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Actors Who Played Multiple NCIS Characters

The first episode of "JAG" aired on NBC on September 23, 1995. It was the beginning of what would turn out to be one of the most massive and enduring television franchises of all time, one that still runs to this day and already boasts six different series, including the recently premiered Australian spin-off "NCIS: Sydney."

In that time, the shows in what could be broadly dubbed the "'NCIS' universe" have aired a whopping combined total of 1207 episodes — the vast majority of them on CBS, to which "JAG" migrated for Season 2. With most of these episodes featuring enormous casts made up of tens of performers between regulars, recurring stars, and guests, some of those performers are bound to repeat themselves.

And indeed they have. There are literally hundreds of stars who have played more than one character on different shows across the "NCIS" universe. Here are some of the most notable — including the one actor who has appeared on all five American shows in the franchise.

Tom Schanley

American actor Tom Schanley holds the very impressive distinction of being the only actor in history to have appeared on all five existing television series in the "NCIS" universe, not counting the just-premiered "NCIS: Sydney." Those five series would be "JAG," "NCIS," "NCIS: Los Angeles," "NCIS: New Orleans," and "NCIS: Hawai'i." And, interestingly, he never played any of his characters for more than one episode — though he did make multiple appearances as different characters on "JAG."

Schanley's first brush with the franchise, back before it was even a franchise, happened in 1999, when he played Petty Officer 3rd Class Colbert in the "JAG" Season 4 episode "Dungaree Justice." He then returned to "JAG" in Season 9, playing Cmdr. Winter in the episode "Good Intentions."

Seven years later, he guest-starred on the original "NCIS," appearing as Lt. Dean Massey in the Season 9 episode "Sins of the Father." This was followed by a performance as Gabe Stanfill in the "NCIS: Los Angeles" Season 5 episode "Windfall," and another as Anthony Flanders in the "NCIS: New Orleans" Season 2 episode "Help Wanted." Finally, in 2021, he rounded out his history-making achievement by playing Crazy Sam in "Paniolo," the fourth episode of the first season of "NCIS: Hawai'i."

Kurt Yaeger

Earlier this year, American actor and noted disability advocate Kurt Yaeger was widely reported as the first actor to appear as different characters on all four proper "NCIS"-named shows (i.e. not counting "JAG") when he guest-starred as Master Sgt. Strand in the "NCIS: Hawai'i" Season 2 episode "Bread Crumbs." Yaeger was not, in fact, the first actor to accomplish such a feat, but his achievement is still notable, not least because he actually had a recurring role in one of those shows.

Between 2016 and 2017, he played antagonist CIA Officer Ferris, also known as Sullivan, in five episodes of the eighth season of "NCIS: Los Angeles." In addition to those two roles, Yaeger also played Kevin Simms in "NCIS: New Orleans," in the Season 5 episode "In Plain Sight," which first aired in 2019. And before all that, he made his debut in the "NCIS" universe in 2014, playing Freddie Linn in "Bulletproof," a Season 11 episode of the original "NCIS" series.

Chris McGarry

There have already been several actors who completed a quadruple crown of "NCIS" franchise appearances as different characters by showing up on "NCIS: Hawai'i" in the past couple of years. But the actor who holds the distinction of having been the very first one to play different characters on all "NCIS"-themed shows, not counting "JAG," is believed to be Chris McGarry.

The American actor first joined the franchise by appearing in "NCIS" Season 10, playing Navy Lt. Cmdr. Peter Sanger in both episodes of the "Shell Shock" two-parter. Following that, he had a guest spot on "NCIS: New Orleans" in 2016, when he played CIA Agent Adam Calloway in the Season 2 episode "No Man's Land." The following year, he added "NCIS: Los Angeles" to his belt, playing William Bradford in Season 9's "Plain Sight." Finally, with his appearance in the second episode of "NCIS: Hawai'i," "Boom," as Hugh Lowry, McGarry became the first of many performers to complete the "NCIS" quadfecta.

Andrew Borba

Chris McGarry's original record-setting for most appearances as different characters on different "NCIS"-named shows was significant, but it was not the first record involving a fourth distinct appearance on the franchise. If we count "JAG," the first actor to appear on any four shows in the "NCIS" universe is believed to have been Andrew Borba.

