(Written 15th October 2006)



With Season Four of NCIS almost up on us, I decided to look back at the other three seasons in respect of things that have irked.

NCIS is, in my opinion not only one of the best shows 'currently' being shown on television (certainly superior to anything Britain has to offer), but one of the best shows ever.

However, the excellent nature of the acting, believable characterisation (well in most cases), character interaction, team work, story lines and attention to detail (mostly), is marred by the number of inconsistencies that appear throughout the Pilot and Seasons. 

Also spoiling the party is where the otherwise excellent attention to detail is lacking. DMc has said in more than one interview about how important attention to detail is to them all, and we know that he regularly attends autopsies so that he can 'get it right', but there are other things about which attention to detail and taking the time and/or trouble to get facts correct is sadly missing.


Gibbs's tenure with NCIS.

In the double crossover with JAG, pilot episode (The Ice Queen and Meltdown), which was aired in April 2003, Gibbs is asked: 

"How long have you been doing this job?"

His reply is: "Nineteen years."

Fast-forward to May 2006 (a little over three years later), it is revealed, in Hiatus, that he joined NCIS in 1991, following the murder of his wife (Shannon) and their daughter (Kelly). This makes his tenure at NCIS fifteen years, rather than, following on from the Pilot, twenty-one-and-a-half years.

Now Maths was never my favourite subject, I obtained my 'O' Level, but it never came easy to me. However, even I know that the figures do not add up, not unless time in NCIS actually goes backwards.

It could be argued that maybe when Gibbs was asked the question, he was referring to his time with the Military Police, but that didn't ring true to me. It could also be argued that as this was merely the Pilot and DPB didn't know whether the show would be picked up as a stand alone show, that it doesn't matter. But to me this kind of thing does matter, it is avoidable, with a little careful thought DPB could have worked round this, allowing Gibbs to be recalled to active duty during Desert Storm, whilst working for NCIS.

The length of Gibbs and Ducky's friendship.

Throughout Seasons One, Two and Three (up to Hiatus) everything points to their friendship going back a considerable length of time. Their ease with one another, knowledge of one another, shared experiences, double-act when working together, etc. points to this (and for the record I am not looking at this from the point of view of them being my slash couple). The clearest evidence comes in The Meat Puzzle when Kate asks Gibbs:

"What did Ducky look like when he was younger?"

Gibbs replies, without pause for thought, "Illya Kuryakin."

Given that Gibbs is not the kind of person to sit around looking at family photographs, he clearly knew Ducky from at least two decades ago.

In Hiatus we are suddenly told that Ducky has only know Gibbs for ten years. Putting aside the other evidence that we have been given prior to this, we then need to examine how this stands up in respect of other things. 

Namely, Gibbs three marriages and divorces.

Fact: Ducky knew all three of Gibbs's ex-wives. (Hiatus)

Fact: Ducky introduced him to Diane (wife number three). A conversation with Jimmy Palmer in Black Water.

Fact: Diane hit Gibbs around the head with a baseball bat somewhere in 1999. The evidence of this comes from an exchange in The Curse, when for once they are talking at cross purposes, and Ducky says 'four years ago when I stitched you up after your third wife hit you with the baseball bat.'

Fact: Gibbs was having an affair with Jennifer Shepard in 2000, and Diane was also seeing other people. (Kill Ari)

Following the 'ten year' comment in Hiatus, this means that Ducky met Gibbs in 1996. 

Okay. Let's look at this a little more closely.

In Mind Games Gibbs and Ducky have an exchange about Boone, and Ducky makes a reference to Gibbs's then wife, saying what a lovely girl she was, etc. and Gibbs added that he didn't leave her, she left him. This implies that the marriage was not on the rocks when Gibbs and Ducky met, but was in fact at the very least 'okay'. 

Even assuming that it fell apart that year and also assuming that Diane hitting him was merely the start of divorce proceedings, that means that in the period from 1996 - 1999 (a mere three years), Gibbs divorces (ex-wife no. 1); re-marries, divorces (ex-wife no. 2); re-marries, is at the getting a divorce stage (Diane). Again the figures simply do not add up. It would have to be one of the quickest round of marriages and divorces on record - and it would barely be legal according the the Laws of the State. 

