Who would’ve thought back when Joe Spano guest starred in the first episode of NCIS, “Yankee White,” that he’d still be around and that Fornell would end up being roommates with Gibbs in season 14? Well, that’s what’s happened, and there’s nothing like seeing those two grumpy old men in scenes together.
Here are the best Gibbs and Fornell moments from the past 13.5 seasons.
Gibbs Helped Fornell When the FBI Suspected Him of Being a Mole
In “The Bone Yard,” Fornell turned to Gibbs for help when he couldn’t rely on his own agency.
Fornell: “Realizing how sad this sounds. You’re the closest thing I have to a friend, Gibbs.”
Gibbs: “You dyin’ or something? Okay, not dying, but this some part of a 12-step program?”
After Fornell was arrested, Gibbs visited him in jail and told him that he’d “get out of it,” but it might not be the way he liked. Like, say, by faking his own death.
Gibbs and Fornell Get on Each Other’s Cases About Their Ages
Fornell: “Can’t an old friend just stop by to say hi?”
Gibbs: “Well, you are old. I’ll give you that.”
– “Conspiracy Theory”
Gibbs: “Bring it on, Gramps.”
Fornell: “What year were you born?”
– “Return to Sender”
Gibbs and Fornell Married the Same Woman
Before Fornell and Diane reconciled (and she was sadly killed), Gibbs made it clear that he had warned him about her. In “Twilight,” he called Fornell marrying his second wife the biggest mistake of his life — and no, he hadn’t been exaggerating about her. Then in “Nine Lives,” Fornell admitted that marrying her “was a mistake.”
And the most amusing comment about it came in “Jack Knife,” when Fornell noted that Gibbs letting him drive his car was a big deal. “Yeah, whatever,” Gibbs replied. “You already slept with my wife.”
Gibbs and Fornell Know They’re Bastards
The two might have acted like they were angry about interference from the other’s agency in “Under Covers,” but once they were in the elevator, it was as easy as deciding who would get lead (NCIS) and who would get operational control and credit (FBI).
Fornell: “And people say we’re bastards?”
Gibbs: “Only because they know us.”
Fornell Turned to a Retired Gibbs for Help
Gibbs might have been retired in “Escaped,” but after an escaped prisoner approached his daughter, Fornell went to him for help. “We’re way beyond need,” Fornell told him. And so, Gibbs got himself temporarily reinstated for the case.
Gibbs Got on Fornell’s Case About His Beard
While the beard first made its debut in “Jack Knife,” with Fornell telling Gibbs that it was because of “the job,” the FBI agent still had it in “Moonlighting” and Gibbs couldn’t let that go. If it got bigger, people would think he was Kenny Rogers and he’d start calling him the Gambler, Gibbs commented.
After Failing with Takeout, Fornell Cooked Gibbs Dinner
In “Short Fuse,” Fornell brought Gibbs lamb curry (after getting a coupon in the mail), only for both of them to turn to cereal after a few moments. But later in the episode, Gibbs came home to find Fornell cooking Italian in his kitchen.
Gibbs Shot Fornell in the Ass
The season 10 finale ended with Gibbs seemingly about to shoot Fornell. In episode 2 of season 11, “Past, Present and Future,” it was revealed that in the course of his mission, yes, Gibbs shot Fornell, but it was just “a surface wound, through and through,” Gibbs insisted. Fornell protested, “Through the ass!”
Fornell Turned to Gibbs for Advice About Reuniting with Diane
“Devil’s Triad” saw Gibbs learn about that reunion after catching them together in a hotel room. However, Fornell turned to him for some advice, wondering if they were making a mistake. (He felt like he had been swallowed by a python, cut his way out and then crawled back inside again.) And though Gibbs tried to get out of the conversation — especially after Fornell started talking about their sex life, wondering if it was different because they were exes — Fornell refused to let him get out of the car. Instead, he suggested Gibbs try it too, but with another ex-wife. What mattered was that they were happy, Gibbs told him.
By episode’s end, Fornell and Diane turned to Gibbs for his blessing.
Gibbs Helped the Grieving Fornell After Diane Was Killed
Though this mostly took place in “Cabin Fever,” it began in “The Enemy Within,” with Gibbs helping Fornell keep his mind off Diane by getting back to work.
But it was in “Cabin Fever,” after Fornell called Gibbs when he was picked up for a DUI and Emily asked her uncle to help her father, that Gibbs took responsibility for him and took him out to the cabin. Once the bourbon was gone, Fornell (tried to) hit Gibbs and they went fishing, they got to the root of Fornell’s guilt over Diane’s death.
Gibbs originally thought that Fornell blamed him for her death because Sergei was targeting him, but as the FBI agent revealed, the couple had gotten into a fight the night before she was killed and he told her that their rekindled romance was a big mistake. When she called him the next day, he didn’t call her back, and then she was gone. The last words she heard from him was him saying they were a mistake, not that he loved her. As Gibbs reminded him, he still had Emily around to show Diane how much he cared.
But he hadn’t just brought Fornell out to the cabin for an intervention; Gibbs also gave him the chance to shoot the man responsible for his wife’s death. Did he feel better after? “Not even close,” Fornell said before admitting, “Well, maybe a little.”
Fornell Talked to Gibbs About Online Dating — and It Got Awkward
In “Return to Sender,” Fornell revealed that he’d given online dating a try, probably Gibbs’ worst nightmare, right? “No, this conversation is,” Gibbs told him. But the best part came later in the episode as Fornell tried to explain that while he might have had more than one woman contacting him, he hadn’t taken it further than chatting online.
“I can’t get it up,” he began, quickly correcting himself with, “The nerve. I can’t get up the nerve to go out with them.” He couldn’t help but wonder if it was too soon, even though he wanted to date. He wasn’t specifically asking for Gibbs’ permission, but he’d take it.
Fornell Moved into and Took Over Gibbs’ House
After he was shot at the end of season 13, Fornell moved into Gibbs’ house as he recovered at the beginning of season 14. The premiere, “Rogue,” saw him taking over Gibbs’ robe (“It was either this or go au naturel”), cereal and new couch (comparing it to “being hugged by a microfiber cloud.”)
What’s your favorite Gibbs and Fornell moment over the years?
NCIS season 14 airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS.
(Images courtesy of CBS)