NCIS Season 21 Secretly Confirms The Best Team Iteration (Yes, That One!)

Amid the tribute episode to Ducky in NCIS season 21, the police procedural is still able to secretly confirm which team iteration is really its best.

  • NCIS season 21 pays tribute to Ducky Mallard and confirms the show’s best team lineup through a secret vault discovery.
  •  Despite character departures and reshuffles, NCIS thrives and becomes CBS’ longest-running scripted series, maintaining its popularity.
  •  The ensemble featuring Gibbs, DiNozzo, McGee, Palmer, Ziva, Abby, Vance, and Ducky is suggested as NCIS ‘ best team lineup.

NCIS season 21’s Ducky Mallard tribute also secretly confirms the show’s best team iteration. Being on the air for more than two decades, the police procedural is not new to cast reshuffles. It has experienced all kinds of character departures — from permanent ones brought by a tragedy, such as the assassination of Sasha Alexander’s Caitlin Todd to more open-ended ones like Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ retirement in Alaska. When it premiered in 2003, NCIS had five original characters: Gibbs, Cait, Michael Weatherly’s Tony DiNozzo, Pauley Perrette’s Abby Sciuto, and David McCallum’s Ducky. That roster only lasted for two seasons, however.

So early on, NCIS became used to reshuffling characters, with actors departing and coming in. Despite the changes, the police procedural thrived, becoming CBS’ longest-running scripted series and one of the most watched shows on television. NCIS season 21 is the first year it doesn’t have any original character in its active roster in light of McCallum’s death, which is reflected in Ducky’s arc in the series. For context, despite both appearing in season 1, Sean Murray’s Tim McGee and Brian Dietzen’s Jimmy Palmer were subsequently introduced. All NCIS teams serve their purpose, but they aren’t created equally.

Ducky’s Secret Vault Confirms NCIS’ Best Team

Secret Revealed: Ducky’s Legacy

Despite only DiNozzo returning in the Ducky tribute episode, NCIS season 21, episode 2, “The Stories We Leave Behind,” still pays respects to the character’s history. A big part of that is the people he worked closely with during his time as its medical examiner-turned-historian. When the special was being planned out, the writers initially planned to bring back as many old characters for Ducky’s funeral, but it proved to be a logistic nightmare. Amid the nostalgia brought by the flashbacks and the grief over losing a beloved team member, NCIS

 is still able to confirm its best team lineup.

As McGee and Alden Parker are trying to crack Ducky’s final case, the smoking gun that they need is found in a secret safe behind one of the group photos that Dr. Mallard has in his office. The four photos feature various iterations of the active roster over the years. That includes the original cast with Cait, and the latest one led with Parker. The vault, however, is behind one that features Gibbs, DiNozzo, McGee, Palmer, Ziva David, Abby, Leon Vance, and Ducky, effectively suggesting that they are NCIS’ best ensemble.

Why Harmon’s Longest NCIS Team Is Its Best

Why This Team Endured

After Cait’s death, Cote de Pablo was brought in as a new member of the team, a Mossad agent, Ziva. A couple of seasons later, NCIS got a new director, replacing Lauren Holly’s Jenny Shepard with Rocky Carroll’s Vance.

This allowed the police procedural to really develop not just their team dynamic, but also their individual storylines.

Things settled for the show by then and the ensemble became NCIS longest-running active roster. This allowed the police procedural to really develop not just their team dynamic, but also their individual storylines. The stretch also features some of its best storytelling. It had romance and personal histories incorporated into its weekly cases, which made it better than its competition.


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