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NCIS Fans Weigh In On When They Think The Show Declined

With every long-running television show, there comes the inevitable risk of decline. For some shows, it takes years before the quality dips, while others go bad early and then, with luck, recover down the line. It seems the longer a show stays on the air, the more likely that decline will happen at some point — which is why the creative forces behind some shows opt to end their series while they're still on top (see "Breaking Bad," for example).

Now, as "NCIS" enters its 19th season — making the franchise flagship one of the longest-running dramas in TV history — fans are contemplating when the CBS hit began its own decline, or if that moment is still to come. After all, the NCIS team has already investigated and solved over 400 episodes' worth of naval crime, and the show's beloved lead actor Mark Harmon has reduced his role ahead of possibly leaving the show in Season 20.

Perhaps that's the inspiration for a recent Reddit thread that asks, "When do you think NCIS declined?" The question has resonated with the huge "NCIS" fan base, resulting in a multitude of responses and opinions about exactly when, or if, the series jumped the shark.

Fans feel NCIS was never the same without these two characters

In his original post, Redditor u/Jour4232 acknowledged up front, "I know many say it went downhill after Ziva left but I still really liked the few seasons after that (S11-13) until Tony left. ... I feel like the team just became way less fun." Indeed, the most up-voted response, and many that followed, pinpointed those two departures: Ziva (Cote de Pablo) early in Season 11, and Tony (Michael Weatherly) two seasons later. In addition to admitting that the decline that began with Ziva's departure accelerated after Tony's, u/ptazdba pointed out, "The writers just didn't get it together and develop the new characters."

This was a common sentiment. "A few things contributed to the downfall," elaborated u/whatitdewwbabyyyy. Among those: "I don't think they put enough thought into developing the team post Ziva," and, "They underestimated the hole Tony left behind (to a degree, it was just as much his show as it was Harmon's)." Echoed u/vav_tkiah, "Tony was the glue."

But despite the many responses to this effect, not everyone agreed that "NCIS" has gone downhill at all. "Declined? I wouldn't say that but it's definitely not the same," posted u/hbkjrt14, who also wrote, "Season 14 and 15 were rough. ... It's since found its stride for what the show is now." U/Anxiousrabbit23 agreed, writing, "Season 14 and 15 were ... definitely some of my least favorite seasons. But I LOVED season 16 and 17 as a whole. It's just different." It seems that, whether or not they believe it constitutes "decline," fans concur that the show was fundamentally different after Ziva and Tony departed.