Having first premiered in 2003, NCIS is a definite juggernaut of a franchise and is showing no signs of slowing down – even 20 years later.


With four spin-offs, the most recent being NCIS: Sydney, this flagship series for CBS is more popular than ever, which means all eyes are now on what's next in NCIS season 21.

The new series is set to return to US screens this February, with a UK release date yet to be announced. It's good news for fans, especially because the original series is returning alongside NCIS: Hawai’i season 3.

The sad news for fans will be that the new series will be without its last remaining original cast member, as David McCallum passed away at the age of 90 last September.

The actor, who was also known for his role in '60s spy drama The Man From UNCLE, of course starred as Dr Donald “Ducky” Mallard in NCIS, and the new series is set to pay tribute to the late actor.

More like this

NCIS co-showrunners and executive producers Steven D Binder and David North said in a statement given to TVLine: “In the episode, the team will learn of Ducky’s passing and reflect on their memories of him as they grieve. And true to Ducky’s meticulous and compassionate nature, even after he’s gone, he still manages to solve one last crime with the team.”

Join us here at RadioTimes.com as we reveal everything you need to know about NCIS season 21, which airs on CBS in the US and Disney Plus in the UK.

Will there be a NCIS season 21?

Yes, NCIS will definitely return for season 21 – and probably for a hundred more years after that, too...

As the third-longest-running scripted, non-animated primetime TV show the US has to offer, NCIS isn't going anywhere any time soon.

In fact, it might even rise up the ranks of longest-running scripted shows ever, where it currently holds seventh place.

NCIS season 21 release date

NCIS usually starts each new season in the autumn like clockwork, but due to the strike organised by SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America, season 21 has taken longer to arrive than expected.

New episodes will air in the US starting on Monday 12th February 2024 at 9pm EST on CBS. It will then be followed by the season 3 premiere of NCIS: Hawai’i.

However, a UK release date is yet to be confirmed. The good news is, though, that we do know that it will air on Disney Plus.

NCIS season 21 cast: Who could return?

Rocky Carroll as NCIS Director Leon Vance, Katrina Law as NCIS Special Agent Jessica Knight, Gary Cole as FBI Special Agent Alden Parker, and Sean Murray as Special Agent Timothy McGee in NCIS.
Rocky Carroll as NCIS Director Leon Vance, Katrina Law as NCIS Special Agent Jessica Knight, Gary Cole as FBI Special Agent Alden Parker, and Sean Murray as Special Agent Timothy McGee in NCIS. Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

Assuming that everything goes according to plan, here are all the main stars expected to return in NCIS season 21:

  • Gary Cole plays Alden Parker
  • Sean Murray plays Timothy McGee
  • Wilmer Valderrama plays Nick Torres
  • Katrina Law plays Jess Knight
  • Brian Dietzen plays Dr Jimmy Palmer
  • Diona Reasonover plays Kasie Hines
  • Rocky Carroll plays Leon Vance

Sadly, David McCallum will not appear in the new season as the actor passed away in September 2023. The actor played long-standing Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard but is set to get a tribute episode in the new season which has been co-written by Brian Dietzen, who plays Dr. Jimmy Palmer.

"Everyone at NCIS felt it was important to do an episode that honors such a legendary actor, not to mention a dear friend,” said NCIS co-showrunners and executive producers Binder and North who added that “there will also be a very touching and special moment you won’t want to miss.”

New faces will, of course, join in guest roles, too. And who knows? Maybe some of them could become principal players one day, starting out like some of these stars did.

And if we're very lucky, fan favourites like Mark Harmon and Pauley Perrette might return for guest spots, as well. That would certainly bring more interest to the new season, although the show continues to fare well without them, despite how beloved they are by the fandom.

Is there a trailer for NCIS season 21?

Yes! As shared to the official NCIS Instagram page, the new trailer teases plenty of action for the group but also an emotional farewell to Ducky as we hear McCallum say: "Yesterday is over. Change is the essence of life." Head over there to view it.

Season 21 of NCIS will start on Monday 12th February at 9pm EST on CBS in the US. Previous seasons of NCIS are available to watch on Disney Plus in the UK. You can sign up to Disney Plus for £7.99 a month or £79.90 a year now.

If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guide or visit our Drama hub for more news and features.


Try Radio Times magazine today and get 10 issues for only £10 – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.