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Why This Memory About Tony's Mother Makes No Sense To NCIS Fans

When a show has been airing for as long as NCIS has — 18 seasons and counting — a few continuity errors are inevitable. Still, devoted fans of the long-running series can't help but notice major timeline hiccups. One that stands out a bit more than others, is Tony DiNozzo's memory of his mom's penchant for dressing him up in a sailor suit.

In the season 3 episode "Frame Up," Tony is framed for murder, and as the team races to find the real culprit, the agent reveals a strange story from his past: apparently, his mom dressed him in a sailor suit until he was 10. On its own, the anecdote is just one in a long line of anecdotes about Tony's unusual upbringing. However, according to ScreenRant, it stands out to fans because it directly contradicts an earlier episode in which Special Agent DiNozzo told the team his mom died when he was 8.

The death of his mom had a major impact on Tony's life, so it would be weird for him to exaggerate the sailor suit story for effect. It's equally unlikely that he simply continued on wearing the outfits until he was 10 out of habit. So that just leaves one explanation for the discrepancy: The joke trumped the timeline. 

In defense of the writers, NCIS is a procedural series that likely has plenty of viewers who drop in and out of the show. As such, small details like Tony's age when he lost his mom may be easily forgotten, especially when it comes time to craft jokes. However, the sailor suit gag is so particular, it's no wonder it stands out to viewers.

NCIS is full of tiny details about the team, and not all of them add up

Tony's age when his mom died isn't the only detail NCIS has fudged over the years. The agent also can't remember what year he graduated from college (but it's definitely some time between 1989 and 1992). Meanwhile, his girlfriend Ziva can't decide whether she's kosher or not, and Tony either hates coffee or can't wait for a cup depending on the episode.

But even though NCIS sometimes contradicts its own history (don't even get us started on how long Ducky and Gibbs have known each other), the show's characters and writing are strong enough to withstand even the most baffling plot holes. After 18 seasons, it's only natural that a few details would be forgotten, especially as new writers join the show. Ultimately, every show has at least a few story details that don't quite add up, and as long as the discrepancies aren't too distracting, viewers tend to be forgiving.

And hey, even if it doesn't make sense, imagining Tony spending the first 10 years of his life dressing like a tiny sailor is such a funny image, we're willing to forget that it totally contradicts a pretty major part of his timeline.