‘NCIS’: Here’s How the Showrunner Says They’re Handling ‘Biggest Transitions’ With Cast

by Lauren Boisvert

NCIS has made some pretty heavy main cast changes over the years; first losing Kate Todd, then Ziva, then Tony and Abby. Now NCIS has lost Ellie Bishop and Jack Sloane, and Gibbs has been suspended indefinitely. How is the show going to reconcile all of this?

Showrunner Steven D. Binder spoke with TV Line about navigating their transitions and what’s in store for season 19.

New Cast, New Transitions

Gibbs’ fate is left up to the NCIS gods in the season finale when his boat mysteriously explodes. Season 19 introduces new characters Jessica Knight, played by Katrina Law, and Alden Park, played by Gary Cole. Binder said of the show’s big transition into new characters, “there’s some cleanup work we have to do based on the season finale that takes precedence over the more subtle character moments.”

He continued, stating, “Gibbs blew up in his boat, so we’re not going to open up with light banter in the squad room.”

Binder elaborated on the finale, where we see Gibbs “playing dead” for a moment before swimming away. What was that about? Binder explains, “We shot a lot of different things for that and there were a lot of different ways to cut it, and what we left with was something that we felt in many ways left all possibilities open.”

“We are focusing right now on telling the best stories we can with the characters we have, and Gibbs is a part of that world,” Binder said when asked about Gibbs’ potential absence on the show. On what they’re looking to do on NCIS now, in relation to the last season, Binder said, “we had broken our band up and we wanted to get them back together.”

‘NCIS’ Gets Its First Time Slot Change in 19 Years

This is big news here; 19 years, and NCIS has consistently been on at 8 o’clock on Tuesdays. But now, the show is moving to Monday nights at 9, followed by NCIS: Hawaii at 10.

NCIS is also projected to return to its classic mystery-of-the-week formula after the new characters are settled in; is that shift part of appeasing fans for the time change? Binder said, “It’s a new time slot, so let’s not make everything new right now.” Meaning, let’s go back to what we know, what we’re familiar with.

As for fans being upset that maybe the time change means NCIS is ending soon, Binder says someone told him, “Oh, it’s just going to be available a night earlier?”

Binder had this to say to fans worried about the time change: “These days it’s not all about when a show drops. But you can watch it when it drops, and now it will be available to watch a night earlier, that’s how they thought of it.”

So, no biggie on the time change. Besides, there’s nothing better to beat the Monday blues with than NCIS.