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10 Shows Like 'NCIS' to Watch Next

If you're already fully caught up on the franchise, here are 10 other shows to watch next that are all similar in theme and format to 'NCIS,' ranked by Metascore.

Andrea Reiher
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From left to right: Gary Cole and Wilmer Valderrama in 'NCIS'

CBS

NCIS was created by television mogul Donald Bellisario and has now been renewed for its milestone 20th season, which will premiere in the fall of 2022. It chronicles the work lives and home lives of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Major Case Response Team (MCRT) out of Washington D.C., led by Marine veteran Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon).

Harmon is the anchor of the series. When it premiered in 2003, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette critic Rob Owen called Harmon "a sensitive cowboy who does his job and then goes home to work on a boat he's building" and Newsday's Noel Holston added, "NCIS is going to succeed first and foremost because of Harmon."

But Agent Gibbs isn't the only standout, and that's good because Harmon ended up leaving the series after 18 seasons. 

Over the years, he has been surrounded by an intrepid team of stalwart investigators who are capable and fearless, anchored by Sean Murray, David McCallum, and Rocky Carroll, all of whom are still on the show. 

Over the years, the MCRT have investigated everything from assassins, terrorists, bombings, and bioterrorism; to mass shootings, missing persons cases, arms dealers, drugs and hundreds of other crimes. The agents struggle with the violence and death that they see and work hard to maintain their personal lives after dealing with so much carnage day after day.

If you're an NCIS fan and you haven't watched any of the spin-offs, those are certainly what Metacritic would recommend first.  The NCIS: Los Angeles team is led by LL Cool J and Chris O'Donnell with a scene-stealing turn by Linda Hunt as their supervisory agent. NCIS: New Orleans is helmed by Scott Bakula, with the indomitable CCH Pounder by his side as the medical examiner. And NCIS: Hawai'i has the first female lead of the franchise in Vanessa Lachey. The three shows all have interesting, quirky teams and they all differentiate themselves from the original because they make the plots distinct to the settings and utilize each location's attributes to the fullest.

But if you're already fully caught up on the franchise, here are 10 other shows to watch next that are all similar in theme and format to NCIS, ranked by Metascore.


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Martin Sheen in 'The West Wing'

Courtesy of Apple TV

The West Wing

Metascore: 78
Best for: People who like the governmental and political aspect of NCIS
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, , iTunes,
Seasons: 7

This political drama originally aired on NBC from 1999 to 2006 and earned itself four Outstanding Drama Series Emmy Awards in the process, plus numerous wins for its acting ensemble. It follows the team of White House employees under fictional President Josiah "Jed" Bartlet (Martin Sheen) as they try to navigate the political waters to make the world a little better. Bonus for NCIS fans — Harmon has onderful recurring role as an FBI agent in the third season.

"There's real thought behind The West Wing, a blessed exhilaration in this increasingly apolitical medium." — Diane Werts, Newsday


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From left to right: Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, and Alex O'Loughlin in 'Hawaii Five-0'

Courtesy of Apple TV

Hawaii Five-0

Metascore: 66
Best for: Fans who love the team aspect of NCIS and want to spend more time in a tropical location
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes,
Seasons: 10

This reboot of the cop show from 1968 aired on CBS from 2010 to 2020, following Detective Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) as he returns to Hawaii to investigate his father's murder. There, he starts a specialized public safety task force that operates with basically no restrictions to weed out crime on the islands. The supporting cast of Scott CaanDaniel Dae Kim, and Grace Park make up the core members of his team, and together, they investigate everything from terrorism, to kidnapping, to simple robberies.

"It's clear that, like other CBS shows from 'NCIS' to 'CSI,' the team byplay is going to be the heart of 'Hawaii Five-0.' Thank goodness Caan is here to provide gruff humor, and Kim and Park play off each other nicely." — Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly


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'CSI' circa 2000

Courtesy of Apple TV

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Metascore: 65
Best for: Fans of the more complicated NCIS investigations
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes, ,
Seasons: 15 

The original CSI aired for 15 seasons on CBS beginning in 2000 and spawned three spin-offs (CSI: Miami, CSI: NY, and CSI: Cyber). It has since been revived by CBS with several original cast members returning in CSI: Vegas. The flagship series follows the Crime Scene Investigation unit in Las Vegas as the members always follow the scientific evidence to get to the bottom of who committed the crime of the week. Each episode introduces audiences to different techniques for gathering and analyzing that evidence, a first at the time. But there is also an overarching nemesis each season that elevates the show beyond the typical crime procedural.

"The actors, including the charismatic William Petersen and the exquisite Marg Helgenberger, lend credibility to the portrayals that might be indistinct in lesser hands. There's also a compelling, pulsating edge at the outset of CSI that commands instant attention." — Ray Richmond, The Hollywood Reporter


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Melissa O'Neil and Nathan Fillion in 'The Rookie'

ABC

The Rookie

Metascore: 64
Best for: Fans of funny procedurals that have a lot of heart
Where to watch:

, fuboTV, Google Play, , iTunes,
Seasons: 4 (so far)

The Rookie follows John Nolan (Nathan Fillion), a 40-year-old man who decides to follow his dream of being a police officer in the Los Angeles Police Department. The show is actually based on a real person, William Norcross, who moved to LA in his mid-40s to join the LAPD. Because it is set in L.A., the show frequently sees famous people making cameo appearance as themselves, but the ensemble also features Eric Winter, Melissa O'Neil, Richard T. Jones, and Alyssa Diaz. The show recently spawned a spin-off titled The Rookie: Feds starring Niecy Nash.

