesome by Analysis: What she did at the NSA.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Has several signs of Asperger's Syndrome.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: She mentions "three older brothers" in her debut episode .
  • Beware the Nice Ones: One of the nicest people you'd ever meet and possibly tricked a terrorist into blowing himself up to avenge her fiance.
  • Big Eater: She loves to snack and uses food as a device to help her recall details. The first thing she asks about the NCIS New Orleans office is if they have a junk food machine which completely dumbfounds SSA Pride.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Tends to create "nests" where she works, which is often on the floor rather than a desk (or sometimes on her desk), although Gibbs eventually puts an end to this practice in the office. Also associates key details of situations and her surroundings with foods she was eating at the time.
  • Cartwright Curse: One failed marriage and one dead boyfriend/would-have-been fiance. Looks like she's well on her way to having the same screwed up love life that nearly everyone else does.
  • The Cutie: She is notably Lighter and Softer compared to her two predecessors, Kate and Ziva. It's even reflected with their hair colors and personalities (she's blond and more social, while both her predecessors were initially Aloof Dark Haired Girls to the max). She can also match Abby's perkiness if she wanted to.
  • Disposable Woman: Genderflipped; is revealed to be dating an Afghani interpreter (about a year after getting divorced) who was rescued in a previous episode. The second episode featuring their relationship is also when he's shot to (brain)death by a Chinese financial terrorist because he cracked the terrorist's code.
  • Dynamic Entry: She misunderstands Tony asking her to open a hotel door and eagerly tries to kick it down but doesn't do any damage because of her small stature. Tony then reminds her that they'd just gotten a key from the front desk and meant for her to use that.
  • Fake Guest Star: In season 11.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: On her desk is a sticker for Oklahoma State University, presumably her alma mater. OSU is located in Stillwater, Oklahoma, the same name as Gibbs' hometown in Pennsylvania.
  • Happily Divorced: The marriage is annulled and Ellie is back on the market again, glad to be rid of Jake.
  • Happily Married: She was married to a man named Jake, who she's known since they were in college together. Her new job as an NCIS agent caused a strain on her marriage, which fell apart when Jake had an affair with a coworker.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Bishop claims to have had sex in a position that Tony and McGee consider to be impossible. She was about to start explaining how it was done when Gibbs walks in, ending the conversation.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Almost always has a notebook computer with her.
  • Honey Trap: Implied to be how Bishop became the NSA's expert on Benham Parsa. (the NSA does number crunching, not field work, so this got Bishop yanked off the case.)
  • The Maiden Name Debate: She used her maiden name rather than Jake's surname.
  • Motor Mouth: When she gets going, she could give Abby a run for her money.
  • Never Gets Drunk: Claims this is the case, though it hasn't been shown on screen. She apparently learned this during a Noodle Incident at college with her future husband.
  • New Meat: Has to bear the brunt of Tony and McGee's ribbing and hazing and does all the dirty work the senior agents don't want to do. Her first day as an agent involved sifting through buckets of human excrement and climbing up a rickety fire escape even though she isn't good with heights.
    Bishop: First, 'Probie' sounded endearing...and cute...doesn't anymore.
  • Noodle Incident: Claims to have successfully executed a sexual position that Tony and McGee had previously considered anatomically impossible. She starts to explain when Gibbs walks in.
    Tony: Are you double jointed?
  • Photographic Memory: She uses food association to help her with her recall.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Losing her NSA security clearance made it hard to have regular conversations with Jake. Instead of finding other things to talk about, Jake decided to find someone else with NSA credentials.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Immediately after she joins The Team.
  • Retcon: Bishop originally said that she and Jake knew each other in college, but Jake tells a story where they first met at the NSA.
  • Revenge: Vows to avenge the death of her fiance Qasim at the hands of Chen the terrorist, going rogue and risking her life and job. Gibbs, who has some familiarity with Ellie's situation having also gone rogue to kill the guy who murdered his wife and child, is worried about her given how screwed up his emotional life has been ever since and that he and his friends were targeted by the killer's children years later.
  • Sadistic Choice: Gave Chen a similar "choice" he gave that episode's victim: Kill himself or get captured by terrorists that Chen ratted out. Chen chose to kill himself and it's implied Ellie tricked him.
  • Tragic Keepsake: A romantic card with photo booth pics of her and Qasim which would have been her answer to his marriage proposal ("YES!") that she was planning on giving him the day he died. After she avenges his death she gives it to Gibbs so she'll stop dwelling on the past.

    Director Leon Vance 
Played By: Rocky Carroll
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/LeonVanceNCIS_999.png
Abby: Wow. I heard about your techy mojo.

Formerly NCIS' assistant director who oversaw operations on the west coast. He was promoted to agency director in the wake of Jenny Shepard's death. He was initially recruited to the Naval Investigative Servicenote  as an expendable deep cover operative who did wet work. He has a rather tough managerial style (shaped by his being a boxer when younger) and often butts heads with Gibbs. He's unusual among the cast for having a happy family life, although that's brought to a tragic end by a drive by shooting at his house.


  • Assassin Outclassin': When McCallister tries to assassinate Vance in hopes of taking his place as Director, Vance stabs him to death despite being in a hospital bed on a ventilator due to injuries he sustained in an earlier assassination attempt.
  • Bad Boss\Benevolent Boss: He has a gruff demeanor and can be absolutely tyrannical at times, especially if the situation is critical, but he truly respects his team and would lay his life down for them.
  • Crusading Widower: Starting season 10, as of "Shabbat Shalom".
  • Da Chief: He's the Director.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: It's heavily implied in one episode that he is not the real Leon Vance, but an old boxing acquaintance thereof, and that the two switched identities at some point in the past.
  • Death Glare: Is one of the few people not intimidated by Gibbs', due to having a pretty epic one of his own. When the two of them get into a Glare Down, everyone else hauls ass out of the room.
  • Genius Bruiser: He was once a boxer, but can compete with McGee in knowledge of cryptology.
  • Happily Married: Until his wife is murdered.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Does not appear in the show until Season 5.
  • It's Personal: Twice he has caused an interrogation to get out of hand because someone close to him was murdered and a suspect was in the hot seat.
  • Mysterious Past: Not all of it has been explained...yet. We do know he's quite happy to be out of the field.
  • Oral Fixation: Chewing on toothpicks.
  • Scary Black Man: He can be absolutely terrifying when he wants to be, which is probably one of the reasons he gets to boss Gibbs around. Taken to severe extremes when he put a fire safety axe through a metal table in the interrogation room to intimidate a teenage suspect who was suspected of killing one of Vance's friends.
  • The Uriah Gambit: Vance is revealed to have been originally recruited to NIS in 1991 almost specifically for his expendability. Obviously, it didn't go as planned.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Has this vibe with Gibbs. Despite their animosity, there is a sincere mutual respect—and mutual tragedy of having their wife murdered. Indeed, their friendship develops because of this—Vance seeks his advice, knowing that Gibbs knows exactly what he's going through.

    NCIS Historian Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard 
Played By: David McCallum, Adam Campbell (young version)
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/DuckyNCIS_4041.png
"I look forward to weighing your liver."

A proud Scotsman with an expansion pack past. He is Gibbs' long time friend and confidant and has a habit of conducting one-sided conversations with the bodies he's examining.


