‘NCIS’: Gibbs Almost Adopted Phineas and Other Season 17 Revelations

NCIS Season 17 was full of surprises. Here are some of the most surprising behind-the-scenes revelations from the cast and producers.

Gibbs most likely killed the driver who mowed down Torres in episode 14

Mark Harmon on the set of NCIS | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images
Mark Harmon on the set of NCIS | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

Did Gibbs (Mark Harmon) kill the driver who mowed down Torres during NCIS Season 17, Episode 14 (titled “On Fire”)? The driver put Torres in the hospital and Bishop (Emily Wickersham) has a tough time dealing with this, especially since they have become so close over the years. Some moments suggest Bishop is the one who killed the driver, but at the end of the episode, it’s strongly suggested the shooter is Gibbs.

“A lot of people probably asked did Gibbs shoot the guy at the end,” says Executive Producer Steven D. Binder in an interview with CBS about NCIS Season 17. “And I’m going to take off my showrunner hat for a moment and say, that’s what they do on TV shows. If they’re not showing you what happened, you’re left to wonder. You never really know. Certainly, if you watch the show, we lead you to believe that was the case. There’s no question that’s the road we’re leading you down.”

Wickersham says it isn’t clear who the shooter is, but Gibbs is a strong possibility. “It was a little ambiguous at the end, and I think that’s how it’s meant to be for the audience,” adds Wickersham.   

Phineas and Sarah were a symbolic replacement for Ziva’s brother

Executive Producer Frank Cardea says when they brought Ziva back, they wanted to bring everything full circle to season 3. During that season, Ziva killed her brother to save Gibbs. In season 17, the producers wanted Gibbs to kill someone for Ziva, but the person he killed had to be a person with a close connection to him, similar to how Ziva sacrificed someone close to her.

The producers figured it would be tough for Gibbs to kill the mother of a young neighborhood boy he took under his wing. That would hurt more than killing a random person who was after him and Ziva. It would be easy to kill someone he had no personal connection with. This is where Phineas and Sarah came in. They were introduced so that when Gibbs killed someone for Ziva, it had meaning.

“[Ziva killed] her own brother,” Cardea tells CBS. “Gibbs had to kill someone that he had a stake in to really parallel the stories.”

Gibbs almost adopted Phineas

Mark Harmon and Jack Fisher on NCIS | Patrick McElhenney/CBS via Getty Images
Mark Harmon and Jack Fisher on NCIS | Patrick McElhenney/CBS via Getty Images

Many fans were hoping Gibbs would take Phineas in and raise him. There was even a point during the writing process when the writers considered having Phineas move in so Gibbs could take care of him. The writers reasoned Phineas could be a recurring character. However, the idea was scrapped after some discussion.

Binder says in his CBS interview they were close to keeping Phineas as a recurring character. “A lot of people probably thought Phineas was going to end up being raised by Gibbs. And there was a point in the writer’s room where Phineas was going to end up being raised by Gibbs, and that would be a recurring character. It just felt to us that we should bookmark that story and leave that behind us.”

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