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Trivia / NCIS

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  • Adored by the Network: USA Network will run marathons of this 2-3 days a week, and now Oxygen does too.
  • Backed by the Pentagon: The Navy and USMC support the show because malfeasance (regardless of whether it is done by service members or otherwise) is always brought to justice. In "Child's Play" season 7 episode 9, NCIS Agent Ray, who lost in checkers to the child prodigy, was played by Ray Mabus, the then current Secretary of the Navy.
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  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Abby is repeatedly misquoted as having screamed "Stop looking up my skirt!" in "Bloodbath". What she actually says is "And don't look up my skirt!"
  • California Doubling:
    • A few episodes make reference to Shenandoh National Park, but the terrain and scenery don't match the real thing.
    • One episode has them in a trailer park in Arlington, Virginia, an area with no trailer parks.
    • The season six finale features scenes at an airfield in Israel clearly shot at Sacramento. Look for the USCG Hercules behind Ziva at the end.
    • In another episode, where Tony pretends to be a convict to trace artifacts smuggled out of Iraq, they end up in a storage facility across the street from the WalMart in Lynchburg, VA; such a facility doesn't exist.
    • Another episode has members of the team follow a lead in Arizona. In clear view behind them when talking to a local cop, Kirk's Rock.
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    • An episode from season 9 ends with the team racing to a football stadium to stop an attack on some high ranking military members in attendance. The overhead shot of the stadium is of EverBank Field, which is in Jacksonville, Florida.
    • In one episode they mention that you have to supply a fingerprint to get a drivers' license. NCIS is supposedly located in the Washington, D.C., Navy Yard. California requires a fingerprint to be issued a drivers' license. The District of Columbia, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia do not require or ask for a fingerprint, and they are the only drivers' licensing issuing jurisdictions within 50 miles of NCIS headquarters.
    • One episode features Gibbs and Ziva driving down a wide boulevard with steep-sided hills covered in dried grass and rock outcroppings in the near background. Such hills are common in the Los Angeles basin, but would be much further away and covered in trees in Virginia where the episode is supposed to take place.
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    • The team is often seen canvasing the scene of a crime somewhere in DC or the surrounding area. Anyone who knows DC will know that there are absolutely NO bridges with art deco style decorations. Los Angeles, however, is littered with them.
  • The Cast Showoff:
    • When some kids overthrow their football near a crime scene, Gibbs, before returning it, tells one of the kids to go long, and then he throws a perfect spiral. Keep in mind, Mark Harmon was a starting quarterback for two years with the UCLA Bruins and his father was actor and quarterback Tom Harmon, who was the first Michigan Wolverine to win the Heisman Trophy. Another bit that can be related to this is why Gibbs makes boats: Mark Harmon was a carpenter once before he started acting.
    • Cote de Pablo did theater and musicals before joining NCIS, and gets to show off her singing chops in "Last Man Standing", when Ziva performs a rendition of Tom Waits' "Temptation" while undercover as a singer in a Moroccan nightclub. The song is included on the 2-disk NCIS soundtrack album.
    • Jack Sloane is shown boxing with a punching bag at the end of her first episode, and has multiple hand-to-hand combat scenes. Maria Bello, her actress, is a longtime active practitioner of Muay Thai kickboxing.
  • Casting Gag: Anthony DiNozzo, Sr. is played by Robert Wagner, who was cast because Michael Weatherly played him in a Natalie Wood biopic. Commenters noted how eerily perfect the casting of Senior was, because Wagner and Weatherly share more than a passing resemblance and Wagner puts in an incredible amount of effort to show how Tony got his character tics from his father.
  • Cast the Expert:
    • Pauley Perrette studied sociology and criminal science before becoming an actress and playing forensic specialist Abby Sciuto.
    • An interesting inversion with David McCallum, who knew nothing of pathology when he was cast as Ducky, but developed such an expertise over the years in his studies for the role to make Ducky as spot on to real coroners that the showrunners were considering paying him a consulting fee.