  • Berserk Button: In "Seadog", Ducky goes ballistic on a local LEO who contaminates a crime scene so he can get in good with the news reporter on the scene. His merely getting angry means he's mellowed, however, as Gibbs has a story where Ducky pushed a French policeman off a cliffnote  for the same reason. Later in "Conspiracy Theory" we see him going at a psychiatrist whose poor standards led to one of his patients being murdered. And never forget to show Due to the Dead.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He's probably the most forgiving character on the show and most bad guys dismiss him because of his advanced age. But he knows exactly where to hit someone to knock them out and possesses the expertise to cut a major blood vessel with a single, seemingly innocuous, cut. Watching him calmly use such a cut as a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique is simply chilling.
  • Broken Bird: This was name of the episode when we see just a glimpse of his past, where we see that a Torture Technician repeatedly tortured the same innocent man not for information but to see how many times Ducky would treat the man before Ducky would break in order to get rid of his good influence on the other prisoners.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: His tendency to go on long speeches during work is lampshaded by Palmer when he does his first dissection.
    Palmer: I'm suddenly overcome with the desire to share a story of only a peripherally relevant nature.
    Ducky: It's a hazard of the profession, Mr. Palmer.
  • Clear My Name: Ducky didn't want to clear it, but Gibbs did.
  • Combat Medic: he served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and was stationed in Afghanistan and Bosnia.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Spends a good part of Season 15 on sabbatical to teach forensic medicine and write a book on the subject. Then spends half of Season 16 on vacation, after which he decides to retire. Then Director Vance gives him a new job, which is part time, so he doesn't necessarily need to appear in every episode even though he's officially back.
  • Combat Pragmatist: In S11E01, Ducky took down a random mook with a random bowl, saving Palmer in the process.
    Palmer: (being manhandled) CALL SECURITY!!
    (CLANG!)
    Ducky: Who needs security?
  • Cool Train: Occasionally visible in the background, displayed on a small shelf is a scale model of LNER #4468 "Mallard"
    • Ducky is carefully maintaining it in one episode and comments on the relationship between his name and its name.
    • Tragic Keepsake: That train was the last Christmas present he ever gave to his half-brother Nicholas, who dropped it when his mother, who had just divorced Ducky's father, took the boy away from his childhood home and moved to Albania.
  • Creepy Mortician: A very lovable kind of creepy, but still damn creepy. Gibbs finds it a useful way to break some suspects by showing them what will happen to their bodies if they refuse to cooperate and end up dead as a result. It works too.
  • Deadly Doctor: His medical expertise allows him to kick your ass if you push him too far.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Like most of the cast, he has his moments. For example, when Gibbs presses him about the cause of death of a diver killed inside a pressure chamber, without access to the body for an examination.
    Ducky: Oh, Jethro, please. You can't expect me to determine a cause of death from an instant replay.
    Gibbs: Come on, Duck, you got to give me something.
    Ducky: All right... I can confidently rule out quicksand.
  • Expansion Pack Past: The sheer number of stories he has to tell clearly implies that he's lived a very full life.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Rarely has he ever raised his voice in anger or struck someone. He uses non-physical forms of intimidation.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: The very lovely Dr. Jordan Hampton.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He and Gibbs are longtime best friends.
  • Honorary Uncle: Honorary Grandfather (or "Grandducky") to Victoria Palmer given how close he is to the elder Palmer.
  • Labcoat of Science and Medicine: he is often shown wearing one, complete with a bowtie. He wears blue-green scrubs when performing autopsies and blue overalls on crime scenes.
  • Long-Lost Relative: His half-brother Nicholas Mallard, whom Ducky thought to have been killed in an accident decades ago, turns out to be alive in the episode "Spinning Wheel" (13x11).
  • Major Injury Underreaction: In "Broken Bird", Ducky is suddenly attacked by a knife-wielding woman while examining a body at a crime scene. He dismisses it as "just a defensive wound." His right hand still has the knife impaled in it.
  • The Medic: In addition to being the Medical Examiner.
  • The Mentor: To Palmer. Officially too.
  • The Munchausen: Averted, as it seems to be generally accepted by those who know him that his stories are true.
  • My Beloved Smother: His mother had Alzheimer's and drove him crazy in early seasons; she was put in a home shortly after the death of her actress in late 2008 and died a year later.
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Originally started out as the team's ME. Then in Season 4 he earned a master's degree in psychology and started getting called-upon to profile a suspect. Or to go undercover as an arms dealer, because they needed an older British man on very short notice. After deciding to retire from medical examination, Director Vance arranges for him to get a new part-time position as the agency historian.
  • Nice Guy: Probably the nicest guy on the show, or at least tied with Abby.
  • No Sense of Direction: He blames his assistants but he's always the one giving directions.
  • The One That Got Away: Ducky has had a number of love interests over the years, but the only woman he ever really loved was his childhood friend Maggie, who ended up marrying his best friend Angus instead. The tragedy in all this is that Maggie actually loved Ducky more and followed him upon his departure, but he had already gone by then; she then married Angus, and while they cared for each other, the marriage eventually lost all spark. When Maggie and Ducky meet again years later after Angus' death, they both accept what's happened and move on.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Few people call him "Donald". Inverted in the way he calls everyone else by their full names—"Anthony", "Timothy", "Caitlin", etc.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Ducky wears a four-in-hand tie to work one day and the other characters immediately wonder what's wrong (granted, he was also acting strangely, but the tie was the major cause for concern). Turns out Ducky has found himself a girlfriend named Sophie and she is much younger than him and made him feel self-conscious about his age, and he's tried to find ways to make himself appear younger and reinvent his image. We never get a chance to meet her, however, because come next episode, the romance has fizzled out and Ducky is back to his old self again, deciding that he shouldn't have to change for someone for them to love him.
  • Passing the Torch: In "Bears and Cubs", Ducky decides it's time for him to retire and permanently hand the reigns of the Chief Medical Examiner over to Jimmy. While Ducky decides to still stay at NCIS in the next episode, Jimmy still becomes the Chief Medical Examiner as Ducky becomes the part-time Agency Historian.
  • Parental Substitute: In "Bears and Cubs", Palmer calls Ducky one of his two father-figures, with the other one being Gibbs.
  • The Profiler: Ducky can fish up an enormous amount of information from a victim just by looking at the nature of their wounds and the things found on (or sometimes in) their person.
  • Punny Name: With a name like that, what did you think he'd be called, Mousey? Ari first thinks of the locomotive, mildly surprising Ducky. (Ducky actually has a model of the locomotive on display back at his home)
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: He is unfailingly polite and charms ladies of all ages.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: "Witch Hunt" has this one:
    The sky is blue, the grass is green,
    May we have our Halloween?
  • Shout-Out: Gibbs mentions that when Ducky was younger, he looked like Illya Kuryakin from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. David McCallum played Illya in the original TV series.
  • Shown Their Work: A meta-version. To prepare for the role, David McCallum went to coroner and medical examiner's conferences to learn the trade. He became so good the producers were tempted to pay him a consulting fee.
  • Talking to the Dead: He routinely does this with his "patients." Truth in Television: Real Life medical examiners have been known to do this.
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    Special Agent Nicholas "Nick" Torres 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/img_4311.JPG
Played by: Wilmer Valderrama
  • Badass Biker: Went undercover in a bike gang. He's still awesome on a bike.
  • Disappeared Dad: Season 16 "Crossing a Line" – During a heart-to-heart with Max, the son of an agent killed in the Navy yard bombing, he reveals that his father abandoned him when he was young.
  • Heroic BSoD: Reeves' death has left him in a deep funk.
    "I miss my buddy."
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Is deeply reluctant to go out of his way to help a witness (a former sailor who will be deported to Mexico as soon as he's turned over to FBI) see his mother in Ohio one last time until the witness and Bishop threaten to torture him by singing in the car all the way back to DC. At the house he covers for him ("He's being redeployed" "Where?" "It's... classified"), stays long enough for mom to make dinner and for her son to tell the truth, and even gives him his cellphone back and lets him go make a call by himself without fear he'll run away. Torres explains that meeting the witness' mom "made it personal" — he knows people like him and his mom — and he couldn't not help him.
  • The Lost Lenore: He and a childhood friend Sophia were inseparable, and he was convinced that she'd be his wife one day. Then in their senior year of high school, she was diagnosed with cancer.
  • Mr. Fanservice: It's even lampshaded at one point. A young girl that doesn't speak English very well is being targeted, so Torres asks her some questions in Spanish. Her response is to ask him in Spanish, "Why is your shirt so tight?"
  • Nerves of Steel: In his introductory episode, he's extremely calm while sitting in a chair with a bomb that will go off if he stands up.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Although Torres managed to pin Silva for a bunch of crimes, he sabotaged Silva's family.
    Silva: (to Torres through the interrogation glass) You got me, Torres! Now you ruined my family. You happy now?
  • Rogue Agent: Deep cover for 8 years in Argentina.
  • Walking Techbane: Not to extreme levels but his distaste for office work and complicated technology in general put him in conflict with the printers.

     Senior Special Agent and Operational Psychologist Jacqueline "Jack" Sloane 
Played By: Maria Bello
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/jack_sloane_ncis.jpg
"...even extraordinary people make mistakes. That's a given. It's our response to those mistakes that defines us."

A former Lieutenant in the United States Army. Sloane served in Afghanistan, where she was held a prisoner of war and endured vicious torture and watched several friends killed. Her regrets follow her, and they truly left their mark. She later transferred from the Southwest Field Office in San Diego to NCIS Headquarters at the behest of Director Vance, and is now the team's profiler and emotional crutch.


