The 2018-2019 TV season has been a unique one, in that there were times when fans en masse had legitimate concerns about the futures of the long-running CBS drama NCIS and its two spinoffs. Thankfully, fears about Mark Harmon's potential exit as Leroy Gibbs were unfounded, and the Season 17 renewal news came in early April. Now, it's been revealed that both NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans have been renewed, despite their own respective reasons for having fans worried.
NCIS: Los Angeles
Currently in its tenth season, NCIS: Los Angeles remains a wildly popular series for CBS to count on during Sunday nights. It's one of the few shows airing that has managed to match or top its viewership and ratings stats from the previous year. Season 9 averaged 10.5 million viewers, and Season 10's episodes are steadily bringing in comparable totals.
Its current average is 10.1 million after delayed viewing totals are added in for the applicable episodes. Perhaps more importantly, NCIS: Los Angeles is also matching its demo ratings from the prior season, so it's ticking all the right boxes to stick around.
However, several elements both on and off the screen had NCIS: Los Angeles fans thinking that the show might be heading for an exit in the near future. The glaring lack of Linda Hunt's Hetty started some of that, though her absence was due to an injury, and she later returned for the big wedding episode.
However, NCIS: Los Angeles also teased Callen possibly being drawn away from the NCIS in order to see family more, as well as hinting at both Eric and Nell wanting to make the jump to San Francisco. Eric was given a job opportunity that had some promise, while Nell's mother is at a heart disease treatment center. Sure, a TV show like this is bigger than just a few characters, but having all of these issues pop up at once is why fans started getting paranoid.
For at least one more season, though, all worries about NCIS: Los Angeles can be folded up and put somewhere for safe keeping. Though CBS was not specific about the number of episodes Season 11 will get, fans can make easy presumptions that it'll get 24 installments just as each prior season did.
Something worth noting here is that NCIS: Los Angeles is gearing up to come full franchise circle for a major JAG reunion narrative. Former JAG costars David James Elliott and Catherine Bell will appear on NCIS: LA's Season 10 finale, and it took little time for fans to start wisely speculating about CBS' possible intentions for a proper JAG comeback. Could the current show's renewal mostly serve to set more of the flagship revival's groundwork?
NCIS: New Orleans
Led by Scott Bakula as the generally unflappable Dwayne Pride, NCIS: New Orleans spent its early years succeeding in the shadow of its flagship drama, which obviously means that the southern-set procedural is one of TV's most-watched shows. Currently, it's averaging just under 11 million viewers per week after delayed viewing stats are tallied.
Those totals would be viewership pinnacles for most shows on other broadcast networks, but Season 5 marks NCIS: Los Angeles' lowest numbers to date. The average viewership had dropped from Season 1's 17.4 million to Season 4's 12.2 million, and CBS shifted NCIS: New Orleans back an hour this season to allow Dick Wolf's freshman drama FBI to reap the benefits of following NCIS, which hurt the spinoff further.
It's possible that several of NCIS: New Orleans' behind-the-scenes issues over the years may have played a part in keeping some audience members from sticking with the show. Back in January of this year, executive producer Adam Targum was fired after multiple complaints had been placed with the network's HR department. Said complaints alleged that Targum displayed unprofessional behavior in the workplace, with some of his conduct reportedly being aggressive towards females.
Adam Targum had previously been promoted to his #2 position on the show (under current showrunner Chris Silber) earlier in 2018, when the earlier showrunner Brad Kern was officially fired from both NCIS: New Orleans and his CBS contract. Kern had managed to maintain his high-ranking position on the network drama even after two separate investigations had been ordered to look into complaints about his on-set conduct that dated back to 2017.
However, a third investigation into Brad Kern took place in 2018 among a flurry of controversial incidents affecting CBS and CBS news' upper brass. (The biggest of all, of course, was the ousting of longtime network exec and then-Chairman Les Moonves, who had multiple women come forward with claims of sexual harassment.) Rather unexpectedly, CBS had even given Brad Kern a contract renewal even after making him step down from showrunner to "consulting producer," but that decision was later reversed when he was terminated from both positions.
To be expected, the network's renewal announcement did not draw attention to past controversies, and only celebrated success where it was due. Here's what CBS' head honcho Kelly Kahl said about the renewals in a statement.
Both shows have been key pillars to the CBS schedule for several years. They offer heroic stories, big stars and have attracted a passionate, loyal fan base. We’re excited to have Chris, LL, Scott and these terrific casts back to bring more terrific NCIS stories to viewers in the U.S. and around the world.
Now that fans know all of the NCIS dramas will be back for new stories and cases (and possibly new characters) in the fall, hopefully it'll quell some worries about these characters making quick and untimely primetime exits. Of course, just because the L.A.- and NOLA-set shows are coming back doesn't necessarily mean all of the main characters will survive the upcoming finales.
You can watch NCIS: New Orleans as it starts to wrap up Season 5 every Tuesday night on CBS at 10:00 p.m. Meanwhile, fans can always catch NCIS: Los Angeles Season 10 airing on Sunday nights on CBS at 10:00 p.m. ET.