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NCIS Producers Once Tried To Get Living Presidents To Appear On The Series

"NCIS" may not always operate like the real Naval Criminal Investigative Service, given that actual NCIS agents deal with far more financial crimes than terrorist masterminds. Still, the CBS series tries to ground the episodes in a plausible, contemporary setting. Events take place in the current day and always in the geopolitical context of the War on Terror.

Actual government agencies are named and referenced, and "NCIS" always namechecks the sitting American President at the time of airing. In fact, President George W. Bush was played by a famous Bush impersonator, Steve Bridges, in the show's very first episode, and he even has the first line of dialogue.

This conceit has never been repeated on "NCIS" again, and that's probably for the best. However, executive producer Steven D. Binder has said he wanted the living Presidents of the United States to make a cameo together on the show. Here's more of what Binder envisioned for the scene.

NCIS wanted the living Presidents in a card game

While answering fan questions for TV Insider to mark the landmark 450th episode of "NCIS," Steven D. Binder revealed that producers had once devised a set of walk-on cameos truly worthy of the Oval Office. Where the pilot only had a presidential impersonator, this episode would have featured all of the living presidents at the time making an appearance, including Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. It's unclear, however, if the scene was planned before Donald Trump's election in 2016 or George H.W. Bush's death in 2018.

"I thought I could get them in a card game," Binder said, explaining that a friend of his did actually know one of the Presidents, but the idea ultimately never panned out. "And if you can't get the one," he concluded, "you can't get none."

It's a shame, as imagining an unwitting McGee (Sean Murray) or Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) walking in on an ex-President poker game, stunned, is objectively hilarious. "NCIS" fans will just have to wonder what could have been, even as they celebrate 450 episodes of the CBS series.