  • Action Girl: Unsurprisingly given her background, she can kick ass and take names with the best of them, both with a gun and without one. Turns out she's an Action Mom too, as she reveals that she had a daughter whom she put up for adoption.
  • Adorkable: She can be quite cute when she gets excited about something. Notably, she gets adorably enthusiastic over, of all things, the social dynamics of your average neighborhood cul-de-sac.
    McGee: Suddenly the whole neighborhood's got a story to tell.
    Sloane: A dynamic I just couldn't resist.... Cul-de-sacs are a psychological gold mine. Test labs for tribal behaviors complete with alliances, betrayals, intrigue... [delighted grin]
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Starkly averted. When Sloane gets beat up, she gets beat up, blood, dirt and bruises all included, and the scars on her back are not pretty.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: She is, by nature, a warm and caring person who will always reach out to people in need of help... but you really don't want to step on one of her trauma buttons. Anyone who does is usually fortunate to survive the encounter.
  • Broken Bird: She can be warm and caring when dealing with someone else’s problems, but her own trauma has given her some sharp edges that come out when she’s angry or triggered.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: She's starting to act as the Gentle Girl to Gibbs' Brooding Boy when he gets particularly troubled, coaxing him out of his dark moods with her gentle compassion. This largely stems from the fact that she has her own demons to contend with, so he knows she understands his pain. That understanding, combined with her natural warmth and lack of judgment when he needs to talk, means that he will turn to her when he wouldn't turn to anyone else.
  • The Chessmaster: Jack has been known to misrepresent herself as something other than a psychologist or a cop when she's trying to get a read on a person. She does this to elicit specific responses from them that she wouldn't get if they knew who she really was and why she was really talking to them.
  • The Confidant: To the team in general in her role as a psychologist/counselor. She's also this to Gibbs on a more personal level, being one of a very few people he has been shown to genuinely open up to and the only person he's ever voluntarily told the whole truth about Shannon and Kelly.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: She suffered Cold-Blooded Torture in Afghanistan. She also gave up her daughter for adoption.
  • Death Glare: She very rarely uses hers, which is a good thing because it can rival Gibbs in intensity.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: The end of her debut episode shows the scars on her back. It's later revealed that she was captured and tortured for several months, losing her entire squadron in the process. The finale of season 15 delves into her brutal past when her torturer re-materializes and Jack wants revenge for the people from her unit he killed, and for herself.
  • Fair Cop: She's played by Maria Bello.
  • Girly Bruiser: She's a former Army Lieutenant and fully qualified Action Girl, but she's also notably fashionable, with a fondness for high heels and form-fitting dresses, skirts, and sweaters. (Fortunately, when she goes back into a combat zone, she wears fatigues.)
  • Informed Ability: Supposedly a skilled psycho-analyst, she makes rookie errors. For example, when confronted by someone who derives sexual release from pain, she immediately states that this person must be punishing herself for something, rather than acknowledging the possibility that she was simply a masochist.
  • Must Have Caffeine: As you'd expect of a federal agent, she drinks her coffee "by the gallon." Unlike Gibbs, however, she likes hers with loads of sugar.
    Sloane: [to Vance] Black, three sugars, more sugar, then coffee.
  • One Head Shorter: Than Gibbsnote . However, this isn't usually apparent, because Jack is usually wearing three- to four-inch heels. It's only obvious when she's dressed down, e.g. the basement scene in 15x17, or when she's wearing combat boots, like at the end of 15x10.
  • Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: She has a tangled lattice of scars on her back, courtesy of her time as a prisoner of the Taliban, who tortured her for months on end. This left not only enduring physical scars, but a mess of psychological ones as well.
  • The Profiler: Whereas Ducky more or less acquired an ability at profiling through years as a medical examiner and an interest in the subject, Jack actually went to school for itnote  and is a forensic psychiatrist. When she served in Afghanistan, it was with a psy-ops mission that's still classified.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: She usually handles it well, but her time in the Army and captivity in Afghanistan left her with a hefty case of PTSD and Survivor Guilt.
  • The Shrink: And a pretty damn good one. Even though her teammates all show varying levels of aversion to talking about their feelings, she's proven to be good at getting them to open up, even if it sometimes requires a little benign manipulation to get them there. Even Gibbs opens up to her — although there might be other reasons for that one. Also, she's an exceptional profiler.
  • Team Mom: She's a professional counselor and often there to console people when they need it, especially the team. However, sometimes, it becomes a matter of "physician, heal thyself" when her own demons come back to haunt her and the team needs to be there for her.
  • Tomboyish Name: Her full name is Jacqueline, but she's referred to as Jack. The only person to call her "Jacqueline" with any sort of regularity is Ducky.
  • Worthy Opponent: She sees Gibbs as one, who had already deduced she was trying to pull a ruse on him in their first meeting and humored her by pretending to be led on by it. In actuality, Gibbs had immediately figured out who she was and what she was doing when she knocked on his door as an "excuse" to get out of the rain, and likely caught on to the charade thanks to something Jack didn't know about — Rule 39: "There are no coincidences". (Also, she showed her drivers license the way an agent would show a badge.) They go on to become very close friends.

    Forensic Specialist Kasie Hines 
Played by: Diona Reasonover
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/nciskasiehines.png
Introduced in Season 15, a graduate student at the medical school in New York where Ducky is guest teaching, and stands out as a protege. This budding friendship lets her make her way to the NCIS headquarters, where she proves herself highly valuable. Later on, she takes up the arduous task of becoming Abby Scuito's successor.
  • Adorkable: She geeks out over many things.
  • Ascended Fanboy: In-universe. Kasie has always been on the up-and-up of the NCIS HQ agents, but especially of Abby. Becoming their next forensic specialist is her dream job.
  • Black and Nerdy: Fits this to a "T". One could even claim she's like a female version of Urkel.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: She was introduced early in Season 15 for the sake of easing viewers into her character for the eventual departure of Abby, so the transition would not be abrupt and complaints about who took her place would not erupt from the fans. In fact, her introduction serves to set her apart from Abby in that she's not just some xerox of the person she admires most, but a person with her own likable personality and quirks.
  • Genki Girl: She exudes a lot of energy and presence just like Abby.
  • Irony: Several seasons before her introduction, as past agents left the scene and nerdier ones arrived like McGee and Bishop, Tony joked "the geeks are taking over" and that himself and Gibbs are the only people left who aren't that mold (the original cast). Now NCIS has one if its geekiest agents yet.
  • Shrinking Violet: To Abby, initially, because she's too shy to admit a massive girl crush on her and feels very intimidated around her idol.

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Former Main Characters

    Special Agent Caitlin "Kate" Todd 
Played By: Sasha Alexander
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Kate_Todd_1145.jpg
"Hack into the servers. I can't believe I just said that. I would have never suggested that before I started working here."

  • Famous Last Words: (after Tony told her that she did well and Gibbs said he was right) "Wow, I thought I'd die before I ever heard..."
  • Foreshadowing: In the fake-out dream sequence Gibbs has in the Season 1 finale, "Reverie", she's shown in autopsy with a bullet hole in her forehead, with a pallid complexion and her eyes coagulated over from death. The person who dies in that episode is an entirely different woman, but Gibbs's dream turns out to be providential come next season...
  • Former Teen Rebel: DiNozzo finds out that when she was a university student, she once engaged in (and won) a wet T-shirt contest. This also falls under Blatant Lies since she lied to Tony about what she did during Spring Break.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted in her last episode where she jumps in the way of a bullet meant for Gibbs... only to be saved by her bulletproof vest. When she does die, she gets unceremoniously sniped in the head.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Her Fatal Flaw, literally; she thinks she is a good one but has helped more than one murderous psychopath because they looked sympathetic. One almost kills her, then Ari actually does.
    • She's right more often than wrong, so this is a played with trope.
  • I'm Going to Hell for This: In the episode where the victim and attacker were on the same "dating" site.
    Abby: Care to guess what their fetish was, Kate?
    Kate: Oh, no. I'm going to hell just listening to all this.
  • Intimate Marks: Never seen or described but apparently Abby talked her into getting a tattoo on her butt.
  • Mood Whiplash: Causes two cases back to back in the Season 2 finale when she takes a bullet for Gibbs only to reveal she was wearing a bullet-proof vest only to then immediately get shot in the head.
  • Ms. Fanservice: A major subplot in "Conspiracy Theory" revolved around Tony finding a (real) picture of her in a wet T-shirt contest and using it as blackmail material.
  • Not So Different: There are several moments where she just as much like Tony as she claims she isn't. Usually involving McGee, going so far as to agree with Tony that they have no respect for him and casually breaking into his apartment to "see him in natural environment". After apparently taking bets about what kind of underwear he uses.
  • Only Sane Woman: She felt like this at times with Gibbs and Tony at the beginning.
  • Out of Job, Into the Plot: Was recruited by Gibbs after having to quit Secret Service for defying orders.
  • Posthumous Character: As Ducky is autopsying her, he has an actual internalized conversation with her with her joking about being dead.
  • Really Gets Around: In the pilot episode, she "got to know" people on the job by sleeping with them. It took a dark turn when two of those people died of poisoning. She believed it was the only time on the job you could get to know someone, asking Gibbs if he knew any other way. Gibbs's answer was a very curt "Church". She was actually forced to resign from Secret Service due to breaking the rules by shagging the agents (no fraternization policy). She kept everyone in the dark about it and no one tattled on her. The truth came to light when NCIS investigated the murders on Air Force One.
  • Sacrificial Lion: The very first main character to be killed off, and her sudden death firmly establishes the Anyone Can Die aspect of the series.
  • Two First Names: Applies to her actress too.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: With Gibbs. It was never resolved after her death, but they had extreme chemistry throughout the first two seasons of the show.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Posthumously, her "spirit" torments Gibbs, who is guilt-ridden over the kill shot.
    "I already took one bullet, Gibbs... why'd I have to go and take two!?!"

