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6 Dead NCIS Characters Who Can Only Return In NCIS: Origins


  • NCIS: Origins brings long-gone characters back to life, focusing on Gibbs before he leads the MCRT.
  • Look out for appearances by familiar faces like Ducky and Shannon Gibbs, adding depth to the narrative.
  • The series delves into Gibbs’ past relationships, mentors, and pivotal moments shaping his path to NCIS.

Thanks to NCIS: Origins, characters killed in the perilous conditions braved by NCIS agents and their families can now reemerge. A new spinoff from NCIS will rewind the clock, traveling back in time in the shared NCIS universe. NCIS: Origins will hone in on the backstory of the quintessential original MCRT character, Leroy Jethro Gibbs. It will focus on the period after his stay in the military and before he becomes the Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Major Case Response Team.

It’s redemptive that the new series is in a rare position to give the deceased characters new life experiences. It will also feature characters like NCIS Special Agent Vera Strickland, who has been introduced to the NCIS series before and could still return to the present. The NCIS franchise has perpetuated hundreds of harrowing deaths throughout its 21 seasons, including ones bitterly influential to Jethro Gibbs. The NCIS: Origins spinoff will occur in 1991, over a decade before the original NCIS series kicked off (when most of the deceased NCIS characters are living).


15 Essential Gibbs Episodes To Watch While Waiting For NCIS: Origins

Here’s 15 essential NCIS episodes for Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs to watch while waiting for the NCIS: Origins spinoff starring Austin Stowell.

6 Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard

David McCallum & Adam Campbell

One of the most promising character returns is that of Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard, a retired doctor and the former official Medical Examiner for the team. David McCallum was one of the show’s original cast members, included in season 1, episode 1, of NCIS and the two-part special on the ’90s legal procedural series JAG, which served as a backdoor pilot for the series. Ducky was with the show from 2003 until Ducky actor David McCallum died at 90. Before his death, McCallum was the longest-standing NCIS cast member.

Adam Campbell portrayed Young Donald Mallard in
season 12, episode 13, “So It Goes” in 2014, season 13, episode 11, “Spinning Wheel” in 2015, season 14, episode 10, “The Tie That Bonds” in 2016, and season 18, episode 2, “Everything Starts Somewhere.”

Ducky may return for NCIS: Origins, and it is likely. The franchise has already established a younger version of McCallum’s character to appear alongside Gibbs in flashbacks. In the original NCIS series, Ducky and Gibbs work together in the present day, but it’s revealed that they were friends in their younger days as the series progresses. Additionally, Ducky knows how much Gibbs likes Shannon. The revival of young Ducky could finally explain the weird inconsistency.

5 Special Agent Caitlin “Kate” Todd

Sasha Alexander

Another character who can appear in NCIS: Origins but is limited to the past is Sasha Alexander’s NCIS Special Agent Caitlin “Kate” Todd. Kate is introduced to the series in season 1, episode 1 when she collides with Gibbs and his team while working with the Secret Service as a presidential protection detail aboard Air Force One. The original series starts with Gibbs offering Kate a spot on his team. At the end of “Yankee White,” she became a critical team member. Ultimately, Kate Todd dies in NCIS season 2, experiencing a shocking murder.

While many fans would have loved to see her return to the franchise by now, it’s virtually impossible to feature Sasha Alexander, considering her character died. What’s more, her gruesome death was portrayed on the small screen, making it complicated for writers to reverse it. That said, Sasha Alexander can return to NCIS for the first time in 19 years now that the franchise is rewinding the clock. Kate’s timeline makes her an adult in the early 1990s when Gibbs is stationed at Camp Pendleton, and the two could have a brief encounter while he’s outside the office.

4 Jennifer “Jenny” Shepard

Lauren Holly

Jennifer Shepard is a former NCIS Special Agent who becomes NCIS Director at the top of season 3. While this is Holly’s introduction to NCIS, her character’s backstory with Gibbs extends far beyond that. Jenny joined NCIS in 1999 as an NCIS Special Agent, working alongside Mark Harmon’s Jethro Gibbs. As a rookie NCIS agent, Shepard Jennifer makes a fatal mistake on a covert mission in Paris to assassinate the Russian Arms dealer Anatoly Zhukov and his fiancée, Svetlana Chernitskaya. Jenny could not kill Svetlana, letting her go, and it cost Jenny her life in NCIS season 5.

While Jenny’s path doesn’t overlap with Gibbs until the late 1990s, they have a history not portrayed before the show. Jenny Shepard has massive potential to appear in Origins if the series stays on air long enough. If the new series makes it several seasons or moves through time quickly, passing Jenny’s NCIS timeline, then the character will undoubtedly appear. While working in Paris with Gibbs, Jenny became his lover, and they remained in a relationship on assignments throughout Europe. While their relationship eventually ends, seeing it begin in Origins would be amazing.

