The Best Episodes Of NCIS, According To IMDb


Choosing the best episodes out of the incredible 17 season run of NCIS may feel to some like an act of futility. After all, there are just under 400 total episodes to choose from: do you pick the one with your favorite case? Or the one that features your favorite Abby (Pauley Perrette) moment? Or your favorite Ducky (David McCallum) moment? Thankfully, registered users have been rating episodes over at IMDb, leaving us with the task of reviewing their picks.

Considering that the show is still airing, this will hardly be a definitive list. However, there are a lot of iconic moments from throughout the show’s history represented here — and as hard as it might be to imagine the show topping itself in upcoming seasons, one of these episodes is from season 16, we shouldn’t count out what Agent Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and his team have in store for us down the road. For now, let’s take a look at the top five episodes of NCIS as ranked by IMDb.


Season 2, Episode 22: “SWAK”


The top five episodes of NCIS, according to IMDB, begin on a lighter note. Of course, in the case of NCIS, “light” means that a letter contaminated with an antibiotic-resistant strain of bubonic plague was sent to the offices in an act of bio-terrorism, and DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly) was infected after opening the letter because it was SWAK (sealed with a kiss). The race to find out who is responsible and how to cure DiNozzo was set against the backdrop of DiNozzo’s flirtation with Kate Todd (Sasha Alexander), with the two needing to hit the decontamination showers and go into quarantine together.

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Things took a turn for the dramatic toward the end of the episode, when DiNozzo’s condition worsened. However, the case was eventually cracked, and he began to recover. In addition to the hijinks throughout, fans likely rate this one highly for the ending, in which DiNozzo and Todd’s ultimately doomed relationship began to blossom when she snuggled up next to him in his hospital bed.


Season 7, Episode 1: “Truth or Consequences”


Rumors of Ziva David’s (Cote de Pablo) death are a well that the NCIS writers have drawn from multiple times throughout the series, and clearly, fans of the show can’t get enough. In the season 7 premiere “Truth or Consequences,” we found the team once again on the search for the person they believed to be responsible for Agent David’s possible death. The unlucky target this time: terrorist Saleem Ulman (Omid Abtahi), whom we met at the beginning of the episode as he interrogated DiNozzo, who had been captured searching for David’s killers.

Through a series of flashbacks, we got the full story of how DiNozzo came to believe that Ulman was responsible for David’s death, and how he was tracked down thanks to his addiction to Caf-Pow. Ulman then upped the ante, revealing that David was both alive and in the terrorist’s hands. DiNozzo and David shared a heartwarming scene that served as one of the cornerstones of their long-running relationship, and they were then rescued by the rest of the NCIS team, who had arrived on the scene.

In addition to being a heaven for Ziva David-Tony DiNozzo shippers, the episode was also well-paced, with the flashback narrative structure building excellent tension throughout.


Season 16, Episode 13: “She”


“Ziva David is dead; long live Ziva David” was the motto of NCIS season 16 episode “She.” While investigating the case of a young girl who was born to a woman who had been kidnapped and held captive for years, the NCIS team discovered that the case had originally been worked by none other than Agent David. Agent Eleanor Bishop (Emily Wickersham) used the case to work through her own feelings of inadequacy, as she had joined the team after David’s death, and had never felt that she could fill her predecessor’s shoes.

While investigating the case, Bishop discovered a private office that David had rented where information about the cases she had previously worked was stored. The entire episode was quite emotional, owing to the difficult nature of the case at hand, but it was the very end that had viewers screaming. After capturing the kidnapper, Bishop returned to Agent David’s secret office and found that it has been used since she was there last. She then found that the perpetrator had left a note: “Eleanor Bishop, for the safety of my family, please keep my secret.”

Three years after her “death” devastated fans, the revelation that Ziva David was still very much alive was a welcome twist.


Season 14, Episode 13: “Keep Going”


The season 14 episode “Keep Going” wasn’t Ziva David-centric, but it did give another well-loved character a chance to shine: in this case, resident kind soul Jimmy Palmer (Brian Dietzen). The episode started off fairly normally, with the squad responding to the site of a fatal hit and run — but when Palmer spied a man out on the ledge of a nearby building looking ready to jump, things took a turn.

Palmer joined the man on the ledge in an attempt to prevent him from taking his own life, and thus began a deep dive into one of NCIS‘ most underrated characters. Through the course of their day on the ledge, Palmer revealed his own insecurities to the would-be jumper, who, it turned out, was the son of the man who was killed in the accident, and blamed himself because he and his father were arguing at the time he was hit. Not only was Palmer able to talk the man off the ledge, but the information he helped gather during their conversation (the team members manage to slip a microphone to him in a fast food order) led to the squad finding the hit and run perp.

What likely put this episode over the edge popularity-wise was its ending. After hearing Palmer’s kind and insightful words about him over the microphone, Agent Gibbs let his guard down for the younger man, and brought him in for a big, fatherly hug.

Season 13, Episode 24: “Family First”


Like any good procedural, NCIS is a mix of episodes that focus on the crime of the week, and episodes that focus on the larger storylines that the writers weave throughout the seasons. The season 13 episode “Family First” was the top choice for fans of the series, because it looped in a lot of different plot points that had been simmering under the surface for a number of years.

Not only is this the episode that smacked fans in the face with the news that the beloved Ziva David was “dead,” it also revealed that her seasons long “will they or won’t they” relationship with fellow Agent DiNozzo had resulted in a secret daughter.

The action of the episode centered on the search for the person responsible for blowing up the farmhouse that Ziva had been hiding in, and when the squad did find the culprit, he was dispatched in a spectacular hail of gunfire. The closure wasn’t enough for DiNozzo, though, who left NCIS to take care of his newly discovered daughter. It’s no wonder fans are so taken by this episode; even for a season finale, it packed in a whole lot of emotional wallop and shocking revelations.


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