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Gibbs Has Even More Rules On NCIS Than You Probably Thought

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Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) is a man from a different social era. He's also not real, but for the purposes of this article, please ignore that particular character flaw. Within the stories told by the American crime procedural "NCIS," Gibbs is a former Special Agent in Charge of the Major Case Response Team. During his time as NCIS, Gibbs manages a multitude of investigations into crimes that occur under the jurisdiction of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. To put it mildly, Gibbs is a legendary figure within NCIS and many of his interesting quirks are well known among the organization's agents.

One of Gibbs' best-known idiosyncrasies is the fact that he follows a very specific code of conduct. Although Gibbs' rules feature a few notable contributions courtesy of his mentor Mike Franks (Muse Watson), the origins of many of his rules are shrouded in mystery. In fact, a running theme of "NCIS" is how the agents under Gibbs' tutelage jokingly await his unique nuggets of wisdom and later discover that they actually work quite well. These rules aren't just nebulous personal musings, either. No, Gibbs actually keeps a catalog of these bad boys in a meticulously-planned numerical system, and there are way more of them than you might expect.

Gibbs has at least 91 rules, even if he doesn't share them all

At no point during the show do the characters effectively collate the rules as shared by Gibbs ... fortunately, though, fans are significantly more dutiful in their homework than a group of literal murder investigators (a sentence hopefully never repeated). In the NCIS subreddit, u/StarGazer226567 posted an infographic that listed all the rules explained throughout the series. 

In the image, at least 35 rules are shared. As the list is almost two years old, and the show is currently still running, the list is naturally incomplete. It doesn't help, either, that Gibbs doesn't dispense his wisdom in numerical order, or even feel obligated to share everything that comprises his code. One day, he might share rule number one, and the next, rule number forty-two. 

Worse still is that some numbers have multiple rules, a mistake we feel safe attributing to the writers. In 2021, TV Insider offered a slightly more up-to-date list that allows for more recent additions. The highest-numbered rule on their list is rule number 91, which states, "When you decide to walk away, never look back." Of course, it shouldn't surprise anyone that even the official CBS list includes a number of omissions. While it's possible that the list will never be fully fleshed out, there's also undeniably a market for CBS to release an advice book. If Barney Stinson could sell one (via Amazon), Gibbs should have no problems whatsoever.