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The American Pickers Reference You Forgot Happened On NCIS

The inter-franchise television crossover is a subtle art form. Some people make it look easy, blending Jimmy Neutron and Fairly OddParents or Scooby Doo and the members of KISS in a manner as seamless as it is organic. Other times, pitfalls await the adventuresome television writer, and audiences are left scratching their heads, saying, "Come on, three CSI teams on the same case? Way to strain our suspension of disbelief to the breaking point, CBS."

In 2018, a crossover made in heaven graced the airwaves, with characters from NCIS finally meeting the cast of American Pickers in a combination that could only have been more perfect if they'd all been sucking on Werther's Originals and arguing about Jimmy Carter when it happened.

It all happened in the season 15 NCIS episode "One Man's Trash." Ducky and Gibbs, being two upstanding gentlemen of a particular demographic, are both watching American Pickers in their free time. Both men make note of a peculiar artifact on display: a spiked club, not far off from the kind used in the Bedrock Bam-Bam spree of the Mesolithic era. Proving once again that they are an unstoppable force for justice with steel traps where their brains should be, the pair instantly associate the weapon with a murder case that went cold years prior. The game is afoot, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service sets off for adventure in that most wretched hive of scum and villainy: History Channel reality programming.

The NCIS crew sure knows how to pick 'em

As it turns out, the spikes in the club bear a striking resemblance to a hunk of centuries-old wood found nestled in the skull of a murder victim some 16 years earlier. It's this sort of attention to detail that makes Gibbs such a pip of an investigator.

He and Torres take a field trip to meet up with Mike Wolfe, one of the hosts of American Pickers, who is now in possession of the club. He expresses hesitancy when asked to give up his find, while at the same time providing paragraphs of expository finger-pointing at fellow collectors. From a headcanon perspective, this sure makes it sound like he was the murderer all along. But as is too often the case, the guest star playing himself doesn't wind up being implicated in the vicious slaughter of another human being.

In the end, the real culprit is found out, justice is served, and Gibbs expresses, at least twice, his admiration for the television program American Pickers. It's a sweet — if slightly bizarre — celebrity cameo, and Gibbs' general reluctance to dole out praise makes his shining review of Wolfe's work all the more astonishing. Unfortunately, the fad never caught on in a huge way, and a Law & Order: SVU/Ancient Aliens crossover has failed to materialize in the years that followed.