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The Episode Of NCIS You Probably Forgot Zac Efron Was On

There's no shame in losing track of an "NCIS" episode from time to time. There have been more than 400 of them, after all. If the show was a person, it would be old enough to join the Navy, kill a fellow serviceman in a fit of passion, and be hunted down with impunity by its own cast of characters. Some stuff is going to get lost in the mix.

By way of example, consider the many celebrity guest stars of "NCIS." They're a regular enough occurrence that keeping track of them would be nearly impossible for a single person to do. Taye Diggs, Lily Tomlin, Colin Hanks, Michelle Obama, and Jesse Plemons have all popped their heads in for an episode or two, and that's barely the tip of the nigh-on two-decade-long iceberg.

Thanks to the law of large numbers, the show occasionally lands a performance from a star before they hit it big — Abigail Breslin, Cameron Monaghan, and Millie Bobby Brown all had Gibbs breathing down their necks back in the day. For a brief, shining moment, just before he convinced a generation of adolescents that high school would somehow be less socially unbearable if they sang in public more often, Zac Efron too took center stage in an episode appropriately titled "Deception."

Zac Efron got scared straight to the Disney Channel on NCIS

Well, "center stage" may be an overstatement. This Season 3 episode sees Gibbs and the gang searching for a missing commander, with nuclear weapons and online child abuse thrown into the mix for good measure.

Here, Efron plays a young man named Danny. That might seem reductive, but it's literally the only descriptor assigned to the character on his NCIS Wiki page. He doesn't show up until the episode's third act, sipping some of that sweet, generic-brand television beer in the woods. Suddenly surrounded by law enforcement, he finds himself living every teenage boy's worst nightmare: Being stared down by a disappointed Mark Harmon. Meanwhile, DiNozzo gets to imply that he's going to tase and apply "genital cuffs" to two underage boys to get answers out of them, raising a lot of questions about who we're rooting for on this show, exactly.

Efron's part on "NCIS" is less interesting than its timing. The episode that he appears in aired on January 17, 2006, a scant three days before "High School Musical" hit the Disney Channel. Little did viewers suspect that they were listening to the terrified pleas of a young man who would be an international celebrity just 72 hours later.