'It's A Little Surreal': NCIS Star Rocky Carroll Thought He'd Only Get Two Seasons On The Show Before It Got Cancelled

 Rocky Carroll as Vance in NCIS Season 21x01.
Rocky Carroll as Vance in NCIS Season 21x01.

NCIS reached a major milestone in the 2024 TV schedule despite the delays due to the WGA writers strike, with the franchise airing its 1000th episode with plenty of cameos. The current cast of series regulars in Season 21 is filled with longtime stars as well as relative newcomers, and the series has already been renewed for Season 22. As it turns out, though, Rocky Carroll once believed that the show wouldn't last much longer after he joined back in Season 5.

Rocky Carroll has played Leon Vance since joining the show in its fifth season back in 2008, and he's still an active part of the team as of late Season 21 in 2024. The actor looked back at his NCIS journey over the years and his early predictions about how long the show would last... or, more specifically, wouldn't last. Carroll told PopCulture.com:

When I came on at the end of Season 5, there was no spinoff, there was no NCIS: LA, there was no mention of a spinoff. And I literally thought to myself, 'If I'm lucky enough that this show goes to a Season 7, I will at least say I've been a part of a hit show.' And so I was counting; I was crossing my fingers for seven seasons. And now I'm about to start my 17th season.

NCIS was successful back in Season 5, but definitely not to the point that anybody could have realistically imagined a multi-show franchise reaching 1000 episodes. NCIS: Los Angeles wouldn't launch as the first spinoff until 2009, followed by NCIS: New Orleans in 2014, NCIS: Hawai'i in 2021, NCIS: Sydney in 2023, and NCIS: Origins as the story of Gibbs' early days and a Tony/Ziva streaming spinoff, which are currently in the works.

Plus, with Carroll mentioning that he's about to start his 17th season, I think we can safely assume that whatever goes down in the Season 21 finale in May, it won't involve Vance being killed off or kicked out! The actor went on in his description of what it's like to hit 1,000 episodes:

It's a little surreal when you hear that when it's said out loud because we've been just so immersed into doing it and doing the shows.

It's a testament to NCIS'' consistency that Rocky Carroll has felt immersed in the show over the past two decades. After all, NCIS had a premature production shutdown on Season 17 in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, and then a delayed start to Season 21 due to the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. While NCIS: Hawai'i hasn't yet been cancelled or renewed at the time of writing, the original series will be back.

Personally, I'm hoping for an NCIS: Hawai'i renewal and NCIS: Origins time slot on Mondays in the fall, so that CBS could have a full night of NCIS action on Mondays like the full FBI block on Tuesdays. Whatever happens, I think it's safe to say that fans can all celebrate that Rocky Carroll was wrong about NCIS ending by back in the early aughts.

For now, keep tuning in to CBS on Mondays at 9 p.m. ET for new episodes of NCIS Season 21 and stream past episodes with a Paramount+ subscription. The Season 21 finale is scheduled for Monday, May 6.