NCIS season 19 is bringing back this character to help fill that Gibbs-shaped gap

Mark Harmon as Agent Gibbs, pulling something from his blazer in NCIS
(Image credit: CBS Photo Archive / Getty)

NCIS season 19 has always been one of those "what are they going to do here?" seasons, now that the naval crime drama has gone on for so long while also losing Mark Harmon as a weekly cast member. So, as you'd expect NCIS is getting into the art of "returning fan favorites" to fill the void. 

In this case, the fan favorite is Carol Wilson, who will be played by actress Meredith Eaton, reprising the role she played in three episodes of the series (Homesick in 2013, Devil's Triangle in 2011 and  Faith in 2009). Eaton is coming back for what series cast member Brian K. Dietzen (who plays Jimmy) called "a guest spot." 

In a tweet, Dietzen spoiled the date of Eaton's return, by saying it's the next episode, airing after the Olympics. 

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Since the Olympics end on Feb. 20, and NCIS season 19 airs on Tuesdays (formerly Mondays), that would likely peg her return for February 22. Struggling to find something new to watch? Wait no more, as our list of the new movies and shows to watch this weekend has picks from Netflix, Hulu and more.

Clearly, this return has been in the cards for a while. TV Insider, which confirmed the reports of Eaton's return, quoted executive producer Steven D. Binder as saying "We're beyond excited to be able to work with Meredith Eaton again. She's an amazing actor, who brings a wonderful energy to our show. Since her last guest appearance in Season 11, we’ve been chomping at the bit to have her back whenever her schedule allowed."

This makes us think that NCIS is likely hoping it can retain Eaton's services for more than just a mere "guest spot." That said, Binder also noted that her return coincides with the team "desperately needing the help of an expert immunologist." Which makes it sound like they wrote this return to be a contained arc.

Dietzen also shared a shot of the two on set, which has a caption that suggests he's written her back into the series.

Who is Carol Wilson? What has Meredith Eaton been up to?

Carol Wilson arrived in NCIS back in season 7, introduced to the show by Abby (Pauley Perrette). A CDC immunologist, Wilson's got a skillset that is likely in high demand these days, but we're not assuming that NCIS is going to rip Covid from the headlines for an episode.

The Wrap reports that a since-expired Instagram Stories post from cast member Wilmer Valderrama showed Eaton saying hello while brandishing an "NCIS Visitor" badge, and the term "visitor" does suggest she's not going to be spending a whole lot of time here.

Eaton was so hard to book because she spent much of 2016 to 2021 on MacGyver, the CBS series that was canceled. 

In terms of what's up next to watch, check out our guide to all the Winter Olympics 2022 figure skating events. And the one show to watch while you wait for Bridgerton season 2. Also, have you actually watched the Bel-Air trailer yet? Think Fresh Prince by way of The O.C. and Gossip Girl.

Henry T. Casey
Managing Editor (Entertainment, Streaming)

Henry is a managing editor at Tom’s Guide covering streaming media, laptops and all things Apple, reviewing devices and services for the past seven years. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he reviewed software and hardware for TechRadar Pro, and interviewed artists for Patek Philippe International Magazine. He's also covered the wild world of professional wrestling for Cageside Seats, interviewing athletes and other industry veterans.