3 Jackson Gibbs

Ralph Waite & Robert Taylor

NCIS: Origins will see the return of Gibbs’ father, Jackson Gibbs, portrayed by Ralph Waite in the original NCIS series. Jackson first appeared in season 6, episode 4, “Heartland,” which is one of the best episodes of NCIS. While Leroy and Jackson Gibbs originally got in a fight when Gibbs enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, the younger’s wife encouraged them to stay in touch. The elder Gibbs adored his granddaughter and daughter-in-law, and he was heartbroken when they died. He attended their funeral, but Jethro Gibbs fought with his father for bringing a date.

Ralph Waite portrayed Jackson Gibbs in
season 6, episode 4, “Heartland” and season 6, episode 11, “Silent Night” in 2008, season 7, episode 10, “Faith” in 2009 and episode 24, “Rule Fifty-One” in 2010, season 8, episode 1, “Spider and the Fly” in 2010, season 9, episode 14, “Life Before His Eyes” in 2012, season 10, episode 5, “The Namesake” in 2012, and season 11, episode 7, “Better Angels” in 2013.

Jackson Gibbs’ status in NCIS: Origins has been confirmed, and the announcement that Gibbs’ father will be included in the prequel has fascinating implications. Shannon and Kelly’s funeral is the last place Leroy Jethro Gibbs sees his father. They had been estranged for 15 years when Waite appeared in “Heartland.” Incorporating Jackson into the Origins narrative (unless the franchise diverges from its timeline) would signify that the funeral will be revisited, if not further back. Kelly and Shannon are murdered at the beginning of 1991.

In the original series, Jackson Gibbs dies of a stroke. The character’s death corresponded with the actor Ralph Waite, who died of natural causes in 2014. If the new Jackson Gibbs actor, Robert Taylor, has a recurring role in the series, then it’s likely that there will be inconsistencies in the NCIS timeline. It would mean the character will interact with his son after his wife’s funeral, which contrasts with the original NCIS narrative. Another option for incorporating Jackson into the narrative is that the story’s exposition will go back further than just Gibb’s time at Camp Pendleton.

2 Former Director Michael “Mike” Franks

Muse Watson & Kyle Schmid

Muse Watson’s Michael “Mike” Franks had a recurring role in the original series, but he originated in Gibbs’ past. Franks and Gibbs meet due to Frank’s involvement in the investigation into the murders of Shannon and Kelly. After forming a relationship due to the investigation, Gibbs is honorably discharged from the military with the rank of Gunnery Sergeant and joins Franks as NIS (later restructured to NCIS). Franks is thereby one of Gibb’s most influential mentors and one of his greatest allies. Kyle Schmid will play NCIS: Origins’ Mike Franks at a pivotal time in their relationship.

Muse Watson appeared in 20 episodes of
, and the actor said he would have liked to see his character live on in the original series.

While Franks technically dies in NCIS season 8, he appears as a visualization Gibbs has throughout seasons 8 to 15 when the Special Agent in Charge needs a sounding board. Franks will take a different form yet again in the expansion series: his younger self. NCIS: Origins Kyle Schmid described in an interview how the series will focus on Franks at a time when he is getting to form his team at NIS. Schmid echoes that his character will be elemental to the development of young Gibbs. Schmid’s role in Origins marks the first time Gibbs isn’t the boss.

1 Shannon Gibbs

Darby Stanchfield & Aviva Farber

As for Shannon Gibbs, she can reappear depending on how far back NCIS: Origins explores in its exposition. Kelly and Shannon died in a car crash at the beginning of 1991, Origins’ exposition year. Shannon will appear in the new spinoff if the series opts to revisit the traumatic moment to set the scene for Origins. It would be a bittersweet incarnation of the character; she would be brought back to die again. That said, Shannon’s death is an integral thread in the tapestry of Gibbs’ character. The deaths would be an impactful opening for Austin Stowell as young Gibbs.

Gibbs has been married four times; one marriage ended in murder, and the other three ended in divorce.

Darby Stanchfield first appears as Shannon in the final two episodes of season 3. It’s a harrowing episode for Gibbs, as he is experiencing memory loss after surviving an explosion. Aviva Farber appears as a younger Shannon, who appears in flashbacks in one NCIS season 6 and 7 episode, respectively. In the former, Shannon is working in a dress shop in Stillwater, Pennsylvania, when she spots the Marine-to-be for the first time, and the two hit it off. Bringing Shannon back in Origins would mean exposing audiences to a traumatic portion of Gibbs’ backstory.

Now that Gibbs’ father has been cast in NCIS: Origins, Shannon’s appearance is more likely. Introducing Jackson Gibbs into the series signals that Origins will cover at least as far back in 1991 as Shannon’s funeral. That’s the last time that the father and son saw each other. If they cast Gibbs’ father as more than just a one-off appearance, maybe the series plans to go back far enough to feature Shannon. It would be a touching tribute to her to extend her character beyond her death. But Shannon’s appearance would have a sad expiration date.

NCIS Origins Temp Logo Poster

NCIS: Origins

Set before the original entry in the long-running procedural crime-drama franchise, NCIS: Origins takes place in the 1990s and follows a younger Leroy Gibbs at the beginning of his career. The series will focus more on Gibbs’ journey to becoming the star investigator he became in the original series and his relationships with past partners and colleagues.

Mark Harmon


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