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Gibbs' Worst Moment In NCIS Season 9

NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) has faced a plethora of traumatic events throughout the course of his life. From the deaths of his wife and daughter to the deaths of colleagues like Mike Franks (Muse Watson) and Jenny Shepard (Lauren Holly), Gibbs has clearly suffered more emotionally than most television characters. After so much trauma, it only makes sense that Gibbs would seek to take a break from it all in Season 19

Long before Gibbs chooses to hang up his NCIS hat, however, he also endures a number of physical traumas. In Season 3, an explosion puts Gibbs in a coma and leaves him with temporary amnesia. In Season 5, Gibbs drowns in a car and is only rescued at the last second via CPR by NCIS Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly). Of course, these are only a few of the many times that Gibbs has been on the receiving end of violence. 

One particularly troubling Gibbs moment in Season 9 remains memorable to fans all these seasons later. In a recent Reddit thread, "NCIS" fans reminisced about Season 9, Episode 19 ("Life Before His Eyes"). U/FrenchGuyDt said, "That's one of the show's greatest episodes. It's a really good anniversary episode, but also a great episode by its writing. It's not just fan-service, it's about Gibbs's life and its importance."

So, what happened to Gibbs in this episode?

Gibbs almost died and relived parts of his life in a dream sequence

In the episode, Gibbs makes a stop by his favorite diner. As he sips his coffee, Gibbs notices a hooded figure walk his way in a menacing fashion. However, even the quick reflexes of an NCIS special agent are too slow to stop the hooded figure from shooting Gibbs (or so it seems). Immediately after the gunshot is fired, Gibbs watches the many decades of his life flash before his eyes (hence the title of the episode). We see glimpses of Gibbs arguing with his father, joining the Marines, meeting Shannon, witnessing the birth of his daughter, learning the news of his wife and daughter's deaths, as well as many of the traumatic team interactions over the course of the previous nine seasons.

All of a sudden, Gibbs realizes that the diner is now filled with many of his deceased family members, friends, and enemies, including: his father, Jackson (Ralph Waite); his mother, Ann (Clare Carey); his mentor, Mike Franks (Muse Watson); his arch-nemeses, Ari Haswari (Rudolf Martin) and Pedro Hernandez (Thomas Rosales Jr.); his former co-worker, NCIS Special Agent Riley McCallister (Michael O'Neill); and, perhaps most significantly, his wife, Shannon (Darby Stanchfield), and daughter, Kelly (Sam Schuder).

Throughout the episode, Gibbs is shown how life would have proceeded for his friends and family if he had made just slightly different choices. The dream sequence ultimately grants Gibbs a new drive and sense of purpose. In the end, it is revealed that the shooter manages to miss his head at point-blank range, sparing his life. Despite the traumatic events of the day, Gibbs is immediately eager to return to work.