His first appearance happened on "JAG," where, in 2004, he played Dr. Joel Wittman in the Season 10 episode "Camp Delta." Then, when he returned to the franchise, it was again in the role of a doctor: In 2009, he played Dr. Phillip Heller in "Toxic," an episode of the sixth season of "NCIS."

That same year, he also appeared on "NCIS: Los Angeles," playing Arthur Janson in the Season 1 episode "Predator." His record-breaking fourth appearance came in 2014, on "NCIS: New Orleans," which saw him play Navy Capt. Roger Marcus in the Season 1 episode "Watch Over Me."

Scottie Thompson

Scottie Thompson belongs to the gallery of actors who had a substantial role in one series in the "NCIS" universe while also guest-starring as other characters on different series in the franchise. The American actress is best known among "NCIS" fans as Jeanne Benoit, a recurring character introduced in Season 4 of the main show.

The daughter of arms dealer René Benoit aka La Grenouille (Armand Assante), Jeanne enters a relationship with Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), who is posing as college professor Anthony DiNardo and dating her to get closer to her father. He eventually falls in love with her and tells her the truth, but they end up parting ways when he chooses his work at NCIS over the relationship. Jeanne continued to appear a few times throughout the show, with Thompson's most recent appearance being in the Season 13 episode "Loose Cannons."

In addition to her 18 episodes as Jeanne, Thompson also had a guest role on "NCIS: Los Angeles." In 2020, she played Sarah Raines in the Season 11 episode "Missing Time."

Zoe McLellan

Then, there are the actors who have actually played substantial roles in more than one series in the franchise, as is the case of Zoe McLellan. Originally best known for her role as Marina Pretensa in the 2000 "Dungeons & Dragons" film, McLellan nabbed her first major TV part in 2001, when she joined the recurring cast of "JAG" as Navy Petty Officer Jennifer Coates in Season 7. The character remained a big part of the show over the following three seasons and eventually became central enough to land McLellan an upgrade to series regular in the 10th and final season.

Then, nine years later, McLellan returned to the franchise when she appeared in "Crescent City," the "NCIS" Season 11 two-part episode that acted as a backdoor pilot to "NCIS: New Orleans." McLellan plays Special Agent Meredith Brody, a role she would continue to play on "NCIS: New Orleans" throughout the show's first two seasons.

Sean Harmon

Sean Harmon is notable among fans of "NCIS" as the actor who was, for more than a decade, enlisted by the original show to play the role of young Leroy Jethro Gibbs (played in the present by Mark Harmon) in flashback scenes. Harmon started fulfilling that role on the series as early as 2008, when he first played young Gibbs in the Season 6 episode "Heartland." His most recent appearance on "NCIS" happened in the Season 18 episode "Everything Starts Somewhere" in 2020.

Harmon's casting as the young Gibbs was a no-brainer; after all, he is Mark Harmon's son. But his acting in the "NCIS" franchise has not been limited to offering a convincing aged-down version of his father. He has also appeared on "NCIS: Los Angeles" as a completely different character. In 2015, more specifically, he had a guest spot as Charlie Connor in the Season 6 episode "Rage."

Sean Murray

Another example of an actor who cut his teeth on "JAG" before taking on a regular role in the "NCIS" franchise is Sean Murray, who plays Special Agent Timothy McGee, the NCIS team's resident cybersecurity geek. The American actor was originally a recurring cast member in the show's first season, but McGee eventually proved successful enough as a character to get a series regular upgrade from Season 2 onwards. He's even crossed over to "NCIS: New Orleans," with Murray making an appearance as McGee in the second part of the Season 3 episode "Pandora's Box."

Years before he was playing McGee, however, Sean Murray was already part of that same TV universe thanks to his recurring role on "JAG." In Season 6, between 2000 and 2001, he played Danny Walden, the son of Dr. Sydney Walden (Cynthia Sikes). Danny was eventually responsible for driving a wedge between his mother and Rear Adm. A.J. Chegwidden (John M. Jackson). And even that wasn't his first role in "JAG," as he had previously guest-starred as Navy Ensign Terry Guitry in the Season 4 episode "Innocence."

