NCIS is an American procedural series that first came out way back in 2003, and is one of the longest-running TV shows currently on television. Being so long on TV and gaining so much popularity over the last two decades, it is not surprising that NCIS produced many seasons, storylines, characters, and spin-offs, which we will list in this article and discuss in which order is the best to watch this notable crime series.
The premise of the show is simple – the show is set in Washington DC where a fictional team of Special Agents of the Major Case Response Team from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, are investigating murders and crimes of naval soldiers and their families. The NCIS team is led by Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who with his leadership and experience from being in a United States army, helps solve cases.
If you are interested in this topic stay with us until the end of the article!
How Many NCIS Shows Are Out There?
NCIS has been on television since 2003, and it produced a lot of seasons and spin-offs. There are currently four NCIS shows existing, with one in development. Besides the original show in 2003, the first spin-off was NCIS: Los Angeles, which premiered on CBS in 2009 – it currently has 13 seasons with a new one on the way.
The characters of the Los Angeles branch of NCIS were introduced in the two-part episode in season six of the original series while NCIS: New Orleans was introduced in another two-part episode in the eleventh season.
With the 19th season of NCIS, another spin-off was released, NCIS: Hawai’i in 2021. There is four NCIS show currently airing on television.
NCIS Series in Order (At Glance)
The original NCIS is actually a spin-off as well – the concept of NCIS was introduced on another CBS show airing at the time, JAG. In season eight, episodes 20 and 21, eventually, NCIS’s leading characters were introduced in the JAG show, and after that officially premiered in 2003.
All NCIS shows are happening in the same universe, and CBS showed a lot of flexibility around crossovers with other shows, like Scorpion and Hawaii Five-0. For the sake of this article not being too long, we will provide you with the information on which seasons of certain shows are overlapping and explain the timeline of the shows.
This is the list of NCIS series at glance:
- NCIS – Seasons 1 to 6 (2003 – 2009)
- NCIS: Los Angeles – Seasons 1 to 5 (2009 – 2014)
- NCIS – Seasons 7 to 11 (2009 – 2014)
- NCIS: New Orleans – Season 1 (2014 – 2015)
- NCIS: Los Angeles – Season 6 (2014 – 2015)
- NCIS – Seasons 12 to 18 (2014 – 2021)
- NCIS: Los Angeles – Seasons 7 to 12 (2015 – 2021)
- NCIS: New Orleans – Seasons 2 to 7 (2015 – 2021)
- NCIS – Season 19 (2021 – 2022)
- NCIS: Los Angeles – Season 13 (2021 – 2022)
- NCIS: Hawai’i – Season 1 (2021 – 2022)
This is the chronological order of the NCIS series seasons. If the specific episode is overlapping with other shows’ episodes, we will definitely mention it.
What Is the Best Way To Watch NCIS Series?
Even though the NCIS series produced four different shows today, for better immersion, we recommend for you watch the shows chronologically. You can notice from the list that some episodes are overlapping, whether it was from introducing new spin-off shows, or the storyline of a certain show leading them to their colleagues in another city.
That is why we recommend for you watch the show chronologically – each show has its own thing going on, but when a crossover happens, NCIS fully shines.
NCIS Series TV Shows in Order (Chronological Order)
1. NCIS – Seasons 1 to 6 (2003 – 2009)
The NCIS show starts with Leroy Jethro Gibbs, a Supervisor Special Agent of NCIS, Anthony DiNozzo, and probationary agent Timothy McGee, with the help of Caitlin Todd, who was assigned to the President of the United States Protection Detail, are investigating a murder on the Presidential plane. Navy Commander was murdered during the dinner with President, and the NCIS team needs to find out the killer before the plane lands.
Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard is a seasoned pathologist who entertains his coworkers with fun facts and an interesting style of work – he is a living encyclopedia. The first season shows the team dealing with a professional killer, who infiltrates the NCIS morgue to acquire a body of a dead terrorist, and takes Ducky, Kate, and Gerald hostage.
After an intense hostage situation, Gibbs is injured and Kate is disappointed for not being able to kill a terrorist. We find out his name is Ari Haswari.
Ari does the deed once again and all of his goals are revealed – he works for Al-Queda and wants to attack the U.S. Gibbs injures Ari to send the enemies the message.
The second season follows the team after the Ari situation and tries to figure out what to do and how to stop him before he attacks the U.S. Meanwhile, a few big cases are solved, McGee is more in the spotlight, and the last two episodes of the season 2 provides us with one of the most intense season finales of that time – first, the NCIS team become victims of a biological attack, and after they barely save their teammates, the season finale brings marks the return of the old foe – Ari Haswari.
The season finale is shocking and full-on emotional, and the team loses someone really precious. Season three introduces us to new characters – Ziva David, a Mossad officer, and Jenny Shepard, a new Director of NCIS and ex-lover of Gibbs.
Season four marks Ziva’s adaptation to the new team, Jenny’s past, and Tony going undercover for the whole season. Season five is intense as well – Tony deals with the aftermath of the previous season finale, Jenny and Gibbs start digging through the past, and one huge character is in grave danger.
