‘NCIS’ Fans Ponder Why Gibbs’ Has the Ability To ‘See Ghosts’

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

NCIS special agent Gibbs sees dead people; more accurately, he sees the ghosts of coworkers and friends. In season 3 episode 1 he saw Kate Todd’s ghost, who blamed him for not preventing her death. During season 8 episode 23 he saw the ghost of former NCIS special agent and mentor Mike Franks, who was stabbed by the Port-to-Port Serial Killer.

But why does Gibbs see ghosts, fans ask? What could that mean for the stoic, secretive special agent?

‘NCIS’: Supernatural or Psychological?

In a Reddit post, user ptazdba asks, “It just occurred to me watching Kill Ari Part 1, that I’ve never heard anyone speculate on why the writers gave Gibbs the ability to see and communicate with ghosts.” The post continued, “The only thing I can come up with is he’s more introspective than we knew.”

Fans delivered on this theory; user whispering_unicorn commented, “I don’t think they meant anything supernatural by it,” while user Jack_King814 theorized, “It was more guilt-ridden hallucinations than being able to talk to ghosts.”

Conversely, user Pauf1371 replied that Gibbs seeing ghosts is used “to show the duality of the character.” They continue, “Gibbs is a tortured soul.”

User newtothisjunk had an interesting take on the theory, writing, “The other thing I always thought of was Gibbs [sic] was sort of seeking advice from people he used to seek advice from, it seemed he was asking himself ‘what would this person tell me in this situation.”

So, whether Gibbs is actually seeing ghosts or is just projecting his subconscious guilt and turmoil on the people he knew who died, is a question for the writers. In the meantime, we can speculate and theorize until we’re blue in the face; is it supernatural or psychological?

Another Theory: Gibbs Had a Breakdown

According to Showbiz Cheatsheet, there’s another theory going around about season 16; during the season finale, Gibbs saw the ghost of his ex-wife Diane. That got fans speculating if something could be seriously wrong with Gibbs.

Fans considered that Gibbs could be having a mental breakdown. Yet, co-showrunner Steven Binder said that Gibbs is not prone to breaking down, stating,  “I don’t want to use the word ‘breakdown,’ because it’s Gibbs and I don’t know that this man is capable of breaking down, but it presages a sort of inability for him to function properly.”

Some fans even theorize that Gibbs might have a brain tumor; he saw his dead ex-wife in the episode and then saw Ziva, who’s supposed to be dead. The possibility of two hallucinations in one episode has fans getting nervous.

But, it’s important to remember that Gibbs has been “seeing ghosts” for years now. This is much longer than a brain tumor would allow. One fan chalked it all up to PTSD, writing, “Considering his bouts with PTSD and unreal amount of tragedy in his life, I’d be far more worried if he didn’t have these hallucinations than if he never did.”

It seems like fans won’t have answers for Gibbs’ sixth sense any time soon. Hopefully, they stay curious about the little details and keep theorizing.