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When the first episode of NCIS Season 20 airs, the show will immediately join rare company. Only a few scripted TV shows — South Park, Law & Order and the SVU spinoff, and Gunsmoke, for example — have aired as ling, so reaching 20 years is a massive milestone for NCIS. We know the premiere date and we know the main players in the NCIS Season 20 cast, but how many episodes will we get? Let’s figure it out.

Brian Dietzen (from left), Katrina Law, Wilmer Valderrama, Sean Murray, and Gary Cole film an episode of 'NCIS' Season 19. There is nothing official from CBS yet, but the landmark 'NCIS' Season 20 could deliver 24 episodes.
Brian Dietzen (from left), Katrina Law, Wilmer Valderrama, Sean Murray, and Gary Cole film an episode of ‘NCIS’ | Robert Voets/CBS

What we know about the latest season of ‘NCIS’ 

The 20th season sees perhaps the largest shakeup in the history of the NCIS cast. Longtime star Mark Harmon left the show early in season 19, and it seemed the series’ future might be in jeopardy with his departure. But Gary Cole, who joined the cast at the beginning of the season, stepped in to lead the squad. 

Season 20 starts with Cole’s agent Alden Parker on the run after being framed for murder. A must-see double premiere with NCIS and NCIS: Hawai’i kicks off the latest seasons for both shows.

The show will surely keep the twists and turns coming, but we know a few things to expect from NCIS this year.

Katrina Law’s Jessica Knight is relatively new to the team, but she already has a budding romance with Brian Dietzen’s Jimmy Palmer. Team romances on NCIS typically build slowly (Torres-Ellie Bishop and Anthony DiNozzo-Ziva David, for example), but the producers and writing team have already expressed interest in fast-tracking the Palmer-Knight relationship.

Teri Polo appeared as agent Parker’s ex-wife Vivian Kolchak in two season 19 episodes. Vivian figures to be a much more prominent character in season 20, with her and Parker on the run after he was framed for murder.

We know the cast. We know the start date and a few things to expect. But how many episodes will we get in NCIS Season 20?

How many episodes will ‘NCIS’ Season 20 have? We could see 24 once again

CBS hasn’t confirmed the number of episodes in NCIS Season 20 a little over two weeks before the debut, but it’s a safe bet we’ll see 20 shows or more this year.

All but two seasons have included 20 more episodes, per IMDb. Season 5, which began airing in 2007, gave us 19 shows. Season 18 provided just 16 episodes, but the the early stages of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic impacted the filming schedule for that campaign.

Recent seasons (aside from 18) have landed in the low 20s, but we could see a return to 24 episodes for NCIS season 20.

Past NCIS seasons that debuted in September have aired shows weekly through October. If season 20 follows suit, that puts us at seven. November and December have historically delivered four episodes combined, which gets us to 11. January and February often combine for five shows, which puts us at 16. And we’re likely to get weekly episodes in May, with the finale coming the Monday before Memorial Day, which ups the total to 20. A bi-weekly cadence on the eight Mondays in March and April would get us to 24 episodes.

Though CBS hasn’t confirmed the number of NCIS season 20 episodes, we could see 24 or a total close to it this time around.

Will Mark Harmon return to ‘NCIS’?


‘NCIS’ Season 20: Fans Debate Gary Cole vs. Sean Murray to Replace Mark Harmon in the Credits, and it Should be Cole

Harmon and his Agent Gibbs character became synonymous with NCIS over the first 19 years, but the actor left the character behind last season. It’s unlikely Gibbs will appear in season 20, but Harmon is still involved with the show as a producer. 

Bringing back Gibbs during this campaign probably won’t happen as it would be too soon after his departure. However, both Harmon and producer Steven D. Binder left the door open for his eventual return. We probably won’t see Harmon pop up in any season 20 episodes, but his character is too integral to the show to be gone forever.

NCIS Season 20 debuts with an episode titled “A Family Matter” on Sept. 19, 2022.