Season six starts with the arrival of the new Director of NCIS, Leon Vance, team struggling to deal with their loss, and new faces are introduced. Romantic sparkles are flying this season – Tony notices something different about Ziva and is slightly jealous. Once again, shocking revelations hit the team once again. The mole has infiltrated the NCIS, and the season finale tears the team apart.
We finally got the first spin-off of the NCIS universe in episodes 22 and 23, where a case sends McGee and Gibbs to Los Angeles, where they meet their west coast colleagues.
2. NCIS: Los Angeles – Seasons 1 to 5 (2009 – 2014)
After the case was solved with the help of the east coast NCIS crew, NCIS: Los Angeles is dealing with their own dangers and problems. The main protagonists are G Callen and Special Agent Sam Hanna, who with help of their team are trying to catch terrorists threatening to attack the U.S., and Callen is trying to find out about his mysterious past.
The second season of the show deals with Callen’s past and the introduction of new characters – Nell and Deeks. Hetty, the leader of the NCIS team, resigns without a warning which sets her team to find out why.
The third season sees the NCIS: LA team dealing with a terrorist and serial killer who wants to sell sensitive information to enemy countries. G Callen once again is in trouble.
The fourth season sees the NCIS team dealing with the aftermath of G Callen’s deal and later set out on a huge undercover mission in Iraq, where Callen and Kensi stumble upon an old foe. Kensi realizes her feelings for Deeks.
The fifth season starts with Hanna and Deeks feeling huge consequences after they’ve been tortured by the Russian arms dealer and Hetty is facing the consequences of her actions during the White Ghost case.
Parallel to these five seasons of NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS aired seasons from seven to eleven at the same time.
3. NCIS – Seasons 7 to 11 (2009 – 2014)
One of the best seasons of a crime show in the 2010s sees the NCIS team deal with the huge consequences of the season six finale – Ziva is gone, and Tony with the rest of the team is trying to bring her back. Ziva finally becomes a full-pledged Special Agent of NCIS, leaving her father and Mossad behind. Meanwhile, Gibbs’s past hunts him down.
Season eight shows Ziva’s father Eli being targeted by a Palestinian terrorist group and the team is assigned to keep him safe, and the team needs to deal with a serial killer who seeks revenge against the agency.
Season nine follows the NCIS team dealing with the terrorist who seeks revenge against the agency and the team suffers huge losses – the NCIS home has been attacked.
Season ten starts with the team dealing with the aftermath of the attack on the Navy Yard, and the terrorist who is responsible for the attack. Once again, the team suffers huge losses, especially Vance and Ziva, and Tony is trying to act on his feelings for his colleague.
Season eleven introduced huge changes to the show – Ziva left after the events that transpired in season ten, Tony is crushed, and Gibbs with the rest of his team struggle to adapt to the agency’s changes.
This is the season where the new NCIS spin-off is introduced – NCIS: New Orleans, in episodes 18 and 19.
4. NCIS: New Orleans – Season 1 (2014 – 2015)
The first season of the NCIS: New Orleans show is aired simultaneously as NCIS: Los Angeles season six and NCIS season twelve. The first season of this spin-off introduces the NCIS team and some newcomers. There is also another little crossover between NCIS in the second episode when the east coast NCIS team is assisting with the case.
One of the team members, Special Agent LaSalle is dealing with a huge loss, and the team needs to find out who is trying to expose the city of New Orleans to radiation.
5. NCIS: Los Angeles – Season 6 (2014 – 2015)
The attack is looming over California and the NCIS team is trying their everything to stop it. Hetty shows once again why she is the boss, and Sam and Callen are trapped on a submarine that is trying to attack the aircraft carrier in San Diego.
Hetty faces the consequences of breaking the protocol, a few terrorists are trying to kill Hetty and the mole has infiltrated the NCIS team. Travels to Russia and Mexico occur during this season, and G Callen once again finds out new details about his past.
All in all, season six of NCIS. Los Angeles is intense and overlaps with other series – the first season of NCIS: New Orleans and NCIS season 12.
6. NCIS – Seasons 12 to 18 (2014 – 2021)
After season 11 and the huge change in the NCIS team, we see the team get a new member of the team, Special Agent Ellie Bishop. Season twelve deals with some interesting cold cases and Tony’s father coming to visit, and a new terrorist group that is recruiting teenagers to cause chaos. One of the notable members of the team passes away.
Season 13 deals with Tony seeing his old flame appearing once again, Gibbs fighting for his life, Bishop facing personal life issues, and the NCIS team dealing with the international manhunt all over the world.
Season 14 sees an important Special Agent leaving the force, with Special Agent Torres, Officer of MI6, Clayton Reeves, and Special Agent Alexandra Quinn joining the team. It also features a crossover with the New Orleans NCIS team in episode 15 of the season, where respective teams are trying to figure out who is the mysterious group Homeland Security is investigating. Once again, the trio of Special Agents McGee, Bishop, and Torres travel to Paraguay to locate a missing Navy SEAL.
