'NCIS' Producer Reveals How Season 17 Was Actually Supposed To End

Mark Harmon ("Gibbs") and Sean Murray ("McGee") have been starring on NCIS for over 15 years.
April 22, 2020 - 12:45 / Clemens Fanger

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the season finale of NCIS' season 17 came much earlier than the producers expected and the season ended with episode 20. Now, showrunner Frank Cardea has revealed how the season was actually supposed to end.

On April 14th, the 17th season of NCIS came to an end with episode 20 ("The Arizona"). The final episode dealt with 95-year-old Navy veteran "Joe Smith" (Christopher Lloyd) who claims to have served on the "U.S.S. Arizona" when it was attacked in 1941 at Pearl Harbor. At the end of the episode, "Gibbs" opens up to "McGee" and tells him about his experiences in the war.

NCIS Season 17: Details about the "real" finale!

But while "The Arizona" provided all NCIS fans with an emotional finale, the episode wasn't actually intended as a season finale. Four more episodes should have been shot, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic season 17 of NCIS had to be cut short as production was suspended due to health concerns.

NCIS showrunner Frank Cardea said to TVLine: "The envisioned season finale did not have a cliffhanger ending but was planned to have a very surprising ending. More of a reveal [or] development, as you phrased it."

NCIS' 400th episode will air in the fall!

But Cardea remained tight-lipped and was not able to reveal more about the actual plot, unfortunately. The remaining four episodes will apparently be shot and will go on the air. "We do plan to go forward with that episode in the early part of Season 18," Cardea continued. "But [we] will probably reevaluate the ending when the time comes."

Especially the 22nd episode of season 17 will definitely be on the shooting schedule since it's a big one for everyone involved: "Episode 22 was going to be our 400th, which we had special things planned for and CBS was throwing a big party for us…. But it will happen."

"We have a lot of flexibility to air the first five or six episodes [of next season] in any order we want, but we will still shoot 400 as the second one and air it as the second one."

Sounds like season 18 of NCIS will be just as good as all the others before, if not better! Get all the news about NCIS right HERE!