Having romance in a TV show is a bit of a dangerous game sometimes, especially when the hints of a romance are dropped before a story arch is fleshed out. On a show like NCIS, it’s a little more difficult to have any romantic situations considering the nature of the show: It’s a procedural series that spotlights characters working together to solve murders and crimes.
The lead star of NCIS is Mark Harmon, who plays Agent Gibbs. This character has not been romantically linked with anyone. His backstory is that he lost his wife and daughter years ago. After 17 seasons, some fans want to see Gibbs in a relationship. But, according to one cast member, it’s probably best to keep Gibbs’ “lone wolf” status because it could turn NCIS into a prime-time soap opera.
Are romantic plots too soapy for prime-time TV like ‘NCIS’?
It’s always a tricky balance to bring in romantic storylines to any drama without it feeling like it’s being forced for the sake of maintaining viewers. If a show wants to attract a certain demographic, placing romance in the show is inevitable, even though there are different ways to handle that.
Many prefer hints of romance rather than going all out and having characters hooking up left and right. Even if it may seem like an old trope, building romantic tension truly works.
NCIS has gone this route already back in the days when Ziva David (Cote de Pablo) and Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) were working cases together. As we all know, their sexual tension was electric during the years they were paired up on the how.
Six years have passed since they separated, though, leaving the show with a big chasm on providing any romantic tinglings. Only a potential romance between Nicholas Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) and Ellie Bishop (Emily Wickersham) over the last two years brought some intrigue, but not quite the same fireworks as Ziva and Tony.
Since then, there’s been a lot of rumors about whether Agent Gibbs should start dating again and perhaps remarry. Valderrama wants that idea to be quashed as soon as possible.
Are there better ways to explore relationships on a show like ‘NCIS’?
In a recent interview for Parade Magazine, Valderrama said he hopes the potential romance between his character and Bishop doesn’t progress too fast. He echoed the same sentiment about Agent Gibbs staying a lone wolf rather than plunging into a relationship.
From Valderrama’s perspective, having romantic plots would make the show turn into a soap opera rather than one exploring real relationships. In the case of Torres and Bishop, there are already some complications involved. Bishop has gone through a divorce and her former boyfriend was killed, so the character has trepidation going into anything new.
Valderrama said Torres is also reluctant about crossing a line considering Bishop is his working partner as a special agent. These dynamics are obviously more interesting and can also help stretch more romantic tension for another couple of years should the show go on longer.
Will Mark Harmon’s Agent Gibbs have a love interest?
Continually drawing out Gibbs as being in perpetual mourning and closing off all further romances isn’t necessarily doing the character a favor. There’s a valid case to be made that the creative team of the show needs to make sure all romances have logical trajectories rather than just forced upon the viewer for sake of interest.
Hints of romance are frequently far more intoxicating anyway because they always allow the viewer to use their imaginations. For some, that might sound impossible to tolerate in a time when cable TV makes things more graphic. On mainstream TV, it can keep a show from being ruined simply because it’s trying to keep up with cable.
For now, fans will just have to wait and see if anything happens between Gibbs and Jacqueline Sloane (Maria Bello). When Harmon was asked about his character getting a romantic arch, he was on board.
He told ET: “I’m cool with whatever they want to do…She’s been really fun to…bat it back and forth with. And she’s brought something to this show that we haven’t had before, which has been invigorating to all of us. Where it goes from here, I don’t know, but I’m game to play whatever they give us.”