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Where Fans Think Tony's Movie References Stem From On NCIS

Although CBS' long-running procedural series "NCIS" has seen its fair share of characters come and go, they're still the heart of the show. Amid the murder and espionage, it's the characters that keep fans coming back for 300+ episodes — between their cute quirks, slow-burn romances, and dramatic experiences.

The series wouldn't be the same without Michael Weatherly's Special Agent Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo Jr. — he's one of the originals, first appearing in the backdoor pilot episode of "NCIS" and staying on through the end of Season 13. Tony's known for being the goofy, charming member of the team, though he's competent in the job and serves as second-in-command to Gibbs (Mark Harmon). But above all, Tony's habit of regularly referencing movies has stuck out as an essential part of his persona. Weatherly may have left the series a few years back, but that hasn't stopped fans from theorizing the reason behind his character's main quirk.

Tony's mother loved movies and they used to watch them together

When one Reddit user asked why Tony is always talking about movies, a few people chimed in to say that they think it has to do with his mother and how they'd go to an old theater and watch movies. Though the details about Tony's past, and particularly his mother, haven't always been consistent across the 13 seasons he starred in, it's well established that his mom died when he was young — about 8 years old or so. Following that, he had a rough childhood marred by his absent father and a series of uncaring stepmothers. In Season 10, Tony tells Ziva (Cote de Pablo) that his mom loved movies and they used to watch them a lot together.

However, Reddit user u/WhyHelloThere163 thought it was strange that Tony didn't start talking about movies until after the show's first few episodes. They wrote that early on a bartender asked him about movies, but he didn't know much. According to one list, Tony's first movie reference was in Season 1 Episode 11 — "Psycho" — and Gibbs was the one chatting about films in the first few episodes. So what's going on here?

Tony's movie fandom may have been written in later

When starting a long-running series like "NCIS," the characters often aren't fully fleshed out at the very beginning. Instead, they grow and change as the writers spend more time with them and add more defining traits to their personalities. It's possible that Tony's interest in movies was a detail added to his character partway through Season 1 that was retconned to always be a part of his life, due to his mother's influence. Fans that want to be literal with the series can also consider that the bartender might have reminded him of his mother's love for movies and Tony later spent all his time in between episodes catching up on old flicks.

Due to Weatherly's departure from "NCIS," we may not be getting any more insight regarding Tony's personality and quirks. However, it's highly likely he's been showing his daughter all the classics.