All 20 seasons of NCIS ranked worst to best

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5 of 10
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“Blood in the Water” – As the NCIS team searches for Gibbs after wreckage from his boat is discovered, they find out that he had been tracking a serial killer with the journalist, Marcie Warren (Pam Dawber) who had done an exposé on him, on the 19th season premiere of NCIS, Monday, Sept. 20 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Sean Murray as NCIS Special Agent Timothy McGee, Katrina Law as NCIS Special Agent Jessica Knight , Wilmer Valderrama as NCIS Special Agent Nicholas “Nick” Torres. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

#12: NCI season 19

This was the season that changed everything. It looks like a typical start with Gibbs escaping the destruction of his boat in the season 18 cliffhanger while Jessica Knight joined the team. Then there was the introduction of Gary Cole as Alden Parker, Gibbs was briefly on the run before McGee helped him catch the real killer. Then, with no warning, Gibbs just quit the team and fans realized they’d seen the last of Mark Harmon on the series.

To be fair, the show did a good job having Parker not just step in as leader but having to be talked into it by Vance and the job had a bit of a learning curve. The fun was realizing, with the team, how different Parker is was like understanding modern technology and adjusting to the change. There were lighthearted plots like McGee’s mother being a suspect and a victim’s hologram helping on a case. But there were also emotional stories like Kasie enduring trauma and Torres facing so many people in his life leaving him. We also got the start of the Knight-Palmer relationship and some crossovers with NCIS: Hawaii, so while Gibbs’ departure is something, the season does have good work to show NCIS can continue without him.

#11: NCIS season 13

Gibbs was really put through the wringer this year. It began with him recovering from a gunshot wound with Jon Cryer doing a fine job both as the surgeon saving his life and then helping Gibbs face up to his PTSD problems throughout the season. Tony took up a trip to China to avenge Gibbs, showing his great drive. There was also a good episode explaining what made Vance quit field work and Bishop discovered her husband cheating on her, shaking up her life. There were clever episodes like solving a crime with a sailor stuck in a decompression chamber, Ducky discovering more about his half-brother and a crossover with NCIS: New Orleans.

There was also a two-parter with the team hunting whoever shot Fornell and a cameo from Michelle Obama. Tony got more attention in the show from a woman claiming to be his half-sister to being accused of blackmailing senators. As it happens, this was to set up for the finale where Tony discovered Ziva was seemingly killed but had his daughter, leading to him leaving NCIS. That was a big moment shaking up the show, making this a good season, even if it was sad to bid farewell to one of the show’s mainstays.