If you have never before watched “NCIS” or you just want to refresh your memory on everything that’s happened before season 19 kicks off, BuddyTV is here to help you. This guide will be your definitive map for everything you might want to know about “NCIS.” We will review the basic storyline of the TV show, discuss cast members, break it down season by season, and answer some of your most common questions. Keep reading and become an expert on all things “NCIS.”

Related: Guide to “NCIS” in 2021: Seasons 18 & 19

The Basics of “NCIS”

“NCIS” (which stands for “Naval Criminal Investigative Service”) is heading into its 19th season this fall. It can be found on CBS. The network recently announced the premiere date of Monday, Sept. 20, at 9 p.m. EST. This is a new date and time for the show. Keep reading for an overview of the show. 

The Premise of “NCIS”

“NCIS” is an action drama. The show focuses on the investigative prowess of a team led by Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon). The team’s role is to investigate any crimes that involve the Navy or Marine Corps. 

“NCIS” Cast and Characters

The cast is wide-ranging and we’ve got all the main characters listed below. 

  • Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs: Played by Mark Harmon, Gibbs is a former Marine. He doesn’t say much, but his strong leadership and investigative skills speak for themselves. 
  • Special Agent Timothy McGee: Played by Sean Murray, McGee is an MIT graduate. He has exceptional skills with a computer. 
  • Special Agent Eleanor Bishop: Played by Emily Wickersham, Bishop focuses on international threats and preparedness. 
  • Special Agent Nicholas Torres: Played by Wilmer Valderrama, Torres is easy to like but hard to predict. He’s done a lot of undercover assignments. 
  • Special Agent Jacqueline “Jack” Sloane: Played by Maria Bello, Sloane is a forensic psychologist and often plays devil’s advocate to Gibbs. 
  • Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard: Played by David McCallum, Mallard is a retired medical examiner who still helps the team. 
  • Dr. Jimmy Palmer: Played by Brian Dietzen, Palmer runs the morgue. 
  • Forensic Scientist Kasie Hines: Played by Diona Reasonover, Hines was once Mallard’s assistant but her strong forensic skills continue to be an asset to the team. 
  • “NCIS” Director Leon Vance: Played by Rocky Carroll, Vance keeps an eye on the overall operations of “NCIS.” 

Where to Stream “NCIS”

If you want to catch up or rewatch the previous 18 seasons, most of the options require a purchase fee or subscription:

  • Paramount+
  • Amazon
  • iTunes
  • Vudu
  • Google Play

Netflix subscribers can watch the first 15 seasons. You can also watch a select number of seasons for free with Pluto TV, NBC, and CBS. 

A Breakdown of Each “NCIS” Season

A lot has happened over the last 18 seasons. We will break down each season and its highlights for you below. 

Season One

The first episode introduces the team while they investigate the death of a Navy commanding officer while on Air Force One. From there, they investigate a Marine’s death when his parachute fails to open, the death of a Navy lieutenant whose remains were mummified, and drug overdose deaths of sailors with no history of drug use. The team also travels to Cuba to investigate a smuggling ring, a case where a woman survives being buried alive — forgetting everything except a bomb being on board a Navy ship. Finally, the season wraps up with the “NCIS” team hot on the trail of a terrorist who has kidnapped one of their own. 

Season Two

Season two opens with “NCIS” solving the kidnapping of a Navy captain’s family. During the season, they go on to look for a missing Marine pilot out for revenge and a serial killer promising a return, and they investigate a cold case to keep a veteran Marine from prison. The team also must find Tony when he goes missing during an undercover mission, find the true killer of a Marine after their top suspect also turns up dead, and find the sender of a mysterious envelope containing a possible deadly virus. The season ends with a terrorist on assignment to kill Gibbs and the sudden death of one of their own. 

Season Three

Season three picks up where season two left off and the team is left coping with the death of one of their teammates while searching for the terrorist that got away. During the remainder of the season, they handle investigations dealing with a sergeant who was buried alive, a Marine’s wife murdered while live on the internet, and the death of a supermodel while visiting a military base. They also must prove Tony’s innocence when he is accused of murder, and solve the kidnapping of a commander with knowledge of the secret fuel rod’s location. The season wraps up with Gibbs, seriously injured in an explosion, dealing with memory loss while the team is fighting against a terrorist group without him. 

Season Four

Season four opens with Gibbs in retirement and a team member witnessing a political assassination, requiring her to surrender to the FBI and the “NCIS” team working to prove her innocence. As the season progresses, Gibbs comes out of retirement, the team must solve a ransom case before it’s too late, and they must solve the murder of a decorated Marine veteran. They also must stop the sale of a classified weapons system to “La Grenouille,” who evades them during several episodes in the season. In the season finale, two “NCIS” members are held hostage by a drug dealer while the rest of the team must pass a polygraph test that will reveal each of their deepest secrets. 

