NCIS has been on a long time, and all throughout its run there has been one character that's held it all together. Mark Harmon's Leroy Jethro Gibbs has been the man shouldering the CBS procedural all these years, and the core character any viewer should be familiar with when watching.
Of course, with tons of seasons and numerous episodes, even loyal viewers may have missed an episode or twenty. This can make it difficult for the average viewer to keep track of everything one needs to know about NCIS' Gibbs that can surface in an episode. For anyone in that spot after a recent episode, here are the only things one needs to know about Gibbs in order to understand the character or a situation he's currently in.
Gibbs Is A Former Marine Turned NCIS Agent
Gibbs may be a Supervisory Special Agent for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, but his military experience hails from the Marine Corps. He started off as military police, but eventually worked his way into becoming a scout sniper. It was through this role that he gained a skill for expert marksmanship, which is why he's often dead on with his aim when he has to shoot a bullet.
NCIS' Gibbs retired from the Marines as a Gunnery Sergeant, and occasionally talks about his time in the service. Typically NCIS will make a mention of it if they're dealing with any current or former Marines, and Gibbs will find a way to make a connection with suspects or victims in that way. He's typically able to get a response that way, though it could also be due to him being one of the industry's best interrogators that makes it so easy to get people talking as well.
He Has A Bunch Of Rules
NCIS frequently mentions Gibbs rules, whether it's him reciting them or members of the team who have just heard them that many times. There's a bit of a dispute as to how many rules he has exactly, but he does know them by heart, and it's a very rare occasion that he breaks them. The practice was first inspired by his first wife Shannon, who mentioned a set of rules she had in their first meeting.
If NCIS does show that rare instance of a rule break, get ready. Gibbs doesn't break his rules readily, but if he does and it works out for him, he drops that rule permanently. A recent example of this was when Ellie Bishop broke the rule of "never getting personally involved in a case." The situation ended up revealing that Ziva David wasn't as dead as NCIS' characters had once believed. The rules aren't perfect, but Gibbs' rule set comes in handy and is wise advice more often than not.
He's A Straight Shooter
Though he may have been a little more chill in NCIS' earlier seasons, Leroy Gibbs is a stoic. He doesn't talk a ton, but when he does, it's to get the information he wants or to give his two cents on a conversation he only just walked in on. NCIS' Gibbs is not one to pal around or make small talk, and has a reputation to be a straight shooter when it comes to the job and his coworkers.
That's not to say NCIS hasn't shown a sweeter or sillier side of Gibbs. It does happen, but rarely enough that all other members of the team will express a level of awkwardness merely witnessing it. To be fair, even when Gibbs is showing off that side of himself it can come across as stiff and awkward, so it's not like all these shocked and uncomfortable faces from others come without reason.
He Killed A Man In Cold Blood
One of Leroy Gibbs darkest secrets in NCIS is that he killed a man in cold blood. The man, Pablo Hernandez, was a drug dealer who killed Gibbs' wife Shannon and daughter Kelly. Gibbs later tracked Hernandez down and murdered him, and even left a shell casing behind to send a message. It ended up being a mistake, as forensic evidence years later led to Abby Sciuto discovering that Gibbs committed the crime.
It's not like NCIS has made Gibbs' murder the worst kept secret, but the supervisory special agent has told a few of his colleagues about what he did over the years. The most recent to learn were Ellie Bishop, Nick Torres, and Timothy McGee, and they still bring it up occasionally. Not in front of Gibbs of course, but one has to wonder if NCIS will ever show Gibbs suffering real consequences for the murder he committed so long ago.
He Has Been Married... A Lot
In total, Leroy Jethro Gibbs has been married four times. I've already mentioned his first wife Shannon, who was murdered by a drug dealer. After that he went on to marry Diane Sterling, but that marriage ended in divorce and her briefly marrying NCIS recurring character Tobias Fornell. Sterling was eventually murdered as well in Season 12, and believe it or not, it doesn't get much better from here.
From there, Gibbs married Rebecca Chase, who later left him and married the man she cheated on him with. The latest wife was Stephanie Flynn, who ultimately left the NCIS agent because of his obsession with catching the serial killer Kyle Boone. For these reasons Gibbs is a little guarded with his romantic feelings, though he's never one to shy away from flirting with a love interest should they appear in an episode.
He Treats His Team Like Family
If there's one thing to know about Gibbs on NCIS above all else, it's that he will always go to bat for his team. That could mean anything from helping them get back on their feet after a debilitating injury, to literally covering for them if he suspects they may have committed a major crime. Again, he's a guy who murdered a man in cold blood, it's not like he's one to judge the worst of what otherwise good people do.
It's really an important part of Gibbs' character though because the NCIS agent has no family of his own. The job has become his life, and the people he works with his family. I think it's fair to say a good deal of the NCIS team feel the same way about him, though many find out it's immensely hard to actually get close to Gibbs. A few like Jacqueline Sloane are closer to Gibbs than others, but they're more the exception than the rule.
Got any other helpful things NCIS viewers should know about Gibbs? List those in the comments and be sure to catch it on CBS Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. ET.