Origins Prequel Show Can Finally Explain NCIS’ Longest Running Joke About Leroy Jethro Gibbs
7 mins read

Origins Prequel Show Can Finally Explain NCIS’ Longest Running Joke About Leroy Jethro Gibbs


  • NCIS: Origins will delve deeper into the mysterious backstory of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, revealing more about his character traits.
  • The prequel must walk a fine line between revealing details about Gibbs and maintaining his enigmatic nature.
  • Gibbs’ long list of rules, a defining feature, will be further explored in NCIS: Origins, shedding light on his past inspirations.



The upcoming prequel show NCIS: Origins is set to explore NCIS protagonist Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ origins more than the original series, including explaining the longest-running joke about Gibbs and his character. NCIS: Origins has already cast young Gibbs, so, inevitably, audiences will eventually see actor Austin Stowell develop some of the strong traits that defined his character in the original series. While it will be interesting to learn more about the mysterious Gibbs, it is also important that the upcoming prequel doesn’t reveal too much.

Alternatively, learning just enough about how the renowned former CIA agent earned his reputation can improve audience engagement with him, while simultaneously recontextualizing his character from the original series. While few intimate details about the upcoming prequel series are known, NCIS: Origins will be set in the 1990s, and it will explore Leroy Jethro Gibbs’s early days as he rises through the ranks at Camp Pendleton. From potential run-ins with other NCIS characters to explaining his backstory, NCIS: Origins can finally reveal more about the mysterious protagonist, particularly one of his most defining features.


NCIS Season 21 Drops A Clue When Mark Harmon’s Gibbs Might Return (& It’s Soon)

Ducky’s tribute may have been over but NCIS season 21, episode 3 still unexpectedly reveals when Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs might return.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs Was Famous For His Long List Of Rules On NCIS

Gibbs’s long lists inspired his colleagues as well as audiences to think more critically about the cases.

One of the ways Gibbs distinguishes himself from other protagonists in police procedurals is with his extensive list of rules that he uses to navigate and solve cases. In the NCIS season 3 episode “Silver War,” Ziva asks Gibbs how many rules he has, to which the protagonist states that he has fifty in total. However, as seen in subsequent episodes, the number exceeds the 60s, which demonstrates that Gibbs’s list is ever-increasing. While initially quirky and even annoying to some of his colleagues, Gibbs’s long list of rules is a great way NCIS develops the otherwise mysterious character.

Gibbs is infamous among the rest of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) and viewers for revealing virtually nothing about himself or his past. While it runs the risk of making Gibbs seem cold and callous, Gibbs’s rules actually make him a better agent, while also subtly giving away clues to his true nature and intentions. Rule 1: “Never let suspects sit together,” and Other Rule 1: “Never screw over your partner,” are excellent examples of Gibbs’s adherence to professionalism and loyalty, respectively. While NCIS: Origins will further expand them, NCIS has already hinted at the rules’ origins.

NCIS: Origins Can Finally Explain How He Got Those Rules

A season 6 episode of NCIS offered a glimpse into who inspired Gibbs’ rules.

Sean Harmon as a young Leroy Jethro Gibbs in a flashback scene from NCIS.

In the NCIS season 6 episode, “Heartland,” viewers are treated to a series of flashbacks that help provide further context about Gibbs and his past. By the episode’s conclusion, there are still questions regarding Gibbs’s younger days, but a key interaction between Gibbs and his wife, Shannon, shows the inspiration behind his rules. In the flashback, a young Gibbs approaches Shannon while the two are waiting for a train, and they strike up a conversation. Gibbs asks if he can sit next to her when their train arrives, but Shannon declares that she has a rule about not dating lumberjacks.

After learning more about Gibbs and discovering that he wasn’t a lumberjack, she relents, and the two sit together. While the comment is strange, it was distinct enough to leave an impression of Gibbs. As such, one could infer that his meeting with Shannon inspired his own habit of developing strange yet helpful rules that have not only added to his mystery but also helped him rise through the ranks at NCIS. NCIS: Origins will likely expand on the flashback in greater detail, but the show should still avoid revealing too much about Gibbs or his past.

The NCIS Prequel Has To Be Careful Not To Overexplain Gibbs

Revealing too much has the potential to erase the mystique that makes Gibbs so interesting.

Mark Harmon as Leroy Jethro Gibbs Looks intense in NCIS.

Like most other prequel series or movies, their inherent value lies in their ability to redefine characters, events, or even illuminate what was once a minor and innocuous moment from the source material. In the case of NCIS: Origins, the prequel series can enhance viewer engagement with NCIS by revealing new details all while maintaining Gibbs’s signature air of mystery. Learning more about Gibb’s past and who or what specifically motivated his long list of rules would be a great way to develop him more, but NCIS: Origins can ruin Gibbs’ mystery if it reveals too much, retroactively ruining one of the most defining features of his character if not handled properly.

NCIS is rife with characters who perfectly fit the police procedural aesthetic, such as Ziva David and Timothy McGee, then there are characters with a little more characterization, like Alden Parker and Gibbs, who help balance the dynamic between serious characters and those with a heightened sense of reality. Gibbs has developed a legendary reputation within NCIS and among viewers who’ve long supported the show. Providing audiences with information about Gibbs and his former life can work, just so long as NCIS: Origins doesn’t take away too much of the inscrutability that makes him who he is.

All episodes of
are available on Paramount+ and Netflix.

NCIS: Origins

Set before the original entry in the long-running procedural crime-drama franchise, NCIS: Origins takes place in the 1990s and follows a younger Leroy Gibbs at the beginning of his career. The series will focus more on Gibbs’ journey to becoming the star investigator he became in the original series and his relationships with past partners and colleagues.

Mark Harmon


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *