Should a ‘NCIS’ Spinoff Set in Hawaii Be Introduced as a Backdoor Pilot?

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Skip Bolen/CBS

The world of NCIS — which began with JAG (1995-2005) — is making some big changes.

While NCIS: New Orleans will end with Season 7, CBS is considering another series in the procedural franchise, NCIS: Hawaii. This time around, though, characters might not be introduced as a backdoor pilot on another show, according to Deadline.

In the past, JAG‘s Season 8 episodes “Ice Queen” and “Meltdown” included guest spots from Mark Harmon (Leroy Jethro Gibbs), Michael Weatherly (Tony DiNozzo), David McCallum (Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard), and Pauley Perrette (Abby Sciuto), all of whom went on to star on NCIS.

Los AngelesChris O’Donnell (Callen), LL Cool J (Sam Hanna), Daniela Ruah (Kensi Blye), Peter Cambor (Nate Getz), and Barrett Foa (Eric Beale) appeared in NCIS Season 6’s two-parter “Legend.” And we first met New OrleansScott Bakula (Dwayne Pride), Lucas Black (Christopher Lasalle), Zoe McLellan (Meredith Brody), and CCH Pounder (Dr. Loretta Wade) in NCIS Season 11’s two-parter “Crescent City.”

NCIS: LA was used to introduce the potential Red spinoff in Season 4, with guest stars John Corbett (Roy Haines), Kim Raver (Paris Summerskill), Scott Grimes (Dave Flynn), Edwin Hodge (Kai Ashe), Gillian Alexy (Claire Keats), and Kenneth Mitchell (Danny Gallagher) as the mobile team. That was never ordered to series, though Grimes’ Flynn has appeared on LA on his own to help out the team since.

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Agents, forensic scientists, and directors can be replaced, but can Gibbs?

Is a backdoor pilot necessary, especially in a franchise as successful as NCIS and when something like production and scheduling could be a factor right now due to the pandemic? Probably not. Sure, this potential series would be set on the island, but by now, viewers know what to expect from one of these shows. There is something unique about each — for example, you know you’ll get plenty of explosions on NCIS: Los Angeles — but they’re all still procedurals and Hawaii would have a home-base, unlike Red, the premise of which would have made it a bit different. Have Director Vance (Rocky Carroll) from NCIS video in early on and that could be enough to connect the series to the rest of the franchise.

But that doesn’t mean there can’t be some type of crossover at some point in the season. After all, this potential NCIS: Hawaii would be joining a universe that includes the currently-airing Magnum P.I. (which also takes place on the island) and MacGyver and already-over Hawaii Five-0.

Chris O'Donnell Mark Harmon NCIS Legend Los Angeles Callen Gibbs

(Cliff Lipson/CBS)

Of course, NCIS: Hawaii has to be ordered to series first, which has not happened yet. But with the success of NCIS (currently in its 18th season), Los Angeles (in its 12th), and New Orleans (in its seventh), it isn’t surprising this is even just a possibility.