NCIS is up there with some of the longest running TV shows in history, having been on our screens for 14 years and counting.

Image SourceWe’ve been hooked by the team of NCIS special agents and their investigations for 14 seasons, but even the biggest hardcore fans have been missing out on some surprising facts about the show for all these years.

Well, prepare to be amazed by this rare look behind the scenes of one of American’s most famous TV shows.

It’s Actually Filmed In Santa Clarita, CA

Whilst we all know the series is set in Washington D.C., the majority of the filming takes place in Santa Clarita. The Washington Navy Yard is set far away from the famous landmarks and buildings in D.C., but producers and set designers put them a lot nearer to the team’s window to give a more accurate view.

Donald Bellisario Was A Real Life Marine

Bellisario, the creator of the show, served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Gunnery Sergeant – this helps out in the series as all the Marine Corps inside knowledge and methodology comes from someone’s real life experience.

Bellisario Is On The Most Wanted Wall

On the NCIS ‘Most Wanted’ wall, creator Donald Bellisario was actually featured as one of the targets the team were after!

Pauley Perrette Had A Degree In Forensics

The actress, who plays Abby in the show, graduated with a degree in Forensics before she went into acting. When she moved to New York to achieve her masters, she got into acting and landed this role on NCIS. It’s thought that Pauley brings her own sense of humour and personality to the role of Abby.

Michael Weatherly’s Father Cut Him Off From His Inheritance When He Was Just 12-Years Old

When Michael decided to pursue acting at a young age, his father cut him off from his inheritance. Thankfully, the actor managed to have a successful career, landing the role of Anthony ‘Tony’ DiNizzo in NCIS.

What Is That Dramatic Noise Heard After Each Act?

The show creator, Donald P. Bellisario, made the noise that distinguishes the beginning and end of each act using a microphone.

Mark Harmon Wears T-Shirts Made For Him By His Fans

Harmon, who plays Leroy Jethro Gibbs, is known to still wear t-shirts that were sent to him by fans over the years. He’s said to lounge around the house in authentic vintage Marine Cops and NCIS t-shirts.

He Also Uses His Own Tools Within The Show

Harmon has his own personal workshop at home away from the show, and actually uses these hand tools for filming on NCIS.

Harmon’s Son Appears In The Show

We bet you didn’t know that when it’s a flashback scene of a younger Gibbs, it’s actually Harmon’s own son Sean who plays the part!

A Meaningful Locket

In an episode titled ‘Enemy of the Hill’ Abby is seen with a locket with a picture of her adoptive mother inside. This is actually Pauley Perette’s real life mother, Donna Bell.

Harmon Was Valued As A Huge Part Of The Show

When it was rumoured that Mark Harmon was going to leave the show, his fellow co-stars were sad to hear the news. Michael Weatherly said, ‘He’s the spine of the show. Without him it’s a show about jellyfish. We need our spine.’

The Presidio

During the opening credits of the first two seasons of NCIS, an aircraft carrier is seen going under the Golden Gate Bridge. This is actually a clip from the 1988 movie The Presidio which Mark Harmon himself starred in.

Leroy Jethro


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The name for the character of Leroy Jethro was actually inspired by Bellisario’s family – his brother’s name is Leroy and his father’s middle name is Jethro.

Ziva’s Exit Completely Changed The Season 11 Premiere


NCIS Showrunner Gary Glasberg stated “My intention was to pick up where we left off and tell the story of Gibbs and where we left him, with the sniper rifle, and set up some of the Parsa/terrorist storyline that is going to follow through this season.” Once it became clear that the actress and show would be parting ways, Glasberg says, “I realized very quickly that we couldn’t [write Ziva out] in one episode — there was no way — and do it properly, and that’s why it turned into a two-parter. And that’s why the significant second half of the [Season 11 premiere] became about her.”


‘It’s Mark Harmon’s Birthday’

Back in 2005, cast members Lauren Holly and Michael Weatherly bought 150 t-shirts saying ‘it’s Mark Harmon’s birthday’ on for the whole crew to wear on the star’s birthday. They also covered his trailer in crepe paper with balloons and a piñata.