  • The Character Died with Him: With Ralph Waite dying, Jackson Gibbs died as well. It happened in "Honor Thy Father."
  • Colbert Bump: Prior to the series airing, real NCIS agents referred to themselves as the Rodney Dangerfields of law enforcement because the agency was so obscure they couldn't get any respect. Once the show became a hit, people knew what the agency did and news reports stopped saying "Naval investigators" and actually referring to the agency as "NCIS" or "Naval Criminal Investigative Service".
  • Creator Backlash: Not against the show itself, but Pauley Perrette is very vocal about how much she hates the fake spider web tattoo she has to wear on her neck, saying that it gets sticky very quickly and needs constant touch-ups. She says that if she knew in advance about all the trouble it would have caused her, she would never have agreed to the suggestion in the first place.
  • Dawson Casting: Despite Abby's age being mentioned as mid-late 20s throughout the series, Pauley Perrette was born in 1969 making her about 10 years older than the character. Likewise for Gibbs who is often said to be younger than Mark Harmon by about 10 years.
  • Defictionalization: Theakston's Christmas Ale. Theakston was already a real brewery, but they didn't make a specific Christmas beer - until NCIS fans started inquiring about it.
  • Directed by Cast Member: Michael Weatherly directed Season eight episode "One Last Score" and Season 10 episode "Seek".
  • Dye Hard: Pauley Perrette is a natural blonde but dyes her hair black to play Abby (occasionally using black powder to hide her roots for when she's too tired to dye them). The cumulative effects of dyeing her hair for so long caused her to have a severe allergic reaction that made her face swell up like a balloon. The left side of her face is noticeably puffy in the early episodes of Season 12.
  • Edited for Syndication: At least in daytime UK screenings,for gore and violence rather than for timing.
  • Executive Meddling: Invoked by Mark Harmon. Donald P. Bellisario was practically untouchable due to his track record of successful TV series but his controlling nature made production a nightmare for the cast and crew (see Troubled Production below). Mark Harmon told CBS executives that he'd walk if they didn't do anything about it and the execs decided to force out Bellisario and bring in Shane Brennan as the new showrunner. Considering that NCIS hit number one soon afterwards, this is a case of executive meddling working out for the better.
  • Fake Nationality:
    • Coincidentally, the in-series siblings Ziva and Ari. The Israeli Mossad agent Ziva is played by Chilean actress Cote de Pablo, and the Israeli/Palestinian double agent Ari is played by German actor Rudolf Martin.
      • Most of the Israeli characters, Mossad or otherwise, on the show are not played by Israeli actors. However, notable exceptions include Sarai Givaty (Mossad Officer Liat Tuvia in "Enemies Foreign/Enemies Domestic"), Eli Danker (Mossad Officer Michael Bashan in "Shalom"), and Oded Fehr (Ilan Bodner).
    • Director Thomas Morrow is portrayed by Alan Dale, who is from New Zealand.
    • Subverted with British actor Jamie Bamber as Jake Malloy (While he's sporting a Fake American accent as he usually does on US television, Bamber has American ancestry and citizenship despite being born in London, as his father is an American).
  • Fandom Nod: In the season 9 episode "Life Before His Eyes," Gibbs has a near-death experience and during it he imagines what his life would be like if several things had gone differently. In his alternate timeline where Kate didn't get killed by Ari, Ziva never came to join NCIS and instead gets arrested for terrorism. Tony is the one to interrogate her, and "guesses" her name wrong several times. One of the names he calls her is "Tiva", which is the online Portmanteau Couple Name given to the Tony/Ziva ship.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • The "Gibbs Slap", McNicknames, and 'autopsy gremlin' for Palmer.
    • Alison Hart, the character played by Rena Sofer for a few episodes of season seven, was referred to by some fans as "Bitchy McLawyer."