We don't know exactly in which State Gibbs lives, but it's likely to be either Washington DC itself or Virginia.

In Washington DC both fault and no-fault divorce will be granted on the same grounds:

(1) Mutual voluntary separation without cohabitation for 6 months; (2) living separate and apart without cohabitation for 1 year. "Living separate and apart" may be accomplished under the same roof, if the spouses do not share bed or food.

In Virginia, it is slightly more complicated.

Again there are two types:

A divorce from bed and board
A divorce from the bond of matrimony

A divorce from bed and board is a partial or qualified divorce under which a husband and wife are legally separated from each other but are not permitted to remarry. A divorce from the bond of matrimony is a complete and absolute divorce. Any person granted a divorce from bed and board may ask the court to “merge” the decree into a divorce from the bond of matrimony after at least one year has passed from the date the parties originally separated. 

The law requires that “grounds” (valid reasons for divorce prescribed by law) for divorce must exist and be proven to the court even if the husband and wife agree that a marriage should end.

Under the 'Divorce from the bond of matrimony' is the 'no fault' divorce. 

A “no fault” divorce from the bond of matrimony may be awarded upon a showing that for more than one year the husband and wife both intended to and have continuously lived separate and apart without any cohabitation. If the husband and wife have entered into a Property Settlement or Separation Agreement and there are no minor children, the time period is reduced from one year to six months.

Thus, in effect, the quickest divorce in either State still takes six months to complete. Now we know that Gibbs's second ex-wife 'emptied his Bank account when she left him', in which case, if they lived in Virginia, they wouldn't qualify for a no-fault divorce. 

Let us then, for the sake of argument, assume that all three divorces only took six months, i.e. they lived in Washington and lived apart by mutual and voluntary agreement. This still means that for eighteen months out of the already short time frame, Gibbs was going through/had started his various divorces.

Okay, so we don't know how long each marriage lasted. But it's probably safe/fair to assume that he would have give each one say a minimum of four months.

Let us assume, based on the fact that it appears he was still happily(ish) married to ex-wife no. 1 in 1996, but that the marriage falls apart in late 1996. And that the divorce came through in mid-1997 (say May).

He meets and marries ex-wife no. 2 in mid/late-1997 (say October). By the beginning of 1998 (say March) the marriage begins to fall apart and they seek a divorce.

Six months later (September 1998) they are divorced. A short time later (say January 1999) he marries Diane.

By mid-1999, Diane has hits him with the baseball bat and they begin divorce proceedings, and by sometime early/mid 2000 he is divorced for the third time.

Legally it's possible, but it means that each courtship is a whirlwind one, and each marriage lasted only a very short time. 

And then there is the fact that he is apparently paying alimony to all three ex-wives. It sounds good, I grant you that, but it unlikely it would happen, not according to the laws. There were no children, thus no need to provide a home, and we know that his second ex-wife got remarried to Tobias Fornell. Gibbs would not have gone on paying alimony.

Washington's law of spousal support states:

Not all cases involve support from one spouse to the other. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed to by the parties or at the court's discretion. 

The court may, at its discretion, may order temporary or permanent alimony during a divorce proceeding if it feels it is appropriate. In making such an award, the court will consider a number of economic factors, but marital fault is not a consideration.

Virginia's law states:

Given the increasing changes to both the law and society, this area of divorce law is in the process of great change. Under recent changes in the Virginia law, the fault of a spouse in causing a divorce may no longer be a complete bar to obtaining spousal support. However, the court will consider the cause of separation as a factor in determining whether or not to award spousal support. 

Spousal support is not awarded to punish a guilty spouse. Rather, it is provided to lessen the financial impact of divorce on the party who is less financially independent. The amount awarded for support depends upon such factors as the respective ages of the parties, assets and earning potential of the parties and the duration and history of the marriage. The court may award spousal support in periodic payments and/or in a lump. Periodic payments could be awarded for either a set number of years or an indefinite period of time. 

