‘NCIS’: This Character Once Exposed a Major Plot Hole in Gibbs’ Backstory

The long-running police procedural NCIS is currently between seasons, leaving fans without their weekly dose of the beloved team of special agents, psychologists, and forensic scientists.

With several months left until the premiere of Season 20, fans are keeping themselves busy with re-watches and ensuing discussions of past events in the series.

One fan found a particularly glaring plot hole in the Season 6 episode “Broken Bird”. In the episode, Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) asks Tim McGee (Sean Murray) to look into the unit’s personnel files while Director Vance is out of the office.

During the search, it’s revealed that the director’s office houses deeply personal background information about everyone on the team, dating back decades before Gibbs’ career began. While somewhat eerie, it’s understandable. One would expect a government agency like NCIS to know everything about its employees.

The discovery, however, also creates a major plot hole. One that you have to look further back in the series to find. Before Vance became director, the office was held by Jenny Shepard, who happened to be Gibbs’ ex.

In canon, Shepard has no idea that Gibbs is an ex-husband and a father to Shannon and Kelly Gibbs, respectively. But if she had access to his in-depth personnel file the entire time, how is that possible?
Fans React to ‘NCIS’ Season 6 Plot Hole

In a Reddit thread, NCIS fans discussed the confusion in Gibbs’ backstory. The creator of the thread posed one simple question: “How did Jenny not know about Shannon and Kelly? … During Jenny’s tenure, she never once looked into the personnel file of the man who leads the major response team?”

Well, the easiest answer is that Gibbs’ backstory wasn’t concrete from the beginning. His ex-wife and child were likely shoehorned into his story and not a part of the original character.

As one fan wrote, “All manner of fun things can happen when you invent a back story several years into a series. We add this to the list of inconsistencies we find when fans know the details better than the writers.”

One fan, however, was able to explain the NCIS director’s lack of knowledge in canon. “Jenny always saw Gibbs as an exception because of their personal history,” they wrote. “I think she would have seen looking into his deep file as a betrayal. And Gibbs would have thought so too. So I can definitely believe that she didn’t know.”

Another fan added that perhaps Jenny Shepard simply trusted that she already knew everything about Gibbs. If that were the case, she’d have no reason to look through his file. “If you think you know everything about someone, you don’t try to find anything out,” they wrote.