Gibbs Rules: NCIS Quotes to Live By!

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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 ...

At home with Gibbs

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.

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I always thought RULE # 1 WAS NEVER SAY YOUR SORRY ?????


For iPhone users who haven't discovered it, there is a Gibbs' Rules app. It has been on my iPhone since the moment I found it. That is one app I will never get rid of!!


There is a Gibbs Rule #2: always wear gloves at a crime scene. It's from Yankee White, season 1, episode 1


I am a big fan of this show I even watch all the reruns when they are on. Thank you for posting the list I have always wanted to know all of them. So many of them are familiar I can't wait for the new show to start.


Some other characters have dropped a few of their own rules over the years, but I can only think of two at the moment. McGee's Rule #1: Never lie to Gibbs (Told to Ned Dornaget in Season 9) Abby's Rule #9: Always keep a spare (Referring to Caf-Pow!)


Thanks.always wanted to see the rules.


Thank you so much for printing Gibb's Rules. I've always wanted to know them.


Thanks for the list of rules :D I believe it isn't the unwritten rule, but the unspoken rule (or as Franks said it: "the unspoken one"). See ep. 8.01, 16-17 min in.


So glad to finally see all the rules written down.


There's the unwritten rule: you do what you have to for family

NCIS Quotes

McGee: All right. Well you should probably know that Abby and I used to date?
Bishop: Ew. Like, each other?
McGee: Yeah.
Bishop: Wait - isn't that a violation of rule 12, never date a....
McGee: It was a long time ago. After we'd broken up, one night I went to her lab. Found a scribbled piece paper; a list. Potential boyfriends had to fulfill certain conditions by a pre-arranged date or else, goodbye.
Bishop: Such as.
McGee: Things started off relatively normal: opening the door for her, flowers, putting the seat down. Then around number 8, it gets uh...
Bishop: What?
McGee: Does she know you have these?
Bishop: Does she know you have these?
McGee: Yeah she wasn't happy when she found out.
Bishop: These are all very specific.
McGee: Yeah.
Bishop: These ideas apply to you?
McGee: No those rules weren't in place when we were together. At least I don't think so.
Bishop: What's with the two month cutoff? Abby's sabotaging herself. I've seen stuff like this before. We have to talk to her.

McGee: You know something I don't? Working tonight and tomorrow night?
Tony: No, Tim. It's just that Zoe's parents are in town and they want to have dinner. I'm not ready for that.
Abby: So you deceived her.
Tony: I was put on the spot. I was not prepared.
McGee: Whoa. Hey. What are you afraid of?
Tony: I don't know.
Abby: They're probably really nice.
Tony: I'm sure they are. I've just never had dinner with the parents of a woman I'm seriously involved with.
McGee: That's not true. What about Jon Benois?
Tony: No, technically that wasn't me because I was undercover as Tony DiNardo, professor of film studies. I wasn't myself back then. Meeting the parents for dinner could trigger a whole chain of events.
Abby: It's just dinner, Tony.
Tony: You have dinner yet with Ranger Burt's parents? I didn't think so. Then put down the gavel, take off the robe and stop judging, both of you.
Abby: Okay.