‘NCIS’ Fans Discuss the Growth of Brian Dietzen’s Jimmy Palmer

by Suzanne Halliburton

Brian Dietzen has portrayed Jimmy Palmer on NCIS for almost two decades. And fans are noticing how much the character has evolved since the series first premiered.

Dietzen’s talents in front of and behind the camera intersected in Monday’s NCIS episode called “The Helpers.” Of course, he portrayed Jimmy, the team’s medical examiner. But Dietzen also co-wrote the episode, the first time an NCIS actor pulled off that particular double.

And “The Helpers” also was really Jimmy-centric. After all, you write what you know.

NCIS fans applauded from afar, remarking how much Jimmy has matured since he first appeared on the series in May 2004.

“I think Jimmy’s growth as a character from when he first came onto the show until now is amazing,” an NCIS fan wrote on Reddit. “He really (has shown) a lot of growth for a character.”

Another replied “He also literally grew, dude is buff … lol.”

Now, go check Twitter. NCIS fans are saying much the same. Dietzen retweeted an article from Variety. And a fan replied: “I am so impressed with the emotional support and positive attitude that Jimmy Palmer portrays. When life is at its end, he knows just how to pick you up. Words like helpers and glass is half full quotes hit home every time! Opt for happiness, friends!”

Brandon Hickman/CBS

Dietzen Said Jimmy Started on NCIS as ‘Guy Who Says Wrong Thing’

Usually, Jimmy pops up at the start of any NCIS hour when the agents start working on a murder case. He’ll then provide a cause of death and any other details his co-workers would need to solve the case. Even with dealing with death as a career, Jimmy always is an optimist. About the only time his attitude took a hit was when his wife, Breena, died during season 18. She passed away from complications of Covid. Gibbs (Mark Harmon) helped him deal with the grief.

Brietzen also acknowledged how much the character has grown. “Initially, (he) was just the guy who says the wrong thing, but it’s hard to sustain that beat for 20 years,” Dietzen told Variety. “There’s only so many times that Jimmy can say something out of turn and shirk away from Gibbs’ stare and be and like, ‘Oh my gosh,  I can’t look at him. I’m so embarrassed.’”

“And so being someone who works with life and death so much, especially after Ducky moved on to become the NCIS historian, Jimmy really was faced with a lot more questions about mortality and that sort of thing, and became someone that people can come talk to about big life choices and questions. And some of those big things like relationships and love of family is what I wanted to get into in my episode that I wrote alongside Scott (Williams), and so we get to kind of explore what Jimmy has been going through since the loss of his wife.”

Check out the Outsider recap of “The Helpers” here.

Spinning it forward to next week, NCIS will offer a glimpse of Director Leon Vance (Rocky Carroll) and his family. Here’s the CBS plot tease: “As NCIS investigates the cause of death of a reservist Navy Seal surgeon, they’re forced to bring Vance’s daughter, Kayla (Naomi Grace), who recently trained with NCIS, to help with a highly dangerous mission.”