NCIS' Leroy Jethro Gibbs lives life by a set of rules. Now you can too!
In honor of NCIS Season 10 premiering next week, TV Fanatic has compiled (and is asking for your help with) a list of the many indespensible pearls of wisdom our fearless leader holds dear.
The extent to which they're unwritten, fluid or changing is subject to debate, but Gibbs' rules - not all of which have been revealed, and more of which may still be added - have been a constant since Season 1.
The number of rules was long believed to be around 50, with a 51st added with strong significance in the Season 7 finale. However, a 69th rule was dropped out of nowhere in the middle of Season 9.
There have been examples of Gibbs and the team breaking the rules (3, 6, 12), and there are two different rules for #1 and #3, anomalies attributed to Gibbs' friend and mentor, the late Mike Franks.
According to executive producer Shane Brennan, Gibbs' lives his life by the rules he's had in place since he met Shannon, but Mike told him he didn't need dozens of different rules, just three golden rules.
Rules 1-3 for Franks and Gibbs are therefore distinct; Gibbs' #2 hasn't been revealed, that we know of. With those disclaimers, we've put together a list of the NCIS rules Gibbs & Co. have used over the years.
Leave a comment with corrections and/or any Gibbs rules we missed! On to the list ...
Rule #1: Never let suspects stay together. (Season 1 Episode 1, Mike Franks)
Rule #1: Never screw over your partner. (Season 4, Episode 14, Gibbs)
Rule #2: Always wear gloves at a crime scene. (Season 1, Episode 1, Mike Franks)
Rule #3: Don't believe what you're told. Double check. (Season 1, Episode 1, Mike Franks)
Rule #3: Never be unreachable. (Season 3, Episode 13, Gibbs)
Rule #4: The best way to keep a secret? Keep it to yourself. Second best? Tell one other person, if you must. There is no third best. (Season 4, Episode 11)
Rule #5: You don't waste good. (Season 8, Episode 22)
Rule #6: Never apologize. (Season 7, Episode 12, but referenced previous times without a number attached)
Rule #7: Always be specific when you lie. (Season 1, Episode 23)
Rule #8: Never take anything for granted. (Season 3, Episode 10)
Rule #9: Never go anywhere without a knife. (Season 1, Episode 13)
Rule #10: Never get personally involved on a case. (Season 7, Episode 21)
Rule #11: When the job is done, walk away. (Season 6, Episode 24)
Rule #12: Never date a coworker. (Season 1, Episode 15, and referenced on other occasions)
Rule #13: Never, ever involve a lawyer. (Season 6, Episode 7; Gibbs is said to have other rules involving lawyers, but according to Tony, this is the "umbrella" one)
Rule #15: Always work as a team. (Season 5, Episode 5)
Rule #16: If someone thinks they have the upper-hand, break it. (Season 8, Episode 24)
Rule #18: It's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission. (Season 3, Episode 4)
Rule #22: Never, ever bother Gibbs in interrogation. (Season 4, Episode 10)
Rule #23: Never mess with a Marine's coffee if you want to live. (Season 2, Episode 9)
Rule #27: Two ways to follow: First way, they never notice you, Second way, they only notice you. (Season 7, Episode 15)
Rule #35: Always watch the watchers. (Season 8, Episode 22)
Rule #36: If feels like you're being played, you probably are. (Season 9, Episode 1)
Rule #38: Your case, your lead. (Season 6, Episode 16; Season 10, Episode 3)
Rule #39: There is no such thing as coincidence. (Season 7, Episode 21)
Rule #40: If it seems someone is out to get you, they are. (Season 7, Episode 22)
Rule #42: Never accept an apology from someone who just sucker punched you. (Season 9, Episode 16)
Rule #44: First things first. Hide the women and children. (Season 7, Episode 23)
Rule #45: Gibbs remarks, "Left a mess I've got to clean up," which Tony later comments is basically Rule #45 … clean up your own mess. (Season 7, Episode 24)
Rule #51: Sometimes you're wrong. (Season 7, Episode 24, titled "Rule Fifty-One")
Rule #69: Never trust a woman who doesn't trust her man. (Season 9, Episode 7)
Unwritten Rule: You do what you have to for family.