Alicia Coppola

Zoe McLellan and Sean Murray are both notable as actors who have had multi-episode roles on both "JAG" and an "NCIS" show. And then there's Alicia Coppola, who is notable for having had substantial roles on two different shows under the "NCIS" banner.

Her first role was that of Lt. Cmdr. Faith Coleman, whom she originally played in the "Ice Queen"/"Meltdown" two-part episode of "JAG" Season 8 — aka the "NCIS" backdoor pilot. She then went on to play Coleman in three episodes of "NCIS," with her last appearance being in the Season 2 episode "Hometown Hero."

Five years later, Alicia Coppola joined "NCIS: Los Angeles" as FBI Agent Lisa Rand. The character, originally a guest role in the Season 2 episode "Little Angels," returned to the series several more times over the course of its run, never in more than one episode per season; her last appearance on the series came in 2022, in the "The Body Stitchers," an episode of the show's 14th and final season.

Anne-Marie Johnson

Anne-Marie Johnson, the veteran actress and comedian best known for her tenure on the final season of "In Living Color" and her long-running series regular roles in "What's Happening Now!!" and "In the Heat of the Night," has also left her mark on the "NCIS" universe with a total of four different roles across three shows.

Her most notable role is Congresswoman Roberta "Bobbi" Latham on "JAG." The U.S. Congresswoman from Detroit, the chairwoman of the House National Security Subcommittee, and a love interest for both Lt. Cmdr. Harmon Rabb Jr. (David James Elliott) and Cmdr. Sturgis Turner (Scott Lawrence) at different points on the show, Bobbi was played by Johnson in a total of 18 episodes between Seasons 3 and 7.

Then, in 2007, Johnson guest-starred on "NCIS" as Marine Col. Stacey Radcliffe, in the Season 5 episode "Requiem." In 2016, she played Dr. Adams in two "NCIS: Los Angeles" Season 8 episodes. Finally, in 2023, she returned to "NCIS," this time as Senator Selena Grayson, in the Season 20 episode "Second Opinion."

Joe Spano

A seasoned pro of the crime procedural TV genre, Joe Spano had his breakout in the 1980s with the role of Lt. Henry Goldblume on "Hill Street Blues." More than a decade and a half later, he once again proved his mettle in the genre by joining "NCIS" in Season 1 as FBI Special Agent Tobias "T.C." Fornell — a role that he has continued to play up to and including the show's most recent season.

Depicted as both a bitter professional rival and trusted close friend to Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Fornell managed to become one of the show's most iconic characters even while never attaining the status of a series regular. Spano has played him in every season of "NCIS" except Season 17, and even had a guest appearance as Fornell on "NCIS: New Orleans."

Years before "NCIS," however, Spano also played Navy Capt. Jack Murphy, a guest role in the "JAG" Season 3 episode "Clipped Wings."

Karri Turner

American actress Karri Turner has had relatively few roles in her 30-year career, but her history in the "NCIS" universe offers a partial explanation for that: Between 1997 and 2005, she tackled the role of Navy Lt. Harriet Sims and appeared in 112 episodes of the series. Although Harriet was technically a recurring character, she was one of the most beloved and indispensable figures on the "JAG" team, and Turner got to chart her professional rise from ensign all the way to lieutenant throughout the show.

After "JAG" ended in 2005, Turner had roles in 2006 and 2007, respectively, on "Heroes" and "The Sarah Silverman Program." This was followed by a hiatus of more than a decade from television acting. When she made her return to the small screen in 2020, it was on "NCIS," playing Micki Kaydar. She has played Micki in a Season 17 episode titled "In the Wind" and a Season 18 episode titled "Unseen Improvements."

Don Franklin

Don Franklin is another actor who has played completely different characters on two shows in the "NCIS" universe, having had roles on both "NCIS" and "NCIS: Los Angeles." In the former, Franklin had a recurring multi-season role, and in "NCIS: Los Angeles," he had a one-off guest spot.

On "NCIS," Franklin was first seen in the Season 3 episode "Frame Up," playing FBI Agent Ron Sacks, who is responsible for leading the bureau's investigation of Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo when he is suspected of murder. He returned a few months later in the Season 4 premiere, "Shalom," once again antagonizing the NCIS; this time, it's Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) being investigated by the FBI while the team tries to prove her innocence. Franklin returned as Sacks one last time in that same season, appearing in the episode "Smoked."

