NCIS is in flux. NCIS: Los Angeles recently came to a close, and while NCIS: Sydney is around the corner, NCIS and NCIS: Hawaii have been pushed back to 2024 due to the ongoing actors strike. There’s more time than over to comb through the franchise, rewatch old episodes, and look back on some of our most beloved characters.
CBS is encouraging this retrospective approach as the franchise hits 20 years. The network has announced plans for an official NCIS day meant to commemorate the premiere of the very first episode back in 2003. With this in mind, we decided to lay out the order of each NCIS show, so that you can binge them chronologically!
NCIS shows in chronological order
Technically, it starts with a non-NCIS show: JAG. The show ran from 1995 to 2005, and followed the exploits of judge advocates as they navigated the tricky waters of naval law. You don’t have to watch all ten seasons of JAG to prep for NCIS, but we do suggest that you watch the episodes “Ice Queen” and “Meltdown”, which serve as a two-part backdoor pilot for NCIS. They introduce us to characters we would come to know and love, like Gibbs (Mark Harmon), and set the tone for the franchise that was to come.
NCIS applies the same backdoor pilot method when it came time to introduce NCIS: Los Angeles in the season 6 two-part episode “Legend”, and NCIS: New Orleans in the season 11 two-parter that was titled “Crescent City.” All these episodes and shows are pretty self-explanatory in terms of the order they should be watched: follow the episodes chronologically, and add spin-off shows to the docket as they get introduced.
Watch One Chicago on fuboTV: Watch over 67 live sports and entertainment channels with a 7-day FREE trial!
Where things get a bit more complicated is when crossover episodes are introduced. “Sister City”, for example is a 2016 two-parter in which the first episode aired as part of NCIS season 13, and the second aired as part of NCIS: New Orleans season 2. As such, we suggest watching these episodes together. The same goes for the 2017 two-parter “Pandora’s Box”, which also split between NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans.
The most notable instance in which you should watch episodes out of order is the three-part arc that aired in January. Over the course of a single night, the NCIS episode “Too Many Cooks” aired, and the story continued in the NCIS: Hawaii episode that followed, “Deep Fake”, before wrapping up with the NCIS: Los Angeles episode “A Long Time Coming.” It’s a crossover for the ages, and should always be watched in this order (otherwise it won’t make sense!)
Fortunately, NCIS doesn’t take any drastic leaps with regards to timelines and multi-part stories, so for the most part, you are good to watch the shows in the order in which the episodes are put out! The same will be true for the upcoming NCIS: Sydney.
For the latest news and spoilers, plus more on your favorite first responder dramas, follow the TV category at One Chicago Center.