    • Tony used McNickname when referring to something he said NOT being one.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: Gibbs simply glaring as other characters have one-sided conversations wasn't something the writers came up with. It was Mark Harmon choosing not to say his lines at all and simply use facial expressions to react to information being given to Gibbs. It quickly became a hallmark of the show and certainly made watching Info Dump scenes a lot more enjoyable.
  • Hostility on the Set: Pauley Perrette decided to leave the show after a falling-out with Mark Harmon. Things degenerated to the point that she refused to be on the set at the same time he was, resulting in Abby and Gibbs having very few scenes together in Season 15, not even in her final episode... at least that's what the network says. Perrette has posted on twitter that her reason for leaving may be due to sexual assault by someone she has yet to name, and accused the network of lying about the reason to cover it up.
  • In Memoriam: The Season 11 finale, "Honor Thy Father", in which Jackson Gibbs dies off-camera, is dedicated to his actor, Ralph Waite, who died three months before the episode aired.
    • The German dub paid tribute to Ducky's previous German voice actor in early February 2014.
    • "Privileged Information", the third episode of season 14, is dedicated to showrunner Gary Glasberg, who died days prior in his sleep.
  • Name's the Same: The Sean Murray that plays the part of McGee is NOT the same Sean Murray behind the video game No Man's Sky. Worth mentioning due to the controversy surrounding the game, no, it's not him.
  • The Pete Best: Robyn Lively played Special Agent Vivian Blackadder in the two-part JAG Poorly Disguised Pilot. Donald Bellisario reportedly said she was "too soft" for the new show, and she was replaced by Sasha Alexander's Caitlin Todd for the series proper.
  • Playing Against Type: Believe it or not, Mark Harmon was primarily known for playing quippy smartasses before playing the functionally mute Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
  • Promoted Fanboy: Jon Cryer has said that he was a fan since the beginningnote . After the end of Two and a Half Men, Cryer now has a recurring role as Dr. Cyril Taft.
  • Real-Life Relative:
    • Sean Murray, who plays McGee, is the real-life stepson of the show's creator Donald Bellisario.
      • McGee's sister is played by his real-life stepsister.
    • In one season 9 episode, Abby shows the others a locket containing a picture of her mother. The picture is of Pauley Perrette's real-life (deceased) mother, Donna. The lock of Abby's mother's hair inside the locket was also that of Pauley's mother.
    • The young Gibbs is played by Mark Harmon's son Sean.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: As the show became increasingly popular, the Gibbs Slap was dropped because people were running up to Michael Weatherly in the street and smacking him upside the head.
  • Reality Subtext:
    • Mark Harmon's father was a World War 2 fighter pilot. So was Gibbs'.
    • Gibbs and Jack Sloane quickly develop a close and mutually trusting — if sometimes argumentative — relationship. Actors Mark Harmon and Maria Bello, who portray them, clicked immediately upon meeting and have repeatedly raved about how much they enjoy working with each other. They're also genuinely friends offscreen, and in most behind-the-scenes photos, they're standing right next to each other.
  • Separated-at-Birth Casting: Compare David McCallum in his Illya Kuryakin days (the mid-1960s) with Adam Campbell as a younger version of McCallum's character in a season 12 episode (mid-2010s).
  • Sleeper Hit: NCIS is one of the rare examples of a show that's steadily increased its viewing audience as it's gone on, and to continuously do it over a decade is virtually unheard of; nearly every successive season has had an episode that set a new benchmark for the show's viewershipnote , with Season 10's "Shiva" the current record holder at over 22 million viewers.
  • The Other Darrin: Because Kelly's a Posthumous Character and her appearances are few and far between, multiple actresses have had to portray her.
  • Those Two Actors: Five, rather. Rocky Carroll (Leon Vance), Lauren Holly (Jenny Shepherd), Mark Harmon (Leroy Jethro Gibbs), Stacy Edwards (Dr. Janice Byers of S2E8 "Heartbreak") and Jayne Brook (Lyndi Crenshaw of S4E20 "Cover Story") all had starring roles on Chicago Hope. To top it off, Harmon and Holly's characters had a romantic relationship on this show as well.
