‘NCIS: Los Angeles’ Showrunner Explains That Gibbs Reference

by Suzanne Halliburton

Earlier this month, several agents on NCIS: Los Angeles received a $10,000 check from a former co-worker.

And Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen) made a wisecrack about why Eric Beale, the character who departed NCIS: Los Angeles in May, 2021, would surprise his former co-workers with so much money.

“Maybe he was inspired by Gibbs,” Deeks mused. And in one sentence, an NCIS crossover happened without a character showing up on screen.

Deeks was talking about Leroy Jethro Gibbs, the NCIS special agent in charge in the Washington D.C. office. Mark Harmon played the now iconic character from the show’s back door pilot on JAG through four episodes into season 19 last October. Both NCIS spinoffs, Los Angeles and Hawai’i have dropped Gibbs name into dialogue since Harmon departed the franchise with a special four-episode sendoff.

NCIS: Los Angeles showrunner R. Scott Gemmill explained why Gibbs slipped into the conversation.

“I think it’s sort of common knowledge within the world of our NCIS,” Gemmill told TV Insider in an interview this week. “He had done that on the mothership. It was just a bit of a callback to the mothership, more for fans of both shows than anything else. It was very subtle and, I’m surprised you picked up on it. But we sometimes give a shout-out when we can.”

Let’s explain the backstory to Gibbs’ generosity. It wasn’t exactly common knowledge on the show. At least, it wasn’t common knowledge with McGee (Sean Murray) or Jimmy (Brian Dietzen). Both Jimmy and McGee saw $10,000 mysteriously showed up in their checking accounts. This was during a subplot within the Jan. 3 episode called “Pledge of Allegiance.”

When the agents solved the case of the week, Vance called Jimmy and McGee into his office and closed the door. He told the two, congratulations, your children are the beneficiaries of the Leroy Jethro Gibbs college scholarship fund. Gibbs had been making similar donations to other agents for years, Vance said. Gibbs even donated to Vance’s kids.

Screen Grab/CBS ©2020

So circling back to NCIS: Los Angeles. Eric sent money to Deeks, Kensi, Sam and Rountree. He wrote a note to them, saying “In Silicon Valley, we are all drowning in data that we parade as knowledge, power’s confused with respect and success with happiness. I miss you guys and by sharing my wealth, I hope things bring us both happiness.”

That was a bit of a clue about Eric (Barrett Foa). His last appearance on NCIS: Los Angeles was the season 12 finale. In it, he showed up driving an expensive sports car, thanks to his job in Silicon Valley. And he and Nell drove away into the sunset with plans to set up a security company in Tokyo. Maybe they’re no longer in Japan.

Meanwhile, even NCIS: Hawai’i got in a Gibbs reference this season. It seems that Gibbs helped recruit Jane Tennant to NCIS a few years ago. She’s now special agent in charge at the Pearl Harbor office.