What time period will NCIS: Origins take place? (franchise timeline)

We're going back in time with Gibbs, but not as far as you'd think.

“Blown Away” – When members of an NCIS Regional Enforcement Action Capabilities Training Team (REACT) are killed during an explosion, NCIS Special Agent Jessica Knight (Katrina Law), the lone surviving member, helps crack the case using high tech body armor, on NCIS, Tuesday, May 18 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pam Dawber returns as investigative journalist Marcie Warren. Pictured: Mark Harmon as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2021 CBS
“Blown Away” – When members of an NCIS Regional Enforcement Action Capabilities Training Team (REACT) are killed during an explosion, NCIS Special Agent Jessica Knight (Katrina Law), the lone surviving member, helps crack the case using high tech body armor, on NCIS, Tuesday, May 18 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pam Dawber returns as investigative journalist Marcie Warren. Pictured: Mark Harmon as NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2021 CBS /
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NCIS its broadening its franchise with its first-ever prequel series! The aptly titled NCIS: Origins will focus on a younger version of Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Austin Stowell) as he acclimates to the high stakes world of naval intelligence investigation.

Since this is the first time the franchise is going backwards, rather than forwards, there has been lots of questions regarding the show's timeline, and how it aligns with the first season of NCIS and the first appearance of Gibbs on the flagship show, JAG.

NCIS: Origins is set 12 years before NCIS

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"Alibi" -- The NCIS team is forced to re-examine a hit-and-run murder case when a former FBI agent turned lawyer confides in Gibbs that her client’s confidential alibi is solid. Meanwhile, McGee grows suspicious of Tony’s strange behavior, on NCIS Tuesday, Nov. 12 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Mark Harmon Photo: Michael Yarish/CBS ©2013 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

According to Deadline, NCIS: Origins will take place in 1991, with Gibbs joining the fledgling NCIS Camp Pendleton office as a rookie agent. For context Gibbs made his television debut on the JAG episode "Ice Queen", which aired in April 2003. In other words, we will be seeing him a full 12 years before he was initially introduced.

NCIS debuted as a JAG spinoff in December 2003, so it'll be easy to keep the character's timeline in mind. The franchise database reports Gibbs as being born on November 21, 1954, which means the character we meet in NCIS: Origins will be either 37 or 38 years old.

This aligns with the age of the actor who will play young Gibbs, Austin Stowell, who is currently 39 years old. It also makes sense given that Mark Harmon was 52 when he debuted as Gibbs (he was born three years before the character).

Gibbs will be 37 years old in Origins

Austin Stowell
The Walt Disney Company 2020 Golden Globe Awards Post-Show Celebration - Arrivals / Leon Bennett/GettyImages

We have seem glimpses of young Gibbs before, as shown through NCIS flashbacks in he was played by Mark Harmon's son, Sean. The 200th episode of the show, titled "Life Before His Eyes", is the most notable example of these flashbacks, but each of them depicted a Gibbs in the 1970s or 80s, before the events that will be depicted in NCIS: Origins.

There's a nice bit of symmetry in the creative involved, as well. While Mark and Sean Harmon may have aged out of the role of young Gibbs, both men will be involved as executive producers, and Mark will even serve as the narrator of each episode, furthering the continuity between all three versions of the character.

As far as we're concerned, the more Gibbs, the better!

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