    Special Agent Ziva David 
Played By: Cote de Pablo
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ZivaNCIS_3255.png
Eli David: Use her well, Leon. Ziva is the sharp end of the spear.

"Have you ever been tied up by a woman before? Did you like it? Then today's not your lucky day."

  • Accidental Misnaming: As a trainee NCIS agent, Tony had started calling her "Probie". Gibbs had called her "Probie" on at least 2 occasions.
  • Action Girl: Ziva is (ex-)Mossad. Early on in her tenure at NCIS, she is not allowed to participate in taking down suspects. Another woman comments on the presumed chauvinism of this. Ziva replies that Gibbs is actually afraid she'll kill the suspect by mistake. Then it happened. Several times. First  Second  Third 
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Ziva is a tall, beautiful woman who is a definite Ice Queen to her teammates. McGee's novel even describer her (well, her Expy anyway) as "emotionally distant". She mellowed down considerably to the rest of the team by Season 7.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Ziva enjoys dropping casual hints to Tony that she likes girls as well. So far she's only been seen with male lovers though. Mostly played for laughs or titillation.
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: For Kate. Compared to her, Ziva has a harsh upbringing and is more willing to get her hands dirty.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Her ability to effectively and efficiently deal with attackers means that she will probably live to a ripe old age. Or at least that seemed to be the case...
  • Badass Israeli: Former Mossad operative. 'Nuff said.
  • Becoming the Mask: It is suspected by Leon Vance at the end of season 6 and confirmed by Ziva in early season 7 that she was ordered by her father to kill Ari in order to gain Gibbs' trust and spy on the team. By the end of season 3, her crying over Gibbs' life threatening condition shows she has become closer to her targets than a cold assassin ought to be.
    • From "Broken Arrow"
      Chase: Does Agent David carry a weapon?
      Gibbs: She is a weapon.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Tony.
  • Berserk Button: A couple, but God help you if you hurt Tony.
  • The Big Guy: Neither big nor a guy, but unquestionably the best fighter in the main cast.
  • Book-Ends: In Ziva's debut episode, the first character she meets is Tony. In Ziva's final episode, the last character she interacts with is Tony.
  • Broken Bird: Considering she was held captive in Somalia and tortured for months, she covered it extremely well. In the season 11 opener, she finds that she no longer can, and this leads to her leaving NCIS for good.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: A Running Gag is her regularly messing up American figures of speech.
    "American idioms are driving me up the hall."
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: In her own, unique way, just like the rest of the team.
  • The Bus Came Back: Makes a surprise return in the Season 16 finale to tell Gibbs he's in danger.
  • Clear My Name: The first episode of season 4 dealt with this issue.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Her reappearance in the Season 16 finale has her telling Gibbs he's in danger and there are no time for pleasantries.
  • The Comically Serious: Her sternness and her lack of grasp on western pop culture has been used as a Running Gag in the series.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: As of the end of season 6, she is torn between her loyalty to Mossad and her father, and Gibbs and NCIS. She picked Mossad and ended up caught by a terrorist and tortured to be saved by Gibbs and the team. In retrospect, she realizes she made the wrong choice, and decides to stay in the United States from then on and becomes a US Citizen so she can become a bonafide NCIS agent.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Names her daughter after her late sister, Tali.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has her moments.
  • Does Not Know Her Own Strength: She's not allowed to interrogate suspects because Gibbs thinks she might kill them by mistake.
  • Drives Like Crazy:
    • Director Shepard once said of her, "I think she was an Eastern European cab driver in a past life."
    Vance: Most fathers teach their daughters to drive. I have you to blame for this?
    Eli David: This she learned from her mother.
    Ziva: I was barely going over the limit!
    McGee: (Reads the ticket) It says you were doing 80 in a 40.
    Ziva: Not the entire time.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Three seasons after she left the show, she's killed off screen and the team finds out about through a breaking news bulletin. Subverted as of "She" which reveals that she survived.
  • Extreme Mêlée Revenge: How Ilan Bodnar bites it.
  • Fake Guest Star: In season 3, she appeared in all episodes except "Mind Games"; de Pablo was credited as a guest star in her first two episodes.
  • Faking the Dead: Season 16 reveals that her supposed death in Season 13 is just staged.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Averted. While very much the manly Action Hero, she can cook quite well. According to Abby in the episode "Caged", "Her cooking rocks!"
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With the exception of Abby, Ziva truly became close to the team after enduring some difficult investigations.
  • Funny Foreigner: Downplayed. She's serious except for her tendency to butcher English-language quotes or figures of speech.
  • Good Is Not Soft: While she's compassionate and honorable towards her friends and the victims she has no mercy towards terrorists, murderers and other such people, and has implied she is not above using a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique
  • Heroic BSoD: The final straw is an attempt on her life by a terrorist cell that drives her off the grid. This leads to her departure from NCIS in the Season 11 opener.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Does not appear in the show until Season 3.
  • I Have No Son!: I have no father in this case. It gets to the point of changing nations just to give him a Take That!.
  • Informed Judaism: Though considering her former profession as a Mossad operative, strict adherence to almost any religion would be tough. Pointedly, she has on occasion turned down food allegedly because it's not kosher, but she has no problem with pepperoni pizza.
  • Improbable Age: Ziva David is less Improbable Age and more Impossible Age. She joins the show in her early twenties, supposedly after she's graduated high school, served her two years in the IDF, attended college, applied for Mossad, become immediately tapped for inclusion into an elite and highly competitive special operations unit with a training period of several years, and still have enough time to become "an experienced agent" with multiple missions under her belt. And this is at a age the youngest CIA intelligence officers would be beginning training. (It's worth pointing out, however, that she is the daughter of the Director of Mossad, and it is heavily implied that she was all but raised from the cradle to be a Mossad operative.)
  • Ironic Death: She lost her sister to a suicide bombing. She herself got murdered in an explosion. Supposedly. Season 16 reveals she's alive.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": As she has pointed out, her last name is pronounced "Dah-VEED," not "David."
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Ziva is forced to do this to her half-brother Ari.
  • Knife Nut: Ziva is one of the few people in the world who can kill you reliably with a thrown knife. She has demonstrated this.
  • My Nayme Is: "David" has the earlier pronunciation (just as it appears, and as an iamb), rather than the Anglicized, trochaic "Dei-vid."
  • Never Found the Body: Inverted in that they did find a body, and it was identified as her, but other characters, Tony included, make it clear they're not completely convinced and there's a few hints that it isn't her body. When Tony leaves to take care of his and Ziva's daughter, it is strongly implied his departure is also for the purpose of independently investigating her death. Season 16 reveals she's alive and well, meaning the body found really wasn't hers. And then she shows up in the flesh in the Season Finale.
  • New Meat: Although she was attached to NCIS for several years and was essentially an equal to Tony, she had to start at the bottom when she formally joined the agency as a probie. Tony and McGee gleefully give her all the paperwork and Gibbs adds to the pile. From then on, she's seen being occasionally frustrated because she goes from being somewhat senior to being the most junior member of the team (even becoming subordinate to McGee, whom she used to boss around) and has to go through the hazing process all probies go through.
  • Nice Hat: Her Tragic Keepsake is an Orange Cap.
  • One of the Boys: She likes to hang around men in a nonromantic wolf-in-the-pack sort of way and she takes great pride in her skill at manly things.
  • Omniglot: She speaks at least nine languages, including the language of love.
  • Photographic Memory: Very useful in her line of work as agents who don't develop this tend not to last long in Mossad.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Immediately after joining The Team.
  • Put on a Bus: Cote de Pablo left the series after season 10, unable to come to terms with her contract. Ziva, emotionally torn up by the attempt on her life, decided to leave NCIS and stay in Israel off the grid. Her life comes to an end, offscreen, in "Family First". Supposedly. Season 16 reveals she's alive.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Woman in this case, thanks to her upbringing.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: against Ilan Bodnar, and unsubtly enough to draw attention from the CIA. And roped McGee into helping, behind Tony's and Gibbs' backs. But in the end, she gets him in a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Scrabble Babble: Averted one time she played McGee in Scrabble. With the last Q at a corner of two Is, she makes Qi twice, read 'Chi'.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: The Season 13 finale reveals that Ziva became pregnant by Tony at the beginning of Season 11 (when she was written out) and subsequently gave birth to a daughter. This bombshell is dropped after Ziva's supposed death.
  • Stuffed in the Fridge: Blown up in her sleep in a missile strike. For a while it seemed she got out of it... then it was implied that whatever was left of her got unearthed from the charred ruins of her compound. And in season 16, it turns out that wasn't her.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In season 3.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Tomboy to Abby's Girly Girl.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Ziva's orange cap; it's a reminder of the victim from "Dead Man Walking".
  • Two First Names: "Ziva" and "David".
  • Uncertain Doom: Seems like they found her body after the bombing, but it was never shown, just implied that they were convinced it was hers. Season 16 confirmed that it wasn't.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: The writers seemed to enjoy dropping hints that in fact she and Tony had, something confirmed in the Season 13 finale. note 
  • Verbal Tic: Has a slight habit of forming questions as statements with "yes?" tacked on the end; which is probably a carry over from her native Hebrew (a language in which asking a question by means of inflection is perfectly common.
  • Wham Shot / Wham Line: In the Season 16 episode "She", she is revealed to still be alive after Bishop successfully completes the cold case that Ziva had started investigating a decade before. Bishop goes back to Ziva's secret office to find her coat gone, her favorite scarf on the desk, and a note saying not to tell anyone so that Tony and Tali aren't endangered.
    • And, if that wasn't enough, she appears in person at the end of the Season 16 finale, "Daughters." Wham Shot in and out of universe, as Gibbs clearly didn't know she was still alive (and, considering that the episode had been about him hallucinating his dead ex-wife, probably thought he was seeing another ghost at first) and the show's crew went to a lot of effort to keep this quiet, to the point of bringing Cote in after the rest of filming with a minimum of crew to shoot that final scene and even keeping her appearance out of the table read.
  • White Sheep: She's the only decent member of her family. Her brother was a murderer and terrorist and her father was a Well-Intentioned Extremist at best.
  • You Killed My Father: To Ilan Bodnar, her sent her spiraling into a wave of grief upon shooting her father.

