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NCIS Storylines That Fans Hated

Being an ardent fan of a long-running show is a blessing and a curse. Getting the opportunity to spend more time in a world you've grown to love is always a positive, but the longer a show stays on the air, the more difficult it becomes to maintain its quality. Writers change, actors come and go, dynamics are altered, and the storylines can get downright clunky.

That's definitely true of the well-loved action police procedural NCIS. Over its 17 (and counting) seasons on CBS, the series has kept fans hooked thanks to its compelling cases and engaging characters. But that doesn't mean it hasn't had its fair share of low moments. No, NCIS hasn't been all Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) faking her own death or Jenny Shepard's (Lauren Holly) decade-long mission to bring down the Frog. Sometimes the storylines on the show ring hollow, and fans aren't afraid to speak up when they do.

These are some of the NCIS storylines that even hardcore fans can't stand.

Fans weren't invested in Leon Vance's special episode

Having a special episode that puts the focus on one character is a pretty common trope for TV shows. When they're done right, these episodes give viewers unique insights or new sympathies that improve the overall series. However, when they don't work, they can feel like a slog and a distraction from the parts of the show fans are eager to get back to. Based on the fact that it's the lowest-rated episode of NCIS on IMDb, it seems that most fans consider the Leon Vance-centric season 6 episode "Knockout" to be a case of the latter.

The episode sees Vance (Rocky Carroll), Tim McGee (Sean Murray), and Ziva in Chicago investigating the death of an old acquaintance of Vance's. Viewers get quite a bit of backstory on the NCIS director when he visits a boxing gym he used to train at, as well as when Gibbs gets suspicious about the nature of the investigation and begins looking into the situation himself. 

Unfortunately, fans didn't seem very interested in the mysteries of Vance's past. At the time the episode aired, Vance was a relatively new character in the NCIS world, and based on how poorly the episode has been received, it seems that it was too soon to do a deep dive on that particular character.

The Gibbs plotline viewers have had enough of

One of the reasons NCIS has been around as long as it has is the character of Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon). Like other procedurals, NCIS is an ensemble, and there have been many fan-favorite characters of the years. But as the NCIS team commander, Gibbs is the series' beating heart. And whether you love him or loathe him, he's a fascinating character with a complex background and a unique set of morals.

Gibbs is a man of secrets, especially when it comes to his troubled past. Perhaps his biggest (and certainly his darkest) secret is that he once revenge-killed the man who murdered his wife and daughter. This storyline has provided some moments of wonderfully dark emotional drama on earlier seasons of the show, but not everyone was thrilled to be taking that particular trip down memory lane when it was brought up again on the season 16 episodes "Judge, Jury ..." and "... and Executioner."

Fans took to a Reddit thread to express their annoyance with the storyline's resurgence. User u/Nolegir summed up the feelings of several fans when they pointed out, "This part of Gibbs life had come up before (and I think they had an entire episode about it) and I thought he had comes to term with it."

Another Redditor, u/gilwiley, felt that the reemergence of the storyline exposed an inconsistency: "Not a fan of Gibbs being a killer coming up now. Only a few weeks ago McGee and Bishop were ready to lock up Torres for murder and now they don't confront Gibbs for the murder he admitted to."

Fans agree that season 14 was a low point for NCIS

Sometimes it's not just a particular narrative thread or a string of episodes that fans can't get on board with, but an entire season. For NCIS, that's the case with season 14. When looking at it in the larger context of the series, it's not entirely surprising. Fan-favorite character Tony DiNozzi (Michael Weatherly) left the show at the end of season 13, and several new characters were brought on to fill the gap. Unfortunately, fans weren't happy with the swap.

Reddit user u/SomeChickDoes started a thread explaining why they "can't watch season 14." They wrote, "I can't make myself watch season 14. After Tony left I can't. I have watched the first few episodes and it's ok but it's not like the other seasons."

In another Reddit thread that declares season 14 of NCIS as "unwatchable," user u/Careful_guy expressed an extreme dislike of two of the series' new characters: "Torres [Wilmer Valderrama] and Quinn [Jennifer Esposito] are just — blah. Both of their characters and personalities are confusing. Neither of them are funny or interesting."

For Redditor u/UsernameCensored, the issues didn't stop at Tony's departure or the new additions to the NCIS squad. In a thread entitled "S14 – what the hell?", they complained, "Did they get new writers or something? It's all gone wrong. Gibbs has gone soft."

Having an entire season that fans don't love is tough, but considering there are 16 other seasons of NCIS to enjoy, it and all the other storylines that fans hate are little more than a blip on the radar.