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The Messed-Up Part Of NCIS That Fans Are Happy To Ignore

CBS procedural "NCIS" remains one of network television's biggest hits, even with the recent departure of longtime series lead Mark Harmon. Now in Season 20, the drama is still the number one broadcast drama on air, and it also has two running spin-offs, "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "NCIS: Hawaii" (via TV Line).

The series has also won several awards, even receiving 3 Emmy nominations (via IMDb). But "NCIS" has seen some criticism since premiering two decades ago, when terrorism was more at the forefront of America's collective consciousness than police brutality (via Vox). As Collider points out, on the show, "the police are unambiguously heroic, a characterization that ... increasingly feels belligerent in the face of activist objection." The outlet also calls the episodes "wildly inaccurate" compared to actual crimes, including assault and white collar crime, that the real NCIS departments regularly deal with.

Obviously "NCIS" has seen some more scrutiny lately. But one element that often flies under the radar is Gibbs' toxic behavior toward his co-workers.

It's absolutely not okay for Gibbs to slap his subordinates

The major team members of "NCIS" always have a great deal of affection for Agent Gibbs, even though he's a truly unconventional boss. He follows a series of weird, inconsistent rules, he wants everyone to "give it to me in English," and the agent also likes to sneak up on people and drop in on conversations without their knowledge. A big running joke, especially in early seasons, is Gibbs slapping his subordinates on the back of the head when they mess up — especially Agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly).

Agent Gibbs is loyal to his team, and the other agents view his smacking them as a playful or paternal gesture. He also never does this to his superiors. Yet this is obviously physically abusive behavior, and in any other scenario, Gibbs would be out of a job. In real life, it's hard to imagine that an actual employee wouldn't find this unpredictable pattern deeply upsetting or even frightening.

"NCIS" is obviously only a television show, but workplace assault isn't cute or paternal in any way, shape, or form.