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The Minority Report Reference You Probably Missed On NCIS

Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) was a walking encyclopedia for pop culture references during his time on "NCIS." Fans have taken the time to count up all of the movie references Tony made during his 13-season-long stay on the show, and they number in the hundreds.

While Tony referenced a wide variety of commonly-known and popular films throughout his time on "NCIS," there was a surprising and fleetingly quick reference to one movie that you likely didn't take notice of the first time it came up — "Minority Report," the 2002 Tom Cruise-starring, Steven Spielberg-directed futuristic sci-fi action-adventure flick. If you haven't watched the film, then it's likely this reference went over your head due to its brief and casual usage. But if it didn't, you might be confused as to what the heck Tony is talking about. How did "NCIS" make reference to "Minority Report" and does this carry any greater meaning?

Precogs and the power of crime solving

In the episode "Baltimore" (Season 8, Episode 22), Tony says, "where's the Pre-Crime Unit when you need them?" in reference to a case the NCIS team is working.

The Pre-Crime police program, in the world built by "Minority Report" author Philip K. Dick, are clairvoyant humans (or "PreCogs") who are able to predict murders before they happen. The police use the clairvoyants' visions to track down the places where these crimes will be committed and arrest the perpetrators before they can do anything untoward; the PreCog's visions are projected on a screen and then recorded and saved as evidence. Life as a PreCog is not fun — they are kept under heavy sedation and left floating in pools so no external stimuli will interfere with their visions. 

When Detective Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) audits a PreCog, he is told that Chief John Anderton (Cruise) will kill a man in 36 hours. Anderton goes on the run and attempts to prove his innocence, kidnapping a talented PreCog named Agatha Lively (Samantha Morton) in an attempt at proving that the future is more malleable than the Pre-Crime unit believes it is. 

PreCogs would be very useful to the "NCIS" unit, since they might be able to prove the innocence or guilt of a perp without a wide margin of error. But as Anderton learns, they're not precisely an infallible crime solving tool.