NCIS Season 11 Finale to Feature Death of Gibbs' Father

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Ralph Waite, who memorably portrayed Gibbs’ father Jackson, passed away earlier this month, and NCIS is considering a season-ending sendoff to the recurring character.

“[Showrunner] Gary Glasberg and the writers are working on something special to address the passing of Ralph Waite in the season finale,” says a CBS spokesperson.

The top-rated series on TV as well as one of the longest-running, NCIS plans “to honor both the memory of Ralph, as well as the character of Jackson Gibbs.”

Jackson Gibbs Pic

Waite, who died at the age of 85, had made a total of seven on-camera appearances on the show as the father of Mark Harmon's Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

The elder Gibbs first appeared in the Season 6 episode “Heartland” and most recently in this NCIS Season 11 Episode 7, “Better Angels,” this past November.

Appropriately, Jackson's aging was a theme of that installment as the Gibbs men took a road trip to visit an old WWII buddy of Jackson's who was about to pass away.

The beloved actor’s lengthy TV resume also includes, most famously, The Waltons, and in recent years, roles on Fox’s Bones and NBC’s Days of Our Lives.

On Bones, he played the grandfather of David Boreanaz's Seeley Booth ... who must be Gibbs' nephew in that case? All kidding aside, he will be dearly missed.

Do you think NCIS should honor him in the season finale as planned? How do you think that development will be addressed without Ralph Waite on screen?

Share your comments, predictions and views with us below ...

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.


This episode had me in tears. An amazing send off...Ralph/Jackson will be missed.


Yes you need to bring closure to his passing. I know that usually a show just replaces the character with someone else, but he was part of NCIS group! He made the character of Gibbs father to life! He was the only one who would stand up and tell Gibbs like it was! You need to honor him and truly let us see Gibbs face that lost in his life, maybe showing him kinda needing alittle support on a personal level not just their job level. The store will need to be closed or sold and his father's rifle that he was never allowed to touch now was his ! Closure please choose to do it this way!


NCISi should honor the passing of Ralph Waite as Jethro"s dad.It would be a fitting tribute to the actor and his character on the show. Mark and Ralph were great together!.


I hope they do Ralph Waite proud. He was a wonderful actor and I was so happy to see him do recurring roles on two of my favorite shows. Of course Booth and Gibbs are related, they just don't talk about it.
I can't see Ziva coming back and though she was fond of Gibbs' dad I wouldn't miss her. Unlike athe bashers, I really like Bishop and think the avuncular relationship Gibbs seems to be developing with her is a tribute to the repaired relationship with his dad.
Definitely Billy Dee Williams should be involved.
RIP, Ralph Waite, John Walton, Jackson Gibbs.


Never felt total closure with Ziva & Gibbs& having her come back for the funeral& provide support for Gibbs as he had provided so much for her. Would be in character of what Ziva would do. The circle of love /caring continues. I think the team , including Ziva(, Mike Franks, Fornell( But Not Bishop) ) should end up in Gibbs basement toasting to friends, family, past, present& future
Sorry but I think Bishop should get transferred to another dept. She is not a strong character, tired of her sitting on the floor or desks& doesn't fit.

@ Paula

I totally agree with Paula!! And I hope they honor them both!! I want Ziva back and transfer Bishop!! Even tho I still love the show , because of all the other characters, the show hasn't been the same since !!!! Bring Ziva back and watch ratings sky rocket!!!

@ Paula

I agree


I like bruce dullers opening comment and I also think there should be a big funeral. I to think it is time for Gibbs to have a deep relationship but who is the question. I could think of someone but now is not the time to mention that. I think Cote de Pablo will guest as Ziva David but I doubt it will be the same year that she left though she could stand among the trees without anyone else being there but a camera man. As for the Garcia/Bishop statement. Don't insult Garcia. I will make a point of watching the last episode because I really want to see the send off NCIS give to such a great actor and endearing character.


As a longtime fan of NCIS and The Walton's I feel a memorial service for Gibbs senior is appropriate. I also like the idea of combining it with to Ziva's return. I may be seeing thing that aren't there but in last Tuesdays show (9/1), Tony when asked about his current romance seemed gloss over it and when we go to Abby's lab, there in front of us on her shelf is the Israeli flag that sat on Ziva's desk. Are they dropping hints? A suggestion for the final scene would be to have gibbs raise his head after a prayer to look around at the graveside service and see Ziva off in the trees or among the tombstones. If he nudges Tony and they both look back, she's gone. A cliffhanger for the summer.


I have been very disappointed in this season's shows. The dialogues are poor and not at all like the previous 10 seasons. The conversations between characters are off, therefore changing the characters & their dynamics. Are there new writers this year?


They should do this. The whole group should be involved, they are all family.


How about having Billy Dee Williams come back as the one who calls Gibbs, and then letting him (Jethro's name sake), become his father image. It was a very nice episode when they introduced that character.

@ david

Love that idea. Great rapport between Billy Dee Williams character and Gibbs.

Barbara elaine
@ david

That is a GREAT idea. I had forgotten about that. Although Jackson was having some health problems. Billy Dee should call Gibbs and tell him his father had a heart attack.

@ david

I agree with this idea.

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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.

Tony: One other question, I know you're an expert in English history. And I was just wondering, have you ever heard of Archibald Drummond, the 17th Earl of Trent?
Ducky: The Earl of Trent. No, I can't say I have. Why?
Tony: I was just wondering. Thanks.