Season Five

Season five begins with the return of “La Grenouille” as the team finally catches up. The season also includes Gibbs having a personal connection to a witness, the team finding an abandoned ship with a dangerous secret, and searching for a Marine who was the subject of a secret experiment. The season comes to a conclusion with a former “NCIS” agent murdered and the whole team in danger as they seek out the killer. 

Season Six

Season six kicks off with a murdered petty officer and a strange connection between his death and the “NCIS” team. During the rest of the season, the team investigates a murder that takes them to Gibbs’s hometown, a Navy bank robbery, the death of a petty officer with a double life, and a prison riot where an “NCIS” member is held hostage. The team also finds out secrets from both Gibbs’s and Ducky’s pasts. The season ends with Ziva and the “NCIS” team in Israel, upsetting her father who is the head of the Mossad. 

Season Seven

In the season seven premiere, the team is looking for Ziva’s replacement. The season continues with the team reopening a murder case when someone accusing them of a cover-up is also found dead. They also must solve a murder during a city-wide blackout, investigate a murder that may have been a hate crime, and find a terrorist group with a dirty bomb. The season ends with Gibbs heading to Mexico and making a decision that surprises them all. 

Season Eight

In season eight, the action kicks off with Gibbs protecting the people he cares about from the head of a cartel. During the rest of the season, the team investigates an attack on a bomb tech, tries to avoid an international incident after an officer is killed on the ship of another country, and works to provide protection for Ziva’s father when he attends an “NCIS” conference. They also must partner with the Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS) to solve a murder and keep the daughter of a foreign defense minister safe after an assassination attempt. The “NCIS” team’s lives are once again in danger in the season finale as they face an infamous killer. 

Season Nine

Season nine begins with the “NCIS” team looking into an undercover investigation after an “NCIS” agent is murdered. During season nine, the “NCIS” team also investigates a connection between McGee’s grandmother and a murdered lieutenant, the death of a Coast Guard officer, and the crash of a plane transporting military caskets. A Navy captain is killed and the team must protect his pregnant companion and look into the death of a lieutenant while her grieving husband interferes. The season ends with the “NCIS” team dealing with the fallout from terrorism. 

Season 10

“NCIS” headquarters is damaged after a bomb explosion and Gibbs is on the hunt in the season premiere. After a helicopter goes down and most of the crew is located, the “NCIS” team searches for the missing pilot and works to determine what caused the crash. They also must investigate the death of a lieutenant who was attacked after returning home from the Middle East, investigate a kidnapping, and hunt down one of the most-wanted hackers in the world. Ziva’s father comes to visit after two years, stirring up questions and trouble for “NCIS.” After Ziva’s father is killed, the season ends with the hunt for his killer and lots of questions about the “NCIS” tactics. 

Season 11

Season 11 opens with an explosion at an event and the “NCIS” investigation that changes their fate. During the season, the team also travels to Afghanistan to investigate a murder, join the CGIS to look into an explosion on an oil rig, and partner with an NSA analyst after discovering that the Secretary of the Navy was bugged. The “NCIS” also looks into what is causing an illness among military families and looks into faulty bulletproof vests being sent to military personnel. The season wraps up with “NCIS” determining if a fire on a Navy ship was an accident or if it aided in the escape of prisoners. 

Season 12

As season 12 begins, we find Gibbs and McGee in Russia, off-grid when their mission goes awry. Season 12 also finds “NCIS” investigating the death of a Lieutenant that could be part of some recent muggings or an effort to keep him quiet. They find themselves assigned to a task force looking into the murder of a research scientist and looking into the murder of a commander’s wife. The season ends with “NCIS” looking for a terrorist group recruiting teenagers after an overseas bombing. 

Season 13

Season 13 begins with Gibbs fighting to stay alive after being shot and two other “NCIS” members on their way to Shanghai looking for The Calling. Abby is held hostage inside a pharmaceutical lab with no communication to the outside world. Ducky reveals his membership in a secret society solving cold cases after a lieutenant commander is murdered, the Secretary of Defense asks “NCIS” to help locate a bone marrow donor for a sailor, and the team discovers an international human trafficking ring while looking into the murder of a seaman. The final two episodes of the season wrap up with “NCIS” joining the FBI and MI6 to find an escaped spy on a killing spree. 