    Director Jenny Shepard 
Played By: Lauren Holly
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/JennyShepardNCIS1_3215.jpg
"Do you think it would be inappropriate if, as director, I went in there and smacked that smile off her face?"

  • Hypocrite: She won't let Gibbs go after Ari without proof, yet she goes after La Grenouille with a vengeance, positive he killed her father, even though she has no proof.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Does not appear in the show until Season 3.
  • It's Personal: Her possibly unwarranted hunt for René Benoît is this, since she believes Benoît killed her father. Benoît claims that he had actually been bribing her father and that he killed himself out of shame.
  • Secretly Dying: In Season 5, she was plagued by a fatal illness hinted to be ALS. Instead she went out in a shootout, taking down five people before she succumbed to blood loss, and it's implied that she preferred this end to her life. Nobody except Ducky knew, as she'd went to him for a second opinion and advice; in fact, when he learned about her death, he initially thought the disease had killed her sooner than expected.

    Senior Special Agent Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo Jr. 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/TonyDinozzoNCIS_6560.png
Ziva: Tony, your dying words will be 'I've seen this film'.

NCIS' resident lothario. Tony is a former college athlete who decided to become a cop after an incident where he had to leave a girl behind in a burning building while saving her brother. He was recruited to join NCIS by Gibbs from the Baltimore Police Department and has established himself as a highly effective, albeit extremely unorthodox, investigator. Most people consider him to be Gibbs' heir as SAC of the MCRT.

He departs NCIS in the Season 13 finale so that he can focus on raising his daughter with Ziva in the wake of Ziva's death.


  • Accidental Misnaming: Of course, there's the McNicknames, but Tony gets his own share of this from Fornell, who pronounces his name DiNotso (he says the double z's like 'pizza') and occasionally McGee calls him DiNosey. note 
  • Affectionate Nickname: Zoe Keats calls him "Spider", a name dating back to when they were cops in Philadelphia.
  • Becoming the Mask: In season four when he went undercover.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Ziva.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't ever betray NCIS or the USA in general (like Agent Lee) or make fun of people he makes fun of but you don't know (like Det. McCadden).
    • Oh... and don't try to kill him and then think you can work with him.
    • And for the love of all things military, leave Ziva alone.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Do not let the Cassanova-like personality with all the jokes and snark fool you. He is a trained interrogator and can break anyone given the right leverage.
  • The Big Guy: He's originally the "muscle" of the team and he mentioned that he majored in physical education. After Kate dies, he steps up as The Lancer (though he's the official Number Two) with the group's muscle then being filled by Tyke-Bomb Action Girl Ziva David.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • Very often Gibbs catches him apparently slacking off, only to then reveal all the investigation and work he's been doing.
    • Whenever he's in charge of a case he uses a brainstorming technique he calls "campfire", where the squad roll their chairs into the middle of the bullpen and talk through a conundrum. The rest of the team roll their eyes whenever he calls for one but can't deny that it's an effective tool.
    • Also has the unorthodox interrogation technique of being as obnoxiously annoying as possible to aggravate people into talking just to make him stop.
  • Butt-Monkey: In the early seasons, this was his position for the most part. In the pilot, he was thrown out of a car onto a highway and in the second he was thrown out a plane, he had a parachute in this case.
  • Cartwright Curse: He fares almost as badly as Gibbs, with a significant amount of the women he's been attracted to meeting untimely deaths—Kate, Paula, the reporter in "Obsession", and Ziva.
  • The Casanova: Especially in early seasons, he was seen as wooing a lot of women. After his time with Jeanne, it slowly stopped.
  • Catchphrase: "On it, boss."
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • Zig-zagged. In season 1, he's said to have played basketball at Ohio State, and went to the Final Four. In season two, he he says that he played football at Ohio State, and broke his leg in the rivalry game with Michigan. Later seasons retcon this back to basketball, as seen in "Baltimore," "Rekindled" and "Cadence." He also mentions his mother encouraged him along with his father in high school, before we learn Mrs. Dinozzo died when he was eight and Senior has yet to remarry. Furthermore, at the very beginning of the show in the Backdoor Pilot, Tony has greased up hair which is dyed black. A flashback to 2001 reveals he also had this hairstyle back as a Baltimore cop, suggesting he dropped it sometime later in the year during 2003.
    • Fails to recognize The Maltese Falcon early in S1 before his cinephile trait was established.
  • Clear My Name: Twice. First the lab assistant Chip hated him for getting him fired in the past and sought out a complicated, nearly forensic-proof case. Second, Jeanne Benoit claimed to have seen him kill her father, the arms dealer René Benoit ("La Grenouille"). Director Shepard quickly proved she was only saying that because she was still angry about Tony lying to her.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: He's a clown, but he's a clown who can trick the head of Mossad into confessing to illegal activities and can beat up a mook while tied to a chair.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Almost every sentence contains some snark.
  • Distressed Dude: Generally, Tony is the resident dude in distress, but he usually manages to get himself out of his situations by himself.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: He gets very annoyed when NCIS doesn't get their due credit for solving cases and foiling terrorism, either being referred to simply as "federal agents" or being ignored entirely.
  • Everybody Knew Already: He tried keeping his relationship with Zoe Keats secret but couldn't hide the positive effect it had on his personality. No one was surprised when he finally admitted it
  • Exasperated Perp: His preferred method of interrogation. Most prominent when he doesn't ask questions, but just sits there, chewing on his tie and playing Tetris on his phone.
    • He once inverted the trope, pulling it off while he was the one being interrogated by the director of Mossad, who he successfully aggravated into admitting that he had sent the agent Tony had killed to spy on a meeting of several law enforcement agencies, which were discussing an operation regarding Israel.
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
  • Freudian Excuse: One that's something of a Tear Jerker: It turns out the reason Tony's such a movie buff is because his mother took him to movie theaters a lot when he was a kid before her death; they were even watching a movie when she passed away in the hospital. Ziva notes the irony that this is the first time Tony's ever mentioned his mother to her.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: He lived in a very nice apartment in a good neighborhood and, to McGee's shock, owned it outright. As it turned out, the place was the scene of a grisly murder and Tony was able to purchase it for much less than its actually worth because of it.
  • Genre Savvy: He's a big movie buff, and will very often find a way to compare the current case to a movie he's seen. Occasionally, however, he turns out to be Wrong Genre Savvy.
  • Handsome Lech: From "Hung Out to Dry":
    KATE: "Your mind, DiNozzo, runs the gamut from 'X' to triple 'X'."
  • Has a Type: Four of his five main love interests (Kate, Ziva, EJ, Zoe) on the show are action girls.
  • Hidden Depths: He maintains that he coasted through school and shows pride in being kicked out of many expensive prep schools. In Season 12, however, it's revealed that he cleaned up his act while at Military School and was a model student from that point onwards. He swears Bishop to keeping that fact a secret.
  • Hey, You!: Calling McGee Probie or one of many McNicknames.
  • Jerk Jock: He was a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes basketball team when it went to the NCAA Final Fournote . He also graduated with a degree in Phys Ed.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: If you dig deep enough, you may find it, somewhere.
  • Ladykiller in Love:
    • With Jeanne Benoit; he was undercover at the time, so it wasn't supposed to happen.
    • He had a spectacular eight year will they won't they arc with Ziva, with genuine feelings coming from both parties.
    • From season 12 to season 13, he was head over heels for Zoe Keats, an ATF agent and his former partner from the Philadelphia PD. Hilariously, the entire team knew about the relationship before he revealed it because he couldn't hide how happy it made him.
  • The Lancer: While he's always been Gibbs' official Number Two, it wasn't until Kate dies when he really steps up to this role.
  • Last Minute Hookup: With Ziva, ending 8 seasons of UST in her final episode.
  • Like Brother and Sister: With Abby and Elle whom he treats like younger sisters. Also treats McGee like a younger brother. Also Zigzagged with Ziva Depending on the Writer.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: Director Shepard offered him the chance to lead his own team in Rota, Spain, in Season 4 but he turns it down in favor of keeping an eye on Gibbs in the wake of Gibbs' accident. Shepard warns him that such chances are few and far between. He hasn't been offered a chance to move up in the agency in the eight years since.
  • Locked in a Freezer: In a shipping container with Ziva in "Boxed In".
  • Loving Bully: He was kind of like this towards Kate.
  • Military School: We find out that he attended one on season 12.
  • The Movie Buff: His defining trait outside of being the Handsome Lech. He is a library of cult films from the 1940s to early 1980s.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Is on the receiving end of this twice in the episode "Last Man Standing."
  • Number Two: He easily steps into the role of leader when Gibbs is absent, even demonstrating Gibbs' seeming-precognition and knowing when major developments will happen before they occur.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: In the rare times when he's totally serious, it's almost scary.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Drops his Class Clown identity for a while (stops dissing [McGee], quits making wisecracks, combs his hair up neatly without any messy spikes in front, and becomes all brooding and distant) around a particularly distressing Christmas season when he learns a girl he used to date has checked into a rehabilitation center and blames himself for encouraging her breakdown. Ziva is able to get him to overcome his guilt and Tony promptly returns to being a joker in style by the end of that same story.
  • Persona Non Grata: After the events of "The Admiral's Daughter," he can never go back to Marseilles again (Despite the fact that the mess in question wasn't his fault).
  • Plucky Comic Relief: In the first few seasons.
  • Porn Stash: We've never seen it, but it must require a C-5 Galaxy to carry. However, in "Bikini Wax," he reveals that he has a subscription to "GSM" ("Get Some Magazine"), and brings in one of the issues from his collection because the victim had a photo shoot in it.
  • Promoted to Parent: Discovers his daughter (by Ziva) in the Season 13 finale, driving some major life choices.
  • Put on a Bus: He left the show in the Season 13 finale, having spent a good portion of the preceding season becoming detached from his job and questioning his life choices.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Owns a literal one. Her name's Kate. Now it's up to two, as of season 12, because he has a goldfish named Ziva. (See below.)
  • Reference Overdosed: His movie references turn this show into this all on his own.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Several episodes reveal that his wardrobe is a who's-who of expensive name brands. His grousing during the shower scene in "SWAK" is one of the best examples:
    Tony: This very instant, someone is incinerating my Ermenegildo Zegna suit, my Armani tie, my Dolce & Gabbana shirt, and my Gucci shoes!
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly Man to McGee's Sensitive Guy.
  • Slimeball a mild example. While he's not a bad person, he certainly comes across as kind of a sleazebag a lot of the time.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: He discovers, in the Season 13 finale, that he has a daughter with Ziva a short time after learning of Ziva's death.
  • Spanner in the Works: Tony is often so unpredictable that he can screw over the best laid plans of the villains by simply being his annoying self. This is also his preferred method of interrogation, thinking so far out of the loop that rehearsed defenses are useless, and being so annoying or weird that the suspect is unable to think clearly. This methodology also proves useful when he is being interrogated by the FBI or the Director of Mossad. He even called himself one in the season 7 opener:
    Tony: I'm the wildcard. I'm the guy that looks at the reality in front of him and refuses to accept it.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Between seasons 10 and 11, to get the case against Gibbs dismissed.
  • They Do: With Ziva; they have a daughter.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Multiple levels between seasons three and four, then smaller yet still noticeable levels between seasons five and six, then multiple levels again between seasons six and seven.
  • Unorthodox Holstering: Discussed. Apparently he annoys the NCIS armorers by constantly visiting them to try out different sidearms and carry methods to figure out the coolest combination that works for him.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: A little with Kate, but to a much greater degree with Ziva.
  • Urban Legend Love Life: Starting in season five. He acknowledges in Season Six that he's going through a dry spell since falling in love while undercover. He just doesn't want anyone to know.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
    • Type 2 with McGee. They act almost like brothers.
    • Tony is also very close to Gibbs, but you wouldn't say so from their normal interactions. It's the same story with Kate (which appears at first like a type 1), and with Ziva.
  • Wacky Parent, Serious Child: Has this dynamic with his father ironically given his usual attitude. Though given DiNozzo Senior is The Casanova and a Chivalrous Pervert par excellence this is to be expected.
  • Walking the Earth: His leaving to take care of his daughter is hinted to be partially this as well, along with hinting at investigating the circumstances of Ziva's death.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy:
    • Mostly in the early seasons, with Gibbs.
    • Also clearly present with his biological father. They're improving.

    Special Agent Alexandra "Alex" Quinn 
Played by: Jennifer Esposito
A federal agent training instructor, Quinn is friends with Gibbs and was once McGee's trainer. Introduced in Season 14 after Gibbs repeatedly shoots down agents to take Tony DiNozzo's place that she recommended, prompting her to come pay him a visit, which ultimately led to Gibbs not only recruiting Agent Torres, but recruiting her for his team as well. She leaves the team early in season 15 to take care of her ailing mother, who has developed Alzheimer's disease.
  • Broken Ace: Was a great field agent until My Greatest Failure broke her.
  • My Greatest Failure: ...she was traumatized by the death of her partner because (from her POV) her partner, a new mother, just wanted to give her some privacy during a stakeout and got out of the car right in front of the criminals they were watching and got shot to death. Additionally, because the reason her partner died (again from Quinn's POV) was an argument with her (Quinn's) fiance...
  • Red Baron: Quin was called the Queen of Hearts when agent afloat because of her love of card playing. Running into a sailor who knew her then causes her to remember the nickname when dealing with a murder on a mixed navy/civilian cruise.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Prior to her debut appearance, Quinn met Gibbs and was McGee's training officer.
  • Troll: Quinn always remembers her trainees. Bishop was one of them. Quinn says she doesn't remember Bishop, although she later tells McGee that she definitely remembers her. She's just messing with her because she's so tightly wound... "and besides... it tickles me."
    • In "M.I.A.", later on in the season Quinn, Torres, McGee, and Bishop are training for a marathon. Quinn and Torres are able to finish in unbelievable time. Later on, McGee and Bishop figure out that Quinn cheated on the training run; she took a taxi. Quinn reveals she was never going to run in the marathon and did it to mess with them. It would be off-putting... but then she goes into a goofy happy dance, giggling like a fool.
  • Two First Names: "Alexandra" and "Quinn".
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Lasted only a season, the shortest length of any main character.