"What really makes The Rookie interesting is watching Fillion maneuver among all these sharp elbows while balancing the shortage of adrenaline with the bonus supply of experience that both come with middle age. He does it all with the same let's-have-a-beer amiability he's displayed in shows as diverse as Firefly and Castle." — Glenn Garvin, Reason


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From left to right: Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander in 'Rizzoli & Isles'

Courtesy of Apple TV

Rizzoli & Isles

Metascore: 63
Best for: Fans of female-centered law and order dramas
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes,
Seasons: 7

Angie Harmon and NCIS alum Sasha Alexander co-star as the titular Detective Jane Rizzoli and Chief Medical Examiner Maura Isles. They solve crimes for the Boston Police Department, and as such, the show is mostly case-of-the-week police procedural, but an intriguing through line is Rizzoli's relationship with serial killer Charles Hoyt (Michael Massee), who once kidnapped her and stabbed her in both hands before being shot by her then-partner Vince Korsak (Bruce McGill). She is constantly haunted by him, even though he is in prison, and it lends a gravity to the otherwise lighter procedural.

"It's a pleasant, hour-long experience with interesting characters and above-average writing, especially in the exchanges between Jane and Maura." — Michael Starr, the New York Post


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David James Elliott in 'JAG'

Courtesy of Apple TV

JAG

Metascore: 63
Best for: New NCIS fans who don't realize this is the parent program
Where to watch: 

, fuboTV, iTunes,
Seasons: 10

JAG stands for Judge Advocate General and this CBS drama that aired from 1995 to 2005 follows the lawyers of the JAG corp as they investigate and try military crimes. David James Elliott stars as Navy Commander Harmon "Harm" Rabb, a former pilot, and Catherine Bell as Marine Lieutenant Colonel Sarah "Mac" MacKenzie. In addition to a dive into the world of military crimes before NCIS was even a gleam in Bellisario's eye, Bell and Elliott's chemistry provides some extra emotional zing. In JAG's eighth season, NCIS was born as a two-part backdoor pilot that introduced Gibbs and his team.

"A neat melding of character, mystery and big, glossy action." — Steve Johnson, the Chicago Tribune


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Scott Bakula in 'Quantum Leap'

Courtesy of Apple TV

Quantum Leap

Metascore: 61
Best for: Fans of solving problems through many different decades
Where to watch: 

, Google Play, iTunes,
Seasons: 5

This entry is not a crime procedural; instead, this is one of Bellisario's hits before JAG or NCIS. Bakula and the late Dean Stockwell as scientists who figure out how to travel through time. Bakula's Sam Beckett starts leaping around within his own lifetime to change history for the better, while his team in the future tries to figure out how to bring him home. Look past the dated technology — the show aired from 1989 to 1993 — and you'll find a funny, emotional, heartfelt and incredibly fun show that plays in many eras, and even takes on some historical moments around war and assassinations. 

"A canny and clever series that makes hardware take a back seat to humanity." — Matt Roush, USA Today


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David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel in 'Bones'

Courtesy of Apple TV

Bones

Metascore: 58
Best for: People who want their crime shows with a side of gallows humor
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes,
Seasons: 12

This Fox crime procedural stars Emily Deschanel as Dr. Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist who often works with Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) to solve murders in Washington D.C. Fans of NCIS will enjoy the eccentric team and Deschanel and Boreanaz's easy chemistry and banter, which turns into a "will they/won't they" for fans who like to ship characters. Plus, there are overarching villains to ground the show, but they also manage to infuse humor in as well.

"The show's witty, inventive writing would be fun even in the hands of a less capable cast." — Glenn Garvin, the Miami Herald


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'Chicago P.D.'

NBC

The One Chicago Franchise

Metascore: See below
Best for: Fans who are enmeshed in the expansive NCIS universe
Where to watch: 

, fuboTV, Google Play, , iTunes, ,

Prolific TV creator Dick Wolf took his Law & Order formula to the Windy City, delving into all aspects of public servants, with four different shows focusing on the police, the fire department, a hospital and (briefly) the State's Attorney's office. Although Chicago Fire (Metascore: 49) started it all, it is Chicago P.D. (50) that is closest to NCIS. Chicago Fire and Chicago Med (52) are focused on saving victims of tragedies that are sometimes man-made and sometimes natural disasters, while Chicago P.D. follows the cops who are out to put criminals away, even if sometimes they have to bend a few rules to do so. Other than the short-lived Justice spin-off, which interestingly has the highest Metascore out of the franchise (57), most of these stories are still going strong, providing heart-pounding rescues and emotional cases week in and week out on NBC. They also deliver crossover events that create epic stories to play out over three hours.

"Chicago P.D. is, in many ways, a throwback to an earlier, male-dominated era of crime shows, yet it carves out room for strong female characters who are good at their jobs and taken seriously by their colleagues — and the writers." — Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times


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From left to right: Matthew Gray Gubler and Joe Mantegna in 'Criminal Minds'

Courtesy of Apple TV

Criminal Minds

Metascore: 42
Best for: Fans who want their crime dramas dark, dark, dark
Where to watch:

, Google Play, , iTunes, Netflix, ,
Seasons: 15

This dark procedural aired on CBS for 15 seasons, focusing on a group of FBI criminal profiles known as the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). Several leads came and went over the years, but the actors Matthew Gray Gubler, A.J. Cook, Kirsten Vangsness, Paget Brewster, and Joe Mantegna, all of whom were on the show for all or most of its run, gave the show a nice core group of characters who had to juggle having normal personal lives while tracking down the most dangerous and disturbing serial killers. It also spawned two short-lived spin-offs, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior.

"Viewers certainly like this sort of thing. CBS has become the No. 1 network with an incessant stream of it, and Criminal Minds is as well-made as any of them." — Jonathan Storm, The Philadelphia Inquirer