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Why is NCIS of all shows the highest-rated scripted drama on television?

I read today that NCIS, of all shows, has been the highest-rated scripted drama on television for something like the past eight years.

I just don't get it! I mean, it's not that the show is terrible . . . but it IS bland, repetitive, sanitized and feels like a pretty generic police procedural.

Sure, I get that not everyone has cable and that has something to do with the show's success, but that certainly can't account for the fact that during Breaking Bad's highest-rated season it pulled in about 4.3 million viewers per episode, while during NCIS's highest-rated season it pulled in about 21 million viewers.

I mean, I think that even on the non-cable networks there are much better shows, so it's not just a network TV vs cable thing.

So what is it? Why does this show perform so well? For those of you who are fans, what is it that makes you keep tuning in week after week?


Im with you, I have no idea why its so highly rated. When it first started back in 2003, I got a very "old school" vibe from it. It wasnt that it looked old or anything like that, it had a kinda of cosy feel to the show. I cant say that feeling is still there if Im honest. When I watch it now its a background show while Im doing something else. It seems to be stuck in some kind of limbo with no real progression for the characters other than the ones that leave. Abbie is the most glaring example of that. Still being a raging goth feels unnatural now that shes not long for hitting 50. At least the actress is, maybe the character is still early 40s. So when abbie was late 20s early 30s the goth thing was fine, but now its just kinda weird.

I dont know, maybe its the really over done patriotic stuff that makes everyone tune in. It just makes my eyes role at he heavy handed nature of it. There should always be respect for those that serve any branch of military, but I think this show and the shows in its expanded universe go too over the top. Its like being hit with a brick sometimes with the iconic music, long lingering glances, and scripted dialogue that make you think theres a teleprompter in front of the actors. LL cool J on LA is the worst for this. His acting during those glacing scenes makes think hes sexually attracted to anyone thats every served.

So yeah, I too would like to know why its gets so much love. Like you say, its not a bad show, its just not the best thing on tv now or in any of its 14/15 years.


If I were to guess, I'd say it probably has something to do with the following factors:

- Older viewers. It really seems like the kind of show that older people are going to get into and I'm sure they make up the bulk of the viewership. So the question, for me, is what percentage of the show's 15 million or so weekly viewers are in the 18-49 demo? And of those who are, why exactly do they like the show?

- It's appropriate for all audiences. A lot of people don't like the dark themes, sexual content, violence, etc that are found in a lot of today's cable shows, so I guess those people can appreciate NCIS's sanitized, family-friendly nature.

- You can just drop into an episode and understand what's going on without having watched every episode leading up to it. So it's a show that can be watched casually, without being totally lost if you miss a week.

But even with all that said, it's not a show that I ever really watch. I mean, I've caught a few episodes and, like you said, it might be a good show to put on in the background when you're doing other stuff. But it's just hard for me to believe that THIS is the highest-rated show on TV when there are so many better shows out there. I mean, ultimately, something like NCIS feels like cotton candy compared to something like Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones. Or even if we're just going to go with network shows, I'd still take something like This Is Us on NBC over a show like NCIS.


well, like you say, 21 million people watch it, and there are only 3 on this board that don't,
Mr. Bell created a winning formula for TV and made many people very rich.
I used to be a great fan of the show but without Kate, Ziva and Tony, which were replaced by Bishop, Torres and
McGee being head field agent, the show now sucks. and the only one I liked (Quinn) is leaving, damn.


So WHY exactly did you like the show?

Break it down for me. Tell me what the elements of this winning formula were.


a blend of:
bloody scenes, mixed with comedy.
a dysfunctional crew,
some really good actors,
and by the amount of viewers that watched year after year, that formula worked.


Jennifer Esposito (Quinn) is leaving? She's the only reason I started watching this show again, although the writers never seemed to know what to do with the character. I hope the dumbass writers don't kill off the character as opposed to letting her leave; they should watch her last appearance on Blue Bloods.


she's my favorite too, just wish the writers were a bit kind to her character.


Dependable entertainment. It's America's TV wife.