Season 14

Season 14 begins with a car explosion connected to the disappearance of an undercover “NCIS” agent. Season 14 also finds the team onboard a destroyer to investigate the death of a lieutenant, visiting Gitmo to look into the murder of a chaplain, and searching for a businessman who impacts the stock market using acts of terrorism. The season also includes a special crossover episode with “NCIS: New Orleans.” During the season finale, the team heads to Paraguay to locate a missing Navy SEAL on an unsanctioned trip — and Gibbs and McGee go missing. 

Season 15

Season 15 begins with the “NCIS” team trying to find Gibbs and McGee, who are still missing, while also being called to a congressional hearing on the mission. Later in the season, the team adds Agent Jacqueline “Jack” Sloane. A convicted felon accuses “NCIS” of framing him and Gibbs opens his own investigation. The team also investigates after the body of a missing commander is found and searches for a missing petty officer who escaped from custody after a crash. In the season finale, Sloane believes a man who tortured her in the past is alive in Washington, D.C., and goes after him. 

Season 16

In the season 16 premiere, Gibbs finds himself as acting director of “NCIS” after Director Vance is kidnapped. Season 16 also includes the team working to clear the name of a Marine serving life for a murder he didn’t commit, the discovery of a baby with no identification during a murder investigation, and the search for a missing military I.D. bracelet. As the season ends, Gibbs is grappling with his personal connections to a case after a friend’s daughter overdoses. 

Season 17

In the season 17 premiere, Ziva returns with a warning for Gibbs that leads to questions about where she has been. The season continues with Ziva and Gibbs going rogue for an investigation and revealing a terrorist plot. During the season, the team also investigates attacks on homeless veterans, the murder of an officer’s son during his welcome-home party, and the crash of an F-18. The season concludes with the death of an officer, leaving behind a potentially stolen coin. 

Season 18

The most recent season began with the team trying to find the head of a drug ring that supplied drugs to one of their daughters, while also investigating a missing body from their autopsy room. The season also finds “NCIS” investigating two bodies connected to treasure hunting and the death of an escape room manager. Two members are also trapped in abandoned jail cells after a shootout. The season ends with episode seven, during which “NCIS” looks into the murder of an officer killed while driving a released inmate home. 


When it comes to “NCIS,” new and returning fans have lots of questions about what has happened and what is about to happen. We’ll answer some of the most popular “NCIS” questions here. 

What are the names of all of the “NCIS” spinoffs? 

The popularity of the “NCIS” franchise is undeniable. The show has now expanded to include “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “NCIS: New Orleans.” There is a brand-new spinoff coming in fall 2021: “NCIS: Hawaii.” 

What does “NCIS” stand for?

“NCIS” stands for Naval Criminal Investigative Service. They are responsible for investigating crimes that have ties to the Navy and the Marines. 

How many seasons are there of “NCIS?”

There are currently 18 seasons of “NCIS.” The 19th season premieres in fall 2021. 

Where is “NCIS” filmed?

While “NCIS” is based out of Washington, D.C., the show has taken its characters to a variety of places, including naval carriers, overseas locations like Afghanistan, and military bases. However, the show is filmed mostly in Southern California. 

Why did Abby Sciuto (played by Pauley Perrette) leave “NCIS?” 

Abby Sciuto, played by Pauley Perrette, left “NCIS” after 15 seasons. CBS has said that she had brought a workplace concern to them that was resolved and they cannot speak to other accusations. 

Why did Christopher Lasalle (played by Lucas Black) leave “NCIS: New Orleans?”

“NCIS: New Orleans” killed off Christopher Lasalle, played by Lucas Black, in season six. As one of the original characters in the show, fans were rattled by the decision. Black has said publicly that, while he enjoyed his time on the show, he had other priorities he wanted to return to. 

Why did Caitlin Todd (played by Sasha Alexander) leave “NCIS?”

Caitlin Todd was assassinated during season two. Sasha Alexander, who played Todd, had asked to be let out of her contract early, citing that she wanted to move on to other projects and that the workload was difficult to maintain. 

When do new seasons of “NCIS” usually start?

The “NCIS” franchise typically premieres in the fall. CBS recently announced that “NCIS” season 19 will premiere on Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. EST. “NCIS: Los Angeles” will premiere on Sept. 25 at 8:30 p.m. EST. Sadly, the seventh, and final, season of “NCIS: New Orleans” wrapped up in May 2020. The new “NCIS: Hawaii” show has not announced a premiere date as of yet. 

Get All the Latest Updates on “NCIS” From BuddyTV

Don’t worry about missing out on the latest “NCIS” updates. You can keep up with Gibbs and the whole “NCIS” team with updates from BuddyTV.

Andrea Basse

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV