‘NCIS’: Why Jimmy Palmer and Leon Vance Never Appear in the Same Scene

by Suzanne Halliburton

A question for those of you who are obsessed with NCIS. Have you ever seen Jimmy Palmer and Leon Vance in the same scene?

Like ever. Can anyone recall an episode where Vance, the NCIS director, and Jimmy, the medical examiner, mingle on screen, together? Such a sighting would be the equivalent of an NCIS unicorn.

Brian Dietzen, who plays Jimmy, said there’s a good reason for the lack of shared screen time with Vance (Rocky Carroll). And the explanation makes so much sense. The guy who does the autopsy doesn’t need to talk to the boss.

“There would have to be a special reason for it,” Dietzen told CBS in an interview about NCIS, the network’s top-scripted show. “Jimmy and Vance do not have scenes together, ever. He’s the lowest of the low geographically.”

The geography applies to the NCIS office set up.

“Palmer is in the basement,” Dietzen said. “And Vance is in the attic upstairs, the high tower.”

Usually, we see Jimmy at the beginning of each episode. The agents find out the case. And if it’s a murder, Jimmy goes to the scene to inspect the body, then brings it back to the basement for an autopsy. In previous seasons, he told Gibbs (Mark Harmon) what he found. Now, he informs Alden Parker (Gary Cole) and company.

However, Outsider did discover one of those NCIS unicorn scenes in he CBS database. As you can see from this photo taken by Sonja Flemming, Jimmy and Vance sat next to each other in the 2017 episode Something Blue. It was the leadup to McGee’s wedding. There was another one from 2013, but you get the idea. It doesn’t happen very often.

In Monday’s NCIS episodeDocked — Jimmy goes with the investigators to a cruise ship. It’s docked in Norfolk, Va., with a dead body on board. The twist in the case is that McGee’s mother-in-law, Judy Fielding, discovered the dead body of a Naval commander in the ship’s sauna.

Jimmy took a look at the body of Roger Burrows and pronounced that he’d “cooked in the sauna.” But Jimmy also found that Burrows died from two stab wounds to the neck. It was if they were fangs. But NCIS fans know that there often are head fakes, so no, this wasn’t a case about a vampire cruise or snakes on a ship.

Vance stopped by towards the end of the episode. He told Parker that he was receiving tremendous pressure about the cruise ship being needlessly docked for a murder investigation.

In the end, the dead body involved a case of toxic waste. But it had delicious twists. McGee’s mother-in-law had been having a vacation fling with sauna guy. And the sauna guy was on board to investigate the accidental death of a close family friend, who worked on the ship as a waitress. Everyone thought she’d fallen off one of the upper decks. But she’d been strangled. She found out that the ship’s captain was taking kick backs for dumping toxic waste into the ocean. And the captain killed twice to cover it all up. The murder weapon was an old-school navigational tool.

And for another NCIS episode, Jimmy and Vance didn’t appear on screen, together.