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How The NCIS Cast Members Put Their Own Personal Flair On The Set

Over the course of 18 seasons comprised of 409 episodes and counting, NCIS has become a staple of TV. The series is so popular, in fact, that even in its 18th season, it managed to crack the 2020 edition of Nielsen's annual list of the most watched series on television. That said, the series' cast has remained more or less constantly in flux as a result of its lengthy run. NCIS' central character, Sergeant Leroy Jethro Gibbs (portrayed by Mark Harmon), has been the sole constant since the show's start. Even Harmon, however, isn't a sure thing. His departure is currently rumored as a result of his contract's imminent expiration.

Other longtime members of the NCIS cast to leave include Pauley Perrette and Michael Weatherly. In the case of such departures, the series sometimes introduces new characters to fill out the ensemble. Sometimes, those characters last for only a single season, like Jennifer Esposito's Alexandra Quinn, introduced in the poorly received Season 14. On the other hand, however, some additions like Cote de Pablo's Ziva, who was introduced in season 3, ultimately end up becoming fan favorites.

With its large, revolving cast of characters both new and old, it could be easy for an individual character's subtler quirks or characteristics to get buried underneath the series' considerable scope. Fortunately, NCIS' producers let actors add some of their own, real-life personalities into the characters they portray, granting them some color that may otherwise have been left by the wayside.

NCIS cast members make their characters their own

Field Agent Timothy McGee's desk includes one such instance in which an actor has added their own personal flavor to a character they portray. Included in McGee's desk space is a poster for the Canadian electronic music artist Venetian Snares. McGee actor Sean Murray is a fan of Venetian Snares in real life and therefore added the poster to his character's wall himself.

Mark Harmon, too, sometimes introduces flair from his life into his portrayal of Sergeant Leroy Jethro Gibbs. During the scenes in which Harmon is working on his boat in his basement, he's oftentimes wearing a T-shirt bearing the name of local police departments or military units. Those are always T-shirts gifted to Harmon by fans of the show from those police or military branches in real life.

Finally, Ellie Bishop, portrayed by actor Emily Wickersham from season 11 to the present, works at a desk that's decked out in Oklahoma State University swag. Wickersham is an alumna of Oklahoma State University, so her character's OSU paraphernalia is in homage to her alma mater. Thus, Ellie, too, is among the list of NCIS characters that benefit from the characteristics of the actors portraying them.