Spousal support does not have to be awarded when the divorce is granted. Instead, the parties may seek a “reservation” of the right to seek spousal support in the future. This reservation will generally last for one half of the length of the marriage.

It doesn't really add up. It's poetic license, I guess. Saying that he pays alimony to all three ex-wives sounds far better than if he just paid it to one. Fun but when it's this kind of inaccuracy on top of the inconsistencies it does tend to grate.


Apart from the inconsistencies in respect of Gibbs as mentioned above there are a couple things that apply to Ducky.

In Hung Out To Dry he refers to a nephew. However, that nephew is never mentioned again. Nor do we see any photographs around Ducky's house of his nephew or brother or sister, and given the kind of man Ducky is and how he talks, it's unlikely that the boy wouldn't be mentioned again. Not impossible, but unlikely.

One of the attention to details glitches occurs with Ducky in Under Covers when we see him at the end wearing a row of medals. All of those medals could not have been Ducky's own, he's not old enough, and yet he was wearing them on the side that one does wear one's own medals. Assuming they were his deceased father's or uncle's he has the perfect right to wear them, however, he should have been wearing them on the other side. 


In Yankee White Gibbs and Fornell don't know one another! Now even putting aside the fact that I found it more than a little difficult to believe that two senior Federal Agents didn't know one another, we soon discover that they did.

In subsequent episodes we discover that not only are they old friends, but they are:

Close enough that Gibbs will risk his life and career to help clear Fornell's name (The Bone Yard).

Close enough that Fornell feels able to walk into Gibbs's house without knocking (Reveille).

Close enough that it is Fornell, rather than Tom Morrow (Gibbs's own Director), who tells Gibbs that he has to lay off chasing Ari (Reveille).

And we also learn that Fornell married Gibbs's second ex-wife, and Gibbs warned him not to (Twilight).

And then we have another inconsistency. At the end of The Bone Yard Fornell appeared at NCIS Head Quarters, in Gibbs's office, after he and Gibbs worked the fake suicide thing. He is seen by Gibbs's Field Agents. Then in Conspiracy Theory when he appears at HQ, DiNozzo and Kate make a reference to them thinking he was dead.


We see her shooting on more than one occasion, in Seasons One and Two, and yet in Season Three, she has Ziva apparently 'teaching' her how to shoot.

. . . . And last, but certainly not least, we have:


In The Curse (aired in October 2003) we switch:

From the murder happening ten years ago:

KATE: We've got good news, CMDR - it took ten years, but we located your luggage...

TONY: Abby, there was no mummy ten years ago, so how could there be a curse?

OWENS: You're talking to me like I'm some sort of newbie. Who the hell does this Gibbs think he is anyway? Ten years and this case is still haunting me.

KATE: Uh huh. Okay. Thank you. Erin Toner was telling the truth. August 10 '94 she hit a Pick Six, bought the ticket at a 7-11 outside of Canton, Ohio.

To eight years ago:

GIBBS: Duck. Eight years ago. How did he die.

DUCKY: No, it can't be eight years.

And although Ducky is talking about something else, he is quite correct. 


KATE: I interviewed Lieutenant Schilz's widow. They had a child, Alicia, nine years old and she's as pretty as her mom. 

And we know that Lt. Schilz called his wife on the day she came birth - making the child nine.

GIBBS: So it was a big deal to call home from a ship in '94

KATE: Navy doesn't get rid of anything. Comm office records show that a Lieutenant Schilz called the Bethesda Naval Hospital from CVN-69 - that's the Eisenhower - at 0533 on the fourth of March 1994 and the call lasted twelve minutes.

This particular inconstancy has to rate as one of the worst. Not being able to keep your time line straight between episodes/seasons is one thing; not being able to keep it straight within the same episode is something else entirely.

There are other inconsistencies, sadly, but to my mind, these are the worst offenders.


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