NCIS is, by many measures, one of the most successful shows of all time. For 20 seasons, we have followed Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and his team in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as they dig into incidents involving service members in the Navy and Marines. There is quick wit, forensic work and plenty of gun battles in the pursuit of justice.
So successful was the original NCIS that it prompted spin-offs NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans, both now cancelled. NCIS: Hawai’i is the only spin-off that remains (available on Paramount Plus in the U.S. or Disney Plus in the U.K.). It stars Vanessa Lachey as Special Agent in Charge Jane Tennant, who runs the team based at Pearl Harbor and maintains many of the most loved elements of the original.
Here are some shows like NCIS to watch as we wait for season 21.
A team of forensics officers in Las Vegas, originally led by Dr. Gil Grissom (William Petersen), use their skills to crack complicated and often gruesome cases. They use cutting-edge techniques to find evidence that will nab criminals. As with the NCIS team, there is also a close bond among team members, which is as important as the cases.
The CSI team’s work often takes them outside the lab, so the show has plenty of action — although this show is not for the faint-hearted. Like NCIS, this multi-award winning series gave rise to a number of spinoffs. If the world of forensics intrigues you, this is a must-watch.
The team at the heart of Criminal Minds are criminal profilers based in the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. They tackle compelling cases using fascinating psychological profiling techniques, while also dealing with various demons in their own private lives.
There were cast shake-ups as the series went on, but the fundamentals of the show and the premise of a close-knit team remained. The way the various pieces of the jigsaw are put together by the team in each case is deeply satisfying. There are also a couple of spin-off series, although those did not do nearly as well as the original.
Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) finds himself suddenly thrust from a comfy desk job as a CIA analyst into the field. He is accompanied by his friend and mentor James Greer (Wendall Pierce) as he travels around the globe to solve cases and stop corruption in his own organisation. As time goes on, he is faced with evermore moral and geopolitical issues.
The Jack Ryan TV series is inspired by the novels by Tom Clancy. It is full of action and excitement as Ryan finds himself in increasingly dangerous situations. Krasinski is great in the title role and the way his story develops over four seasons will keep you engaged.
Watch on Prime Video
After a major error, River Cartwright (Jack Lowden) finds himself condemned to Slough House, a place for failed MI5 agents. There, he ends up part of an oddball team of rejects led by Jackson Lamb (Gary Oldman.) When they end up dealing with something bigger than their usual fare, the team of failed spies have to come together to keep England safe.
Slow Horses is one of the best shows on Apple TV Plus. That is in no small part down to the consummate performances from Oldman and his co-stars. The British-based series has a slower, grittier feel to it compared to many of its American counterparts, but still packs a punch.
Watch on Apple TV Plus
Set within the LAPD S.W.A.T unit, this show focuses on Sergeant Daniel 'Hondo' Harrelson (Shemar Moore) as he takes command of his team of elite officers. As well as their physical battles, the team has to contend with issues around race and politics as they try and protect their city and its citizens. The situations are often deeply personal for Hondo.
If you like the many action sequences in NCIS, you will really enjoy S.W.A.T. The explosiveness doesn’t detract from the familial bond between the different officers or how their relationships develop. And the show does not hide from the difficult relationship between the police and different communities either.
Watch on Netflix
Lilly Rush (Kathryn Morris), the only female detective in the Philadelphia homicide squad, is assigned to dealing with old, unsolved and inactive cases — cold cases. It turns out to be something of a calling for her as she works diligently to solve these long-forgotten crimes. Those involved often do not want to be reminded of their past, leaving Rush in the line of fire.
Cold Case has something of a distinctive style, as each episode flashes between the present and the past as the story unfolds. This provides ample opportunity to examine changes in social attitudes over the years, in the same way we see certain attitudes change over the course of NCIS.
Hardened criminal Raymond Reddington (James Spader) and newbie FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) make for an unlikely team, but that is exactly what they become when Reddington turns himself in and insists on speaking only to her. Together, they chase some of the most dangerous people on the planet, putting themselves and those around them at huge risk.
As with the relationships in NCSI, the way the dynamic between Reddington and Keen develops over the show’s 10-season run is absorbing. Meanwhile, the drama keeps you on the edge of your seat. The premise of a criminal turning police accomplice is often a fun one, and it is done particularly well in The Blacklist.
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Charlotte Henry is a journalist who has covered all things tech and media for a number of years for various publications. She reported in-depth as tech companies became media companies and vice versa. In her newsletter, The Addition, she focuses on the ever-changing streaming ecosystem as the likes of Netflix, Apple TV+ and Disney+ fight for supremacy. Charlotte is also a close follower of sport (she’s a Spurs fan…) watching everything from Premier League football to Major League Baseball. Charlotte’s first book “Not Buying It: The Facts Behind Fake News” was published in 2019. Away from work, she can often be found at heavy metal concerts and festivals.