The pilot first aired on September 23, 2003. Surprisingly, there were only four season regulars featured in the pilot episode of the show. Mark Harmon’s Gibbs was obviously the lead. Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette), Michael Weatherly (Tony DiNozzo), David McCallum (Dr. Donald Mallard), and Sasha Alexander (Caitlin Todd) also appeared.
Other characters guest-starred in the episode like Joe Spano as T.C. Fornell and Gerry Becker as Agent William Baer.
Most fans may think that Sean Murray, a.k.a Special Agent Timothy McGee is a regular. He’s close to it. He was a guest star during the Season 1 seventh episode, “Sub Rosa.” By the end of the season, he was promoted to a series regular.
Meanwhile, Palmer, played by Brian Dietzen, made his first appearance on Season 1 Episode 21, “Split Decision.”
Which Cast Members Are Left?
Unfortunately, only two original cast members remain on the show today. NCIS is approaching its nineteenth season on-air. Harmon and McCallum are the only two true remaining originals left on the series.
Alexander’s character was killed during Season 2. The “Twilight” episode shocked fans by her sudden exit. Perrette left the show in 2018 after fifteen seasons. Finally, Weatherly famously departed the show in He signed on to lead his own legal drama on CBS, Bull.
The Original Three ‘NCIS’ Pilots
Believe it or not, NCIS had shot three different pilot episodes. Fans who paid close attention to the show’s introduction could figure out how this happened.
The show was a spinoff of the legal courtroom drama, JAG. For the first thirteen seasons, the opening credits featured a scene from an episode of JAG. The few-second clip featured a car driving. The scene was from the “Ice Queen” episode. “Ice Queen” was going to act as the official NCIS crossover. JAG also attempted the crossover with another episode “Meltdown.”
Instead of choosing, they took both episodes and created a single pilot episode out of them. It turned into the JAG episode entitled, “NCIS: The Beginning.” The crossover we’ve been waiting for which finally came to fruition.
Creators called the two episodes the “two-part backdoor pilot” for the series. The episodes did standalone air in 2003 during Season 8 as episodes 20 and 21 of JAG.
Robyn Lively (Vivian Blackadder), Alan Date (Thomas Morrow), Zoe McLellan (Jennifer Coates), Faran Tahir (Amad Bin Atwa) also guest-starred in the two episodes.