CBS’ long-standing NCIS got a thrilling update regarding when the upcoming Season 21 will be released on the air.
Originally developed as a spin-off from JAG, NCIS has run for a longer time than any other live-action scripted prime-time TV series outside of Law & Order and its spin-off, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
With over 450 episodes under its belt, the series now stars 20-year veteran Sean Murray along with Rocky Carroll, Gary Cole, Wilmer Valderrama, and others as the Naval Criminal Investigative Service continues its work across the globe.
When Will NCIS Season 21 Release on CBS?
Deadline reported that the writers' room for NCIS Season 21 officially opened on October 2, adding the show’s run as the seventh-longest-running scripted U.S. TV show in history.
This comes as a result of the Writers Guild of America strike officially coming to an end, although the SAG-AFTRA strike is still ongoing.
Prior to Season 21, every season of NCIS began airing on CBS in late September from 2003 to 2022. The only exception was Season 18, which started its 16-episode run in November 2020 due to the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For its filming time frame, Season 20 kicked off its production schedule on July 14, 2022 and premiered just over two months later (September 19, 2022) on CBS. Season 21 was then greenlit for production on February 21, 2023.
Should the SAG-AFTRA strike reach a resolution and allow filming to start either in late 2023 or early 2024, NCIS Season 21 will most likely begin airing either in March or April 2024.
What Will Happen in NCIS's Next Season?
NCIS has gone through some major changes over the last couple of years, with former leading man Mark Harmon leaving in early Season 19 and regular Pauley Perrette exiting the series after Season 15.
More recently, David McCallum, who was credited as Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard in each of the first 457 episodes, passed away at the age of 90. Season 21 will be the first season without McCallum as part of the cast, setting the stage for an emotional first few episodes as the series’ longest-running star gets his final farewell.
Perrette shared an emotional message on her Instagram paying tribute to her late co-star, sending him love and dubbing him “a legend:”
“Oh David. What a life. What a legend. What a journey. And your legacy will always be the love you have for your family. Love to katherine and the kids and the grandkids, your absolutely very favorite things.”
Wilmer Valderrama echoed those same sentiments on his own Instagram, calling it “an immense honor to share the screen” with the industry icon:
“David, what an immense honor it was to share the screen with you. Your professionalism and ability to effortlessly take every one of us on a journey through your art will be felt forever. I will miss you my friend.”
Brian Dietzen’s Dr. Jimmy Palmer will continue his run as the NCIS’s Chief Medical Examiner that started in Season 15 after taking over for Ducky, pushing the story to new heights alongside his veteran co-stars.
The other big question to consider is just how much longer NCIS can go after 20 years of action, with the show kick-starting four separate spin-off series in the process.
But seeing as the series is still one of the five most-watched TV programs on television even as of 2023 (per Variety), the demand for the Navy’s top investigators clearly hasn’t waned.