‘NCIS’: Everything We Know About a Season 18 Premiere Date, Plus When Will Maria Bello Make Her Exit?

The cast and crew of NCIS have finally received the go-ahead from CBS to begin production on season 18. After a sudden shutdown on season 17 back in March due to COVID-19, fans are eager for new episodes. However, a lot of details about season 18 remain up in the air. Here’s what we know so far.

NCIS Maria Bello Mark Harmon
‘NCIS’ stars Maria Bello and Mark Harmon | Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

CBS just released their fall schedule sans ‘NCIS’

As Carter Matt notes, CBS recently released their fall schedule. However, because of the pandemic, they only shared the months of September and October instead of the entire lineup through the traditional holiday break.

As fans know, NCIS has been a staple in the CBS Tuesday night lineup for years. The expectation is that the drama will return to its regular time slot. However, because the 2020 presidential election takes place on Tuesday, November 3, the earliest fans can expect the NCIS season 18 premiere is November 10.

RELATED: ‘NCIS’ EP Confirms 1 Fan-Favorite Will Pop Up in Season 18

CBS has scheduled production to begin during the second week of September. This is approximately two months later than the cast and crew would normally begin shooting. That two-month delay logically pushes the regular late September premiere date back to mid-November.

When can fans expect CBS to announce the premiere date?

The pandemic has caused all of the TV networks to be cautious when it comes to announcing premiere dates. Many shows are just now getting back to work after being shut down for months. Of course, there is still production uncertainty and no guarantee that things will run smoothly.

This is the main reason that networks are hesitant to announce premiere dates for their scripted series. They don’t want to keep changing the dates if more hurdles present themselves. CBS completely left premiere dates off their fall schedule. But, NBC did announce their plans to premiere some of their shows during the week of November 9.

RELATED: ‘NCIS’: CBS Just Gave an Update on the Season 18 Premiere and It Is Not Good News for Fans

Chances are, CBS will start announcing fall premiere dates toward the end of September. But, there is no rush, and they will definitely wait to see how production goes before making any decisions.

Maria Bello will reportedly exit ‘NCIS’ after episode 8

While fans are patiently waiting for the new season of NCIS, many are not looking forward to Maria Bello’s departure. She has played the role of Jack Sloane for three seasons. But, Carter Matt reports that she will only shoot eight episodes before her previously announced exit.

This does not mean they will be the first eight episodes to air in season 18. With so much confusion surrounding the upcoming season, nothing is confirmed. Even with the later start date, Bello could still be done shooting before the holiday break. But, her episodes will likely air into 2021.

RELATED: ‘NCIS’: Fans Will See a Softer Side of Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs in Season 18

As for the fan theory that Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and Sloane will begin a romance in season 18 and he will leave with her, Harmon has shot that down. While sparks could fly between the characters during her final eight episodes, Harmon made it clear last year that he isn’t done with NCIS just yet.