With 20 full seasons and more than 400 episodes of high-octane action under its belt, CBS’ long-running military procedural “NCIS” has delivered more drama during its primetime tenure than almost any other series currently on the air. Fans of the show might be quick to point out “NCIS” has delivered its fair share of head-spinning narrative twists as well, though few of them managed to turn quite as many heads as the one that found longtime NCIS big boss Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) pumping a couple of bullets into one of his top agents, Timothy McGee (Sean Murray).
That shocking turn of events was unfathomable, as Gibbs had pretty much been a father figure to McGee throughout the series’ run. So unshakeable was their bond that the writers had essentially made it a foundational narrative device over the years. And yet, in the opening moments of a Season 18 episode, “Head of the Snake,” longtime fans were subjected to scenes of the sharp-shooting Gibbs putting his surrogate son down with a pair of shots from a sniper rifle. And for several episodes thereafter, there was legitimate concern Gibbs had turned against his team.
“NCIS” fandom didn’t find out until the season’s fifth episode why Gibbs pulled the trigger. As we learned, Gibbs brought McGee down because the agent was walking right into a deadly trap. Had Gibbs not pulled the trigger, McGee would surely have died.
It Was Either A Bullet Or A Bomb For McGee In The Fateful NCIS Episode
It should be noted that “Head of the Snake” capped a season-opening, multi-episode arc that saw Leroy Gibbs and his team trying to bring down a nefarious drug lord and terrorist. As for Gibbs shooting Timothy McGee, it was no less shocking to watch even after fans learned why it had to happen. And the ghastly sight of McGee lying wounded on the ground begging Gibbs for help is one “NCIS” fans will likely never fully recover from.
Thankfully, McGee eventually recovered from the physical and emotional wounds of the near-death event. But if you’re wondering how Gibbs and company even got to that fateful point, it happens after their plan to take the bad guy at a local airfield goes dreadfully sideways. Said plan includes McGee posing as a buyer to access the bad guys’ plane, with Gibbs covering him via rifle nearby. The proverbial s*** hits the fan when McGee’s comms are knocked out by an ultra-high frequency radio signal, which the team surmises is likely set to trigger a bomb on the plane. But with McGee cut off from the rest of the team, he proceeds without realizing he’s about to be blown to smithereens.
Thus, Gibbs saved McGee’s life the only way he could. And to the delight of “NCIS” fans the world over, once McGee was officially on the mend, he and Gibbs were able to move past the incident, arguably becoming closer than ever before.