‘NCIS’: What Was Jimmy Palmer’s Original Role on the Show?

by Megan Molseed

NCIS’s Brian Dietzen has been portraying the delightful Jimmy Palmer, the team’s chief medical examiner since early on in the popular show’s run.

A series regular for nine seasons, Dietzen’s Palmer has charmed his way into our hearts. With his quirky antics and unique style, he is the perfect addition to the NCIS team’s medical examination team.

However, Deitszen’s character wasn’t initially written to be a full-time NCIS character.

In fact, Jimmy Palmer was originally meant to be on the hit series’s set for only one day.

“I was a one-day guest star,” Brian Dietzen explains in a recent interview.

The NCIS star adds that it’s very likely this fact that helped him carry the character into NCIS’s nineteenth season, creating the lovable Jimmy Palmer that we have all grown to love.

“What’s funny is that because it was just a one-day job, I decided to make some really bold choices when I auditioned,” the NCIS star reveals. “And they liked it so much that it turned into a 10-year job.”

‘NCIS’s’ Palmer Could Have Been Very Different

According to Dietzen, had he known the character for which he was auditioning would grow into the NCIS series, he would have approached the audition very differently.

“Had it been for a starring role, I would’ve had to test for the network,” the forty-three-year-old actor notes.

“And if I had done that, I probably would’ve made different choices,” Dietzen adds. “I probably wouldn’t have gotten the job.”

Jimmy Palmer was first introduced to NCIS fans in 2003 when the actor was featured in the episode Split Decision.

And, Dietzen says, the role just kept growing.

Then, in season ten, Jimmy Palmer was promoted to a series regular. With Dietzen starring alongside former NCIS players Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, and Pauley Perrette.

While this may be a shocking bit of news – let’s face it, NCIS would hardly be the show we love so much without Palmer – Dietzen’s character isn’t the only major player who was initially written to be a brief role.

Sean Murray’s NCIS agent Timothy McGee was initially planned to be a short-lived guest in the popular CBS series.

According to NCIS showrunner, Frank Cardea, Murray’s character who now serves as a major player in the NCIS offices, was initially written to be a one-time appearance.

Sean’s character McGee was created as a one-time thing,” explains Frank Cardea. “It was just going to be an episode.”

However, it wasn’t long before Sean Murray’s McGee became a major part of the popular series.

“A few episodes later, Sean became a regular,” Cardea explains.

“He’s become our rock,” the showrunner adds. “And when we have those difficult dialogue scenes, we give it to Sean.”