Why NCIS Might Be Doing Something Completely Different With New Hawaii Spinoff

ncis season 18 gibbs cbs
(Image credit: CBS)

The NCIS franchise is one of the longest-running shared universes on television nowadays, and now CBS is seemingly expanding that universe to include yet another NCIS show to join the original series and the first two spinoffs, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. The new show could do something completely different for the NCIS franchise, and not just because it would take the action away from the continental United States and over to Hawaii.

A fourth NCIS series is developing at CBS to be set in Hawaii, according to Deadline, which further reports that NCIS: Hawaii is not planned to debut as a backdoor spinoff. That's not the case for NCIS: Los Angeles or NCIS: New Orleans, both of which debuted in backdoor pilot events that aired as NCIS two-parters. NCIS: LA got its start with two episodes of NCIS Season 6 in 2009, and NCIS: NOLA launched with two episodes of NCIS Season 11 in 2014. Another NCIS series starring John Corbett got a backdoor pilot on NCIS: LA, but was not ordered to series.

The project hails from NCIS: New Orleans executive producers and co-showrunners Jan Nash and Christopher Silber, both of whom are creators and executive producers of the new potential series. Also on board is Matt Bosack, a writer and producer for CBS' SEAL Team. Interestingly, NCIS: Hawaii is said to focus on a new team that is based in Hawaii, which indicates that not only will Hawaii not launch via backdoor pilot, but also will not be anchored by any familiar NCIS faces.

A Hawaii-based NCIS series does potentially open the door for appearances from characters that starred on another show set in the same shared universe, although not under the NCIS banner. NCIS: Los Angeles crossed over with Hawaii Five-0 before Hawaii Five-0 came to an end back in the spring of 2020. With Hawaii Five-0 characters presumably still in the Aloha State, it would make sense for some of them to show up or possibly even join the team of an NCIS series set there.

The NCIS shared universe is already expansive, so an NCIS: Hawaii would only add to the list of shows. The franchise technically started with JAG, which launched NCIS as a backdoor pilot back in 2003, but is currently anchored by NCIS, now in its 18th season. Thanks to a series of crossovers that started with JAG, NCIS shares a universe with NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans, Hawaii Five-0, MacGyver, Magnum P.I., and Scorpion. Of those, five are ongoing.

Law & Order: SVU on NBC does have seniority over NCIS with its 22 seasons and counting, however, and shares a larger universe thanks to the three One Chicago series also on NBC, the two FBI series on CBS, and the upcoming Organized Crime spinoff of SVU. Still, NCIS is catching up if NCIS: Hawaii gets a series order. News of a spinoff in development at this point in 2021 is somewhat surprising, due to the real-world circumstances that actually led to NCIS itself having to shorten its current Season 18.

All of this said, NCIS: Hawaii is reportedly still in development stages, so there are no guarantees that this project will make it to series, let alone be markedly different from the current three NCIS series. For now, you can find new episodes of NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, and NCIS: New Orleans on CBS.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).