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The Greatest Guest Stars on NCIS, Ranked

Updated June 14, 2019 6.4k votes 1k voters 133.4k views26 items

NCIS characters have a lot of explaining to do. Week after week, they must delve into all kinds of military crime. Who would have thought there’d be this much sleuthing to do, and that audiences would love it so much. With a show that consistently turns in top ratings, you can be sure that the NCIS guest stars roster is going to be impressive. With legends, veteran character actors, and stars on the rise, the NCIS TV show guests include some impressive names.  

From a pre-Little Miss Sunshine Abigail Breslin acting her guts out as a young kidnap victim helping the NCIS team catch her captor, to a young and unknown Zac Efron trying to explain himself, many future stars got their starts on the popular CBS military crime drama series.  

But it's not just the up and coming in the hot seat. Titans from the stage and screen have had to face the NCIS squad. Beloved actor Charles Durning gets caught up in murder; Hal Holbrook tries and fails to get away with murder; Gena Rowlands, Lily Tomlin, and Colin Hanks can all claim their spot as NCIS characters, getting caught up in the intrigue. From Bob Newhart to Dean Norris, you never know who’s going to pop up with NCIS cameos and get grilled by Gibbs. 

Who’s your favorite among the NCIS guest stars? Vote them to the top and "let’s solve this thing, shall we?"
  • Role on NCIS: Anthony DiNozzo, Sr.  
    Episodes: “No Good Deed,” “The Artful Dodger,” “Dressed to Kill,” “You Better Watch Out,” “Sins of the Father,” “Broken Arrow,” and “Flesh and Blood”   
    Wagner played Tony’s father on the 150th episode of the show and has made regular visits since.
    Where You’ve Seen Him Before:  
    Back in the day, Wagner was a heartthrob in his own right, appearing as the leading man in Hart to Hart and It Takes a Thief. He had no problem showing up to spoof his own image in two Austin Powers films.
    • Age: 91
    • Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States of America
    Great guest star?

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  • Photo: flickr / CC0
    Role on NCIS: FBI Special Agent T.C. Fornell  
    First Episode: “Yankee White” (2003)
    Spano appeared in the pilot of NCIS pilot and has appeared in over 35 episodes and counting. He’s also appeared as Fornell on NCIS: New Orleans.
    Where You’ve Seen Him Before:  
    Spano was a favorite on Hill Street Blues as Det. Henry Goldblume. He had recurring roles on Amazing Grace and NYPD Blue, and appeared in a couple of episodes of The X-Files. His film credits include Apollo 13, Primal Fear, and Fracture.
    • Age: 75
    • Birthplace: USA, California, San Francisco
    Great guest star?
  • Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
    Role on NCIS: Jackson Gibbs  
    Episodes: “Better Angels,” “The Namesake,” “Life Before His Eyes,” “Spider and the Fly,” “Rule Fifty-One,” “Faith,” “Silent Night,” and “Heartland” 
    Father of Gibbs and a WWII fighter pilot, Jackson Gibbs settled into a quiet life in Stillwater after the war, but the relationship between father and son was strained. They reconciled in the season six episode “Heartland.” One of the most moving episodes involved saying goodbye to Jackson Gibbs as Ralph Waite had passed away. The season 11 finale paid tribute to both the character and the actor.
    Where You’ve Seen Him Before:  
    If you’re of a certain age or an old school TV buff, you know him well as John Walton, Sr. on The Waltons. Waite appeared in many TV shows as a solid go to anchor and had his chops right up until the end of his career when he passed away at 85. He held his own as Reverend Norman Balthus on Carnivàle in a large ensemble cast. He brought his own quiet power to roles in The Bodyguard and Cliffhanger and captured many hearts and new fans as Hank “Pops” Booth on Bones.  
    • Age: Dec. at 85 (1928-2014)
    • Birthplace: White Plains, New York, USA
    Great guest star?
  • Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
    Role on NCIS: Dr. Walter Magnus  
    Episode: “Recruited” 
    Newhart played NCIS medical chief officer prior to Ducky. He came out of retirement to solve the case.  
    Where You’ve Seen Him Before: 
    The comedy legend is best known for Newhart, The Bob Newhart Show, and  being the king of deadpan. A younger generation knows him from The Big Bang Theory as Arthur Jeffries, Horrible Bosses as Lou Sherman, and Elf as Papa Elf.
    • Age: 92
    • Birthplace: Oak Park, Illinois, USA
    Great guest star?

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