Why is NCIS not new tonight, March 18?

 Wilmer Valderrama and Gary Cole in NCIS.
Wilmer Valderrama and Gary Cole in NCIS.

It's another rough week for NCIS fans, as CBS is not airing a new episode of NCIS season 21 again on March 18, just like they didn't last week on March 11. That means it's been two weeks since the NCIS team solved their last crime. What's the deal with the extended break for the long-running crime drama?

CBS hasn't given a specific reason, so the only guess we have right now is that CBS is ensuring they have enough episodes of NCIS season 21 to get them through the end of the 2023-2024 TV season in May. This is a result of NCIS (and many other shows) having a shortened season following the actor and writers’ strikes for new labor deals Hollywood went through in 2023.

While other CBS shows are being impacted by the 2024 March Madness college basketball tournament this week, NCIS isn't one of them. Beyond the fact games don't start airing on CBS until Thursday, other CBS shows are still new on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

But we do have some good news. One, CBS is airing a rerun of NCIS in its usual time at 9 pm ET/PT on March 18; and it's the season 21 episode that pays tribute to the late David McCallum, who portrayed the beloved character Ducky, in case you missed it when it originally aired. Also, we know that a new NCIS season 21 episode is set to air next week on March 25, so the wait is almost over.

To whet your appetite for NCIS’s return, here is the synopsis of NCIS season 21 episode 5, "The Plan":

"With the help of Knight's dad, Special Agent in Charge Feng Zhao (Russell Wong), NCIS works to unravel the mystery of a recently used service weapon belonging to a missing agent. Also, McGee is in a tailspin when DNA results reveal a close relative he was unaware of."

It's not just NCIS that is airing a rerun on Monday, March 18, on CBS: its spinoff series NCIS: Hawai'i season 3 is also taking its second straight week off before returning with an all-new episode on March 25. The Neighborhood season 6, which kicks off CBS's Monday primetime lineup, is also off on March 18, though Bob Hearts Abishola season 5 is still new this week.

In the meantime, if you want to catch up with the first four episodes of NCIS season 21 that have been released so far, you can do so if you're a subscriber to Paramount Plus, where all episodes of the series are available to stream on-demand.