NCIS: The Best And Worst Episodes From Every Series

The NCIS franchise has dominated network television for the past two decades. NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans, and NCIS: Hawai’i were introduced to the franchise through back-door pilots. This method allows cohesion and smooth transitions between the series. The franchise’s success led to Paramount+ commissioning NCIS’s first international spin-off, NCIS: Sydney, but that doesn’t mean every episode is beloved.

WORST: The Pilot Makes Viewers Skeptical About The Show’s Future (NCIS: Hawai’i)

NCIS: Hawai’i aired in 2021 with big shoes to fill as its predecessors remain staples of police procedural television. However, its pilot was less than promising and is arguably the worst episode of the season. The scene opens up with an explosion when a pilot and his girlfriend crash a helicopter with d***s in their system.

This case could have been more intriguing as the first of the season, but this allows Special Agent in Charge Jane Tennant to meet Captain Joseph Milius, one of the season’s main ships. The rest of the team is also introduced with a little of their backstories. While character introductions are imperative, fans were given a lot of surface-level information to unpack.

BEST: “Pirates” Gave Much Deserved Screen Time To Boone (NCIS: Hawai’i)

Some of the best episodes in the NCIS franchise are those that zoom in on a specific protagonist because they allow fans to see their favorite character in a new light. “Pirates” (Season 1, Episode 15) follows the abduction of Special Agent Jesse Boone, his daughter, and her friends by pirates.


Boone is injured early on but manages to call for help before scraping together gadgets and using his survival skills to a****k his captors on the small island. The rest of the team took an assistive role in this episode as Boone showed off his perseverance and skills to get the teens back safely. This episode had a compelling case and allowed Boone some much-deserved time in the spotlight.

WORST: “We All Fall…” Covered Too Much (NCIS: New Orleans)

NCIS: New Orleans’ final season had the worst and best episodes of the series. “We All Fall…” (Season 7, Episode 4) is one of the most emotionally packed episodes, but fans found it absurd and too rushed. The story continues in “One of Our Own” when Dwayne Pride discovers police corruption after an officer is k****d.

One of the detectives involved in the corruption, Blakely, targets Pride by sending a SWAT team to his home. With the help of Rita Devereux, Pride manages to bring Yates (Blakely’s partner) in under false pretenses. They soon discover an entire ring of police called the Spitfires, who are behind many b*******y cases. While the storyline of “We All Fall…” was strong, the episode covered too much ground.

BEST: “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler” Wraps Up The Characters’ Stories (NCIS: New Orleans)

“Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler” (Season 7, Episode 16) caps off NCIS: New Orleans and tries to tie up all loose ends. This fast-paced finale starts the day before Pride and Rita’s wedding. Pride tries to find out who a*****d his half-brother and son. It turns out to be an elaborate ploy by Pride’s ex so she can take their son into the witness protection program.


After all the action, Pride and Rita are surrounded by their loved ones at their wedding. While Pride’s family and his wedding are the episode’s highlights, Quentin Carter decides to stay in New Orleans to focus on his relationship with Hannah Khoury. This gave fans another happy ending.

WORST: “Fukushu” Lacked Depth On A Critical Issue (NCIS: Los Angeles)

“Fukushu” (Season 13, Episode 2) had its heart in the right place. Increased hate c****s against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders were at an all-time high during the pandemic. Airing in 2021, this episode tackles this crucial topic but rushes it and plays into stereotypes.

When veteran Craig Tanaka is a*****d, the team reflects on the political climate and debates whether the act is a hate c***e. While this reflection is essential, “Fukushu” lacked depth, and important characters did not contribute to the conversation.

BEST: “Hot Water” Starts A Chain Of Action-Packed Events (NCIS: Los Angeles)

Most fans despise multi-parter episodes because of the wait in between, but “Hot Water” (Season 8, Episode 13) was a strong opener for the three-part special. The agency once again faces the mole that has been evading them.


In “Hot Water,” Callen, Deeks, Granger, and Sam are framed. Additionally, Granger and Duggan are injured horribly, with Duggan in critical condition. However, Hetty and Kensi are safe from the mole during this episode and are working around the clock to clear the team’s name and uncover the traitor. The episode was suspenseful and well-thought-out.

WORST: “Gut Punch” Focuses On The Characters And Ignores The Case (NCIS)

“Gut Punch” (Season 18, Episode 11) had the elements of a great episode, but the increased focus on the characters took fans’ attention away from an interesting case. As punishment for covering up that Gibbs a*******d a k****r, Bishop, McGee, and Torres are ostracized from the agency. They are assigned security detail for a peace summit at the Secretary of Defense’s residence where they uncover evidence related to a m****r.

However, “Gut Punch” focuses on the team’s pity party during Gibbs’ suspension instead of the intriguing case. In the end, the team learns to respect the rest of the agency, but the lesson feels shallow after rushed character development.

BEST: “Keep Going” Gives Palmer The Spotlight (NCIS)

NCIS has many spectacular episodes, but “Keep Going” (Season 13, Episode 13) gave fans a more profound insight into Jimmy Palmer. Before becoming the Chief Medical Examiner and the ‘Autopsy Gremlin,’ Palmer was portrayed as a static character who was used for comic relief. However, this episode focuses on Palmer and sees him climb onto a building’s ledge with a stranger.

While many fans thought this episode was absurd, especially because of the lack of safety measures provided, this case allowed Palmer to reflect on his time with the team through flashbacks. “Keep Going” solidified Palmer’s dedication to the team and agency. Due to the events of the episode, his co-workers learn that he is already a certified doctor. However, Palmer would much rather work with them than go elsewhere. These extra details cemented “Keep Going” as NCIS’s best episode.

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