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All 12 TV Shows In The NCIS Shared Universe Explained

Summary

  • The NCIS franchise is connected to other iconic TV shows, including JAG, First Monday, Hawaii Five-0, Scorpion, Magnum P.I., and MacGyver, through shared characters and crossover events.
  • JAG kickstarted the NCIS franchise and introduced major NCIS characters in its backdoor pilot episodes. JAG characters have continued to make guest appearances in NCIS and its spin-offs.
  • NCIS has expanded its universe through backdoor pilots in NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans, as well as crossover events with NCIS: Hawai’i and other shows. Supporting characters have also made recurring appearances across various titles within the franchise.


The NCIS universe has blossomed over the last two decades, and some may be surprised to learn that the franchise shares that universe with other iconic TV shows. The franchise explores separate divisions of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, and despite occasional formulaic elements in each series, they stand out by specializing in different types of cases. While their primary focus is on criminal cases involving the U.S. military, their specializations set them apart within the franchise’s procedural framework.

While the majority of TV shows in the NCIS universe revolve around criminal investigations, it’s remarkable that this procedural powerhouse originated from a courtroom drama. Equally surprising is the connection NCIS shares with a selection of iconic TV shows through the recently established Lankov-verse. With five titles currently bearing the NCIS tag and a sixth in development, it’s never been a better time to decipher how they all fit together.


12 JAG

JAG shares characters with First Monday and NCIS

Harmon Rabb and Sarah

JAG’s connection to NCIS is undeniable, as it kickstarted the franchise with its backdoor pilot episodes, “Ice Queen” and “Meltdown”, in season 8. Following an investigation into Lieutenant Singer’s murder, the episodes introduce several major NCIS characters, including Jethro Gibbs, Anthony DiNozzo, Vivian Blackadder, Abby Sciuto, and Donald “Ducky” Mallard. Since then, multiple JAG characters have made guest appearances in NCIS, such as Bud Roberts, Michael Rainer, and Catherine Bell, with A.J. Chegwidden recurring in both NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles. In addition, JAG shares a connection with another legal drama, First Monday, thanks to U.S. Senator Edward Sheffield’s recurring appearances on both TV shows.

11 First Monday

First Monday shares characters with JAG

The cast of the Supreme Court drama, First Monday

Although the series was shortlived, First Monday is notable for sharing the same universe as JAG, thanks to the overlapping character, Edward Sheffield. The legal drama centers on political and civil rights cases presented before the Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States. Sheffield initially made appearances in three episodes of First Monday where he plotted to get the main character, Joseph Novelli, impeached. Following the show’s cancelation, Sheffield became a recurring character in JAG beginning in season 8. There he briefly resumed his role as a U.S. Senator before eventually becoming the Secretary of the Navy.

10 NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service

NCIS shares characters with JAG, NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans, and NCIS Hawai’i

NCIS Show Poster

NCIS

Cast
sean murray , Wilmer Valderrama , Katrina Law , Brian Dietzen , david mccallum , Mark Harmon , Rocky Carroll , Gary Cole , Joe Spano

Seasons
21

Creator(s)
Donald P. Bellisario

NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service embarked on its remarkable journey within JAG through the two-part backdoor pilot episodes titled “Ice Queen” and “Meltdown.” In season 6, another pivotal two-part episode, “Legend,” seamlessly transitioned into the backdoor pilot for NCIS: Los Angeles, unveiling characters like G. Callen, Sam Hanna, Kensi Blye, and Eric Beale. The narrative continued to expand in season 11 with the “Crescent City” episode, functioning as the backdoor pilot for NCIS: New Orleans and introducing Dwayne Pride, Christopher LaSalle, Meredith Brody, and Loretta Wade. NCIS has also welcomed guest appearances from NCIS: Hawai’i, and numerous supporting characters have made recurring appearances across various titles within this expansive franchise.

Related

NCIS Season 21: Release Date, Cast, Story & Everything We Know

NCIS season 21 is coming to CBS, and this is everything you need to know about the NCIS characters, storylines, and more news for the new season.

