NCIS is one of the longest-running criminal investigation TV series to ever exist. The show has remained on the air since 2003, spanning 18 seasons and over 300 episodes, and that doesn't even count all of the various spinoffs the show has spawned in the interim.
The series, which stands for Naval Criminal Investigation Service, follows an elite squad of agents led by Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), a former Marine with a prickly attitude. Harmon has appeared in all of the episodes, but the real question is, which one do fans love most?
Updated on March 1, 2021 by Amanda Bruce: As one of the longest-running modern dramas on television, NCIS has a huge and dedicated fanbase. With DVDs, streaming sites, and On-Demand access, fans have more ways to access their favorite episodes than ever before. The longer fans of a series have access to episodes, the more ratings come in — and the more accurate they become. That's likely why so many of the top-ranked NCIS episodes are actually from the show's first 10 seasons. The rankings of the top episodes for the series have been updated to reflect their current standings.
One of the most emotional storylines in the early seasons of NCIS is that of the death of Kate Todd. This episode is the aftermath of her death as the team tries to track down Ari Haswari, who shot her on a rooftop.
The hour, however, sees the team having to place their search for Ari on hold as Ducky takes the place of a hostage and they have to race to help him instead. It also features the beginning of a storyline for new addition to the series Ziva David. Ziva begins her journey believing Ari to be innocent in Kate's death but has to confront her own mental blocks as she begins to work with the team.
NCIS fans truly love their emotional goodbye episodes. While "Kill Ari Part II" sees the farewell for Kate Todd, this episode does the same for Jenny Shepherd. The former NCIS director is killed in a shootout that starts in the previous episode.
This hour focuses equally on the investigation into what exactly happened when she ended up in the middle of a gunfight in a diner and the emotional fallout. Gibbs, who previously had a romantic relationship with Jenny, doesn't deal with losing people he cares about well. Tony Dinozzo and Ziva, on the other hand, have to deal with the guilt of not going out to protect her when they thought something was off.
This season 13 episode certainly tugs at the heartstrings of the audience as it gives them two emotional storylines to follow. The main story of the episode is that of Ducky and his half-brother, while Emily Bishop's relationship with her husband takes on the second.
Ducky is attacked by someone who claims to have information about his half-brother. The trouble is that Ducky's brother supposedly died many years earlier. The team investigates the situation while Ducky reminisces. Bishop has been wrestling with what to do in her now unhappy marriage. She doesn't want to accept that her husband cheated on her, and as a result, she can't fully trust him anymore, so she decides to end it.
Gibbs and his squad are tasked with investigating the death of an officer and her husband on vacation in Iraq. When the team discovers the sniper rifle murder weapon is American-made, Gibbs must determine how it got into enemy hands.
This leads Gibbs to the VA, where he interviews the lone survivor of an ambush that resulted in stolen U.S. weaponry. Gibbs looks to find answers from the solider's therapist, Dr. Confalone, as well as his daughter. After learning the rifle is key to an assassination plot, Gibbs and the crew must act fast.
In the season 2 finale, as Tony resumes work after sick leave, he joins the investigation of two Naval pilots who were murdered in a car during their time off. The cause of death? Three bullets each.
The killer skids away dressed as a Virginia State Trooper, forcing the team to scramble in response. A bomb detonates, prompting Gibbs' paranoia that someone is out to kill the squad. In the end, a main character is lost during a shootout.