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The NCIS Season 20 Episode That Beat Cocaine Bear To The Punch

"NCIS" has accomplished a lot in its 20-season run, and in that time, the talented members of its Navy crime-solving squad have taken on some formidable foes. But it's rare for them to have to deal with large creatures high on illegal drugs, that is, until they had to deal with their very own "Cocaine Bear" situation even before the hit movie directed by Elizabeth Banks was released in theaters.

While the 2023 film takes a lot of creative liberties with its source material, "Cocaine Bear" managed to be a success, earning most likely better-than-expected scores on Rotten Tomatoes, with Richard Roeper from the Chicago Sun-Times calling the feature a "wildly entertaining and darkly hilarious B-movie blood-fest." The story of a bear attacking people after consuming a large amount of cocaine racked up some serious dollars at the box office as well, earning over $50 million. In reality, the real bear did not attack anyone and just died after eating the narcotic after it was dumped in the woods by smugglers. The tragic ordeal of a grizzly overdose may not initially be seen as a concept that could succeed on the big screen, but there's now plenty of evidence to support the opposite. And it isn't just the movies. While bear violence and animal drug abuse are not usually items on the agenda for what the group is used to dealing with on a daily basis, "NCIS" has also tackled the "Cocaine Bear" phenomenon, beating the film to the punch in the process.

NCIS knew Cocaine Bear before he was movie famous

"Cocaine Bear" was unleashed in theaters on February 23, 2023, but Season 20, Episode 4 ("Leave No Trace") of "NCIS" came out on October 10, 2022. In the entry, the team works with the ISB, the investigative arm of the National Parks Services, to figure out who is behind the murder of a petty officer. During the investigation, an unsettling encounter occurs that is very out of the ordinary. After three tranquilizers were used to take down an enraged bear chasing Special Agent Winchester (Caleb Alexander Smith), the team tested the aggressive animal to see what was causing its menacing behavior. It turns out the animal tested positive for cocaine. At around 35 minutes into the episode, after Forensic Specialist Kasie Hines (Diona Reasonover) reveals that drugs were in the forest-dweller's system, Gary Cole's Agent Alden Parker gets excited as he responds playfully, "Cocaine Bear Rides Again!" before telling his colleagues the infamous tale of Pablo Eskobear, the real-life inspiration for the hit motion picture.

While each project concocted its "Cocaine Bear" concepts to come out at different times, the results were very similar. The "NCIS" iteration that featured the drugged-up beast was one of the early entries from Season 20, which has an impressive audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and Deadline reported that "Leave No Trace" was one of the installments that averaged over 10 million viewers per episode. It seems that audiences everywhere won't say no to a dose of "Cocaine Bear," whether in the real world, big screen, or small screen.