The Major Ways ‘NCIS’ Has Dropped the Ball With 2 Primary Characters

NCIS has been on the air for 17 seasons and counting; thus, many actors have come and gone throughout the years. Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette, and Cote de Pablo were all mainstays on the show for multiple seasons. Their relationships intrigued audiences and held the weekly detective-based narratives together. Yet, eventually, they left, and the showrunners replaced them. The problem: it’s not easy for replacements to live up to their predecessors. 

NCIS cast
NCIS cast | Kevin Lynch/CBS via Getty Images

While Cote de Pablo quickly found a place in viewers’ hearts after Sasha Alexander’s exit, Emily Wickersham’s Eleanor Bishop struggled a bit more to cement a unique and desirable presence. And, so did Wilmer Valderrama’s Nick Torres. Both characters possess positive attributes and, throughout the seasons, they have grown essential to the primetime procedural. However, the writers messed up with each in a few primary ways. 

Where ‘NCIS’ went wrong with Eleanor Bishop 

The writers behind NCIS started off with the right idea when they introduced Bishop — they tried to make her very different from Ziva. If Bishop’s illustration featured Ziva-esque attributes, the comparisons to the former beloved agent would have been neverending — and such would only augment the unhappiness tied to the character’s absence. 

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In Bishop’s early episodes, the writers stressed her analytical skills and her nerdy quirks. She would spread evidence out on the floor around her, and sit in the middle — pulling at pieces of information to put the puzzle together. 

While the writers should have developed this quirk into a personality trait, they abandoned such a tendency in favor of field prowess. With time, Bishop lost some of her identifying factors that made her unique, becoming just another agent who kicks butt and saves the day. While some argued that she was a bit “too quirky,” balance is always key. The utter abandonment of a unique trait, in favor of someone who “blends” more easily with the group was not enough to fill Ziva David’s shoes. 

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Where ‘NCIS’ went wrong with Nick Torres 

Nick Torres came in to replace Tony DiNozzo, yet he struggled to live up to Weatherly’s legacy. Why? He is the show’s “new handsome guy.” He’s the cool guy with a quick tongue who can be a bit arrogant at times. The show gave viewers a new Tony, instead of a new character. 

Nick Torres could have been smart and muscular. Handsome and nerdy. Instead, NCIS seems committed to keeping his character illustration quite two-dimensional and a little bit dated — aligning with old-school Hollywood tropes. 

The Torres and Bishop romance needs to go 

No one will ever forget “Tiva.” Ziva and Tony possessed a slow-boiling romance that defined NCIS for seasons on end. Their arc — the waiting game — kept pulling viewers back episode after episode. The romantic tension was palpable. Their chemistry was undeniable; it oozed from the screen. Can the same be said about Torres and Bishop? 

The show does not need a romantic plotline between two agents to be successful, and this narrative arc merely feels mimetic and uninspired. It is not original, nor is it necessary. It feels a bit forced, and it will never live up to the bond between Tony and Ziva. Why bother? Do we really wish to stress the false and unpopular opinion that male and female coworkers can’t be “just friends?”