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NCIS aficionados are facing some letdowns regarding the much-anticipated season 21. The beloved crime procedural is navigating through choppy waters, as external forces may significantly alter the upcoming season’s landscape.

The show’s devoted followers may have to adjust expectations, with the potential for the series to experience its briefest run yet due to industry-wide strikes.

Fans might get the shortest season yet of the hit crime procedural

The next NCIS season is poised to make history as its shortest, with an anticipated 10 to 13 episodes. This is starkly fewer than its 18th season’s 16 episodes. 

This dip is notable, considering the series usually delivers over 20 episodes per season. The scale-back affects the entire NCIS lineup, including NCIS: Hawaii and NCIS: Sydney. The latter series was unaffected by the strike, but it will still not meet the standard episode count.

Hopes for a resolution between actors and studios linger, with the optimal outcome being an agreement by early December. If that happens, studios will experience a holiday production sprint for a January premiere. 

Yet, with negotiations potentially dragging into the new year, season 21’s episode tally could face further reductions. Fans are holding out for a swift settlement, ensuring a season that reaches into the teens in episode numbers.

A look at which cast members are returning for season 21 of ‘NCIS’

Despite the bad news, excitement is still mounting for the return of NCIS in season 21. Although a specific comeback date is up in the air due to ongoing industry strikes, the network has slated the show to retain its Monday night slot. 

Meanwhile, details on the main actors who are set to return have been disclosed, along with one cast member who will be seen less frequently.

The roll call of returning stars includes Wilmer Valderrama as Nick Torres, Sean Murray as Timothy McGee, Katrina Law as Jessica Knight, and Gary Cole as Alden Parker.

They’re joined by Brian Dietzen, Diona Reasonover, and Rocky Carroll, all reprising their familiar roles.

No word yet on potential guest appearances. But given the shortened season, there will be less opportunity to see familiar faces return this season. 

In an announcement on Instagram, CBS revealed that NCIS season 21 will premiere on Monday, February 12, 2024 at 9 p.m. ET on CBS. The spinoff NCIS: Hawai’i season 3 will premiere. at 10 p.m. ET on the same night.