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NCIS Fans Weigh In On The Most Intense Death In The Show's History

Any series that attempts to portray its protagonists as actual heroes rather than just the heroes of this particular story is eventually going to have to prove it the hard way.

You can't throw a whole cast of characters at criminals, terrorists, and traitors to their country episode after episode and expect them all to make it back to the office next week to complain about the coffee. There are only so many redshirts you can sacrifice before audiences begin to wonder if the stakes are actually real and if the danger they are battling is actually dangerous. Even the animated The Transformers: The Movie killed off Optimus Prime (he got better, though not until later).

The 18 seasons of NCIS have seen plenty of characters — major and not-so-much — lose their lives in the line of duty, but one fan on Reddit was wondering which of those stood above the rest for fellow viewers: "What character (Main or Recurring) do you think had the most tense and satisfying death?" asked u/youngclarky in a Reddit thread.

Why fans thing NCIS' first shocking death was its best

The most upvoted answer likely won't be a surprise to longtime fans of the series: the shocking season 2 death of special agent Kate Todd (Sasha Alexander). "It was so shocking and so real," wrote u/Napoleon1603. "It also set the tone for the series that they are not afraid of killing the characters."

In the finale episode of the season, "Twilight," NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) is placed in protective custody under Todd's care due to his long history with undercover-agent-turned-terrorist-cell-leader Ari Haswari (Rudolf Martin). The move does little to hamper Gibbs' investigation, and when the team hones in on Haswari's location, they move on it.

But while attempting to thwart his plan, the NCIS members are attacked by members of the terrorist cell. Gibbs is ambushed by one, but Todd, a former Secret Service agent, puts the protective in protective custody by jumping between the shooter and his target. She survives the shot thanks to the bulletproof vest she's wearing, which makes it all the more shocking when moments later, as the team is still coming down from the adrenaline of the fight, she is hit in the head with a round fired by Haswari from a sniper rifle and killed instantly.

It was the kind of TV moment where those who saw it on first airing remember exactly what they were doing when it happened. "I saw it in real time. Stood up and screamed at the TV. Took me a while to get over that," wrote u/WitnessNeither570.

Plenty of NCIS characters have gone out as heroes

But while Todd's death does get bonus points for being the first big shocker, fans of NCIS were able to find plenty of other candidates from among its 18 seasons. These include the demise of one-time probationary agent Ned Dorneget (Matt L. Jones), who finally made it to being a full-fledged field agent only to be killed by a bomb as he attempts to evacuate the building. "If you're going to go out, go out saving as many people you can in the last ten seconds you have on Earth," wrote u/tangojuliet59.

Another powerful choice: the season 5 death of NCIS Director Jenny Shepard (Lauren Holly), who despite a severe illness kills a gaggle of assassins who have been sicced on her before succumbing to the injuries their battle caused. "Jenny went out swinging," wrote original poster u/youngclarky.

But not all of the commenters' nominations were tragic. "Trent Kort's death is what I watch when I need to cheer up," wrote a commenter who has since deleted their account. Kort (David Dayan Fisher) was the loosest of all cannons as a CIA agent, but his boundary-pushing eventually escalates to selling nuclear secrets and ordering contract killers around until he's finally killed. On a show where even the heroes can face grave consequences, villains stand even less of a chance.