2023 has been quite an interesting year for NCIS fans. CBS’s long-running crime drama was renewed for a twenty-first season was renewed alongside its sister series NCIS: Hawai’i way back in February in a move that seemed all but certain given the two shows’ continued popularity among audiences.
The hope was for the shows to once again be part of CBS’s fall programming slate; however, their returns were delayed due to the two major strikes that brought Hollywood to a standstill and prevented scripted broadcast dramas such as NCIS from returning this fall with its new season.
Fortunately, the WGA strike has come to an end which has allowed production to begin on the new season of NCIS which will be coming our way in early 2024! Fans are counting down the days until the show’s return and we’re finally starting to learn more about what the new season will have in store for us!
As we look ahead to season 21, we’ve rounded up all the key pieces of information fans need to know about NCIS season 21 and will continue to add new updates as they become available!
Last Update: November 13, 2023.
NCIS season 21 will premiere in early 2024
Originally, CBS hoped to debut NCIS season 21 during the fall; however, due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, the network was forced to delay the return of its long-running drama to early 2024. While it still remains unclear when exactly the new season of NCIS will finally be ready to premiere, CBS is reported to be eyeing an early 2024 return for its scripted originals including NCIS.
Once the WGA strike came to an end in late September, CBS made NCIS a priority, and a writers room for the show has already been opened. This was a huge step for the show as it allowed CBS to begin work on the new season with the writers hard at work on scripts for the upcoming season of the show.
With scripts being worked on, the plan is to begin filming as soon as early as late November or early December. This timeline makes sense, given that TV Insider confirmed NCIS season 21 will officially premiere on Monday, February 12 at 9 p.m.
NCIS is not expected to move nights
Whenever NCIS does return to CBS’s line-up, the show is expected to remain on Monday nights! CBS’s original plan for its fall line-up was to have NCIS airing new episodes at 9/8c with new episodes of NCIS: Hawai’i following at 10/9c. The plan is for the shows to remain on Monday night when new episodes are ready to be rolled out which should be sometime early next year.
The NCIS season 21 cast will see most of the cast return
While NCIS is no stranger to cast changes and has seen many actors come and go over the years, we’re not expecting any major changes to the season 21 cast. The following key cast members from season 20 are all expected to return for season 21 and remain series regulars on the show’s upcoming season:
- Rocky Carroll as Director Leon Vance
- Gary Cole as Agent Alden Parker
- Brian Dietzen as Dr. Jimmy Palmer
- Katrina Law as Agent Jessica Knight
- Sean Murray as Agent Timothy McGee
- Diona Reasonover as Kasie Hines
- Wilmer Valderrama as Agent Nick Torres
The one season 20 cast member we know will sadly not be returning for season 21 is actor David McCallum. McCallum sadly passed away on September 25, before production of the new season had begun. McCallum’s final appearance on the show came in the season 20 finale, “Black Sky,” in which he returned to help the team with their investigation into a Russian spy ring.
A tribute to Ducky should be coming in season 21
This offseason, the NCIS family suffered its greatest loss to-date when news broke of longtime cast member David McCallum’s passing at the age of 90. Sadly, as filming had not yet begun on season 21, we will not get to see McCallum return as Ducky in the show’s upcoming season; however, we are expecting the show to pay tribute to Ducky at some point in season 21.
While no plans have been confirmed by the show’s creators, we cannot imagine a world in which the show does not honor McCallum’s legacy with a sendoff to the late actor who has been part of the show since the very beginning.
Following his passing, several of McCallum’s former costars took to social media to post emotional tributes to their late friend and colleague, and we fully expect CBS will look to honor Ducky with a sendoff tribute in season 21. You can read some of the cast tributes to McCallum below.
NCIS producers Steven D. Binder and David North
"“As much as his fans may have loved him, those who worked side by side with David loved him that much more”, they explained. “He was a scholar and a gentleman, always gracious, a consummate professional, and never one to pass up a joke. From day one, it was an honor to work with him and he never let us down. He was, quite simply, a legend. He was also family and will be deeply missed.”"