Nearly a decade later, Franklin also appeared in an episode of "NCIS: Los Angeles" Season 6, titled "In the Line of Duty." He played Navy Capt. Alan Beck.

Scott Lawrence

Scott Lawrence is the kind of actor who can brighten up any show or movie just by showing up in it. His presence has helped lend gravitas to recent acclaimed series including "Rectify," "Legion," "Mr. Mercedes," and "Unbelievable," to say nothing of his status as the go-to Darth Vader voice actor in "Star Wars" video games. As such, it makes perfect sense for him to have been cast in three different guest roles in "NCIS" series.

The first of those roles came in 2011 when he played Navy Capt. Thomas Lind in the "NCIS" Season 8 episode "A Man Walks Into a Bar...." Eleven years later, he could be seen in "The Game," an episode of the freshman season of "NCIS: Hawai'i," as Judge Malcolm Keen. He then hopped back over to "NCIS," this time playing DEA Agent Raymond Frank in the Season 20 episode "In the Spotlight."

What's funny about that "NCIS" recurrence, of course, is that Lawrence first rose to prominence on "JAG." Between Seasons 7 and 10, he played Cmdr. Sturgis Turner, a late-series addition to the main cast who quickly proved indispensable.

Muse Watson

A prolific film and TV actor since the late 1980s, Muse Watson is possibly best-remembered, outside the "NCIS" franchise, for his roles on "Prison Break" and in the first two "I Know What You Did Last Summer" films. But there's an argument to be made that his most visible role is Special Agent Michael "Mike" Franks, the former mentor responsible for showing young Gibbs the ropes as a junior agent fresh out of the Marine Corps, on "NCIS." Watson played Franks in 20 total episodes between 2006 and 2017, and the character became integral to the DNA of "NCIS" over time, as well as to Gibbs' character trajectory.

What not all "NCIS" fans might know, however, is that playing Franks was not Watson's first rodeo in the franchise. All the way back in 1998, he had already been featured on "JAG" in a guest role. Watson played Navy Adm. Arthur Fessenden in the Season 4 episode "Innocence."

Omid Abtahi

Iranian-American actor Omid Abtahi has been on the rise recently. He's become well-known among TV fans for his wonderful breakout performance as Salim, the Omani New York City salesman helplessly in love with a Jinn (Mousa Kraish), on "American Gods." Additionally, he has played Penn Pershing on "The Mandalorian," Detective Abbasi on "Better Call Saul," and Squad 451 rebel soldier Homes in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2," among other notable roles in film and television. And he has played different characters on "JAG," "NCIS," and "NCIS: Los Angeles."

"JAG" was, in fact, his very first screen acting credit; he played Wahid in the Season 10 episode "Heart of Darkness." Later, he recurred on the original "NCIS," appearing in the Season 6 episode "Aliyah" and in the Season 7 premiere "Truth or Consequences" as Saleem Ulman. He then had a role in both halves of the two-part episode "Red," in the fourth season of "NCIS: Los Angeles," playing Ari Sayed.

Necar Zadegan

German-born Iranian-American actress Necar Zadegan has made a weighty name for herself on U.S. television, playing major roles on shows such as "24," "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce," "Emily Owens, M.D.," and "Rake," to name a few. She also starred on "NCIS: New Orleans" for three seasons, playing Special Agent Hannah Khoury. The character was first introduced in Season 5 as the new team supervisor following Dwayne Cassius Pride's (Scott Bakula) promotion to Special Agent in Charge, but was eventually demoted, becoming Pride's second-in-command. Zadegan remained a series regular until the series' conclusion in 2021.

Years before she was cast on "NCIS: New Orleans," Zadegan had already guest-starred on "NCIS" — but in surprising circumstances for someone who would go on to be a series regular in the same franchise. In 2007, she appeared on the "NCIS" Season 4 episode "Suspicion," playing Marine 1st Lt. Rihama Shaheen, but she did not receive credit, thus making her "New Orleans" bow the first credited appearance she made in the "NCIS" universe.