NCIS Is Actually a Spinoff: Everything to Know About Its Forgotten Predecessor

NCIS Is Actually a Spinoff: Everything to Know About Its Forgotten Predecessor
Image credit: CBS, NBC

Let’s not forget our past.

Today, it's hard to remember the state of television when CBS' biggest procedural hit was just getting started. Since 2003, NCIS has been one of the most successful shows on the network, as well as compared to other popular shows. Now, with a handful of spinoffs and 21 seasons of the main show, it's too easy to forget its origins.

Many believe that NCIS began as a stand-alone series, but this is not true. Created by Donald P. Bellisario, the show began as a spinoff of the unfairly forgotten CBS legal drama series JAG.

When Did JAG End?

JAG, which stands for Judge Advocate General in the U.S. military, originated on NBC back in 1995. The show wasn't as big a hit as you might think, judging by the NCIS numbers, but the move to CBS kept the story afloat and even made it more interesting. All in all, the drama lasted for 10 seasons and ended in 2005.

The show follows the everyday cases of the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Department of the Navy, based in the Washington metropolitan area, with the main characters – Judge Advocates – prosecuting and defending criminal cases under the jurisdiction of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Starring David James Elliott, Tracey Needham, Catherine Bell and Patrick Labyorteaux, JAG has been praised by many U.S. media outlets and critics for its fair and realistic portrayal of the military justice system. It wasn't a surprise to see the show produce a spin-off, NCIS, which was introduced by two JAG episodes in 2003.

Where to Watch JAG?

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Now the majority of NCIS fans don't have any recollection of JAG and focus more on a variety of spinoffs created based on the NCIS format. However, if you are looking for the origins of the series, JAG will be a perfect choice to indulge yourself in.

Luckily for viewers, one of the most iconic legal dramas of the '90s is available to watch on Paramount Plus. If you don't have a Paramount subscription but are curious about the show, the first season is also available on Prime Video. That might be enough to see if JAG is for you.

And if you're looking for more NCIS goodness, keep an eye out for all the spinoff release dates and casting news, as well as the return of the original show.