Tony and Ziva spinoff continues an interesting NCIS trend

We're noticing a pattern in terms of where the franchise is going.

"Ex-File"--The NCIS team (Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, center, and Cote de Pablo) investigates the murder of a Marine Captain who had access to highly classified information, on NCIS, Tuesday, Oct. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.
"Ex-File"--The NCIS team (Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, center, and Cote de Pablo) investigates the murder of a Marine Captain who had access to highly classified information, on NCIS, Tuesday, Oct. 9 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2007 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. /
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NCIS has always been pro spinoff. NCIS is, after all, a spinoff of JAG that has spawned a handful of similarly iconic spinoffs. The franchise has continued to do what it does best in this regard, but there is an interesting pattern that's surfaced in the past several months.

NCIS has decided to look backward, rather than forward. While NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: Hawaii were instances of the franchise expanding, and applying the winning formula of the original to new settings and characters, the two latest spinoff announcements are predicated on characters that fans already know well.

NCIS is repurposing its old characters

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"The North Pole" - Gibbs and the team assist Ziva (Cote de Pablo) with "the one thing" she said she would need to take care of before returning to her family, on NCIS, Tuesday, Dec. 17 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Mark Harmon as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Cote de Pablo as Ziva David. Photo: Greg Gayne/CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

There's NCIS: Origins, which will be centered around a young Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the 1990s. Mark Harmon won't be playing his iconic character (no bizarre, MCU-style de-aging here), but he will be in the mix as an executive producer and narrator.

Then there's the untitled spinoff that was recently announced, and will be focused on beloved NCIS veterans Ziva (Cote de Pablo) and Anthony 'Tony' DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly). These two will reunite for the first time in a decade, and will be given ten episodes to solve a string of cases abroad.

Related: Sadly, yes, Ducky Mallard did die on NCIS

The working title for the spinoff is NCIS: Europe, according to Deadline, but nothing official has been confirmed. What has been confirmed, at least in terms of network thinking, is that NCIS has built up such a strong well of characters that bringing back veterans constitutes an exciting new spinoff.

NCIS used to launch standalone spinoffs

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"Bounce"-When an old case comes back to haunt Tony (Michael Weatherly), he and Gibbs switch positions to solve the crime on NCIS Tuesday Feb. 17 (8:00-9:00PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2008 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

We're not here to suggest that the approach is wrong, or that we aren't thrilled by the possibility of seeing Ziva and Tony reunited onscreen, but NCIS has to be careful not to overplay its hand in this regard.

The two spinoff shows that have repurposed flagship NCIS characters sound great, but we wouldn't want to see the franchise overplay their hand, and give us a spinoff for, say, Jenny Shepard (Lauren Holly). No disrespect to Shepard, but there's a limited number of characters who could make the whole spinoff conceit make sense.

We hope to see more standalone spinoffs like NCIS: Sydney in the future. That being said, we will absolutely be watching Ziva and Tony's adventures. C'mon, it's Ziva and Tony!

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