‘NCIS’: Vance Actor Rocky Carroll Explained How Cast Members Joining and Leaving Show Affects Him

by Lauren Boisvert
Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“NCIS” star Rocky Carroll has been on the show since 2008, when he guest starred as Leon Vance in the season 5 episode “Internal Affairs.” Vance became director of the NCIS after Jenny Shepard died at the end of season 5, and he’s been director for the past 13 years. Longer than any of the other two directors, actually. He must be doing something right.

Over those years, there have been a lot of changes to the team. DiNozzo, Abby, and Ziva have left; Ducky isn’t around as much anymore; and now even Gibbs is gone. Rocky Carroll took note of all that change and spoke about it in 2018, during season 15, considering how it affects him as an actor, and Vance as a character.

“I think it does affect me,” he said, when asked about characters leaving the show, “but I think it’s in a very positive way, because I think we have such loyal fans and such a strong fan base, but going on fifteen seasons now, we adjust and we adapt.” Fans have definitely adjusted and adapted now, in season 19, with Gibbs gone; most fans didn’t want to see it happen, but Mark Harmon stepped away from the camera to focus on his personal life and producing “NCIS” instead.

Carroll went on to detail the ways in which new characters affect a show and a narrative, saying, “you told so many stories, and some of them you told more than once, so when you bring in a new character, it opens up so much stuff creatively. So for me, I enjoy it.”

‘NCIS’: Rocky Carroll Doesn’t Have a Favorite Episode

For being on “NCIS” so long, it’s no wonder Rocky Carroll doesn’t have a favorite episode; there are just too many. 421, to be exact. With so much content to choose from, some of which he directed, it’s not surprising he can’t pick a favorite. That’s like someone asking you to pick your favorite child.

“We have done so many,” Carroll told Assignment X. “I think I’d really have to sit and dissect them, because it’s such a blur, because when you do twenty-four [episodes] in a season, the moment you finish one, you go into another.”

Carroll does have a bit of an idea, though; “I still remember my first episode [Season 5’s “Internal Affairs” in 2008] where my character was introduced, which is one of my favorites,” he said, “and there is an episode called ‘Knockout,’ where we first got a sense that my character had a life that went above and beyond just being the director of N.C.I.S.”

“Knockout” delves into Vance’s personal life when a friend of his is murdered. He enlists the NCIS team to investigate, while Gibbs looks more into who Vance is as a person. It’s from season 6, Vance’s start as NCIS director, and the squad is still a little wary of him. But we learn that Vance likes to box, and that he’s been doing it for years.