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The Worst NCIS Episodes According To Fans

"NCIS" has always had a winning combination of attributes that have made it one of the longest-running crime television series of all time alongside other greats like "Law & Order" and its spinoff "Law & Order: SVU." Fans always seem to gravitate toward excellent characters with excellent relationships, and the relationships amongst the original NCIS team, especially that of Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), stand out for the emotional depth that they create on-screen. It's exactly this kind of personal connection and drama that has kept "NCIS" going for 19 seasons.

If any television series is lucky enough to run for this long, it can usually be attributed to a multitude of excellent episodes every single season. Fans of crime shows are always quick to list their favorites and exchange opinions on what they consider to be the best "NCIS" episodes of all time, but seldom discuss the episodes that seemed to fall short. However, every series has its share of poorly received episodes. "NCIS" has proven to be no different, and fans on Reddit recently broke down which episodes of the show stood out as considerably worse than the rest.


User u/hbkjrt14 was quick to mention Season 7, Episode 21 of the show, titled "Obsession," where the "NCIS" team investigates the sudden death of a Navy lieutenant rushing to make it to the emergency room. DiNozzo volunteers to interview the lieutenant's sister, and when he and Agent Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) arrive, the sister is missing. In the end, Gibbs and Ziva discover a plot from inside the Navy Info-ops center where the lieutenant used to work and DiNozzo finds the sister through a borderline obsession, which Ziva points out to him. The hbkjrt noted that this episode stood out as one of the worst of the entire series for multiple reasons, including that the entire episode seems out of place in what they feel was the best season of the series.

This criticism makes sense, as Season 7 does have a lot of notable episodes amongst fans. It's a critical point in the series for the entire team, including Ziva's character who goes through plenty of challenges, including torture, to become a full-fledged U.S. citizen and rejoin the team. u/hbkjrt14 also noted the blatant out-of-character actions for DiNozzo. Even though he has always been one for jokes and fleeting attraction toward many women, in the past he had never gone so far as to be so obsessed with a particular woman of interest. This episode shows a change of behavior for the character, and one that seems unusual because there isn't enough reasoning as to why DiNozzo would be so obsessed with this woman in particular aside from the case at hand.

Cracked and Dog Tags

Many fans, including u/realclowntime, are protective over the character of Chief Forensic Scientist Abigail "Abby" Sciuto. She has built an incredible relationship with the "NCIS" team over her time, especially with Gibbs. Given that, the Redditor was not very happy with two particular episodes that paint Abby out to be "a petulant child," including Season 8, Episode 6, titled "Cracked," and Season 5, Episode 13, titled "Dog Tags." 

In the former, the team investigates a Navy researcher who was struck by a bus. Abby, in specific, discovers a series of codes written on the body after the examination and is determined to crack them. However, the rest of the team becomes concerned that she cares more about cracking the code rather than discovering how the researcher died and who might have had a hand in her killing. The episode certainly doesn't paint Abby in the best light and based on the comment from u/realclowntime, Abby becoming too enthralled in an aspect of the case was a repetitive move the writers made for the character.

"Dog Tags" is similar in the sense that it arguably doesn't allow for Abby's character to grow. The episode follows the team's pursuit and near-capture of a Naval petty officer who smuggles drugs, only for Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) to be attacked and injured by the officer's dog. They later find the officer dead, and continue the investigation while Abby tries to prove the dog's innocence rather than help with the main motive of the case out of fear of losing her job. It's the same formula with different circumstances, and fans like u/realclowntime don't miss those details.

Jack-Knife and Thirst

The Season 7 episode "Jack-Knife" and the Season 9 episode "Thirst" were noted by multiple Redditors to be particularly bad in relation to a pair of beloved characters in Ziva and Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard (David McCallum). "Jack-Knife" involves a case surrounding the murder of a Marine, which the team links back to a suspicious trucking operation. Ziva and former Marine Damon Werth (Paul Telfer) go undercover as truck drivers, and users u/ptazdba and u/EstabanJBlanco both note their disliking of Ziva being an undercover truck driver, as it seems both unbelievable and unfitting for her character to do so. 

With "Thirst," the "NCIS" team investigates an accident involving a semi-truck hitting a Navy Officer, but Ducky discovers that the officer passed from water intoxication as he discusses the case with his new love interest, a woman named Mary Courtney (Cheryl Ladd). Ducky and the team discover that Courtney is a serial killer in the end, and u/EstabanJBlanco did not approve of the former "Charlie's Angels" star getting cast as Courtney.

These episodes were both disapproved by fans, seemingly in relation to decisions for character roles and casting. The strengths of "NCIS" in terms of its casting and character relationships seem to also serve as a double-edged sword because if they get it wrong in any episode, it becomes the show's greatest weakness.