Season 15 shows the team trying to find their colleagues who disappeared in Paraguay, and a new Special Agent Jacqueline Sloan joins the team after Quinn left. Sloane deals with her past that stems all the way back to Afghanistan and one character is in grave danger.
Season 16 deals with Director Vance’s disappearance, and Gibbs takes over as the temporary director of the NCIS. A huge character departs from the show, and one fan-favorite character makes an appearance in the season finale.
Season 17 has only twenty episodes due to the COVID19 pandemic, and this time Ziva David appears once again and the NCIS team is confused about why she came back. After helping her former team, Ziva reveals that she has a daughter with no other than Tony and that they live in Paris. This storyline, after so many years of speculating, is finished and fans rejoiced once again.
Season 18 has only 16 episodes and sees important members of the NCIS team depart the show, Special Agents Sloan and Bishop. First moved to Afghanistan to continue helping people in the honor of her late friend, and Bishop reveals herself as someone who the team does not suspect.
In the span of eighteen years, only Ducky Mallard and Leroy Jethro Gibbs are the original cast members of the show. All of these seasons aired with NCIS: New Orleans and Los Angeles at the same time.
7. NCIS: Los Angeles – Seasons 7 to 12 (2015 – 2021)
Season seven continues the story of the previous season, where the NCIS team is trying to locate Callen after the events that happened with Arkady. Special Agent Hanna needs to save his son from terrorists with the help of his team.
Season eight deals with the mole in the department, Hetty is questioned again, and Sam Hanna once again deals with his old foe.
Season nine sees new leadership in NCIS, Callen going undercover and the team going to Vietnam to discover what is going on with Hetty. The season finale sends the team to Mexico.
Season ten sees the team deal with the aftermath of the Mexico mission. One member of the team goes rogue, and Callen and Hanna work with the Navy to locate ISIS members on the USS aircraft.
Season eleven follows the team all around the world to help other agencies with the new terrorist threat.
Season twelve only has 18 episodes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and follows Kensi and Deeks making important decisions for their relationship. Deeks is struggling this season as an NCIS agent, Hetty returns and NCIS deals with the Russian threat.
8. NCIS: New Orleans – Seasons 2 to 7 (2015 – 2021)
Season two sees a crossover episode with the original NCIS team where they need to solve who the Russian sleeper agent involved with Abby Sciuto’s brother. The mole of NCIS becomes a huge danger to the city of New Orleans.
Season three follows the departure of an important member of the team, another crossover with the east coast NCIS team, and Pride goes rogue.
Season four follows Special Agent Pride and his deal with the New Orleans ex-mayor, an important part of the team departs, and one of the NCIS team members finds out the truth behind their family.
Season five sees Pride fighting for his life, and a new character on the team joins the NCIS. The case leads the team to Russia.
Season six marks one of the team members dying and the NCIS team is devastated. A team member decides to investigate a former leader of the team.
Season seven marks the last season of NCIS: New Orleans, which became the first NCIS show that ended. This season deals with the COVID-19 pandemic and tries to do its job in a sensitive and dangerous environment.
9. NCIS – Season 19 (2021 – 2022)
Season 19 sees Mark Harmon departing the NCIS show as a series regular after nineteen seasons, and new characters join the NCIS team, Gary Cole and Jessica Knight.
The team deals with Gibbs going to Alaska, and a new team member and Supervisor deals with investigations and accusations against him, and the team do their best to help him. In episode 17 of the season, a crossover with the new NCIS: Hawai’i occurs where Jane Tennant calls for Torres to help her with a case.
For now, this is the latest season released by NCIS.
10. NCIS: Los Angeles – Season 13 (2021 – 2022)
Season 13 of NCIS: Los Angeles sees some team members planning for the family, G Callen once again digs through his past and finally decides to take a big step in his life, and the team deals with a vicious heist crew who uses military-issued weapons to rob banks.
This is the latest released season of NCIS: Los Angeles.
11. NCIS: Hawai’i – Season 1 (2021 – 2022)
Another spin-off of the original NCIS series is the Hawai’i version of it. Another series that was really popular in the past, Hawaii Five-0, was an inspiration for the show. NCIS: Hawai’i has 22 episodes in the first season, and will only develop more from there.
Do You Need To Watch the NCIS Series In Order?
For full immersion, we recommend for you watch the show chronologically according to the list we provided. However, you won’t make a mistake if you watch one then another show because each show has its own storylines and arcs they want to present to the viewers. In the end, it all depends on a person’s tastes.
Will There Be More NCIS TV Shows?
Television network CBS showed multiple times in the past they are willing to release more NCIS content, which is still quite popular amongst the viewers. There were a few other projects like NCIS: Red which was supposed to air as a spin-off of the NCIS: Los Angeles series, however, it was scrapped by the network.
We saw that NCIS: Hawai’i got its own show, and ordered the second season already. Another spin-off show is in development – NCIS: Sydney, which takes NCSI overseas for the first time ever. The first episodes will air in 2023, and until then, the fans can wait for the special twentieth season of the original NCIS show, the fourteenth season of the NCIS: Los Angeles, and the already mentioned second season of the NCIS: Hawai’i. There is no fear for the fans – there is always NCIS content.