‘NCIS:’ The Failed Spinoff That Gave Us ‘NCIS: New Orleans’

Whether or not you love or hate the show, you can’t deny that NCIS is popular. Millions of people tune into the CBS drama every week. Star and producer Mark Harmon is a multimillionaire thanks to the show. Plus, there are rumors of an NCIS-JAG crossover, which would pair the current hit with the former show that spawned it. NCIS produced two hit spinoff shows, but one planned sibling show failed so badly that CBS executives killed it before it ever officially aired.

These are the successful NCIS spinoffs

NCIS: Los Angeles is a winning spinoff. | NCIS: Los Angeles via Instagram

As we mentioned, NCIS is a smashing success. Part of the success comes from staying true to real life while mixing in the right amount of drama. The steadying hand of creator and veteran producer Donald Bellisario helped, too. That success translated to the spinoff shows NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. The Los Angeles iteration started its 10th season in 2018-19, which is longer than many TV shows last.

Just as JAG gave us NCIS, and then NCIS gave us NCIS: Los Angeles, the mother show brought us yet another version. NCIS: New Orleans started its run in 2014.

This spinoff was a complete failure

The JAG and NCIS lineage of shows have been incredibly successful, but there was one complete failure along the way.

In much the same way the NCIS: Los Angeles team got its start on the NCIS mother show, producers hoped to jumpstart another version of the show by debuting it on the L.A. set. The episodes “Red: Part One” and “Red: Part Two” during the fourth season of NCIS: Los Angeles in 2013 debuted a mobile anti-terrorist unit dubbed the Red Team.

NCIS: Red starred John Corbett, Kim Raver, Scott Grimes, Edwin Hodge, and Gillian Alexy. Or, at least it would have if it got picked up. Network executives killed off the idea after those two episodes.

Instead, a two-part run on the main show in 2014 introduced the cast of NCIS: New Orleans. The newest iteration started its fifth season in 2018, although it might not last much longer thanks to some of the behind the scenes drama taking place.

Why NCIS: Red didn’t get the green light

John Corbett, Chris O'Donnell filming NCIS: Los Angeles
Maintaining integrity was important for network executives. | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

The inner workings of the entertainment world may seem like a well-oiled machine, but no one really knows which TV shows will be hits and which will be flops. Take Fox’s The Masked Singer, for instance.

Dressing up celebrities in head-to-toe costumes and having them compete in a singing competition sounds like a terrible idea on paper. However, the formula makes the show incredibly popular, and the network didn’t hesitate in placing an order for Season 2.

Given the success of the franchise, NCIS: Red could have worked, but CBS wasn’t ready to take a chance. Nina Tassler, the CBS entertainment president at the time, said protecting the integrity of the franchise was more important than pumping out more product, according to Digital Spy.

What are the NCIS: Red actors up to now?

Network executives held up the stop sign for NCIS: Red, but that didn’t prevent the stars of the show from moving on to new projects.

  • John Corbett: He reprised a previous role for 2016’s My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, but Corbett’s acting output is somewhat spotty since the NCIS: Red years. He starred alongside Dennis Leary in the TV show Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. The role probably wasn’t much of a stretch considering he’s a successful musician.
  • Kim Raver: TV viewers might have seen Raver on 24: Live Another Day, Grey’s Anatomy, or Designated Survivor in the years since CBS canned NCIS: Red.
  • Scott Grimes: He voices Steve on American Dad! and stars on the Star Trek parody The Orville.
  • Edwin Hodge: His name might not jump out at you, but he stayed busy after NCIS: Red failed to take off. He had a recurring guest role on Chicago Fire, appeared in three The Purge movies, and starred in Bumblebee, the 2018 Transformers movie reboot.
  • Gillian Alexy: She had guest roles on TV shows The Americans, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Royal Pains, and she starred in The Outsiders.

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