Lauren Holly Auditioned For A Different Role

We all know Lauren Holly as Jenny Shepard in NCIS, but she originally auctioned for the role of special agent Kate. The producers saw her as a much better fit for Jenny, and we totally agree. 

The Harmon Moustache

Harmon took some time off between seasons three and four, with producers demanding him to stop shaving in this time – that’s when the standout Harmon moustache was born.

The ‘Deep Six’ Novel

McGee’s novel ‘Deep Six’ is actually a real life novel written by Clive Cussler. 

Michael Weatherly Was Engaged To Jessica Alba At One Point

Weatherly once stated ‘I’ve got a better chance of hooking up with Jessica Alba than these guys do of infiltrating SeaLift’ but ironically he was engaged to her for a while after starring opposite her in The Dark Angel. 

 Bert ‘The Farting’ Hippo

Pauley Perrette admitted that Bert ‘the farting’ hippo has to be locked after each day of filming as cast members or interns would often try to steal it!

Sasha Alexander Couldn’t Take The Pressure Of Being In NCIS

Alexander pulled out of working on NCIS after she couldn’t take the high amount of stamina and hard work needed for the show. The actress had never starred in a hit show before so wasn’t used to working long hours everyday, year after year.

The Rizzoli & Isles star has no regrets. As she told TV Guide in 2012, “People don’t realize that on a network show, you make 24 episodes a year—that’s 10½ months a year, 17 hours a day. It’s hard core. Plus, people really loved the character, and the way they did it was really shocking…it was a bullet to the head, you know?”

She continued, “I really firmly believe in my heart that I would not be where I am today—happily married, with two kids, doing things creatively that I want—if I had stayed… But people don’t understand.”

Jennifer Aniston Almost Joined NCIS After Friends

Miss Aniston asked producers if she could play the part of Kate, if they could wait for her to finish filming Friends. They couldn’t take her on board as they had to stick to a tight schedule.

No One Knew Cote De Pablo Was Leaving

When Cote de Pablo decided to call time on her character literally days before the premiere of season 11, it turned out it wasn’t just a shock to fans but also her co-stars alike.

Co-star Pauley Perrette revealed to E! News, “It was huge news to us. I found out literally 20 minutes before it was released in the press. But we love her. She’s our friend. She had a personal decision to make. No one wanted her to leave. There was no drama…there really isn’t much to tell.”

However other stars were less impressed with the stars decision,

David McCallum didn’t mince his words about de Pablo’s sudden departure. “It was frustration and anger that someone should just walk out on us,” he told Digital Spy in 2014. “I just don’t understand how a leading lady in a show that’s worldwide, who ostensibly wants to have a career as an actress, suddenly walks away from such a gem and just vanishes a couple of days before we start production.”

De Pablo Opened Up About Calling Time on Ziva

It took until 2016 for Cote to open fully about her reasons for leaving the hugely successful show at a time she was one of it’s biggest stars.

“Unfortunately, because of political things and the scripts not being good enough, I chose not to continue,” she said. “I love this character. I worked eight years in crafting this character and loving her, so when I felt or I perceived the character was not being treated with the respect that she deserved, all the money in the world couldn’t make me stay.” According to E! News, the actress was definitely offered the big bucks to stick around, but her mind was made up.

Since leaving the show Cote has chopped off her hair and now sports a striking bob, totally the opposite of what her character Ziva had.

Perrette Suffered A Terrifying Attack

In 2015 Perrette was the victim of an unprovoked attack from a homeless mane. Perrette wrote that she was walking down her street in Hollywood when she was “jumped by a VERY psychotic homeless man.” The man, whom Perrette says was apprehended shortly after the assault, grabbed her, pinned her arm, and repeatedly punched her in the face while saying he was going to kill her.

After drawing a sketch of her assailant, they tracked down the man at a 7-Eleven in Hollywood. He was reportedly taken into custody and arrested on felony battery charges.

“I almost died tonight,” she tweeted. “We need full mental health care. We need housing and help for the homeless. We need to support our cops. We need to not walk alone.”


The original name for the show was Navy NCIS but it was soon changed as the ‘N’ stood for Naval anyway. 

A Local LEO

We constantly hear the NCIS squad talking about ‘local LEOS’ – this actually stands for a Law Enforcement Officer