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The NCIS Scene That Was Actually Taken From Another Show

After 18 years and counting on the air, military cop series NCIS has become a certified television juggernaut. The series is currently primed for its 19th season, which fans anticipate will be released sometime in the latter half of 2021. Though lead actor Mark Harmon is expected to step down from his starring role following to the expiration of his contract with the series, NCIS nevertheless shows no signs of slowing down.

Given the number of episodes of NCIS that comprise its 18 seasons, eagle-eyed viewers have caught a substantial number of oddities, inconsistencies, and other production quirks over the course of the series' run. For example, framed wanted photos in the background of certain shots in the NCIS headquarters are actually photos of members of the production staff.

Fans have noticed another small detail hiding in plain sight in a scene with which longtime fans of the show should be quite familiar. As it turns out, the final shot that was used to conclude the series' intro for the majority of its runtime was taken from another show entirely.

NCIS paid tribute to its roots in JAG

For its first 13 seasons, the opening credits of each episode of NCIS ended with a nighttime shot of a car driving toward the United States Capitol Building in the distance. That footage was not originally shot for NCIS, however, but was taken from an episode of JAG.

That said, there's a direct connection between the shot's source and NCIS. The episode of JAG featuring the footage in question, titled "Ice Queen," was one of a few so-called backdoor pilots for NCIS. Essentially, that and another episode of JAG titled "Meltdown" were the first two televised appearances of many members of the NCIS squad. Both episodes were recut into an episode of JAG titled "NCIS: The Beginning" meant to serve as a compilation of both stories.

Thus, three pilots for NCIS exist within JAG, though "NCIS: The Beginning" is ultimately the definitive pilot episode. The footage of the car that would then be incorporated into so many episodes of NCIS also appears in "NCIS: The Beginning" among the footage from "Ice Queen" reaired in the compilation episode.

Technically, NCIS is a spinoff of JAG, given its origins in the latter series. That said, in recent years, NCIS has been the most-watched scripted drama on TV. It's safe to say, then, that NCIS has overshadowed the series from which it was spun off. Nevertheless, a piece of JAG remains in each episode of NCIS to open with the familiar shot of a car driving away from the camera with the Capitol on the horizon.