    MI6 Officer Clayton Reeves 
Played by: Duane Henry

  • The Alcoholic: A recovering one, at least, revealed by his presence at an AA meeting.
  • The Aloner: Part of the reason was that "he didn't want anyone with a family" to put themselves at risk (he was in the foster care system). While he might not know the team's exact family situations (he knows Bishop's and he clearly doesn't know he's not one to talk to Gibbs about the lacking a family) he's aware they consider themselves Like Family.
  • The Atoner: Possibly why he apparently signed up for an operation that Quinn described as a suicide mission.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Is shot and killed protecting Abby from a mugger.
  • Character Death: Is killed at the end of "One Step Forward" - his body is seen at the start of "Two Steps Back".
  • Dark Secret: Screwed something up really bad in the past to the point he wasn't sure if he would be able to stay in MI-6.
  • Death Seeker: Considering how he was practically ordering Vance in "MIA" to get him another Whillowby-style assignment and receiving one that would've taken him to Syria... (he ultimately rejects it).
  • Fire-Forged Friends: After learning his best friend and fellow agent betrayed both for money he declares that "We're not mates, she (Bishop) is my mate".
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Is killed fighting to save Abby from a hitman.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Bishop becomes increasingly disturbed that he apparently has no friends as of his MI-6 partner's betrayal and only has himself as an emergency contact.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: After three appearances as a guest star.
  • Separated by a Common Language: Apparently his Running Gag to parallel Ziva's Blunt Metaphors Trauma: One of Bishop's brothers reminds his other brother that "mate" means "friend" in British; Reeves insists his gift to Bishop are "crisps" not "chips".
  • Shipper on Deck: Is clearly not bothered that Bishop's brothers suspect he's in a relationship with her (he isn't, but what with the sudden death of her boyfriend...).
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: For both DiNozzo and Ziva, as he's introduced in the final episodes mentioning both characters: Outgoing, sharply-dressed lover of pop-culture and foreign person of color from their country's equivalent of the CIA. Subverted in that he didn't wind up joining the team immediately.
  • Taking the Bullet: For Abby, in the season 15 finale.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Torres. As the team has never seen two big guys of relatively equal status with this relationship everyone is worried they're going to fight, but this is just how they affirm their friendship. They *are* going to fight, however -- how else will they know who's better?

    Forensic Specialist Abigail "Abby" Sciuto 
Played By: Pauley Perrette
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/AbbySciutoNCIS_8845.png
Tony: Abby Sciuto, resident NCIS forensic scientist, heart and soul. A paradox wrapped in an oxymoron, smothered in contradictions in terms. Sleeps in a coffin. Really, the happiest goth you'll ever meet.

A forensic science genius who apparently handles the lab work for all of NCIS by herself, Abby is a perky goth who always tries to see the best in everyone despite being confronted by all the horrible things people do to each other every day.

She is the barometer by which the mood at NCIS can be judged. If Abby is anything other than her usual cheerful self it means something is most definitely wrong and upsetting her in any way is a guarantee to getting your ass kicked (by her with the rest of Team Gibbs rushing in just as she's finishing up).

Retires near the end of season 15 to start a non-profit in England.