"“David, what an immense honor it was to share the screen with you. Your professionalism and ability to effortlessly take every one of us on a journey through your art will be felt forever. I will miss you my friend.”"
"“Oh David. What a life. What a legend. What a journey. And your legacy Will always be The love you have for your family. Love to Katherine and the kids and the grandkids, your absolutely very favorite things.”"
"David McCallum made every moment count, in life and on set. Let’s raise a jug and celebrate a funny fantastic authentic man. I’ve only got 3 autographs. Connery, Tony Bennett and McCallum. I felt the same way as Steve McQueen in this picture from The Great Escape: Wow! It’s David McCallum! No one did it better. We were lucky to have him bring us Ducky. Let’s send all the love in the world to his beautiful family. Rest In Peace David."
"A life well lived.David McCallum was a mentor, a great scene partner, a wonderful father and husband, and he was my dear friend. I met David on my first day of work at NCIS. I was booked to work one day on the show, but David and I hit it off. Our scene turned out well and they invited me back for more scenes with this screen legend. Several more. Over the course of the next 20 years, David and I (along with our alter-ego’s Ducky and Jimmy) developed a deep friendship and love of our shared work.He was a joy to work with. Always had a smile. Always had something new to add to the page, and ALWAYS had the ability to steal every scene he was in! He had a quick and wry sense of humor and was generous with advice when I asked for it. He was also quick to share praise for work well done. I loved getting a phone call from him after a show aired to hear him talk about the scenes (even as he appeared less and less in our show).The friendship and respect people saw between Ducky and Jimmy over the years mirrored the relationship we’d developed off camera. Whether it was going on field trips for character research, attending charity events or catching some golf together, he was always up for an adventure. The guy could do anything. He lived to be 90 years old, was a part of multiple hit tv shows, movies, broadway shows, and wrote a couple novels, all while raising a loving family.Thank you David. Love you my friend. I’ll miss you. Sending all my love to the McCallum family today."
"“I’ll always remember David McCallum. And I thought that from day one here, because I thought how fortunate this entire cast, whoever it is, is lucky enough to work with him and watch his work ethic every day. And take from his experience, what he’s had in this industry, for a number of years, in different shows.”"
The NCIS franchise is growing again this fall
Over the years, NCIS has spawned many spinoffs and the list will grow again this fall as the franchise goes international! This November, CBS will introduce audiences to the first-ever international edition of the franchise with the premiere of NCIS: Sydney.
The new series will see U.S. NCIS agents teaming up with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to form a multinational task force designed to “keep naval crimes in check in the most contested patch of ocean on the planet.” Fans can begin enjoying new episodes of NCIS: Sydney beginning Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 8/9c with the series premiere. Ahead of time, here’s everything you should know about the show’s key players and the first season per CBS:
NCIS: Sydney Cast
- NCIS Special Agent Michelle Mackey (Olivia Swann):
- AFP Sergeant Jim “JD” Dempsey (Todd Lasance):
- NCIS Special Agent DeShawn Jackson (Sean Sagar):
- AFP Constable Evie Cooper (Tuuli Narkle):
- AFP Forensic Scientist Bluebird “Blue” Gleeson (Mavournee Hazel)
- AFP Forensic Pathologist Dr. Roy Penrose (William McInnes)
NCIS: Sydney Synopsis
"Led by NCIS Special Agent Michelle Mackey and her 2IC AFP counterpart, Sergeant Jim “JD” Dempsey, our team of Americans and Aussies must quickly learn to trust each other, overcoming and harnessing their differences to solve each case. Though jurisdictional tussles and culture clashes make for a rocky start, Mackey will eventually come to respect JD’s nose for the truth, as he does her maverick style. Meanwhile, sassy AFP Constable Evie Cooper and endlessly curious Special Agent DeShawn Jackson form a fast friendship, while curmudgeonly forensic pathologist Doctor Roy Penrose meets his match in the brilliant young forensic scientist Bluebird “Blue” Gleeson. Together, our team becomes NCIS’ first ever internationally blended family."