‘NCIS’: Relationships Don’t Last Long on the Show, But Why?

If you’re an NCIS fan, you’ve likely noticed relationships on the show tend to end in disaster. No one seems to stay together. Either someone dies or a horrible situation causes the partners to separate. What’s going on with these couples? Here’s Showbiz Cheat Sheet’s take on why relationships don’t last long on NCIS.

Pauley Perrette once said ‘NCIS’ relationships usually fall apart

Jamie Bamber and Emily Wickersham as Jake and Bishop | Patrick McElhenney/CBS via Getty Images
Jamie Bamber and Emily Wickersham as Jake and Bishop | Patrick McElhenney/CBS via Getty Images

As of this writing, Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) seems to be the only character who is in a happy, stable relationship. As Pauley Perrette once pointed out during an interview with CBS about NCIS Season 13, there is rarely a relationship on the show that lasts long. At some point, the significant other is killed, or the couple breaks up. Here’s what Perrette said:

[There are] relationship problems with the characters of NCIS. No one can ever get it right. DiNozzo, that’s just been a disaster all the time. Abby has just been all over the place with her relationships. Vance, of course, had the most wonderful relationship, so [the writers] killed his wife. You just can’t [have a happy relationship] on NCIS. And Gibbs is the guy who has failed at every relationship he has ever been in. And then we have Ellie and Jake come in. And we think, ‘Oh, great, a happy, young married couple.’ And things were not as they appeared.

Bishop and Jake never had a chance

Emily Wickersham on NCIS |  Eddy Chen/CBS via Getty Images
Emily Wickersham on NCIS | Eddy Chen/CBS via Getty Images

Fans were shocked after Bishop (Emily Wickersham) and Jake (Jamie Bamber) decided to call it quits. The couple went their separate ways once it was revealed Jake had been cheating on Bishop. Although fans were surprised, the NCIS producers had been planning to break them up all along.

Late NCIS executive producer Gary Glasberg told CBS he had been considering the idea of splitting up Bishop and Jake for some time. Glasberg said it can be difficult for agents to remain in a healthy relationship in this line of work, so he wanted to demonstrate this reality on the show. “In the real world of federal agents, divorce happens all the time,” said Glasberg. “It’s a very stressful situation; careers go in different directions.”

Director Vance almost had a shot at love in ‘NCIS’ Season 16

Rocky Carroll and Dionne Gipson on the set of NCIS | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images
Rocky Carroll and Dionne Gipson on the set of NCIS | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

Rocky Carroll’s character, Director Leon Vance, almost had a happy relationship, but it quickly ended after he discovered his love (Mallory Madden) was spying on him. NCIS Executive Producer Chas. Floyd Johnson told CBS he was happy when Vance first got into the relationship. “I was happy to finally maybe see him get a relationship,” said Johnson. “He had a wonderful relationship with his wife and his kids and that ended so disastrously. So, we were hoping for something happier with him.”

This might be why ‘NCIS’ relationships don’t last long

Do Bishop and Torres have a chance at love? |  Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images
Do Bishop and Torres have a chance at love? | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

Carroll told CBS he likes that his love interest on the show had another layer to her. He says it keeps things interesting for the audience. This might be why the producers tend to kill off love interests or break up couples. They might reason a dead spouse or broken relationship makes for good TV. It’s possible they think this is more exciting than a stable relationship with no drama.

Carroll says this pattern will usually leave the audience wondering about what comes next. It adds a bit of mystery to the storyline. “What I like about it from an audience point of view is, even if there’s another person that comes along, or becomes a love interest for Vance, the audiences are first going to wonder, ‘Is there more to her than meets the eye?’” said Carroll. “And I think that’s a great thing to do. Because even if it’s somebody who happens to be a really nice lady and works at a department store, there’s always going to be this element of, ‘What else is there?’ And I think that’s kind of what we wanted to create.”

Read more: ‘NCIS’: Lauren Holly and Cote de Pablo Talk About Their First Days on the Set

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