  • All Women Are Prudes: Downplayed. She has no problem with sex, just certain expressions of it (like Palmer's foot/shoe fetish AND how carefully he takes note of his coworker's footwear...)
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Pulls this on a smarmy forensics student while teaching a week-long symposium in Mexico, correctly determining that the woman owns an orange tabby and two calicos, has a citrus allergy, went bowling the night before, and was ovulating, with zero forensic equipment, just by giving her a once-over. Don't make fun of Abby's fashion choices.
  • Badass Adorable:
    Abby: (To the hitman, lying on the ground squealing while she stands over him) And don't look up my skirt! **zaps**
    • Implied by Ducky to the corpse in "Toxic": "You messed with the wrong forensic scientist."
    • There's the Poison-and-Cure Gambit she pulls on Robert King. The fact that it's a bluff makes it even more awesome, as she's able to completely sell it to a trained black-op specialist.
    • In another episode, the perpetrator infiltrates her lab in the guise of helping with the investigation and deletes the incriminating evidence, leaving her livid and itching to kick his ass. When he smugly tries to extort a plea deal out of Gibbs, Gibbs simply steps aside and lets her break the man's nose.
  • Berserk Button: Abby's two biggest pet peeves are people who claim to be vegetarians but still eat chicken, and poorly handled evidence.
    • In "Toxic," (Season 6, Episode 21), she insists, "What is Abby's rule #1? Do not lie to Abby."
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • She once threatened Agent Lee that she's one of the few people in the world who can kill someone and leave absolutely no forensic evidence.
    • And a couple times people tried to hurt Abby, the scene cuts to agents running to help her, and when they arrive, Abby has taken her attacker down, and is clearly coming down from a major adrenaline rush (see Badass Adorable).
    • She can verbally dress you down as well as Gibbs, and in a way it's even more harsh just because it's coming from her.
    • One of her interns flat-out declares to Gibbs "I'm more scared of her than you" even though she hasn't really been mean to him, just bombarded him with a list of bizarre rules and and made him wear bells to avert him causing any problems.
  • Boring, but Practical: Her job as The Lab Rat isn't as conventionally exciting as chasing down suspects but Abby would vehemently disagree.
  • Brainy Brunette: Has jet-black hair and is the smartest member of the team.
  • Breakout Character: She's basically the series mascot.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: See Perky Goth. Can also be something of One of the Kids at times.
  • Cargo Ship: Abby ships herself In-Universe with her mass spectrometer, which she calls "Major Mass Spec". She even says that she wants to "have his little mass spec children".
  • The Cast Show Off: Pauley Perrette has a Masters Degree in Criminal Science.
  • Cast the Expert: Before becoming an actress and being cast as Abby Sciuto, Pauley Perrette's early ambitions included working with animals, being a rock musician, or an FBI agent. She studied criminal justice at Valdosta State University in Georgia and at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. In a 2005 interview with Craig Ferguson, she started her master's degree in criminal science before she ended up in the entertainment industry.
  • Catchphrase: "I hate it when he/she/they does/do that." Also, "Gibbs! Gibbs! Gibbs! Gibbs! Gibbs!"
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: More like Casual Post-Danger Dialogue, but after working with - and later duck taping up - the Obviously Evil assistant Chip (an assistant that she specifically requested against), Gibbs and co come to rescue her, only to find her sitting in a chair with only one thing to say.
    Abby: (casually sitting in her chair, used duck tape roll in hands) Now can I work alone?
  • Characterization Marches On: Go back and watch some Season 1 episodes, and you'll see that Abby isn't nearly as bubbly or talkative as she would later become. She's also gotten something of a Girliness Upgrade over time.
  • Cheek Copy: Admits in "Left for Dead" (Season 1, Episode 10) that she did this once.
  • Cheerful Child: In a flashback we see she was an extremely cheerful tomboy with a knack for science and detective work.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Abby plays the halves of the trope title separately with McGee. The "clingy" can kick in when she's upset or worried. The "jealous" can kick in if there's a non-team member around who pulls McGee's attention away from her (e.g. an ICE agent played by Jaime "Hustle" Murray). You'd swear at times that they were still dating...
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: In spades.
  • Cuddle Bug: Abby snuggles up to people she's close to and often hugs them from behind. It's her way of showing fondness and affection.
  • Damsel out of Distress: Got captured by the villain when she went over to NCIS: Los Angeles for a crossover. She used his live camera feed to send her location to Callen's team via Morse code blinks.
    • This happens several times over the series, including tasing a stalker into submission and duct taping up a forensics specialist who was trying to get Tony convicted of murder. Abby does occasionally get into trouble, but she's more than capable of saving herself.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: She dresses in black and has a big interest in death. She's easily one of the nicest characters on the show (so long as you don't piss her off).
  • Despair Event Horizon: When she thought she isn't doing enough good to counteract all the bad, she was horribly detracted and even called in sick. Triggered when she was reminded of her very first "case": When she was a child she found a little girl's teddy bear and went to return it, but due to family drama (the girl's dad hated his father-in-law who had given her the bear) the girl couldn't take it back; she even found the girl's grandpa who told her it was impossible. Eventually Abby secretly gave her one of her own toys instead and kept that bear until it fell apart.
  • Disappeared Dad: She lost her adoptive father at a young age, and heaven knows she feels regret over the fights they had.
  • Does Not Like Guns: Downplayed. Though she handles guns and ammo on a regular basis in lab tests, Abby never uses a gun to shoot people- ever.note  However, she has no problems opening fire on dummies and using guns for ballistics tests and simulations.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette
  • Embarrassing First Name: She doesn't much care for being called "Abigail" by Ducky.
  • Fake Food: The giant cup of the Caf-Pow soda that Abby frequently drinks is actually sugar-free cranberry juice; it was orginally Hawaiian Punch up until around the fourth season, when Pauley Perrette gave up eating or drinking anything that contained refined sugar.
  • First-Name Basis: Besides his wife and Gibbs, she's the only one who calls Director Vance "Leon".
  • Foreshadowing: In "Kill Ari, Part I", Abby mentions she's originally from New Orleans when it's discussed that people there play lively jazz music at funerals and she interjects that before them, they play a dirge to properly mourn the departed. Many seasons later Abby's New Orleans background leads back to the discovery of a biological brother. It also becomes a big topic of intrest for the backdoor pilot of NCIS: New Orleans, which is all things NOLA.
  • Freaky Fashion, Mild Mind: Abby's dress sense blares with goth, but she's got a brainy and generally level head. When she's not talking about creepy/gothic fetishes and fetishism in general, that is.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Used to great effect while helping Ziva to subdue an intruder at Gibbs' place. She even lampshades her choice of a weapon.
    Abby: It's a frying pan. It's a little cliché.
    Ziva: Works for me.
  • Genki Girl: If this were a manga, she would be most likely to Say It with Hearts.
  • Girlish Pigtails: "Hit and Run" shows that she had these even as an actual young girl.
  • The Glomp: She is compelled to hug everybody. In fact, it deeply distressed her when a lecturer at a meeting for sexual harassment in the workplace made it seem like it was wrong to hug people and the entire room assured her they appreciated her hugs.
  • Happily Adopted: Nine seasons in and we learn she was this to her deaf parents.
  • The Heart: As indicated in the character quote, again. Even those who know she isn't an easy mark will go after her first for that reason.
  • Leitmotif: You will almost always hear techno/rock music pulsing in the background when a scene occurs with Abby in the lab. Compared to the mostly orchestrated score of the series, it really stands out as unique, just like she does.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: People who target Abby tend to wish they hadn't (via off-screen mayhem).
  • Like Brother and Sister: With Tony whom she treats like an older brother. Also McGee after both recieved some Character Development. She also treats Ziva and Kate like older sisters.
  • Love You and Everybody: She's a big-time hugger. She even made an apology to a tree when Tony had to dig out a bullet for evidence and got a splinter, defending it by forgiving him for "attacking" the tree.
  • Morality Pet: To Gibbs. He refers to her as the team mascot. What happens near the end of Season 15 is a HUGE testament to that.
  • Motor Mouth: And how. It seems the more stressed she is, the faster she'll talk and the more tangents she'll go off on. Usually Gibbs has to pull her back on track.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Her youth and ceaseless energy makes her a true Kid-Appeal Character both In-Universe and out.
  • Must Have Caffeine: In the form of "Caf Pow" soda.
    • She's tried to break the addiction before. It never works.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Played with in that while she is definitely a nerd and highly intelligent, she looks like the exact opposite. Men who are attracted to her are initially attracted by her goth sensibilities.
  • Nice Shoes: She wears oversized high-top booties and elevator boots. As Tony put it succinctly while doing a Humphrey Bogart impression, "The cute lady with the funny shoes". However, she hates high heels, and the one time she was forced to wear them, whined that she had to and promptly begged to take them off.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: She sleeps in a coffin.
    Marty: You wouldn't happen to have an unhealthy obsession with death, would you?
    Abby: Oh, no. It's just a hobby.
  • Older Than They Look: Pauley Perrette was born in 1969, meaning she was in her early-mid 30s when she was cast. Abby looks maybe 25-30 even after 15 or so seasons.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Abby stopped wearing pigtails for a while, ditched her dark lipstick, and played a dirge instead of the usual techno rock music as she mourned Kate. The "spirit" of Kate called her out on it.
  • Parasol of Prettiness: Has a black, lacy one, that she carries in a few episodes. Speaking of which...
  • Perky Goth: If you put Lisbeth Salander and Penelope Pitstop in a blender...With the ratio of perkiness to gothiness gradually shifting in favor of the former over time.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: She and McGee dated once early in the series, and they had a Will They or Won't They? that ended on "won't".(especially with McGee marrying Deliah), but they still get along fairly well. Enough for her to be his Best Woman.
  • Power Echoes: "...and I will rise up, and I will find the man that did this to Tony, and I will crucify him!"
  • Properly Paranoid: She was afraid to work in the lab in the days following Kate's death out of fear she would come under attack by the sniper who killed Kate. Ari opened fire on the lab and bullets burst through the windows, and had the lights in the lab not been killed, Abby might have been instead. Gibbs then resorted to having bullet-proof glass (well, bullet-resistant glass, because Abby insists that no glass is truly bulletproof) installed in place of the old lab windows to prevent this from ever happening again.
  • Put on a Bus: After Reeves dies in a hit meant for her, she retires from NCIS and starts a non-profit in London in his memory.
  • Really Gets Around: Abby's sex life hasn't gotten much attention since the early seasons, but it is known to be... eclectic.
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: She is very furtive and doesn't give much about herself away. For good reasons.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Energetic Girl to McGee's Savvy Guy.
  • Secret Test of Character: She has a list of criteria that the men she dates have to meet before she'll commit to a long term relationship. None know that they are being tested, none (including McGee) have passed, and her friends take it for granted that every man she's involved with will be gone within a few months. She eventually makes an exception for Burt, the Parks Police Sergeant. It seems like the true parameters of Abby tests are that she's trying to find out if her love interest exhibits pure and rich feelings toward her and possesses a kind and charitable heart, because she dislikes it when men aren't satisfied with what they get and doesn't want to be made to change for a man or humor men only concerned about fulfilling their own self-interests and not thinking about her. When McGee went and asked where their relationship was going, it made her feel very insecure and sad that he felt she wasn't trying hard enough to make it work when she was already doing her best to understand him, and in that one moment, the whole thing fell down like a house of cards.
  • Secret Keeper: Abby knows Gibbs killed somebody in cold blood. She was made to perform a DNA test on the autopsy results for the man that Gibbs murdered (who killed his family), and invariably found out that Gibbs was a murderer. Abby buried the results as furiously as possible, and later shredded the documents when Gibbs was put under a separate investigation for his misconduct throughout his career, as this was the one piece of absolutely damning evidence he could never talk his way out of.
  • Separated at Birth: Turns out in season 9 that she was adopted. Her twin brother runs an SPCA-affiliated pet shop.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Most notably in the Halloween Episode, "Witch Hunt", from Season 4, where she dresses up as Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, causing speechlessness in McGee and DiNozzo when they first see her. There's also that one time she's forced to adhere to a standard dress code and looks like Dream Career Barbie...with tattoos all over... and curly, slicked-back hair instead of pigtails and none of the usual dark lipstick or eyeshadow.
  • Sherlock Scan: When Abby's teaching a class on forensics for the Mexican government, one of her students looks at her and snarkily asks if she forgot when The Day of The Dead is. Abby proceeds to tell the woman that she has a cat. When the woman isn't impressed, Abby reels off a list of things she's observed that range from the woman having three cats of two different breeds, all the way to the fact that she's currently ovulating. The woman quickly shuts up.
  • She's Got Legs: "And don't look up my skirt!"
  • Stereotype Flip: She's about as unlike the stereotypical goth as can possibly be imagined.
  • Tattoo as Character Type: A big black spiderweb on the far left-hand side of her neck. It firmly cements her as a fan of all things gothic. She also remarks to then-boyfriend McGee she got a new one during Season 1, an unspecified one which Kate reveals is on her ankle. Later, in a moment of pure Fanservice, after she is forced to don regulation clothing but then gets to change back to her normal attire, we see she also has a giant gothic cross tattooed on her back and two stick figures on her shoulder blades. There's a tattoo of a circular skull emblem on one of her fingers as well.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: The Girly Girl to Kate and Ziva's Tomboy. Being a Wrench Wench puts her in Tomboy territory, too.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Implied with Abby in "Bloodbath":
    McGee: Now, you stay here and don't answer the door, or I will tie you up!
    Abby: Really?
  • Tsundere: On any given episode she can be the sweetest, most loving and caring ball of fluff on the series and turn around to threatening anyone with the fact that she can kill them and leave no forensic evidence. Witness her Dere to Tsun turn around in the season 5 episode "Dog Tags" with McGee when she first sees McGee hurt, only to wanting to never have met him when she realized he shot a dog. Never mind that It Was Self-Defense.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: A nightmare she had of being autopsied left her too scared to enter Ducky's lab herself for a time. She forcers herself to overcome this fear by sleeping on one of the examination tables for the night.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Rather, will they or won't they again; she and McGee used to date, and still have chemistry, up to and including being jealous of whoever the other one is currently seeing. As of Season 12, however, McGee makes clear that they never will because Abby has a secret list of criteria that the men she dates must meet (without them even knowing that there is a list) before certain dates and no one's ever made it past two months with her. Also, McGee and Deliah married each other at the end of Season 14.
  • Womanchild: A positive example. She has a lot of childlike traits that make her very friendly and likeable.
  • Vanity License Plate: "4NS CHIK" displayed on her red 1932 Ford Deuce Coupe. The car before this one was a hearse.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Prone to tall stockings like a typical goth.
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