‘NCIS’: How the Series Pays Tribute to Real Naval Criminal Investigative Service Agents

by John Jamison

Before 2003, if someone brought up the acronym “NCIS,” most people would have absolutely no clue what they were talking about. That’s because the real Naval Criminal Investigative Service is a small civilian organization that isn’t talked about all that much. Or it wasn’t before Mark Harmon started playing Special Agent Leroy Gibbs on the long-running CBS series, at least.

So the “JAG” spinoff has brought tons of awareness to the law enforcement agency. But the show has also found ways to recognize the real field agents in some special ways.

According to their official website, “the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is the civilian federal law enforcement agency uniquely responsible for investigating felony crime, preventing terrorism and protecting secrets for the Navy and Marine Corps.”

Dedicated fans of the “NCIS” TV show will remember the layout of the conference room. On the NCIS seal, what appears to be a series of signatures is visible. Thanks to longtime “NCIS” actor Pauley Perrette, who played forensic scientist Abby Sciuto until 2018, we know exactly what those signatures are.

According to Perrette, those are actually signatures of real-life NCIS agents. The show choosing to pay tribute in this way is pretty cool in and of itself. But beyond the honorary significance is the fact that the actual NCIS agents have quite literally signed off on the show.

That’s definitely a good sign, especially when one considers the popularity the show has achieved. If the TV show painted the agency in a wholly inaccurate or unfavorable light, the Department of the Navy would likely have something to say about it. And rest assured, that’s not an organization you’d want to have on your bad side.

‘NCIS’ Is Coming Back for Season 19

Real NCIS agents liking the show gives the impact of “NCIS” something in common with another hit CBS series. The Tom Selleck-led police drama “Blue Bloods” has been heralded by some in the NYPD as a great depiction of their profession. So whatever CBS is doing seems to be working.

Now, 414 episodes and almost 20 years after “NCIS” first aired, the hit crime drama has been renewed for its 19th season.

And even though the rumor mill has been in overdrive recently, Mark Harmon will be back to reprise his role of Special Agent Leroy Gibbs. There may have been a grain of truth to some of the rumors, however. It appears that the fan-favorite actor has been giving some thought to stepping back from his role on the show.

Harmon’s desire to move on from the show is understandable. He’s been playing the same guy for almost two decades. Despite that, his departure from the show would almost certainly mean “NCIS” would take a major hit in the ratings.