‘NCIS’: The Unusual Way Gibbs Chooses Agents

Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) is serious about forming the right team. He only chooses the best and won’t settle for less. Here’s what was once revealed about how Gibbs chooses NCIS agents.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs on ‘NCIS’

Mark Harmon with the NCIS cast | Cory Osborne/CBS via Getty Images
Mark Harmon with the NCIS cast | Cory Osborne/CBS via Getty Images

Gibbs works closely with agents Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama), Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham), and Timothy McGee (Sean Murray). He’s known for being a no-nonsense leader who doesn’t rest until the job is done. Although Gibbs has a tough exterior, recent episodes have hinted at a softer side that’s slowly starting to come out.

Season 18 will likely give audiences a peek into this other side of him. During the season 17 finale, Gibbs seems out of character when he confides in McGee and tells him about some of his experiences after serving in Kuwait.

Gibbs is more than the boss on ‘NCIS’

NCIS isn’t just about solving crimes. There’s a deeper theme behind the show, according to Executive Producer Mark Horowitz. If NCIS isn’t about catching bad guys, then what is it really about? Horowitz told CBS the series is really about a group of kids trying to impress their father. In this case, the “kids” are the NCIS agents (McGee, Torres, and Bishop) and “dad” is Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

“I always say this show is really about the kids trying to please dad,” said Horowitz in a special CBS interview. “That’s what the show actually is about. It’s not about investigating something. It’s really about, there’s dad, there’s the kids, they want to make him proud, and they’ll do whatever they possibly can to please him.”  

How Gibbs chooses agents

Mark Harmon, Emily Wickersham, and Wilmer Valderrama on NCIS| Patrick McElhenney/CBS via Getty Images
Mark Harmon, Emily Wickersham, and Wilmer Valderrama on NCIS| Patrick McElhenney/CBS via Getty Images

NCIS cases require a specific set of skills, so it’s important to hire the best agents. That’s why Gibbs is very careful about who he allows to join the team. During NCIS Season 14, Episode 1, we get a glimpse into Gibbs’ hiring process. He asks Quinn (Jennifer Esposito) to help him hire a new agent, but he rejects just about everyone she suggests.

Toward the end of the episode, she finally realizes what Gibbs is looking for. Quinn tells Bishop that Gibbs is very careful about who he chooses for his team. “Gibbs is very particular,” says Quinn. “He chooses his team with care. He doesn’t just take an agent on face value. There needs to be something else, something more that he sees in that person.” Quinn says Gibbs always makes the right call.

Toward the end of the episode, Quinn tells Gibbs she finally understands what he looks for in an agent. He seeks someone who needs the team. “Once I figured out what you were after, I got it,” she said. “This time, it wasn’t about finding an agent that your team needed. It was about finding an agent that needed your team.”

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