  • Throw It In!: Gibbs' famous Dope Slap resulted from Harmon genuinely giving one to Weatherly, who he felt was goofing off too much while filming a scene (ironically, the very reason Gibbs usually gives them to people). TPTB thought it was hilarious and encouraged Harmon to make it a character tic. In true Harmon style, he gives the credit to Weatherly for not breaking character or stopping the scene.
  • Troubled Production:
    • When Donald Bellisario was showrunner, he exercised tight control over the show and continuously rewrote scripts, resulting in pages being delivered just before cameras were supposed to roll and the cast and crew working longer and longer hours because of the resulting delaysnote . This also led to Sasha Alexander leaving the shownote . While this isn't unusual in TV production, Mark Harmon finally decided to put his foot down and threatened to quit unless someone else was brought in as showrunner, leading to Bellisario being forced out and Shane Brennan taking over. While this smoothed out the production process (with whole scripts now being delivered 10 days in advance of shooting), Bellisario is now in a messy and ugly legal battle with CBS over royalties.
    • When Cote de Pablo's contract ran out after Season 10, she entered into protracted negotiations. While the powers that be said they kept on increasing their offers, de Pablo was hesitant to accept and dragged talks out through the hiatus before deciding to leave a week before production on Season 11 was supposed to start. This left the writers with little time to put together a workable departure for Ziva, including resolving eight seasons worth of Unresolved Sexual Tension with Tony, resulting in a rushed two-episode story. Some cast members publicly expressed displeasure at how the actress left (Mark Harmon being particularly backhanded during an appearance on Arsenio Hall).
    • Pauley Perrette announced in 2018 she was leaving the show, citing on-set sexual harassment from an as-yet-unnamed member of either cast or crew. Considering the tremendous mess that Hollywood is in thanks to the large sex abuse scandal of 2018 that has leaked numerous names and ruined countless careers, this could have potential to end the show for good. Perrette is so far refusing to name the person responsible.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Production notes from the show say that the plan was to develop a romantic relationship between Kate and Tony—the events of the Season 3 episodes "Under Covers" and "Boxed In" would have forced them to realize that they had feelings for each other. Sasha Alexander's decision to leave the show after two seasons prevented that potential arc from happening. It's touched upon in the show's 200th episode where, in an alternate reality, Tony and Kate marry and start a family while Kate continues to be exasperated at Tony.
    • Vivian Blackadder as a member of the NCIS team in the pilot, before she was replaced by Kate. Donald Bellisario thought that the Robyn Lively was too "soft" for the show.
    • Scott Bakula (of NCIS: New Orleans), Don Johnson, and Harrison Ford were among those considered for the role of Gibbs.
    • Lauren Holly auditioned for—and apparently really wanted—the role of Caitlin Todd. It isn't clear if TPTB thought she'd be better for the role of Jenny Shepherd or offered it to her as conciliation.
    • Another possible contender for the role of Kate? Jennifer Aniston. Apparently, she wanted the part so much that she asked TPTB to hold off on the show until she was finished with Friends (which was beginning its final season when NCIS began).
    • The season 11 finale was to be a big cliffhanger of Gibbs and McGee lost in Russia. But the passing of Ralph Waite led the writers to make the finale a tribute to the actor as Gibbs deals with his father's death. The Russia plot was thus saved for the season 12 premiere.
  • The Wiki Rule: The NCIS Database.
  • You Look Familiar: One of the paradoxes of a Shared Universe.
    • Marco Sanchez is not just Pedro Hernandez's son, he once played a one-off drug addict in JAG.
    • Abby's diminutive yet very kind friend played by Meredith Eaton is also Phoenix Foundation Director Matilda Webber on MacGyver (2016)- who has the exact opposite personality. And since MacGyver has had a crossover episode with Hawaii-50, which has had a crossover episode with NCIS:Los Angeles...


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