Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The NCIS Footage You Never Knew Was Recycled From A Mark Harmon Movie

Look at your favorite TV shows and movies with a critical eye and you'll notice a peculiar trend: everyone seems to be stealing everyone else's homework. Footage gets repackaged with astonishing regularity— Michael Bay painted giant robots over shots from The Island to make Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Star Trek just kept blowing up the same miniatures for years, and the phrase "if you've seen one, you've seen 'em all" is astonishingly apt when applied to classic Disney cartoons. But, in one particularly weird case, a Mark Harmon show and a Mark Harmon movie both make use of the same footage — oddly enough, footage that doesn't have anything to do with Mark Harmon.

The year was 1988. Future NCIS cast member and former UCLA quarterback Mark Harmon was half a dozen movies deep in an acting career bolstered by his breakout role on St. Elsewhere. In a move which would echo through much of the rest of his work, Harmon took a part in the motion picture The Presidio, playing a lapsed military policeman working for the San Francisco police department. As late-'80s thrillers featuring Sean Connery and his ironclad resolve to never try to do an accent go, it is, according to critics and audiences, very medium.

NCIS's second-hand boat

You'd think that having decades-old footage of Mark Harmon playing a detective investigating a military murder would be paydirt for the makers of NCIS, but they didn't mine The Presidio for home video of agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs's younger days. Instead, they loaded up on B-roll from the largely forgotten film, and kept using it for years. During the first few seasons of NCIS, the opening credits sequence featured a shot of an aircraft carrier making its way under San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge. The shot was originally used for The Presidio's intro credits as well. This is either a meaningless coincidence, made possible thanks to the relative drought of video clips focusing on war machines being driven under national monuments, or a bone tossed to the insatiably ravenous masses of Harmon Heads who just can't get enough of subtle callbacks to the days when Gibbs hadn't yet gone full silver fox.

It's worth mentioning that Harmon's co-star in The Presidio, Sean Connery, had a clause in his contract stating that every film he appeared in needed to have a bigger explosion than the last, according to legend. With that in mind, it may be for the best that The Presidio wasn't released a few years later, or NCIS might have opened with footage of the aforementioned aircraft carrier blowing up in a nuclear test, setting an entirely different tone for the program.