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Things You Forgot Happened In NCIS Season 1

Take a moment and think back to the year 2003. SARS was the pandemic du jour, the Concord made its last ever flight, and NCIS premiered on CBS. It has been 17 years (and a lot of great episodes) since the show's first season aired, and since then we've seen the NCIS squad deal with everything from navigating tricky interpersonal relationships to surviving harrowing kidnappings by terrorist cells. There have been so many storylines and characters over the years that it's impossible to remember them all. Important plot points from the early seasons of the show turn into nothing but faraway memories nearly two decades on.

In fact, it can be a bit jarring to go back to NCIS' very first season and suddenly remember all the forgotten details that seemed so important at the time. The first season of the show is full of moments and arcs that even some hardcore fans might have relegated to the memory recycling bin.

So, let's take a few moments and go all the way back to the beginning, and remember a few of the forgotten things from the first season of NCIS.

The show ditched one of its main characters before the first season even began

This entry is really for fans who have been with NCIS since the very beginning. No, we're not talking about "Yankee White," the first episode of season one  — we're going all the way back to "Ice Queen," the episode of the legal drama JAG, which first introduced Gibbs (Mark Harmon), Abby (Pauley Perrette), Tony (Michael Weatherly), and Ducky (David McCallum). The characters appeared on two episodes of JAG that served as a backdoor pilot for NCIS, which was conceived as an investigative crime drama series in the same universe

Vivian "Viv" Blackadder (Robyn Lively) was a former FBI agent, with an incredible name, who was working for NCIS before the events of the first season. In the two backdoor pilot episodes, Viv was shown to be a determined, but clumsy, agent. She joined the Naval Criminal Investigative Service after her brother, a Navy Officer, was killed during the terrorist attack on the USS Cole, and her desire to get revenge on the people responsible clouded her judgment. In the JAG episode "Meltdown," she and Gibbs are closing in on a high profile suspect when Viv blows their cover due to her inability to be inconspicuous. The mission is still salvaged, but she has clearly earned the ire of Gibbs. 

Despite being a central player during the backdoor pilot, the character of Viv never made the leap to the main series. According to an oral history of NCIS on TV Insider, series co-creator Dan Bellisario thought, "Lively was 'too soft,'" and decided to nix her from the show.

Season 1 of NCIS had an impressive list of guest stars

If you were to go back and re-watch season 1 of NCIS, you'd notice a lot of familiar faces — and not just the ones of the series regulars. The first season of the show is full of "before they were famous" guest appearances from actors who went on to become very well-known TV stars.

Before they starred on Lost as John Locke and Sawyer, both Terry O'Quinn and Josh Holloway made guest appearances on NCIS. In the episode "Enigma," O'Quinn plays Gibbs' former commanding officer, who disappears with millions of dollars of Saddam Hussein's money. Holloway has a smaller role as a cocky local sheriff who gets on Gibbs' bad side on the episode "My Other Left Foot."

The Lost alums aren't the only famous faces you'll spy in season one. Dean Norris from Breaking Bad also makes an appearance in "My Other Left Foot" as a Marine Corps sergeant. In the episode "Split Decision," Scandal star Bellamy Young plays an ATF agent who gets swept up in an NCIS investigation.

The McGee and Abby romance that didn't stand the test of time

Agent Tim McGee (Sean Murray) is one of the longest-running characters on NCIS, but he wasn't actually introduced until midway through the first season. According to TV Insider's oral history, the character wasn't supposed to last more than one episode. But he caught the eye of viewers and producers during the first season and eventually became a series regular. One of the McGee storylines that was most endearing was his budding relationship with Abby.

In later seasons, McGee and Abby are known for having a lovely friendship and great banter, but in season one, they were an item. The two hit it off almost as soon as McGee arrived on the scene, despite the fact that his straight-laced demeanor was at odds with Abby's out-there persona. Their relationship was pretty casual, but there were lots of McAbby moments sprinkled throughout the season that would have led viewers to think it was going somewhere ... that is, until it was put on ice. Starting in the second season, their relationship started to fizzle. There were a few hints that suggested the two were still hooking up occasionally, but their flirtatious banter eventually died out and become nothing more than a friendly rapport. Eventually, their previous romantic entanglement was mostly forgotten by the show.

Some of NCIS' main characters changed a lot since season 1

Relationships statuses aren't the only things that have changed about the NCIS characters. When going all the way back to season one, you'll notice that several of the personalities of the show's long-running characters have evolved quite a bit. It's something that hasn't been lost on fans posting about the show on Reddit, either.

Fans have a few common examples of these changes. One is how Gibbs' gruff, but fun, personality became more serious and somber as the show went on. Another is how Abby's bubbly charms were turned up to the extreme in later seasons, versus the quirky, but cool, tone she set at the beginning of the show's run. Both of these could be considered examples of "Flandernization," a common television trend which TV Tropes defines as, "The act of taking a single (often minor) action or trait of a character within a work and exaggerating it more and more over time until it completely consumes the character." Or it's just that the characters evolved. Up to you.

Tony is also a changed man. In the first few seasons, his personality was like that of a frat boy, or as dearly departed NCIS Agent Kate Todd (Sasha Alexander) once called him, "An X-Rated Peter Pan." While Tony is still a bit of a cad during later seasons, he matured quite a bit over the years and mostly left his penchant for inappropriate workplace jokes behind him.

Those are just some things that might surprise you during a rewatch of NCIS' early days. With the show's 18th season still waiting for a premiere date, there's no better time to go back and see where it all began.