NCIS Presents a 'Really Emotional,' Flashback-Filled Look at Gibbs' Rules

NCIS Gibbs Rules

Rule No. 8: “Never take anything for granted.”

CBS’ NCIS takes that to heart tonight at 8/7c, with a Christmas episode that reflects on one of the long-running drama’s recurring themes: Gibbs’ Rules.

“I wanted for a while to do an episode about Gibbs’ rules,” showrunner Gary Glasberg tells TVLine, “and Chris Waild, one of my writer-producers, had the clever idea of incorporating it into our Christmas show.”

The framing device, per Glasberg: “McGee (played by Sean Murray) is writing a letter to his father, sitting at the great, old typewriter that he writes his books on, sort of narrating” his account of a case the team worked during the holidays, involving hackers.

“It’s a really timely case,” given the myriad Sony Hack documents continuously being released into the real world, Glasberg notes. “And it brings back a number of characters” — Former NCIS Systems Administrator Kevin Hussein (played by Ethan Rains), Heidi Partridge (Erin Allin O’Reilly) and Ajay Khan (Chuck‘s Vik Sahay) — “who are computer-focused villains of the past,” to help tackle the crisis.

As McGee shares with his father the assorted rules, many are punctuated by accompanying flashbacks of characters both present and past receiving or recounting Gibbs’ wisdom. “We used stuff all the way back to Season 2, I think,” Glasberg says. “It’s amazing to go back and collect all these different clips, of everybody from Sasha [Alexander, as Special Agent Kate Todd] to Cote [de Pablo, as Ziva] to Michael [Weatherly, who plays DiNozzo] referring to the rules.”

Such blasts from the show’s past coupled with McGee’s heartfelt missive to his father made for “a really emotional, terrific episode,” Glasberg adds. “It’s like a little Christmas present for everybody.”

Want more scoop on NCIS, or for any other show? Email and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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  1. Tex Mike says:

    Sounds good. I’m looking forward to it.

  2. Tran says:

    This is why NCIS rules Tuesdays and it’s never going to be stopped.

  3. CactusRose says:

    I love this show so much. Is there a poster or list available anywhere with Gibbs’ rules? I’ve seen a few on T shirts and coffee mugs, but a nice, frame-able list would be awesome.

  4. Pat says:

    In other words, we needed to save on the budget, so let’s do a flashback episode. Not to say it won’t be fun haha

    • Andrea says:

      True, but if a series is going to have a clip show, the holiday season kinda makes sense. A time for nostalgia, memories, and connecting with others. McGee and his dad don’t have the best relationship, so maybe Tim is trying to feel the spirit of the season. If it is a cost-saving measure, at least the concept and the context seem plausible to me.

      • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

        Doesn’t sound like a “clip show” a la Richie, Potsie et al sitting around Arnold’s going, “Hey, remember when…?” More like McGee “flashing” to these brief half-moments as he types his letter to the admiral.

  5. John NYC says:

    I’m optimistic but I can’t help being a bit worried it will come off as a simple clipshow slot filler.

  6. laurensbrit says:

    You missed out our beloved Lauren Holly (Jennifer Shepard). :) <3

  7. Jess says:

    Yay, Ziva’s back! Hopefully to do with Rule 12 though. ;) Maybe it’ll be a Christmas miracle.

  8. john says:

    Halfway through this episode. What a mess! Obviously writers, producers, etc. Totally bored with the show. The actors are to be commended for trying their best to save this train wreck.

  9. Grrumpy says:

    Most boring show ever! Might not be back next year!

  10. Atomkey says:

    Go McGee! Best episode of NCIS ever… The ending slaps you in the face. I loved how the writers told the story of Tim and his dad’s turmoil history by using so many of Gibbs’ rules – Must see Christmas special!

  11. Wes says:

    Just watched NCIS ,EXCELLENT ,thank you.

  12. Pauline says:

    I enjoyed the flashbacks and the story……now if only they could turn down the music so we
    can hear the dialog. Please listen for yourselves…..this is not the only program doing the loud music. NCIS is one of our favorite programs, but it is getting harder to hear the dialog! I am sure I am not the only one complaining.

    • CactusRose says:

      I’m so glad someone else feels that way about the background music. Sons of Anarchy is one of the worst offenders, but it seems ALL shows are pushing the music thing too far. New artists with their awful music cover up the dialog so much! And a lot of actors mumble as it is, so the music makes it even more difficult to understand them!

  13. Jill R says:

    Wow, nothing says Merry Christmas quite like that episode ending, NCIS. Gah!!!

  14. Buster says:

    I know it’s just show, but still cried at the ending. Excellent episode.

  15. pam says:

    my dad and i watched this episode of ncis from his room at hospice house in our little town… he is a ww2 vet that hit normandy beach when he was 18 1/2yrs old… he was navy and LST 133… it brought us to tears… he was a cook and gunners mate… he also saw action in the pacific too… he came back from 3 yrs of war and had a life… raised 2 kids… married for 63 years to my mom who was a cadet student nurse… he turned 90 dec. 6… it was just a lovely story that we are living now… thank you and merry christmas…

  16. disonba3 says:

    What about Jenny Shepard??? Why is she not included???

  17. bob says:

    One of the top 3 NCIS shows ever…Well written, great acting (as usual), and a great story line. Loved it!

  18. know bruiner says:

    i need the list

  19. The episode was not just a clip ep…. it had a great story line about hackers and seeing some of the former cast members was fun but each clip was really just a flash… I was not impressed with McGee’s commentary all the way through, until the shocker at the end. That redeemed it for me and actually brought tears to my eyes. Wasn’t all that Christmassy, however.

  20. Congratulations Matt. You created one of the best dramas (episodes) ever presented on TV. Just when I thought I knew what everyone on NCIS was capable of, you raised the bar to a new level. I was breaking Rule No. 8 and did not even know it.

  21. John says:

    I was so overcome with the final scene in NCIS with McGee talking to his father laying in a coffin. I tbrought to mind what I had wanted to do for my Dad when he passed. But alas, my dad had a new family and they wanted no part of me. I still love that scene.

  22. millIe Neff says:

    This has been my favorite show for years. The way Gibbs rules were brought in from old episodes, the chemistry between all the actors, and McGee coping with his father’s death made it a very special show.

  23. I really enjoyed this episode, learning more about Gibb’s rules. MCGEE is a great character, so more on him was appreciated, too, and less on Tony.

  24. Lloyd says:

    Very well acted episode by Sean Murray. I choked up with his character at the end as well.