9 NCIS: Los Angeles

NCIS: Los Angeles shares characters with JAG, NCIS, NCIS: Hawai’i

ncis

NCIS: Los Angeles

Release Date
September 22, 2009

Cast
Daniela Ruah , LL Cool J , Chris O’Donnell

Seasons
14

Streaming Service(s)
Disney+

NCIS: Los Angeles introduced many of its lead characters through its backdoor pilot, “Legend”, in season 6 of the flagship series, NCIS. Since then, the show has featured many recurring NCIS staples, including Leon Vance, Abby Sciuto, Alden Parker, Nick Torress, and Anthony DiNozzo. In return, several Los Angeles characters have appeared on NCIS, including CIA Officer Trent Kort and Lee Wuan Kai. NCIS: Hawai’i characters Jane Tennant and Lucy Tara expanded the franchise’s connectivity by making appearances in NCIS: Los Angeles. Additionally, the series has enjoyed crossover events with Hawaii Five-0‘s Danny “Danno” Williams and Chin Ho Kelly along with Scorpion’s Cabe Gallo.

8 Hawaii Five-0

The rebooted Hawaii Five-0 shares characters with NCIS: Los Angeles, Magnum, P.I., and MacGyver

The team drags Steve from a a plane while Danny climbs out in Hawaii Five-0

Hawaii Five-0 TV Poster

Hawaii Five-0

Release Date
September 20, 2010

Cast
Alex O’Loughlin , Grace Park , Daniel Dae Kim

Seasons
10

Hawaii Five-0 has enjoyed multiple crossover events with NCIS: Los Angeles, Magnum, P.I., and MacGyver. Similar to the original series, the reboot focuses on an elite team of criminal investigators and enforcers who iconically answer to one person: Hawaii’s governor. The “Touch of Death” crossover event forces the Five-0 team to bring in the NCIS: Los Angeles team while investigating the Comescu crime family. In “Flashlight”, a massive earthquake sees MacGyver working with the Five-0 team to pursue Chinese intelligence after top-secret weapons go missing in Hawaii. Lastly, “Desperate Measures” sees the Five-0 team working with Magnum after a list of undercover CIA agents is stolen.

7 Scorpion

Scorpion shares characters with NCIS: Los Angeles

Characters of Scorpion all posing in a line.

Scorpion joined the NCIS universe thanks to its crossover event with the NCIS: Los Angeles team. The series centers on the titular Scorpion team, an elite group that serves as the last line of defense against threats on a global scale. Similar to other shows of its type, the Scorpion team consists of members with diverse skills, from psychology to coding, to engineering. In the crossover episode, “True Colors”, Scorpion is accused of stealing a valuable painting, encouraging Cabe Gallo to enlist aid from NCIS: Los Angeles’ operations manager, Hetty Lange. NCIS: Los Angeles helps the Scorpion team recover the painting and lay any accusations against them to rest.

6 NCIS: New Orleans

NCIS: New Orleans shares characters with NCIS

Dwayne Pride and Nick Torres in NCIS and NCIS New Orleans crossover event.

In the two-part episode “Crescent City” during NCIS Season 11, the NCIS team collaborates with their counterparts from the New Orleans office to probe the mysterious death of a congressman. The investigation leads to the realization that both teams have been misdirected by an unknown party, and the second part of the backdoor pilot sees the combined NCIS teams engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with the real culprit. While the spin-off has yet to extend its narrative threads beyond the franchise, it has successfully engaged in multiple crossover events with the original series. These events feature notable guest appearances by characters who seamlessly traverse between both shows.

5 MacGyver

The rebooted MacGyver shares characters with Hawaii Five-0

Tate Donovan smirking in MacGyver

MacGyver

Release Date
September 23, 2016

Cast
Lucas Till , Meredith Eaton , Tristin Mays , Justin Hires , Levy Tran , Sandrine Holt , Henry Ian Cusick , Isabel Lucas , George Eads

Seasons
5

MacGyver is one of three shows comprising Peter Lenkov’s “Lenkov-verse”, along with the similarly rebooted Magnum, P.I., and Hawaii Five-0. As a result, they share the same universe and, by extension, with the NCIS universe as a whole. The series follows Angus “Mac” MacGyver, whose hallmark intellect and resourcefulness find him improvising everyday objects (like candy bars) to circumvent a variety of global threats (like nuclear meltdowns) for his employer–a privately funded government intelligence agency. While the reboot didn’t survive long enough to crossover with multiple shows in the NCIS universe, it was able to connect with Hawaii Five-0 in the “Flashlight” crossover event.

4 Magnum, P.I.

The rebooted Magnum, P.I. shares characters with Hawaii Five-0

Magnum, P.I. is part of the same universe as NCIS through crossover episodes with Hawaii Five-0. The Lenkov-verse series reboot centers on ex-SEAL Thomas Magnum, who serves as a private investigator and security consultant. In the crossover episode, “Desperate Measures,” the Five-0 Task Force collaborates with Thomas Magnum in their joint investigation into a stolen list of undercover CIA agents. During their collective pursuit of the case, Junior Reigns’ kidnapping prompts Magnum and Juliet Higgins to unite with Tani Rey and Quinn Liu for a search-and-rescue mission, aiming to recover the crucial list and rescue Junior. Beyond the crossover, various supporting characters have made appearances in both shows.

3 NCIS: Hawaiʻi

NCIS: Hawai’i shares characters with NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles

ncis hawaii poster

NCIS: Hawaii

Release Date
September 20, 2021

Cast
vanessa lachey

Seasons
2

Although not introduced through a backdoor pilot, NCIS: Hawai’i features crossovers with NCIS: Los Angeles and the original series. In “T’N’T”, D.C. Agents Nick Torres and Jessica Knight collaborate with the Hawaii team to investigate an ambush resulting in a witness’s death and disappearance. In “Prisoners’ Dilemma,” Torres and Knight reunite the teams from Washington DC and NCIS: Hawaii to uncover a conspiracy to frame their boss. In the crossover episode “Deep Fake”, Jane Tennant, Jimmy Palmer, and Los Angeles agent Sam Hanna are kidnapped, revealing a dangerous computer program that threatens everyone associated with it, including the retired Navy Admiral Hollace Kilbride.

2 NCIS: Sydney

NCIS: Sydney features several Easter eggs from the original series

The cast of NCIS: Sydney looks at the camera with harbor behind them in a promotional image for the show

NCIS Sydney Temp TV Poster

NCIS: Sydney

Release Date
November 10, 2023

Cast
Olivia Swann , Todd Lasance , Sean Sagar , Tuuli Narkle , Mavournee Hazel , William McInnes

Seasons
1

NCIS: Sydney is the newest installment to the franchise, and while it has not yet featured any crossover episodes, it is set within the NCIS universe. Like its fellow NCIS TV shows, it follows a team of special agents of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service based in Sydney, Australia. The NCIS: Sydney team is led by Agent-in-Charge, Michelle Mackey, and sees the NCIS team work in tandem with the Australian Federal Police to solve criminal investigations. Although the series is extremely new, its creator, Morgan O’Neill, has assured that several Easter eggs will be in evidence as NCIS: Sydney continues. There will be plenty of opportunities for crossovers as the series matures.

1 NCIS: Origins

NCIS: Origins will feature Mark Harmon as its narrator

Mark Harmon in NCIS

NCIS: Origins will mark the sixth installment in the NCIS franchise, serving as a prequel to the flagship series. Focusing on Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ early years with NCIS at Camp Pendleton, the narrative will unfold alongside agent Mike Franks. Although Mark Harmon is not anticipated to make a physical return, he will lend his voice as the series’ narrator. Although NCIS: Origins will feature another character from the original show, it is unlikely to showcase many characters from the franchise since it will be set in the 1990s. With an emphasis on Gibbs’ formative experiences, NCIS: Origins will offer a unique exploration of the character’s early career within the broader context of the expanding NCIS franchise.

Related

NCIS: Origins – Confirmation, Cast & Everything We Know

Mark Harmon isn’t done with the NCIS franchise yet, and the seasoned actor is returning for a prequel series all about Gibbs entitled NCIS: Origins.

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